Today, Gaming for many has become an acceptable hobby and even career choice. While just a few years ago the mere thought of becoming a professional streamer or gamer was more fantasy than reality. Now, with eSports competitions and streaming platforms like Twitch, you’re able to turn a hobby into a lucrative career.
When it comes to mobile gaming a recent survey by CyberMedia Research looked at 2,000 gamers in India and were surprised to find female gamers outnumbered male at, 95% verses 85% respectively. Puzzle games like PUBG, CandyCrush, are big hits among woman. Which makes sense, since those games and their ads tend to target females more so than males.
Why is it then that gaming is usually seen as something for boys? Today most “Big” games are generally marketed toward males, which explains why the majority of streamers and competitive players tend to be male. This in turn makes it difficult for women to be taken seriously as gamers. We can reach back to 2014 when the Gamergate scandal rocked the gaming community, proving that sexism and misogyny was running rampant and ruining and chances of woman wanting to gain ground within the industry.
Developer, Zoë Quinn, has been vocal in reporting harassment and discrimination within all levels of the gaming industry. Quinn isn’t alone, British gamer Leahviathan, who streams for nearly 6 hours every day, has been a consistent target for harassment from internet trolls. She told the BBC in a recent interview that many of the snide remarks made are in reference to her being financially backed primarily because she’s a girl, and not for her talent.
Trolls told Leahviathan to “get cancer and die” and made rape threats because she promoted a game that wasn’t well received by others. She is pragmatic: “They bother me, but I know by and large they’re not real. I try to just separate them from the reality of what I do.”
I started gaming on my Sega and Nintendo systems since I was nine years old. As I got older, I played more computer games, especially MMO’s (massively multiplayer online.) I played World of Warcraft for over 12 years and I can attest to the reality of sexism and harassment online. To this day, I rarely ever use my microphone when I’m gaming online because there will always be a chance that someone listening will have something repulsive or rude to say. But it’s never thwarted me from playing or shrouded my view of video games. I love gaming and likely always will.
Reports of abuse and harassment are becoming more commonplace as women become less afraid to enter into the gaming world as well as feel empowered to share their stories. These issues haven’t scared women off in fact their numbers continue to grow at a steady rate. The stereotype of girls being bad at video games continues to be challenged on a daily basis. In this U.S. alone, 46% of video gamers are female, a huge increase considering that back in 2006, only 38% of gamers were women. More girls are feeling comfortable owning their passion for video games and hopefully this number will continue to rise.
The fact that more females are becoming game developers only aids in women feeling more comfortable in exploring gaming. India and the US are not alone, in Australia the number of females in the gaming industry nearly doubled from 8.7% to 15% in just four years. In regard to development, many companies are starting to recognize the needs and demands of female gamers by adding more women onto their teams. As we make the effort to disprove biases surrounding video games, we can only expect to see more women in this space continue to flourish and kick some major virtual butt.
Alyssa Shea grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. When she’s not wrangling a husband, two kids, and two dogs, you can find her writing or gaming. She enjoys falling down random YouTube holes, cooking, and binge watching Netflix shows.