Research Finds Game-Playing Women Not Identifying as ‘Gamers’

There’s a lot of evidence that shows the gaming-sphere to be less than female friendly.

Shane K | Flickr Creative Commons

Women and men may both play video games, but female players are reportedly less interested in being known as “gamers,” as a Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday found.

The Pew study indicated a mere six percent of women found the gamer label attractive, compared with 15 percent of men.

“Having a label of gamer is not just about being geeky,” said Rosalind Wiseman to the New York Times when asked about the subject. Author of Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World, Wiseman specializes in the study of social identities and relationships, which includes gaming attitudes among young people, “It also has spilled over unfortunately into a really negative connotation of people who are just really angry and intolerant of other people.”

The GamerGate controversy lends credence to this notion.

Organized under the #gamergate tag, it’s a massive group effort that includes some self-proclaimed gamers that have rallied against those who have publically criticized sexism demonstrated in games and gaming culture (re “SJWs”). Negative comments and harassment are commonplace, sometime veering into threats of violence (check the #gamergate for current examples).

Wiseman also mentioned in her Times interview that girls tend to face frequent doubts toward gaming skills, and may receive pointed insults during web-based multiplayer game play, where contestants talk through headsets. “It’s something about they’re a slut, they’re fat, they’re ugly, or they are bad at the game,” she expressed.

The overall representation of female characters in games may be a factor.

Women often appear as damsels in distress or as rewards for male avatars or actual players—realities documented in the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games YouTube series created by Anita Sarkeesian. (Sarkeesian has since received a massive wave of attack from declared gamers; search her name in the YouTube browser to see how many videos have been dedicated to disliking her videos and her in general.)

According to the Pew Research, 35 percent of self-described “gamers” disagree that video games tend to portray women poorly.

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