You’d think the online gaming community would be past prejudiced and sexual harassment. The cloak of anonymity that the internet provides should put everyone on an even playing-field – but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Recent reports have shown that female online gamers are being abused by their male counterparts, and women are now speaking out against it.
In MacLeans, a recent report stated that female online gamers are subjected to abuse when they take part in multi-player games. From console video games to online poker, women are the subjects of slurs and other inappropriate behaviour. According to researchers, the online gaming world is “one of the last places were unadulterated male chauvinism exists”. It is quite widespread in the online gaming universe, giving male players the idea that this is acceptable behaviour.
One of the most extreme cases of online gaming abuse has taken place against online blogger Anna Sarkeesian. After receiving funding for a study about perceptions of females in videogames, she became the subject of abuse. Her Wikipedia page was vandalized with slander, she has received threats via email and one gamer even created a violent online game called “Beat Up”, which allows players to virtually abuse the female gamer. The game was banned after being live for just over a month.
While it seems barbaric, this type of behaviour is widespread in the online gaming world. Many female online poker and Xbox Live players have been forced to set their gender to ‘male’ and change their profile photo to depict something more ‘masculine’. Otherwise, they become the victims of abuse. It affects thousands of female gamers, but little has been done to combat it.
Some women are taking a stand, however. A new website called Fat, Ugly or Slutty posts derogatory comments that have been made towards women in the online gaming universe. It provides them with the opportunity to identify with others who have had the same experience. While this may not put an end to the abuse, it is a step in the right direction. Raising awareness ensures that this type of behaviour does not go unnoticed, and it is hoped that game operators will be compelled to enforce more stringent regulations for gamer abuse.