This is the 4th episode of Sex-Positive Gamer, where we play popular videogames whilst answering your shagging questions. Now your male friends have no excuses for not knowing their sex education (unless they were too busy with Planned Parenthood volunteering or something). Our adviser is occasional Feministe contributor Echo Zen.
This week’s episode explores why girl gamers don’t seem very common, despite surveys suggesting girls make up half of all gamers. And whilst it’s a coincidence we finished this episode the same month that rape threats against women gamers roared back into public consciousness, we’re all too happy to bring actual facts and arguments to a debate where mainstream gaming’s first instinct is to smear the female-identified as a “bitch, slut and whore”. Now, onto those pesky facts…
Welcome to the fourth episode of Sex-Positive Gamer.
Today your usual sex educators are playing Portal 2, whilst answering your questions.
So, whilst we were playing videogames last week, we got a question on our favourite hobby…
The question was what percentage of people who play “Halo” online are women.
Here’s the email we got.
“Greetings, can you assist with a research paper?”
“Basically I’m writing on which videogames are most popular with girls.”
“However, I can’t find information on how many girls play Halo 4, and yes, I checked Google.”
“I don’t hear many girls on Xbox Live when I play Halo online either.”
“Since you guys know a lot about videogames, I was wondering if you knew the answer.”
Well, we don’t know the exact number…
…since Microsoft has never released player gender data for the “Halo” franchise.
However, we can estimate it by looking at information that is available.
Let’s examine what we know about similar franchises, such as “Call of Duty”.
In 2013, COD’s producers revealed women make up 24 percent of its player base.
That’s a hefty chunk.
This number is also similar to data from Electronic Entertainment Design and Research.
According to EEDAR, around 20 percent of COD players are women…
…and 30 percent of women in general play violent videogames.
Therefore, it’s reasonable to estimate 20 to 30 percent of “Halo” players are women.
After all, almost half of gamers today are female, according to the Entertainment Software Association.
So, given how common girl gamers are…
..why is finding female gamers online difficult, especially in team chats such as Xbox Live?
The answer is most likely sexual harassment.
Past research indicates two-thirds of girl gamers report being harassed or threatened whilst online.
In a 2013 study, researchers played online whilst using pre-recorded voices for their voice chats.
Female voices received 3 times as many threats and harassing messages as male voices…
An example of commonly received messages, deserving of a trigger warning, is this quote…
“Slut… I’m gonna impregnate you with triplets and make you have a… late term abortion.”
By comparison, only 16 percent of male gamers report being harassed or threatened online.
This is not surprising.
One study from 2006, by the University of Maryland, found women who reveal their gender online…
…receive 27 times as many sexually explicit or threatening messages, versus male users.
Basically, the Internet is a hostile space for people who identify as female.
So, is it any wonder most girl gamers prefer to stay invisible online?
When being female draws overwhelming negativity, hiding one’s gender is literally safer.
This is why many women refuse to use voice chat online, and why women seem rare on Xbox Live.
Girl gamers do exist.
Most of them just prefer not dealing with aspiring rapists.
Well, we’re hoping you got your answer, because we’re almost out of footage from today’s game.
If you have other questions, post a comment on Feministe or message our Tumblr.
Till next time…
Those who work in violence research or prevention know there’s plenty of other data we could have cited, but the numbers we did cite are a concise snapshot of the disgraceful state of our modern gaming culture, where simply talking about one’s experience with sexual harassment is grounds for making rape threats.
Because logic’s not a misogynist’s strong suit, they’re more apt to dispute smaller points under the belief that undermining one means they’ve crushed the whole argument. It’s the same reason Anita Sarkeesian’s critics think the fact she uses other people’s gameplay, in addition to her own, for Tropes vs. Women suddenly means there’s no legitimacy to the argument that sexism is an issue in games. In our case, the number most likely to be disputed by males is the ESA’s declaration that, as of 2014, half of all gamers are female.
Bollocks, the men in the comments always cry. Playing Candy Crush Saga doesn’t make a woman a real gamer! Only games where you shoot or kill others count as real, hardcore games. Everyone knows women never play those games, because we know everything about women, and we know women aren’t hardcore gamers. Women have no right to criticise sexism in real games!
Yeah, other than the fact women make up a quarter of gamers who play hardcore games, women clearly aren’t real gamers. We shouldn’t care about racism either, since black people make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population. And let’s ignore homophobia too, because less than 5 percent of people are LGBT. Heck, let’s not care about discrimination anywhere, unless it’s against the majority!
Wait… that doesn’t make any damn sense, does it? That’s because injustice by definition is what happens to those with less power, not more. And those who express more concern for protecting the more powerful are voicing a lot more than their opinion on gaming when they do that.
Anyway, the next episode will be on rape culture in gaming, an equally uplifting topic for which we’re finishing the script tonight. Comment if you got questions, and till next time, farewell!
Similar Posts (automatically generated):
- VLOGGING – Rape Culture in Gaming? by Guest Blogger October 31, 2014
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- They’re still trying to silence Anita Sarkeesian by tigtog August 28, 2014
- REVIEW: Quake 4 (2005) by Echo Zen December 25, 2015
- REVIEW: Half-Life 2 (2004) by Echo Zen December 5, 2015