Researchers at the University of New South Wales and Miami University found in a new study that lesser-skilled male gamers are more likely to harass female gamers.
Color me surprised.
The study comprised of 163 people playing the game Halo 3. Lead researchers Michael Kasumovic and Jeffrey Kuznekoff say they chose the game because it provides “direct competitions outside of any sexualized storyline or content.”
What they observed was that male players, no matter what their skill level, tended to be kind towards other males. In fact, men who were losing the game tended to be submissive to male players who were more skilled and accepted their support.
The same lesser-skilled men, of course, were more likely to throw negative comments at female players.
In an interview with the Washington Post Kasumovic writes, “As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status, the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.”
The power dynamics of video gaming seems to be changing with the huge influx of female players, who seem to threaten male players who aren’t as good at the game, which is why they resort to bullying tactics as a way of overcompensating the question raised about their “masculinity.”
On the other hand, more skilled male players seem to have no problem with female players, and they were even found to be supportive of female players in some cases.
“As higher-skilled players have less to fear from hierarchical reorganization, we argue that these males behave more positively in an attempt to support and garner a female player’s attention,” the study says.
Online female harassment is nothing new. As this Twitter user said,
— Todoroki's Future Ex-wife (@onewildflowerz) July 21, 2015
As much as we hate to accept it, sexist behavior is prevalent in all spaces and the gaming community is definitely not an exception.