Take it from me: the sexism and harassment that takes place during online games is very real. Out of fear I often find myself turning my mic off or just avoiding certain online multiplayer games altogether. The ability to hide behind a gamertag creates privacy, but it also creates problems.
Reach3 Insights just released the results for a survey they conducted with 900 women gamers in the US, China and Germany. In a partnership with Lenovo, they interviewed these women on the issues they face within the industry.
Women make up 41% of the gaming community, however Reach3 found that 77% of these women have experienced gender-based discrimination when gaming. These experiences range, from being called names to having someone mansplain to them.
Due to how common these interactions are, 59% of women mask their gender, while 55% use either non-gendered or male gendered identities when playing online.
For both women gamers and workers within the gaming industry these statistics mirror the experiences we have on a daily basis. Finding solutions to fight gender-based discrimination within the gaming industry continues to be pertinent, and representation provides a starting point.
While many blockbuster games feature female characters, such as Ellie and Abby in The Last of Us Part II and Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn, women are “less satisfied” with the way most female characters look. Providing a diverse and less hypersexualized version of female characters is important.
Representation also is important outside of the game itself. This includes sponsoring all-women’s teams in esports, highlighting women streamers and increasing the amount of women game developers. According to data. from Statista, only 24% of game developers were women in 2019, and the numbers have barely shifted within the past five years.
After the #MeToo movement made its way into the gaming industry, with accusations of sexual harassment and abuse targeting numerous Ubisoft employees in 2020, there has been a larger conversation surrounding the treatment of women within videogame companies and beyond. The industry itself is changing, and we can only hope that by continuing to diversify it, women can have a safer and stronger space in online gaming communities and more.