It is a widely known stereotype that has been ingrained in society for a few decades: video games attract boys. This statement has been proven untrue time and time again. However, while the data showcases that women love video games just as much as men, the stigma still throws off the balance within the industry and community with entitlement and misogyny.
According to the Electronic Software Association, 46% of adult women play video games today. While game makers have gotten increasingly better about their marketing tactics, and the industry has become more diverse, there is a history that has alienated women.
This has been an issue since the 1970s. In a remarkable piece called No Girls Allowed, written and researched by Tracy Lien, the video game industry was so new, marketing was hardly able to target anyone, let alone a specific gender, until 1985. A massive crash in revenue sparked fear for the developers. Nintendo took the lead and desperately sought after an audience. And they found that their number-one consumer was 10-year-old boys. There, the trope took root, and it took nearly a decade for game makers to start looking outside a totally saturated market. But the ugly truth was, it was too late.
Why articles like this are important
This is how all great movies are built-up, by the way. The character has a normal lifestyle you get a glimpse of at the start, somewhere along the way, an antagonist tears down the status quo, the protagonist hits rock-bottom, and then triumphantly becomes the one to defeat the obstacles, seizing the day. This is why articles like this could cause a shift inequality within industries we have no control over, because of ancient marketing structures.
This is far from the first time blatant bias has been identified in any industry, especially within popular culture. The Geek Lyfe has focused on stories such as sexual abuse in the geeky community, and the attacks on women who stream on game-based sites like Twitch, Hitbox, Youtube, and their preferred platforms. Sometimes, the heat garners from mob mentality, as we saw with Pink_Sparkles on Twitch. As reported previously, she was more scintillating than an average streamer, using sex appeal to gain an audience. Then a group form 4Chan and Reddit began to harass her on Twitch, to the point where she changed her entire business model, switched platforms, and signed off of Twitch for some time.
Many gamers don’t expect a fix to these issues overnight. However, the gaming community is undergoing a massive transformation. Not only is it becoming more diverse with those of higher status and skill, but it’s also got a lot of open-minded people lifting up those who are new to the scene. Those testimonials that cannot be quantified, but the stories are out there. Conversations are momentum in society.
With that being said, The Geek Lyfe reached out to see if this cornerstone of nerd culture still needs to progress for the sake of all aspiring gamers. Although we reached out to a number of content creators, only two were comfortable enough to answer our questions.
“My experience in the gaming community in MMOS is that I was treated fine. I sounded like a boy because of my voice and the way it sounds over mic. However, as soon as it was revealed that I was a girl, the party would get weird and I’d be kind of shit talked? I didn’t let it taunt me or stop me, I just kept playing out of spite. Though I prefer to play with friends rather than alone to avoid this. Competitive is the worst when it comes to toxic behavior. I find you get bullied into roles as opposed to the one you normally play or are great at due to elitist attitudes.” – Anonymous Woman Gamer
“In my opinion, male streamers to not have as easy as a start, in the beginning, to make it towards the partnership goal, whereas females have an easier time in the beginning. But males often have more of a devoted following and pick up towards the end. Both sides have advantages and disadvantages, but it’s all about you and the content you create.” – Anonymous Male Gamer
What can be done to discourage harassment or gender-targeted behavior? “Rome was not built in a day.” These things will take time. The best way for the world to grow is by continuing the conversation while making all parties involved feel their voices heard.
Suggestions received during this inquiry do show that while men and women both feel harassed online, all respondents feel that the community can change. If you have a story or testimony that does or does not correspond with our findings, please feel free to email us.