The study involved 293 women with an average age of 26 who play online games like World of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2 and Defense of the Ancients for an average of 13 hours per week. What was found was that whilst, like most people, these women didn’t enjoy general abuse like swearing or insults they were able to shake it off and forget about it. Though it made some of them tempted to quit playing, they said they didn’t really expect the game companies to do anything about it or blame them for not stopping it.

However, when it came to the kinds of abuse that targeted them specifically as women rather than just as players, things were understandably different. According to lead author of the survey, Jesse Fox, women players were disturbed that they were “being targeted simply for being a woman” and that “they don’t easily forget those comments and continue to think about them when they’re done playing.” It’s in instances of harassment like this that the women in the study felt the gaming companies had a responsibility to take action and that if they didn’t see an active stance being taken they were much more inclined to withdraw from playing.

You only have to look at this study which found that men who perform badly in games are much more likely to harass female players to know that this kind of gendered and sexual harassment is much more than just ‘trash talk’; it’s an act of deliberate aggression which aims to make women feel unwelcome in the gaming community, to belittle them for who they are in order to make men feel more secure as gamers.

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