Sexism and Gaming

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by Rin Yeo

The number of female gamers have been rising over the past few years, and despite the fact that 52% of gamers identify themselves as women, they are largely unseen by the gaming world as existing – be it in the form of characters, creators or even gamers. In fact, a recent study found out that not-so-great male gamers are more likely to be more hostile towards female gamers who are faring better then them.

While games with female protagonists are very much in the minority and so are the number of female programmers in the industry, it isn’t due to the fact that women don’t want to work in games, but rather negative cultures and mindsets that recruiters and programmers have – seeing the gaming industry as a male-dominated empire. Likewise for gaming, most games are still as male-dominated – take for instance first person shooting games such as Halo 3, as the study has found out.

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In terms of reactions that were observed, male gamers generally showed positivity if a player is male-voiced, and if the other party were slightly higher-skilled than them, they showed lesser negativity by increasing the number of positive and neutral statements made about the other party when they themselves are performing badly. Generally, these gamers showed a submissive behaviour to the higher-skilled male-voiced teammates instead.

In contrast, when playing with a female-voiced teammate, the frequency of negative comments increased when the male gamer is faring badly compared to the female-voiced teammate. The negativity decreases if the guy’s performances improve, but for higher-skilled male gamers, they were more likely to be supportive of the female-voiced teammate instead. Simply put, weaker male gamers tend to have the need to exert dominance over female-voiced teammates, and this being so despite the fact that for both the male-voiced and female-voiced teammate were both programmed to speak the same exact lines at specific situation and intervals in the game.

(images credited to their respective owners)

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