Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sexism in Video Games [Study]: There Is Sexism in Gaming

Written and Researched by: Emily Matthew

There are certain common conceptions about sexism and gender as they relate to gaming. Influenced by the recent influx of gender and sex-related video game discussions within the community, I was interested in finding out how much of these are actually true and how much they affect gamers– both male and female – as well as the gaming community. For this reason, I designed a twenty-question survey to find out more.

I am well aware that sexism isn't just an issue of men versus women, and I wanted my study to reflect that. My survey was aimed at gamers of all genders in order to see who sexism affects in the gaming community, who is perpetuating sexism, and to what extent the things that we think we already know about sexism in the community are true or false.

This survey was created online and distributed to various gaming communities online as well as through social media such as twitter and facebook. The survey remained open for participation for approximately one week and garnered 874 responses – almost a third of which were accompanied by additional comments, examples, and clarifications. I also received nearly 200 comments on the purpose or topic of the research itself. Some of these comments were as telling as the hard data, and some are included in the report below.

Is Sexism Prevalent in Gaming Community

Immediately following the demographic questions, participants were asked “Do you feel that sexism is prominent in the gaming community?” The response was overwhelmingly “yes.” 79.3% of all participants believe that sexism is prominent in the gaming community. 7.1% responded “no,” and 13.6% of respondents were not sure if sexism is prominent in the community. A “yes” response was 7% more likely to come from a female gamer than from a male gamer. Male gamers were almost twice as likely to respond “no” than were female gamers – a telling response when one considers how perspective affects opinion. Men and women who were not sure about the prominence of sexism in the gaming community showed a difference in percentage that is within the margin of error.

When asked if they had ever been the subject of “sex-based taunting, harassment, or threats while playing video games online,” 35.2% of participants said yes and 61.3% of participants said no.

Women were four times more likely than men to have experienced taunting or harassment, with 63.3% of all female participants responding that they had. The stories that these women told me regarding their experiences are similar to what one might think of regarding this topic. “Cunt,” “bitch,” “slut,” and “whore” were common slurs. The threats were largely of sexual assault. Much of the harassment was based around asking for or demanding sexual favors or comments that revolved around the traditional gender role and stereotyped behavior for women in Western society. Many of the insults were based on the subject's weight or physical appearance.

15.7% of men also reported that they had experienced sex-based taunting, harassment, or threats while playing video games. While this is in the minority, it is still of concern as sexism. The comments directed at these gamers, however, are different from those directed at women in some very telling ways. Most of the men who provided additional information on their “yes” response to this question experienced comments that revolved around them not fitting a masculine gender role. These men were often called “fags” and compared to or told that they were women and labeled with stereotypically feminine words.

For those who identified as intersexed, identified with a sex that was not listed, or did not identify with any sex, the sexual harassment that was experienced largely related to not fitting into any norm. Those participants in these demographics had almost all experienced intentional misgendering from other players.

For women, the sexism experienced is about being female. For men, it is about not fitting a standard of masculinity. In short, this sexism is always about “male” being the normative sex and “not male” or “not sufficiently male” being reason for insults, shaming, and bullying. This means that men who fit (or present) a masculine, normative standard are those who are most unlikely to be the victim of sexism.

The responses to the question “Have you ever received an unsolicited proposition while playing video games online?” shows that this happens in much the same ratio between men and women as does general sexism, but that propositioning is slightly less common than sexual threats, taunting, and harassment. 32.0% of all participants said that they had experienced an unsolicited proposition while playing video games. 59.7% of women and 12.2% of men.

The difference here, as found in the comments and clarifications that I was sent by some participants, is largely in the tone of the proposition and the reception therein. Both sexes reported receiving propositions with the exchange of money, goods, and in-game assistance as a deal. However, men were more often offered sexual favors if they would pay for them (“I'll send nudes for gold” was a provided example.), and women were more often offered payment if they would perform sexual favors (“Show me your tits and I'll help you,” quoted one female participant.). In addition to this, more women described the propositions that they received as “gross,” “dirty,” “vulgar,” or “inappropriate” than did men. From the clarifications I received, when men were approached with an offer of sex they were more likely to accept the offer than women were.

A further distancing between men and women in terms of experienced sexism is apparent when reviewing the data that the survey received in response to the question “Have you ever experienced sex-based harassment that began while playing a video game and continued outside of the game?” Only 9.8% of all participants reported that they had experienced this sort of harassment. However, women were nearly 7 times more likely to experience this than men were (at 19.5% for women and 3.0% for men). This suggests that those who harass women are motivated to pursue the subject of their harassment once the game is finished in order to continue to harass them. Those who harass men don't experience this motivation to the same extent, and so women are more likely to experience sustained sexism than men are.

Similar numbers were reported in response to the question “Have you ever felt unsafe because of sex-based harassment while playing a video game?” 9.6% of all participants answered “yes.” 19.4% of women and 2.2% of men experienced this. This means that women are nine times more likely than men to feel unsafe in this situation. A handful of women commented further on this, and all of them expressed that their fears were rape or sexual-assault related, which is unsurprising considering that some studies report that as many as 1 in 4 college-aged women is sexually assaulted. Where rape is a real, common occurrence for women in the average gaming age group, it is not surprising that threats of rape made while gaming causes more concern for women than for men.

Women were also much more likely to quit playing a game because of sex-based harassment than were men. 35.8% of women reported having quit playing temporarily because of sexism, and 9.6% reported that they quit playing a certain game permanently because of harassment. The numbers for men in the same areas were 11.7% and 2.6% respectively – about a third of the percentage for women in each case.

Another polarizing question was “Have you ever obscured or lied about your sex while playing video games to avoid unwanted attention or harassment?” 67.5% of women said that they had obscured their sex. Only 5.8% of men said the same. That means that women are nearly 12 times as likely to feel the need to conceal their sex while playing video games as men are. Two men sent clarifications to me regarding why they conceal their sex sometimes when they play video games. Both prefer to play with female avatars, and both have previously been harassed because they identify as male but play female characters. Again, they are being harassed because they don't conform to normative masculinity.

When asked if they had ever avoided playing on a public server to avoid being a target of sexism, 50.6% of female respondents and 10.3% of male respondents said that they had. Beyond this, many women clarified by saying that they don't play video games online at all in order to avoid sex-based harassment either that they had previously experienced playing online or that they thought they might experience. While women are five times more likely to avoid playing on a public server to keep away from sexism, there is another difference between when men and women choose to do this. Many men sent clarifications about this question to say that they avoid specific servers that they know to foster a sexist community whereas many women said that they avoid all public servers and play only in environments they know that they will be comfortable in.

When asked “Have you ever been the subject of sex-based comments, taunting, harassment, or threats in the gaming community while not playing a video game?” 45.5% of women said that they had – almost 5 times the percentage of men who said the same. Similarly, when asked if they had ever had their gaming taste, ability, or skill questioned because of their gender, 77.8% of women said that they had (compared to 6.4% of men). Those men who said that they had been the subject of these comments and judgments related that they were often judged for liking games that were “for girls.” One man said that he had been called a “faggot” when he said he didn't like playing violent games. Yet again, the sexism against men is not because they are men but because they aren't “male enough.”

Occasionally, women in gaming are labeled as something like “attention whores.” The woman who plays video games for attention or uses her sex for special treatment while playing is a common stereotype in the gaming community. The response to “Have you ever intentionally used your sex as leverage when asking for favors, goods, or attention while playing video games?” shows that this stereotype is only true in the vast minority. 9.9% of female respondents said that they had done this at least once. What is perhaps more interesting is that when asked “Have you ever lied about your sex in order to receive favors, goods, or attention while playing a video game?” 12.9% of male respondents said that they had.

The comments and data from these two questions point to an interesting conclusion: Some male gamers use the stereotype of a female “attention whore” to their benefit by pretending to be female in order to garner special benefits. Many of these men even kept images of women that they found on the internet in order to supply those gamers who helped them with nude photos and proof that they were female. In essence, an individual using femaleness to attain special favors and gifts from others while playing video games is more likely to be a self-identified male posing as a woman than to actually be female.

When they were asked if they had ever participated in sexist behavior and comments, only 9.4% of participants said “yes,” with 10.6% of men and 7.3% of women giving this answer. Men were only 3.3% more likely to exhibit sexism – a number within the margin of error. This means that men and women are exhibiting sexism at very similar rates. Comments sent in by these people to clarify their answers also show that individuals who exhibit sexism do not only do so to people of the opposite sex. Men are perpetrating sexism against other men, and women are doing the same to other women.

When asked if they had ever intervened in a conversation to stop sexist comments and behavior, 53.2% of participants (54.6% of women and 51.9% of men) said that they had. Both men and women sent in comments regarding why they had trepidation about defending others from sexism while gaming. Both were afraid of having the negative attention turned toward themselves – men often concerned with the label “White Knight” (which relates to a man who defends a woman in the hope of sexual favors) and women were concerned with the same sexual harassment that was being received by the person they might have defended.

Sexism Study Demographics: Who took the Survey

The survey opened with some general demographic questions. When asked “What sex do you identify as?” 499 (57.1%) of the respondents were male and 356 (40.7%) were female. These numbers – particularly the ratio of men to women in gaming - are similar to those which have been reported by other studies. They support the idea that the majority of the members of the gaming community are male, but perhaps some might be surprised that the number of female members comes even close to that of the male majority.

32.4% of all participants were between the ages of 20 and 23. Only one participant, a male, was under 13, and only one participant, who identified with no sex, was over 51. 77.7% of all participants were between the ages of 16 and 27. The average male participant was between 20 and 23, as was the average female. There was no statistically significant difference in the ages of male and female participants – the distribution across age ranges was roughly the same for both groups.

Participants were asked which genre of video games they play. The most popular genre was “RPG,” which garnered 14.8% of all responses. The least popular genre was “Simulator” with 6.0% of all responses. The difference between the percentage of men playing a particular genre and women playing that same genre was never greater than 3.2 (12.6% of men and 9.4% of women played “Shooters”), which falls within the margin of error for this study. This suggests that men and women have roughly the same taste in video games.

This information is interesting in light of arguments posed in response to other studies. Some of these arguments suggest that the population of women in gaming (41%) is only so high because there is no differentiation between “casual” and “serious” gamers – that people who play only casual games should not be considered gamers and that making the distinction would lower the number of female gamers as reported by such studies. This study shows that this is not the case. In fact, no women who responded to this survey played only casual games. Women were 2.0% more likely to play casual games than were men (again, a number within the margin of error), but these same women also enjoyed other game genres.

Similar data ranges were apparent in response to the question “What devices do you use to play video games?” The most popular device for gaming is the PC, which garnered 24.9% of all responses. The least popular device for gaming is the Mac, with 3.4% of the responses. The difference in the percentage of men and the percentage of women playing video games on a given device were statistically negligible. The largest difference was between men and women playing the Nintendo Wii; women were 1.1% more likely to play this console than men were. While this is a number well within the margin of error, it is the only difference between men and women as far as consoles and devices are concerned that was over 1.0%. The rest of the responses were only different by a fraction of a percent. It is clear that there is no real difference in the gaming devices selected by men and those selected by women.

49.4% of gamers who participated in this survey play video games for a few hours a day. Women were 4.6% more likely to play video games a few hours a week than were men, whereas men were 6.2% more likely to play video games a few hours a day than were women. The percentages of men and women who play video games more than four hours a day were only 0.8% different from one another – with 16% of women and 15.2% of men playing at this frequency. The average male gamer and the average female gamer both play video games for a few hours a week.

Sexism Survey Comments and Community's Reaction

According to this study, most gamers recognize sexism as a prominent force in the gaming community. While it is mostly directed at women, some men experience it as well. Only a minority of gamers say that they've perpetuated sexism, and a majority say that they've stepped in to stop it. These numbers are heartening for anyone who, like me, is concerned about how the gamers, and people in general, treat one another.

I myself received some interesting reactions and treatment when I opened this survey up to the public. For the sake of statistics and simplification, I counted the comments that I received that were directed at the purpose of the survey (as opposed to those that were in direct response to survey questions) and then categorized them as either: Definitely Positive, Definitely Negative, and Non-Definite.

Encouragingly, those comments which were distinctly positive outnumbered the comments which were negative. The majority of these were methods of solidarity and encouragement – praise directed at myself for undertaking the project or support for the project itself. Comments such as “I'm proud of you.” and “You're doing a great thing.” were common. Perhaps the most encouraging were the handful of comments – 9, in total – that came from people whose outlooks were changed because of the survey.

One individual said that he was surprised about the topic. He hadn't previously considered that sexism occurred in gaming. After having taken the survey, he spoke with his wife (who is also a gamer) , asking her if she had ever experienced sexism while playing a video game. After she said that she had, the man became more conscientious of what he and other players were saying and how they were behaving while playing games online, and he decided to start speaking out against sexism when he saw it.

While these responses were quite encouraging (as I personally like to see a community aware of its biases and discrimination), there were plenty of comments to provide a counterbalance to the positivity. I received 34 comments that I would classify as “negative” - just over half the number of positive responses. These negative responses were largely comments directed at me personally as opposed to the purpose of the research, and most of them were vile, sexual, and entirely profane.

An even dozen of the negative comments that I received addressed the topic in a way that showed negative opinion while remaining what I see as professional in tone. The 22 remaining negative responses were consisted of or contained personal, profane attacks against myself. All of these comments came from men, and they all contained gender and sex-based insults. Eight of these comments featured sexual content – descriptions of what should be done to me. One of them was four paragraphs long and particularly vivid. These eight are not anything that I would deem acceptable to reproduce here. This comment is fairly representative of those made by these 22 men: “Yoru[sic] survey is retarded and so are you. There's no sexism in the video game community, you stupid cunt. All you bitches play cause you like the attention that nerds give you. You can't get it anywhere else cause you're fat disgusting whales. You ruin video games. Shut the fuck up, tits or gtfo, and make me a sandwich. I'd say I hope you get raped, but you're such a slut you'd like it.”

What was most surprising, and slightly disheartening, were many of the 87 comments that fit into neither the positive nor negative categories. A number of these comments did not involve personal opinion on the subject matter in the study. These were things like “I'd like to see the results of this.” or “This is an interesting survey.” Such comments composed approximately a third of the non-definite responses. The remaining two-thirds, however, might be represented by this comment: “I really do feel for the people who are discriminated against when they play video games. I know that a lot of women get harassed just because they're female. But I don't see what we can do about it. Is sexism a problem? Yes. Is is bad? Yes. Does it happen in the community? Yes. But there's no fix for that. There are always going to be bigots, so what's the point in fighting it?”

While I can understand this opinion, to me it represents a sort of conciliatory perspective. It's a recognition of the problem, but an unwillingness to stand up against it. The people who made such comments – both men and women – are those who have either given up or never tried. In some ways, too, I feel that these individuals misunderstand the ways in which sexism can be fought and in which gains can be made for gamers who want to see a community free of sexism.

I can't argue that eliminating sexist opinion from every individual in the community is realistic, and it's not one of the goals that I personally hold when arguing against sexism. What I do think is achievable, however, is eliminating the normalization of sexism in the community. When people stand up in sufficient numbers against those who harass players because of their sex or gender – when we stop laughing, joining in, or letting it slide and start handing out bans, saying “That's not okay,” and refusing to play with bigots – then eventually there is a standard that even those with sexist leanings will begin to conform to.

Surely not every bigoted person will be swayed by public opinion enough to stop expressing their sexist thoughts, but there's going to be a number of them (how big that number is I can't be sure) who will consider being judged, scolded, ostracized, or made to look foolish when they use sexist slurs and insults to be enough of a deterrent to stop using them in mixed company. When sexism is less expressed, it becomes less normalized for those entering the community as well. When new gamers see that calling a woman a cunt or taunting a man for being beaten by a woman is frowned upon, they are more likely to learn not to do it. It's a change that will take time, but it's one that I and others believe is worth working toward.


Marcus said...

Excellent post!

Of all the places I expected to see sexism discussion... well, let's just say I didn't expect it to be here! Either way, I'm really glad that this post has made its way to the site (and my view). Reading about sexism in games is often difficult for me, as I have experienced it myself as have many of my friends, but I'm compelled to hear more all the same.

One reason I am such a fan of this post is because it gives hard statistical, indisputable facts. Whenever someone writes a "personal" opinion piece about sexism there's always comments about how it's just them or something. This shows everyone that there are certain trends in our community and sexism is definitely one of them.

I also appreciate you speaking about men being harassed mostly due to not living up to some sort of "male ideal". This is incredibly true and easy to see if you listen in on multiplayer games.

Thanks again for your post! I've tweeted it and hope all my friends see.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for publishing this study and calling for gamers to de-normalize sexism. I am a woman and I've received harassment for simply pointing out sexism in games before. Would've loved to participate in this study! :)

Anonymous said...

Please give actual examples of what and where you are seeing sexism in video games so that I can be sure you actually understand what the word means, because I doubt you do. Sexy female characters is not "sexism". Neither are most of the other things you're going to say are. And neither is saying something mean to a girl.

Saying, for example, that a woman can't design a game as well as a man, simply because she's a woman, however *IS* sexist. But you're probably just talking more about idiotic misuse of the word like "durp durp that box cover is sexist because the female character has a nice set of breasts".

Unless you can CLEARLY DEMONSTRATE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THE WORD MEANS, you can't claim to have "been a victim of it".

Also, where's the article about racism in gaming? How about homophobia? How about xenophobia? Why are we only ever engaging in constant navel-gazing about gender?

Anonymous said...

"Neither are most of the other things you're going to say are."

Next time read the article BEFORE you judge it.

Anonymous said...

It's funny because characters were never mentioned. The article isn't about game content, but how how female players are treated in online games.

Read the fucking article :U

Anonymous said...

I'm concerned..

Where's the data to support the conclusion about men posing as women to gain favors in video games? That seems unsupported and entirely out of place.

Also, if less than 10% is a "vast minority" in regards to females who do ask for favors in games at least once by utilizing their gender, why is it not also a "vast minority" when less than 10% felt unsafe or had continued harassment outside the game? Beware of wording and bias if you want to be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

Epcyclopedia - see the data sheet for download at the bottom. The question posed that supported that men pose as women to gain favors was worded as "Have you ever lied about your sex in order to receive favors, goods, or attention when playing a video game?" 12.2% of the male participants answered "yes" to that question.

CCultist said...

"Where's the data to support the conclusion about men posing as women to gain favors in video games? That seems unsupported and entirely out of place."

At the end of the same paragraph:

"[...]“Have you ever lied about your sex in order to receive favors, goods, or attention while playing a video game?” 12.9% of male respondents said that they had."

Given the the absolute numbers being 499 to 356 that means that around 35 women "have intentionally used their sex as leverage when asking for favors, goods, or attention while playing video games" and 63 men "have lied about their sex in order to receive favors, goods, or attention while playing a video game".

So in two out of three cases that "attention whore" is a man.

mndrix said...

Great article. It's cool to see the gaming community studying itself with objective data and focusing on statistically significant results.

I was pleased to see that a majority of respondents had intervened to curtail sexist behavior. As that majority grows, cultural norms in the gaming community will change and we'll all have more fun.

Liam said...

I'm curious as to how many people alter their gaming behaviour to avoid the hostile environment in general, not for fear of being a target. I couldn't give a damn whether a bunch of self-important nitwits want to attack ME on a superficial basis. However, watching insecure individuals gang up against "outsiders" or turn against each other doesn't feel like a productive use of "me time". I don't have the energy to fight the global behaviour when the medium's anonymity precludes real responsibility, and curating safe spaces requires too much energy for my personal tastes, and paints a bullseye on your back for griefers.

Anonymous said...

There are various examples in the article, including direct quotes. Try reading a bit more next time.

Anonymous said...

I question this, only because as a man, I often play female characters, with female names. I have never, in my 10+ years of MMO playing ever seen someone directly attack my female nature. I even did an experiment and created a reddit account with a very strong female name, and posted for 3 months straight, always being sure I never revealed my sex. I wanted to see if sexism would happen due solely to my name / typing. I have yet to find a single sexist comment.

I am not saying it happens, but I think women mis-interpret a lot of it. When a guy online calls someone a "little pussy ass bitch", that is not targeted at your gender, that is a generic comment that gets said many times over to men and women alike. My guess is women tend to personalize the insults.

To back that up, I will use the data in this study. Look at how many women feel they are no longer safe after getting a comment. I mean, this is the internet, the odds of someone finding your address, traveling to your place, to rape you is so extremely unlikely, yet the culture given to women is that men do this. I cannot for any reason, see how an anonymous environment would cause someone to feel scared. The only way I can think of why this would happen, is that women tend to personalize insults.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, nothing sexist AT ALL about calling someone a "little pussy ass bitch.". Perfect example you've provided, so thanks for your case in point. The slam is precisely targeting the feminine as weak, lesser, and the lowest of states. Either learn to see that for what it is--which is very sexist--or "man up" like I do and admit, "yeah, I completely use sexism in my insults.". Cause sometimes I do. But the ultimate respect I have for gamers is for those who are cunning, and strength in gaming and life isn't the ultimate characteristic, and a lot of other traits or combos of traits will trump that. Reasonable people know that. And if you are able to overcome my skill sets, I must just resort to calling you a little pussy ass bitch but I'd probably be much more creative than that.

Anthony said...

Wow, even here, so many comments from my fellow dudes mansplaining to women how they should feel about sexism. "I'm a man and I totes get to define sexism even though I as a man will NEVER EXPERIENCE SEXISM and women need to just stop being such whiny VICTIMS I am such an expert on what it is like to be a female gamer hurr hurr".

And before anyone cries "misandry" or "reverse sexism" JUST STOP. STOP. Us guys have absolutely no place in discussing what constitutes "sexism" because we will will never experience it---our job as men who want to be a good human beings is to LISTEN to women's lived experiences and trust that they know what it's like to experience sexist micro-aggressions.

The OP says she received horrifying rape threats in response to simply posting a fucking survey. There. That's all the fucking evidence you need.

Marcus said...

A note: Men can experience sexism. No, it will not be the same brand of sexism, nor probably as harsh, that women face but there is still something there. The weird thing is how men tend to not "care" outwardly about their own biased presentations and treatment - such as media defining men as macho but with the all the brain function and experience of a 14 year old (man-children, man-caves, man-everything). Men "cannot" define themselves as anything "feminine", which is also pointed out in the study.

Anyway, to the commentor who plays with a female avatar... You are lucky to not have seen or interpreted acts of other people as sexist toward you. Perhaps you just didn't feel it was out of place, or you were simply never targeted. That in no way invalidates how other women feel in the gaming community. Some women do not experience trouble while gaming, but many do. You did not, and that is great, but it doesn't mean that no one does.

In regards to it being highly unlikely for a man to find your address and rape you, yes, it would probably not escalate that far. However, I have seen my fair share of women bloggers online who have been harassed day in and day out by people because they dared say anything negative about games or game culture. They have had calls they have had things delivered to their door they could have much more. I doubt most casual gamers are experiencing this but you don't know how bad things can get.

TheBigBlamTheory said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheBigBlamTheory said...

I think your audiences that said no, do not know what sexual harassment is, or do not play online, because I am nearly certain that you are 100% guaranteed to be called a "fag" if you plan to play online.

I do not, but I do not go through a day when someone does not throw slurs as such. Also, from my experience, females tend to be more prone to call people "faggots" while men tend to go with insults toward moms.

Food for thought.

IF you want to discuss, I'm more than open to talk about it, as I do take this to be a very serious matter and I do not condone unsportsmanlike conduct in gaming.

OH, another reason for people to say no is that the MMORPG community tends to be much better. There's not really a reason to insult or harass each other (beyond PVP) in a grind kind of game. But the general rule of thumb in those types of games are that all females avatars are male. (There's a reason for that)

Elamshin said...

More food for thought

Oleakim said...

To the "pussy ass bitch" being sexist debate, it both is and isn't. The words themselves are very sexist assuming aren't referring to a hybrid of a cat, a donkey, and a dog. But many of those using them (especially the young) don't even register the fact, it's just an unfortunate prerecorded response for a given situation. I myself exclaim "God damn" and "Jesus Christ" in spite of not following a belief system involving either of those entities. It's a language pattern that was created out of sexism and needs to be purged from the language.

Also the idea that only the victim can decide what is harassment is flawed, especially since the victims themselves often don't agree within their own "group". That said, the vast majority of -ist comments of all varieties are harassment, and often victims don't even register it because they've been inured to it.

Personally, if I'm in someone else's "space", and this behavior occurs, I leave, and may or may not confront the perp or discuss with the owner based on my relationship with said individuals. If I'm in a "space" of my own, I'll come down on the perp with a righteous fury. That shit pisses me off. =P

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the survey. It's always great to see hard numbers like this. Well, depressing. But it somehow feels nice to know I'm not the only one who absolutely refuses to play certain multiplayer games (and the public servers of the ones I do play) solely because of harassment.

I'm glad you asked about genre preferences. I hadn't seen any numbers on it before, and the results surprised me. I was sure simulators would be significantly more popular with female gamers than with male gamers.

Anonymous said...

Emily, you got any pics?

This article has got me pretty hot and i wanna fap...

Morrigan said...

Thanks for posting this. This data is depressing, but probably not that surprising.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I wish there were a way to collect this kind of data without the self-selection bias. As it is, it doesn't really seem that these results are exceptionally credible.

Sam said...

Really interesting read, thanks for doing all this work.

I agree that self-selection bias might be a problem (i.e. people who have been affected by sexism might be more likely to respond), but I don't think there's any other way to get these data. Given the fairly large response though (the sample size is large enough to allow generalisation to a population of around 50,000-100,000 using standard parameters)

I find it pretty shocking though that the OP got threats simply for posting a request to fill in a survey.

Anonymous said...

An interesting study and one that would be worth repeating once a year or so.

I'd like to make some suggestions to perhaps help improve the above.

1) I think it would make your charts much easier to understand at a glance if you included the %s in the bars. Right now I have to look to the left and see the axis to get an idea about the numbers I might be seeing, and even then it's a guess.

2) When asking which gender people identify with, it looks like you've used the traditional binary approach (i.e. male / female). If you'd like a more sensitive scale, there is a seven-point masculine to feminine scale that is used where gender may be a sensitive topic that might give you a bit more granularity in your results.

3) For me, the statement, "This suggests that men and women have roughly the same taste in video games" is arguably one of the most important points raised in this article. It provides some weight against the idea that women don't play 'real' games, which is a bedrock for the kind of implicit sexism this topic is often greeted with.

Sara M. Grimes said...

Thank you so much for conducting the survey, for posting your results AND data set, as well as for having the courage to engage in this research in the first place. Reading your findings and the comments above, the topic clearly remains a lightning rod for both serious debate and over-the-top-trolling, and I hope you are able to see the latter as additional fodder for your analysis and discussion. I also hope you continue on with the project... as suggested in some of the comments above, the research is timely and compelling, and it could indeed easily be expanded into a longitudinal and/or cross-cultural study.

Alexis R Hobson said...

I am so glad to have come across this page. I'm currently attending college in the graphic design field for video game designing, I am a woman, and an avid gamer. For the majority of my open final projects, I have focused on sexism in video games (as in the design and story line) and in the community. It's so often that I get my opinion pushed aside because I am a woman, therefore I am not a true gamer, I only play facebook games, and cannot understand the gaming culture and industry at all. I will say that up until some of my male friends talked me into getting involved in an online FPS with them, I was positively terrified of being called out because I was born with a vagina and not because of my gaming ability. While on this latest project, I found this article, and it was a god send. In the last week, I have experienced more sexism, threats, and harassment because I don't believe every female character should look like Chun-Li and get kidnapped like Princess Peach. Just as I was about to give up, I found this. Thank you so much for giving me new inspiration and hope.

Anonymous said...

I've never really played online RPGs (like World of Warcraft or something) or whatever to really experience this sexism in video games. I stick most to 'private' console games where you don't have a ton of people playing like Pokémon or something. Not the massive online PC ones. This is my new reason why to stick to 'private' games. Also, where was this survey held? I would have loved to participate in it!

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isabella said...

this study is fucking genious. i feel a lot smarter after reading this and i like that you even evaluated the feedback. <3

Anonymous said...

Your survey seems to generalise things about the gaming community, it doesn't even take a ratio to know the proportion of people harrasing you.

Any kind of game allows you to meet at least between 5 to 25 peoples, even more in mmorpg, while you might have 1 dude being rude (and your survey doesn't even take in account trolls) you will have 4 to 24 people that were never rude to you.

The subject of sexism and harassment cannot be given away by raw stats, it has to be explained as well (ultimately, all stats need to come with an explanation). Including the fact that the number taking the survey is clearly too low to make a real assemption, you don't even tell the games that was used.

And worse, since it doesn't give any kind of explanation, it is used as a basis of proof for people that want to demonstrates sexism made by males discarding the truth behind. (kids who should not be allowed to play such games, trolls, uneducated people etc.)

I believe you need to update your survey, unless i missed something there.

Anonymous said...

The data sheet is empty.
Is this a problem for me or does everybody cannot see any data in "Download the entire study results"?

Anonymous said...

It's empty for me too.

Anonymous said...

"this study is fucking genious. i feel a lot smarter after reading this and i like that you even evaluated the feedback. <3"

This comment of approval, its language, spelling and grammar is exactly how fucking genius this study is and the kind of intelligence it caters to.

Anonymous said...

Where did you get those numbers? The number of respondents was 874 according to the article. Those numbers don't add up.

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Anonymous said...

I suggest you grab a dictionary since you don't seem to understand the meaning of the words "research" and "study", this "article" is neither.

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