Once considered a novelty reserved for masculine and tech-savvy men, the online gaming industry is witnessing the number of women players growing steadily on both consumer and developer level. They are nothing short of their male counterparts and are now making their presence felt more than ever. From leading gaming companies, teams, and organizations to encouraging and influencing the growth of feminine association with video games, women have become active patrons of the world of gaming. 

This, however, is not to say that female gamers are overtly welcomed with open hands to the industry and culture of video games. Instead, they often find themselves enduring everything- from subtle jabs to full-on death threats. 

If you’re a female professional gamer, the dream job is bound to come with additional obstacles that your male counterparts might never experience. In spite of women becoming increasingly visible and successful in video gaming, leveling the playing field in such a masculine domain is likely to require more than just impressive playing skills. 

There are multiple issues at stake that’s stopping women from taking the plunge into gaming, and here we highlight a few:

Online Harassment

Not all gaming communities are welcoming enough when it comes to female gaming, and some are even perceived as being toxic. Over the last two years, hundreds of women have spoken out about the manipulative and predatory behavior they have experienced in their video game careers. 

Since the #MeToo Movement, the world has witnessed a wave of online stories and videos about people in the games industry as well, generally being belittled and gaslit at work by male bosses or being stalked, groomed, harassed, or treated with contempt online. With the alarming volume of complaints about harassment, sexual predation, and misogynist bullying, it has become undeniable that women in the gaming industry are abused and undermined in the workplace and online trolls. 

A prevalent issue of female gaming is online sexual harassment, including sexist jokes, sexist insults, rape jokes, and comments about female players’ appearances that keep many women from participating in the gaming community. Chris Avellone, an American high-profile game designer, was accused of sexual misconduct by several women on Twitter, leading numerous companies to distance themselves from the comic book writer known for his work on Star Wars titles and other role-playing games. 

In gaming culture, women are often harassed because they are seen as an outsider and intrusive minority. For anyone working in the games industry, becoming victims of targeted online abuse can be disheartening and even baffling. It’s fundamentally dehumanization, and that’s one of the things most concerning about the harassment situations.

Women gaming community face a lot of issues like sexism, harassment, in-game abuse.
Pic Credit: Microsoft News

Sexism

Sexism toward women in the online video game industry has become a pervasive and divisive issue in the gaming community. 

Though workplace sexism is not unique to video games, a toxic confluence of worker disempowerment and a male-dominated managerial class can make it an especially unwelcoming place for women. So much so, that in the toxic environment of online gaming, women play incognito, pretend to be male, or say nothing to avoid harassment and chauvinist remarks.

Gender Pay Gap

There is a massive wage gap between the average male and female gamers, including top men and women in Esports. For women who want to enter the gaming world, gender disparity and the wage gap are undeniable.

Even in 2020, gaming is still coded as a male-dominated industry, despite the fact that female gamers constitute almost 50% of the video games’ players. However, the lack of female presence isn’t because there are no experts in the field, but primarily because of the disturbingly clear huge pay gap. Even the leading multi-million competitions are not free of this social evil when it comes to rewarding their champions. 

There are also instances of prominent women working in the industry, having spoken of being paid dramatically less than male peers and blocked from opportunities to grow.

Women gaming community face a lot of issues like sexism, harassment, in-game abuse.
Pic Credit: Vice

Ignorance of Women as a Target Group of the Gaming Industry

The stereotype of women and girls not being interested in video games also implies that the gaming industry still does not widely perceive women as a target group. 

From smartphone games, ios games to internet games, and social media games, this pattern is persistent in the design of most games’ content, where it often becomes clear that the games are mostly intended to appeal to heterosexual young men. This speaks volumes about how the gaming industry thinks, and this, in turn, poses challenges for female gamers to strive for success in the gaming world. 

Many female gamers tend to get stressed with games not being suited to them or what they would naturally select to play. This is also one of the key contributing factors to women playing less than men, simply due to annoyance that the video games are not developed with female audiences in mind, as much as their male counterparts.