Entertainment

Worrying survey finds 59% of women hide gender when gaming to avoid abuse and sexual harassment

Ed Nightingale May 21, 2021
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Women in gaming

A woman plays at the stand of Xbox during the media day of the Gamescom video games trade fair in Cologne, western Germany, on August 20, 2019. (INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

According to a new study, 59% of women in gaming hide their gender when playing video games.

Of those women, many choose to use a non-gendered identity or even play as men.

Reach3, the company behind the study, says that they aim to empower women who play games. It reads: “To grow, the gaming industry must fundamentally embrace a diverse and inclusive community of gamers, but gaming online can be a toxic space that many women just learn to ‘deal with’.”

For the study, Reach3 spoke with 900 women in the US, China and Germany about the issues they face.

The biggest factor towards hiding their gender is that 77% have experienced gender-specific discrimination when gaming.

That includes insults, inappropriate sexual messages, patronising and dismissive comments, and mansplaining.

According to the study, “this type of explicitly sexist behaviour is normalised in online spaces, with little to no repercussion.”

What’s more, tired stereotypes of women only playing relaxing games like Animal Crossing and The Sims are false. Of those in the study, 88% of women play competitive games (such as shooters, battle royales and MOBAs), 75% play action/survival games, and 66% play shooters.

So what can be done to provide more support to women in gaming?

The study claims that brands can potentially make a difference, according to 87% of women.

Firstly, women need to be better represented in-game. While 91% of women are happy with female representation in indie games, that lowers to 80% in AAA titles.

What’s more, only 61% of women say that female skins are either OK, good or great. Meanwhile 85% of men say the same, indicating that female characters are too often geared towards men.

Secondly, representation must be improved in advertising, such as balanced casting, women voice overs, and showing women playing blockbuster games.

Lastly, women must be empowered within esports, with 42% of women gamers wanting companies to encourage more women to be included in esports teams.

Pokimane was also voted the top female streamer.

These findings likely won’t be a shock to many women, but the statistics are a stark reminder of their experience within gaming – but also what can be done to help.

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