Way back in the day (okay, so it was when I was in high school) I decided to pick up statistics for my math class. While it was challenging, I completely fell in love with the idea of being able to discern trends in data and extrapolating them for a larger purpose. Though since my times at college I’ve fallen out of love with the study itself, my love for percentages and trends lives on almost as strongly as my love for astrology—if you follow my Tumblr, you know that’s a lot. What better way to re-experience this love than through other people’s original characters (OCs)?
I don’t know about other people, but I know that over the years my fan characters have managed to build a life of their own and turn into their own, multi-universe original characters. And, as I said, while I can’t be completely certain of the fate of other fan characters, I have a feeling that this is the case for lots of people. As such, the statistics gathered at OC Survey appeal to me in mathematical terms as well seeing what trends are rising in character building.
OC Survey is just what it sounds like: a survey about OCs. Pretty simple, right? Earlier this year the call went out to anyone interested to take part of a multifaceted study digging into the physical and psychological aspects of their OCs. This information was then tabulated—with the sample size either reaching five thousand submitters or however many people answered by the cutoff date (March 21st)—and presented to its eagerly awaiting audience. Looking at the results, I think it’s safe to say the OC creating community (if there is such a thing) as a whole has come a long way.
When the internet was younger, if someone mentioned an OC in most cases it was, looking back on it, painfully obvious what the character was most likely going to be. A white, cis-gendered character who was heterosexual and heteroromantic. Or, a cis-gendered gay male; ether white or East Asian. The internet as a whole was taking its first steps into giving words to voices that may not have had them in real life, though certainly at times the way this was represented was problematic. Fast-forward to today, and looking at the data compiled from the OC survey, we have a pansexual-panromantic majority with a slightly more even display of different skin tones (though a lack of Black representation is still clearly a problem) and a more in-depth look at various psychosis and other psychological and physical issues/disabilities being explored. We still have a long way to go to reach a sense of balance in terms of representation, but statistics don’t lie: there’s been a clear improvement over the years.
The data collection period for this particular survey may have ended (you can still take it for funsies, though!), but from the sounds of things the creator of the blog has plans to run an OC survey for next year, too. While I’m excited for more questions to be added to the survey itself, what I’m interested in most will be the comparison data between this year and the next. Will the state of characters and representation continue to improve? Will we get stuck in a rut? It’s impossible to say for certain, but I, for one, am staying optimistic.