Survey About Romance in Games

Do you play dating sims or games with NPC romances? Then take this survey!

Researcher and game developer Heidi McDonald contacted the Border House to let us know about her survey, which is her second about romance games. She writes, “I am issuing a very special invitation to members of the LGBTQ community to take part, because I believe that hearing their voices about the current state of romance in games, and how we as developers might make game romance more inclusive and more satisfying for ALL customers, is incredibly important.”

She hopes to reach 2,000 respondents for this survey. Please take a moment to take the short survey, and help make game romances more inclusive.

The NPC Romance Project —

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Alex posts some of her sewing projects and cosplays on her Tumblr; you can also find her babbling about sewing and games and Parks and Recreation on Twitter.
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11 Responses to Survey About Romance in Games

  1. Completed!

    If this is the second survey, is there anywhere we can see the results of the first survey? I’d really be curious to see what people said.

  2. Thanks very much, Garrick. :)

    My first survey is something I’ve spoken about at various conferences. Below are some places you can read about that:

    My lecture at the Gotland Gaming Conference in Sweden this past May

    My article in Well Played

    If you have any questions for me here or privately, I’d be happy to answer them. This is an important industry conversation that I’m thrilled to facilitate. :)

  3. shaed says:

    Why would they use radio buttons instead of checkboxes, especially if you don’t give aces (or anyone, since it is sometimes vairable for non-aces) the option to specify romantic orientation, and why would they force you to pick one of the limited non-other options when they give you a fill-in-the-blank?

    And some of the questions make no sense if you aren’t monosexual.

  4. I’m sorry if the survey confuses anyone. The second survey was designed with feedback from respondents for the first one in mind, as well as input from professors and industry advisors…the process should only improve as it continues, so I appreciate feedback like this. I’ve been asked before what my end goal is with all of this…I don’t have one. My intention is to facilitate an ongoing conversation about the representation of romance in games, for as long as people want to participate in that conversation.

    My question back to you is, and I apologize for not understanding this as it’s the first time I’ve heard the term…what do you mean by “aces?” If I understand this going forward, I can certainly be more sensitive and inclusive toward it. :)

    • Ten says:

      Hello Heidi.

      “Ace” is shorthand for “on the asexual spectrum”, so people who are asexual, demi-sexual etc.
      Especially for people on the asexual spectrum, it is important to acknowledge that there is sexual attraction and romantic attraction, i.e. a person may not feel sexual attraction (gain a desire to do sexual or sensual things with someone) to other people at all, which means they are asexual; but may still feel romantic attraction to others (f.ex. want to kiss them, hold hands, exchange “I love you” etc.)

      Also, the gender questions would have been better as multiple choice as well. The radio buttons imply that trans is a separate gender of its own, which is really problematic.

      Thank you for asking how to improve :)

    • glitchy says:

      I have the same complaints as shaed. I was hoping that if you specifically wanted responses from queer people, the gender and orientation options would be smarter. Why would transgender and male or female (or genderqueer or androgynous, for that matter) be mutually exclusive options? To me that speaks to a fundamentally flawed understanding of what “transgender” means. Likewise, I can’t specify that I’m both asexual and homoromantic.

      Also, the focus seemed to be on western RPGs? I rarely play those; most of the games I’ve played with romance options are in other genres (visual novels, mostly, but also eastern RPGs and sim games). For some of the questions, I wasn’t sure if I should only answer in regards to my (very limited) experience with such RPGs, or if I should take into account other types of games I’ve played with romance options.

      • Caelyn says:

        I stopped doing the survey as soon as I got to that bit. I’m quite happy to identify as a trans woman, but I groaned in frustration when they were mutually exclusive options.

  5. marco says:

    That was very interesting. It got me to do a lot of thinking. Thank you for sharing it!

    Also, I hope it’s okay, but I liked it to another page and encouraged people to participate. The site isn’t LGBTQ-focused, but I know some of the users there are. I can remove the link though~.

  6. Marco, THANK YOU for sharing it!

    I am hoping for at least 2,000 respondents by the end of the year, so every share helps a lot. I’m roughly halfway there right now – it was at 914 when I checked it this morning.

    Being LGBTQ is not a requirement for the survey. I merely have been louder about inviting those community members because I want more respondents from that group than 11%. So far, I have not seen any meaningful research that represents the romance opinions of people outside the heteronormative space and I want to be the one to help bust that wide open.

    I welcome ALL voices in the conversation, whether that’s gay, straight or otherwise.

    Thanks again! :D

  7. Kimiko says:

    After reading the comments about this survey not allowing for asexuals and trans folks, I really want to give my feedback too. When I clicky the link though, all I get is a blank page :(

  8. glitchy:

    I am fully ready to admit that I don’t understand as much as I should about sexualities different from my own. I do, however, really appreciate people’s comments in this regard because I WANT TO understand, I WANT TO include, I WANT to help the gaming industry understand and evolve. I am working on a book about romance in games right now, and if you found flawed understandings inherent to the survey, I need to know about those so that I can be honest and clear about them when I write it all up. To do otherwise would be a disservice to you and others who found issues, and would also be a disservice to the work. I really appreciate it when folks with a higher understanding to help show me the way.

    If you (or others) wish to share more about the specific issues you saw in the survey and why they were issues, please feel free to e-mail me privately at if you would prefer that.

    As far as Western RPGs, no. My work is not limited to those. This is why I tried to leave open answers when asking about games, because I know that there are many JRPG, Otome fans out there. As a side benefit, when going through all the responses, I’ll learn of more games and more types of games I should be familiar with when covering this topic.


    I’m sorry. I know there was a one-day outage on the survey because my SurveyMonkey account is on auto-bill and my one bank card expired, and I forgot to change the number. The survey is live again.

    As far as wanting to give feedback, I will also invite you (and anyone else who would like to) to e-mail me privately with your feedback, at I believe this to be such a helpful and valuable dialogue, I want to know what is “off” or incorrect so I can represent things more appropriately. I promise that this whole thing is being approached from a place of love, respect and integrity. So if I need to be doing a better job…tell me. Part of the overall issue, in games and in society at large (at least from my perspective) is not enough people being willing to listen and learn. I want to be part of the solution, not part of the issue. :)

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