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Women are believed to be underrepresented by numbers in many types of geeky entertainment, including roleplaying and computer gaming. This page covers primarily computer gaming communities online.

Issues Edit

  • Invisibility:
    • Some fellow gamers believe that there are no women at all in gaming, to the point where when a woman gamer identifies herself online they believe it is more likely that she is a man who is lying.
    • Many computer games are centered on a single 'hero' player character who is very often male. If there is a choice of several heroes/avatars, they can be disproportionately male and where there is a choice of plots it skews male.
    • Computer gaming marketing and frequently invokes archetypes that clearly indicate that the audience is expected to be male (and heterosexual), such as remarks about how a particular game is going to be so engrossing it will annoy the player's girlfriend.
    • Despite women making up a relatively large amount of the buyers of some computer games, games that appeal to women are still regarded as a niche market.
  • Limited education: market forces in computer gaming favour the development of games for the relatively small proportion of gamers who invest a significant amount of their leisure money and time in gaming. These gamers are disproportionately young and male, and the games aimed at them tend to be lengthy, involved and difficult. The socialisation of young girls strongly discourages this level of investment in computer gaming. This can be a disadvantage in many geek circles even when not centered on gaming, as competitive gaming is a common social activity.
  • Sexualized environment: sex and sexual plot elements are a valid part of some games' role as entertainment, but many roleplaying and narrative games feature sex with women or the appearance of conventionally attractive women as an optional or compulsory part of a game's arc, often as either a reward or a game goal, particularly compared to those that play on male attractiveness or on sex with men, or sex with partners of the same gender. In roleplaying games women may be pressured by other players to play attractive female heterosexual characters to provide love interests for other characters.
  • Sexist advertising aimed at a presumed-male audience and denigrating women.
  • Online harassment: in online settings, there is a long history of male gamers engaging in various levels of harassment of female gamers, spanning from wanting to know what the female gamer's body looks like to pursuing a female gamer for dates, relationships, or online (or sometimes real world) sex acts. In tabletop settings, where a female gamer may be the only woman in the gaming group, if she is not participating with a boyfriend/husband, the male gamers may assume that she is "fair game" and harass her in-game or out-of-game.

Incidents Edit

Sexist advertising Edit

Sexually explicit video games Edit

A number of video games are sexually explicit, or contain gratuitous nudity intended to titillate the player. Generally, these video games cater to a straight male audience. If options exist for female players, they have fewer features and options than those for men.

Examples:

iPhone gamesEdit

  • Puma Index:
    When the Dow goes up, the models on your iPhone put on their Puma clothes. When the Dow goes down, they start taking their Puma clothes off.

Violence in video games Edit

Violence in video games is a constant issue. Various governments have banned, or attempted to ban, violent video games:

Sexual violence and rape Edit

Some games include sexual violence:

  • RapeLay (the rape simulation game mentioned above)
  • Stockholm, in which you kidnap someone and attempt to seduce her
"...a terrifyingly vivid exploration of Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition in which a captive falls in love with her kidnapper. And you play the part of the kidnapper. With a limited number of options, you must figure out how to make her fall in love with you."
  • GTA IV (link is to an opinion article)
"Rape does in fact does take place, or is made possible, by the game makers in GTA. If one has sex with a prostitute in the game, one can then beat the prostitute up (some reports say that one can murder the prostitute) and take one's money back, and this, my friends, constitutes rape."
"More disturbing than the thought that some of the mini games are fun is the fact that Larry likes to get the ladies drunk to get his wicked way, yes, honestly, the term used in game for alcohol mixed for a female target is and I quote “A-Grade Panty Peeler”. I think the developers missed a prime addition to the game however by omitting GHB, rohypnol and ketamine, I mean if getting the girls totally smashed to get into their pants is ok, why not date rape drugs?"

Also, sexual violence is often committed on avatars in MMORPGs. For instance, the practice of teabagging is used by Halo 3 players to humiliate players who have died in-game. The first publicised case of online RPG rape was A Rape in Cyberspace.

The DOS/arcade website Abandonia actively tolerates harassment and sexual violence.

Sexual violence in video games and their communities is an example of rape culture.

Other problematic games Edit

Analysis Edit

"Just because 64% of the characters are female doesn't mean the people playing them are in real life. Like the old joke about IRC goes - The men are men, the women are men, and the children are FBI agents."

Resources Edit

Blogs Edit

Other websites Edit

Books Edit

Women in Professional GamingEdit

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