Video games have not been the exclusive domain of the archetypical “nerd” of ‘80s teen movies for years, probably since the ‘80s. But as wide as gaming’s audience may be, the culture can still be a narrow-minded boy’s club.
In a new report by the Pew Research Center analyzing modern teen social habits in digital spaces, a measly 9 percent of teen girl gamers speak through in-game communication. Meaning? The other 91 percent stay muted through every deathmatch, missing out in the traditional past-time of digital trash talking.
It’s been a tumultuous year regarding gender in video gaming, and it hasn’t been easy to quantify the embarrassing treatment of women by the culture at large. But this new data from Pew Research Center is a harsh measurement of a bad symptom. If nearly 60 percent of teen girls surveyed said they play regularly but only 9 percent say anything in-game, what could this mean for a generation of hobbyists who feel compelled to shut up during their own leisure time?
Why be as talkative as a monk in the first place? Harassment of women online is pretty bad, in case you haven’t noticed, and not just in the realm of gaming. Harassment was the nucleus of an entire John Oliver segment, and you know those are always sharp.
But in online gaming specifically, sexual harassment that would make the men of Sterling Cooper feel guilty are about as normal as a Tuesday. In a 2013 study by Ohio University, it was discovered that in online gaming, where the only distinguishable trait of a player is his/her voice, players with female voices are given far more “negative comments” than players with male voices or no voice at all.
From the study’s abstract:
Findings indicate that, on average, the female voice received three times as many negative comments as the male voice or no voice. In addition, the female voice received more queries and more messages from other gamers than the male voice or no voice.
Of course, one need not look far to see how bummed out an entire population of gamers feel. Right in the comments of Kotaku, from user Wafflesnakes:
As someone who was a teenager girl, I can testify to this being accurate, and remaining accurate as an adult, it’s why it’s frustrating when games I wanna play rely on mics to be able to fully enjoy them, kinda feel left out because I’d rather really not use a mic for about a hundred different reasons.
That there has to be any reason at all is severely troublesome.