Low-Skilled Gamers Are More Likely To Get Hostile Towards Female Gamers

Low-Skilled Gamers Are More Likely To Get Hostile Towards Female Gamers

Low-Skilled Gamers Are More Likely To Get Hostile Towards Female Gamers

If you’ve ever made the mistake of gaming online, and then made the further mistake of enabling chat and/or messages from strangers, you may have noticed gaming has a misogyny problem.



Surveys have found that around 50 percent of women overall have experienced harassment of some kind, with 75 percent of women aged between 18 and 24 reporting that they had been harassed and abused in online games.

While there are many questions to be asked about the societies that produce such misogyny, here’s one vaguely amusing finding from a study that investigated abuse directed at female gamers: low-skilled players are more hostile towards female teammates than players who are good at the game.

The study took place in 2015 around the time of the misogynistic campaign Gamergate. Researchers investigated the hypothesis that women entering a space that male gamers considered to be a male hierarchy prompted the most hostility from those who stood to lose the most from new competition in the arena: poor-performing males, or males who need to git gud. 

The only clue as to the gender of the player is their voice, and perhaps gamer tag. In the study, the team analyzed recordings of gameplay and resulting kill and death stats, as well as the overall stats of the players involved. In one series of recordings, the researcher was female and spoke; in another, the researcher was male and spoke; and in another they were silent.

When the researchers “spoke” they were actually just playing pre-recorded phrases, which were read in either male or female voices depending on the group. 

“These prerecorded phrases were identical in the male and female condition, harmless in nature, and designed to be inoffensive,” the researchers explained in their paper. “Phrases included: ‘I like this map’, ‘nice shot there’, ‘I had fun playing that game’, ‘I think I just saw a couple of them heading this way’, and ‘that was a good game everyone’.”

The team codified the responses to these phrases into positive, negative, and neutral, and tied the comments to the gamers’ skills. Unsurprisingly, they found that players who killed few and died plenty tended to be the most negative, and that there was a misogynist element to it.

“We found that skill determined the frequency of positive and negative statements spoken towards both male- and female-voiced teammates,” the team wrote. “In addition, poorer performance (fewer kills and more deaths) resulted in more negative statements specifically in the female-voiced manipulation.”

While becoming more hostile towards female gamers, poor-performing gamers tended to be less hostile towards teammates with male voices.

“As decreased cooperation or behaviors that lead to failure are often punished by teammates, the increase of positive and neutral statements and relatively less-frequent use of negative statements suggests poor-performing, lower-skilled males are demonstrating submissive behavior towards a male-voiced teammate,” the team added.

Gaming behavior of course has spillover into the real world, as seen from Gamergate. 

“The idea that videogames may be reinforcing such gender segregation as the norm for many teenagers is troubling given the fact that a significant proportion of them are gamers,” the team concludes. “Such ideas have the potential to spill over in real-life interactions and promote socially unacceptable behaviors such as sexism.”

Source: iflscience

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Low-Skilled Gamers Are More Likely To Get Hostile Towards Female Gamers

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