Women in video games: ‘Accept it, or don’t buy the game’

Video Games Women 2018

Two young men and two young women playing video games together. ( Concordia University Texas, 2017)

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Rosamond Hutt, Formative Content

Battlefield V hasn’t been released yet, but the trailer for the hotly anticipated World War II first-person shooter game stirred up anger recently among a minority of fans, who vented online using the hashtag #NotMyBattlefield.

What caused the backlash? The game’s reveal trailer featured a woman fighting on the frontline, which some fans complained sacrificed authenticity for political correctness (though women did have combat roles in World War II).

Despite the furore, the game’s publisher Electronic Arts (EA) and developer DICE stood by their decision to include female characters.

“Today gaming is gender-diverse, like it hasn’t been before,” EA’s chief creative officer, Patrick Soderlund said, adding that fans who are unhappy about this have “two choices: either accept it, or don’t buy the game”.

Responding to disgruntled Battlefield fans, Oskar Gabrielson, DICE’s vice president and general manager, tweeted: “First, let me be clear about one thing. Player choice and female playable characters are here to stay.”

No longer a man’s world

This is just the latest challenge to the perception that video games, particularly those in the first-person shooter (FPS) genre like Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield, are only for boys and men.

In fact, far from being a rarity in a male-dominated realm, female players make up nearly half of the gaming audience.

According to the Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) 2018 survey, 45% of US gamers are women. And contrary to what many might think, ESA’s research shows that adult women represent a much larger share (31%) of the US game-playing audience than teenage boys (17%).

Last year, research from Barclays predicted that women will account for almost a third of the projected £3.5 billion ($4.6 billion) annual spend in the UK on video games.

Diversity problem

However, despite their numbers, women gamers remain underrepresented, not just in terms of the female characters they can play but behind the scenes in game development – a trend that is also pervasive in the broader tech industry.

A handful of companies and organizations have created forums and networks to tackle the problem, including Facebook and Global Gaming Women.

In February, Facebook launched its Women in Gaming Initiative, which aims to boost diversity and encourage more women into leadership positions in the field.

In a video to promote the initiative, Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says: “Gaming doesn’t fully reflect the audiences it serves in the stories it tells. Women make up only 23% of the gaming workforce and women of colour are even less represented.”

Online harassment lingers

Women are increasingly becoming part of online gaming communities where gamers watch each other play in real time, sometimes attracting large audiences.

Sexual harassment is commonplace in these online communities, and while women can shrug off much of the name-calling and abuse hurled at them, they find sexual harassment harder to ignore, according to research from the Ohio State University.

A survey of 293 women who played video games online found that even after the game was over, the women said they continued to think about the sexist comments, rape jokes and threats.

“Most women players understand trash talking and having their playing skill insulted, even if they don’t like it,” said Jesse Fox, lead author of the study and professor of communication at the Ohio State University.

“But what disturbs them is being targeted simply for being a woman. They don’t easily forget those comments and continue to think about them when they’re done playing.”

Now, a team of “elite female gamers”, who called themselves the Bully Hunters, are offering to help victims of sexual harassment in the multiplayer video game CS:GO by beating offenders “through the sheer force of their unmatched skill”.

But although women have become increasingly visible – and successful – in video gaming, levelling the playing field in such a masculine domain is likely to require more than just impressive playing skills.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Celebrate love, strengthen partnerships to end AIDS epidemic by 2030 says UN agency

Sweden’s forests have doubled in size over the last 100 years

Chile ups foreign bribery enforcement but flawed case resolutions are insufficient to ensure transparency and accountability

More people now plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine than in December

This Latin American country is keeping COVID-19 firmly under control. How?

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Sudan, Libya, Yemen updates, solutions for e-waste, flood response in Iran, online security for children

Main results of EU-Japan summit: Tokyo, 17/07/2018

3 reasons why responsibly-deployed technology is key to the COVID recovery

LGBTQ+ inclusion on the other side of the screen

Can we prevent a surge in pandemic-related homelessness?

EU reconfirms support for Afghanistan at 2020 Geneva Conference

Timor-Leste Foreign Minister highlights value of UN in resolving conflicts

Fostering defence innovation through the European Defence Fund

China is a renewable energy champion. But it’s time for a new approach

Financial inclusion in India is soaring. Here’s what must happen next

Horn of Africa: UN chief welcomes Djibouti agreement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia

A clean energy future with hydrogen could be closer than we think

Draghi cuts the Gordian knot of the Banking Union

This Canadian start-up turns millions of chopsticks into sustainable furniture

COVID-19 is challenging the way we think of chemical industry trends. This is how

Across the world, women outlive men. This is why

These 3 countries are global offshore wind powerhouses

Brexit talks: 2nd round fails to bring the EU and the UK closer on key issues

The EU invites the US and Russia to partition Ukraine

What happens when the Eurogroup decides to help Greece

EU announces record €550 million contribution to save 16 million lives from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

European Banking Union: no one is perfect

European Defence Fund on track with €525 million for Eurodrone and other joint research and industrial projects

Africa’s future is innovation rather than industrialization

Violence will not deter Somali people in their pursuit of peace, says UN chief, in wake of lethal attacks

EU Budget 2019 to focus on young people

Armed groups kill Ebola health workers in eastern DR Congo

Economic policy priorities for a post-pandemic recovery

What brands get wrong about China – and how to put it right

China, forever new adventures

New rules to help consumers join forces to seek compensation

4 ways to build businesses that work for good, right now

‘Catastrophic’ healthcare costs put mothers and newborns at risk

Mobile 360 Series – Russia & CIS: Empowering the Digital Economy

These tech start-ups are changing what it means to farm

Insecurity and violence turn Nigeria into a ‘pressure cooker’ that must be addressed, says UN rights expert

UN relief official in Yemen condemns ‘horrific’ attack on passenger buses

How Cameron unwillingly helped Eurozone reunite; the long-term repercussions of two European Council decisions

European Commission authorises third safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19

European Youth Forum on Summit on Jobs and Growth

Escalation in Syria fighting cause for ‘great concern’ says UN chief, dozens more civilians dead or injured

Taxes on polluting fuels are too low to encourage a shift to low-carbon alternatives

AI-assisted recruitment is biased. Here’s how to make it more fair

Measles claims more than twice as many lives than Ebola in DR Congo

Technology can hinder good mental health at work. Here’s how it can help

Facebook: MEPs demand a full audit by EU bodies to assess data protection

More women than ever are working in Hollywood, but men still dominate key roles

Japanese law professor elected new judge at the International Court of Justice

G7: A serious setback hardly avoided in iconic Biarritz

German elections: Is Merkel losing ground or Shultz is winning?

EU-UK relations: MEPs approve rules to ensure Eurotunnel safety and cooperation

Facebook/Cambridge Analytica: MEPs pursue personal data breaches probe

Commission extends transparency and authorisation mechanism for exports of COVID-19 vaccines

Hostages to a rampant banking system

CHALLENGING THE ZEITGEIST OF DIGITAL – Change making projects innovate mobile support for refugees, inclusive environments, early breast cancer detection and more

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. Виктор Твердынин says:

    Battlefield scandal about historical accuracy in historical setting. No one was unhappy about female charachter in multiplayer games with sci-fi or post apocalipsis setting. It talk only about WW2. And any one who do not undestend it idiot or lier. And I don’t know what worst.

  2. Bullyhunters? You mean the ones that proven to be a scam? The ones that everyone cut any relationship with them after the sad espectacle they gave? Check your sources for god sake. (as easy as google bullyhunters scandal)

    Btw, There have been female characters for years with no problem for anyone, in the same way that there have been players. But hey, you can continue with the same chant. This is what happens when “journalists” start talking about something they neither understand nor like.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s