The Girl Gamer Experience

For years there have been different opinions circulating the internet surrounding the topic of the female gamer. Some positive, some negative, some indifferent. However, as one of these so-called ‘girl gamers’ I was interested to see what the buzz was all about. Are girl gamers treated unfairly? Is there no difference at all?

To find out, I conducted a little research. I reached out to girl gamers on various social media platforms, and asked them to complete a short survey. In total I received 47 responses. Which, while is not enough to provide solid evidence, still does answer some questions about what being a girl gamer is really like.

In future there will be a re-run of this survey, with more questions. There will also be one aimed at male gamers, for a comparative analysis.

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The first question seems irrelevant but is actually quite interesting! Most of the participants were actually, technically, women – going by the fact that the 19-30+ brackets are much larger than 13-18.

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As expected, America makes up a large percentage of this location-based question. Followed by Europe as the two leading locations for the participants. This question also seems irrelevant but, socioeconomic and societal factors should be considered with each person. Someone gaming in Asia would have an entirely different life to someone gaming in America, and that should always be taken into consideration. Location could be a factor in perceptions of female gaming.

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I believe the type of game mostly played by each participant will greatly change their experience. RPGs, for example, tend to be solo – meaning the gamer can choose not to socialise if they don’t wish. However online or multiplayer games are a completely different story, especially when the player has a headset, or is gaming online with strangers.

I find it interesting that the most popular answers, were both single player. A much smaller amount of the participants prefer to game online, or with others. And no one at all selected FPS, or Retro gaming as their main go-to! Of course, this does not mean they don’t all dabble in all these areas, but they have each chosen their main area. Most of them went for single player options, and I wonder why that is?

I myself prefer single player, RPGs being my main outlet. For me, this is purely because of taste and what I enjoy playing. It’s never had anything to do with outside influence.

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PC wins! By a small margin. It seems that the participants are generally split in half on the topic of platform. It seems strange that the PC bracket is so large, yet the online and MMO gaming were seemingly unpopular earlier on; PC is arguably better for online gaming and MMOs, after all. This would suggest that most of our girl gamers are playing RPG and single player games on the PC.

Interestingly, no one selected the handheld option as their main platform!

In the next section, I wanted to dive into the idea of harassment. I hear a lot online that female gamers are subject to taunting, often due to online gaming, or social media. You may notice that one participant decided not to answer these questions, so I’m going to assume they found them inapplicable.

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The overwhelming response here is fairly positive. 50% said they had experienced harassment of some kind, but it was not common. Quite a large amount of participants simply do not play online. The smallest margin is those who answered as experiencing harassment frequently.

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Again, the response is fairly positive. A large amount of participants do not use gaming-oriented social media, but those who do generally reflect that there isn’t an overwhelming wave of harassment reaching female gamers. 37% stated they have never received harassment because of their gender online, and 30.4% had experienced it in an unusual case.

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I felt it important to ask this, to get more of an insight into how female gamers socialise. according to this, most do have other female gamers in their lives, be it in real life, or over the internet.

Lastly, I asked the participants some questions, which they could write out their own responses to. These questions also centred around the idea of harassment.

“If You’ve Experienced Harassment in Any of The Above Situations, And Are Able to, Please Share Your Experience”

The answers to this question were a mixed bag. Some detailing very negative situations:

‘The harassment I’ve experienced has never been provoked. As soon as someone hears my voice, I immediately get called derogatory names.’

‘I played WoW for many years, and often I heard things like, “I’ll bring you to raid if you send pics of your boobs” or “Okay you can come but you have to use your “sexy voice” in mumble”. I was asked to engage in cyber sex for items or loot on occasion as well.’

‘I gave up and stopped using my mic despite the fact that I wanted to talk to my friends when we played but if other players found out I was a girl on several instances I would be stalked from match to match and they would follow and kill me even if we were on the same game. Today I’ve given up on multiplayer games entirely.’

‘As soon as my gender comes to light, many people stop caring about how I actually play the game and how well I play it. Instead they ask inappropriate questions about my body because of gender. Its really frustrating tbh, I just wanna play the game.’

Some described more neutral grounds:

‘The closest thing to harassment (though I was merely annoyed by it) was on World of Warcraft, on voice chat, one or more male players made lewd comments about “real boobs”. But that was all. Generally all male players I played with were not vocally misogynistic, though most people I voice chatted with were guild members and good people.’

For this question, I received 20 responses, two of which read ‘n/a’ – meaning that I was only given 18 accounts of harassment from my participants. Less than half. I feel, although the examples are harsh, this in itself is positive. As, at least in terms of these gamers, there isn’t as much hate in the community as I once thought.

“Have You Ever Been Made to Feel by Anyone That You Should Not Game Because of Your Gender?”

I feel it is important to note that the question asks ‘anyone’ rather than ‘ any male gamers.’ 34 answers. 12 answered ‘no.’ 20 said ‘yes.’ And one person said ‘n/a.’

‘The atmosphere towards girls in games at large often makes it difficult for me to feel comfortable revealing my gender in any way. Fear of being ridiculed or stereotyped by others on the basis of gender has been a common theme in my multiplayer game experiences. As a result of this negative environment, I tend to gravitate towards single player games.’

‘No, but my understanding of the environment of online gaming is the main reason I don’t attempt MMOs.’

‘Often, yes. I’ve been subjected to questions about games to test if I ‘really’ like gaming, or if I’m just pretending I do to impress people.’

20 out of 47 female gamers said they had been made to feel like they should not game because of their gender. Again, this is less than half. In one way, I am glad the number is small. However, I feel it could be smaller. It is a shame anyone is made to feel like they can’t game at any time, as it’s an amazing experience!

A huge thank you to everyone who did take part, and helped advertise, my survey! I hope you enjoy seeing the results as much as I did.

To look out for the next two surveys, for male and female gamers, you can keep up with this blog or find me on tumblr or twitter.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Interesting statistics here. I wonder what the crossover is between age and type of game played. I’ve found that as I’ve grown older that I gravitate considerably more towards single player games and only very occasionally dabbling in multiplayer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point! I’m hoping to do the research again and get much more data next time, so maybe I can answer that question in future. I’ve personally always played single player games!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. shaunkellett says:

    Sorry to be reading this so late (just stumbled on your blog) but this was really interesting to read. I think the online communities, especially those that don’t encourage Guilds or the like, are often rife with outspoken harassers that will latch onto anything. I think people get more vocal with the anonymity the online brings. There’s a lot of immaturity there, and I think a lot of boys are still stuck in their sexist/chauvinistic age… I think when it comes to harassment people latch on to the easiest thing they can, and in this case it’s often that the other player is Female. It’s very sad, and even as a white male, one of the reasons I don’t really play games online is that I don’t want to interact with people who might be annoying/unpleasant.

    I think an interesting question is one of the latter ones posed: “Have You Ever Been Made to Feel by Anyone That You Should Not Game Because of Your Gender?”. This might be an interesting route to take this study. When the conversation is taken offline, it raises the question whether these are family members? Friends? Etc. Are these people raising eyebrows and rolling eyes based on someones hobbies? Particularly disgusting is the anecdote of being posed questions to clarify if someone is a “true” gamer or not, as if there was such a thing. If this is an in-person experience rather than online harassment, that has got to forge limitations on the way you see your past-time.

    Really interesting read, I’d love to see you revisit this again later on, perhaps with a bigger sample size and perhaps to see if trends have changed at all! You brought out the inner psychologist in me! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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