Gamer or Girl-mer?

Females in the Gaming Community

Gamer or Girl-mer?

Morgan Martinez Gee

Spending time playing Minecraft, Call of Duty, and Pokemon are all common weekend activities. You might as well also be playing Sims and Sexism, Mortal Kombat and Misogyny, or Far Cry and Feminism. 


Even though roughly half of the world is female, the same is not said for video game enthusiasts. Studies have shown that only about 41 percent of gamers in America are females, and in Asia, only 40-45 percent of gamers. Even when roughly ⅖ of the population of gamers is females, it’s very common for females to be hidden from this percentage. “chat room participants with female usernames report receiving threatening or sexually explicit private messages 25 times more often than those with male or ambiguous usernames” (Link). 

For the women who don’t want to be harassed just because of their names/appearances in game, many choose to “mute their voice so their gender won’t be detected… play under ambiguous or male names [or] block persistent harassers” (Link). Of course, there are some women who do not change their names and endure harassment. “Although men and women both experience abuse, female gamers are more likely to experience sexual harassment and being excluded from the game”. Misogynistic insults are commonly followed, such as “get back into the kitchen”,  “maybe if you shut up guys would like you”, “your mouth would have a much better use than talking”, and “you sound like a girl”. 

Video Game Portrayal

Playing around in Genshin Impact, the very first thing you see is young women flying around in long, yet ironically, very revealing skirts and tiny little shirts that would fly off instantly in real life. After a bit, you then see grown men wearing notably boring, boxy pants and dirty white shirts. This is a trend commonly followed in most video games. Even down to Pokemon, a game made for children (not to be discouraged if you are not a child, I love Pokemon), even if they’re wearing normal clothes, they still talk and act flirtatiously.

Adding onto the portrayal of females, studies have shown that “only 5% of video games showcasing female protagonists. Various studies reveal that gender stereotypes continue to prevail in video games, with female characters often objectified and hyper-sexualized”.  Girls found in games are often characterized as a “love interest, innocent or needing to be rescued by a male character” (Link).


World Impacts

Females are commonly portrayed as glorified objects or plot-points to carry the story along. Even children who are under the age of 10 can be seen as hyper-sexualized objects, causing gross comparisons between children and adults and young children to compare their bodies to unfair ideals. “… female characters in video games tend to have unrealistic ‘Barbie-like’ body proportions with an exaggerated chest-size, extremely long legs or a disproportionately small waist” (Link). 

This also feeds into gender norms, in which females are shown and “supposed to be” shy, timid, damsel-in-distress esc personality and look. Young girls are then fed this lie whenever they boot up Super Mario world and start to feel insecure about themselves if they don’t act like their favorite characters. On the other hand, young boys are told that females are not confident and need saving, and when they see girls who aren’t like that, they start to feel insecure in their masculinity.

Personal Experiences

I, myself, and many of my friends have experienced this harassment. One example of this is a personal experience. It was over quarantine when everyone was obsessing over Among Us, for context. I was in a lobby in a pink body, cat ears, and my name was Please_No, and a random (I can assume male) was asking me how old I was and where I lived, telling me he would break into my house and steal all my electronics so I couldn’t play any games. Luckily, he was kicked from the game, but even though I didn’t tell him anything, the thought made me very uncomfortable. 

Another example of this is my friend who was playing Rainbow 6 siege who was repeatedly killed by her own teammates while they were saying “you’re a girl, you can’t play” and “you’re dumb, go use those braincells to bake a cake”. 

Young women have been harassed for centuries now, and even while they are dodging other cars for entertainment, or dropping down into islands using school buses, they are and most likely will continue being harassed.