Most women hide their gender when gaming to avoid harassment
Online gaming is such a toxic place for women that 59 per cent of female gamers conceal their gender over harassment concerns, a new survey reveals.
The study, by marketing research group Reach3 and Lenovo, found that many gamers assume a non-gendered identity or even pretend to be male.
Around 900 women gamers in the US, China, and Germany were asked about their experiences, with the aim to better understand diversity and inclusion in gaming. “Despite still being mostly associated with men, gaming is on the rise with women,” said Leigh Admirand, Senior Vice President at Reach3 Insights. According to their data, in the US alone there were 28 million new players in 2020 compared to 2019, and 41 per cent of American gamers identify as women.
When talking about their experience, three quarters of women gamers said they have faced sexism and harassment, with many quitting or avoiding playing altogether. They reported being insulted, receiving unwanted sexual messages or patronising comments. In some cases, men left the game when they found out the players were women. These sexist behaviours result in “little to no repercussion” for the offenders.
Looking at how the gaming industry could foster a more inclusive culture for women gamers, advertising came on top, with 71 per cent of participants saying that companies can help by having more diversity in gaming ads. This includes having all-women casts of gamers, using women voiceover, and having a gender-balanced cast.
Women gamers also want to see gaming brands supporting women in electronic sports and normalising the fact that women play at an elite level – 61 per cent of women gamers want to see brands develop all-women esports teams competing at the highest levels.
Emily Hoppes, Senior Customer Insights Manager at Lenovo said, “Reach3’s unique mobile insights helped us capture candid feedback from women gamers to better understand the important topic of diversity and inclusion in gaming, which will help Lenovo and the industry together to build a more inclusive culture and safer space for women in gaming.