When someone thinks of video games, one would mostly think of men designing, playing, and streaming the game. However, there is a community of female players who are breaking this stereotype. Unfortunately, women are facing sexism, sexual harassment, triggering language, explicit pictures, and sexual assault from men who feel inferior that women are in the gaming industry as a player or developer. This isn’t current problem, sexism since 1982 when there was a leaked design for Texas Instrument’s,”Hunt the Wumpus” which contained an early sketch of the game’s monster that resembles a fanged vagina and blood stains left by the monster as menstrual. There has been many attempts to deescalate certain aspects of sexism but yet there is still sexism existing in the world.
In the production of video games, there is a term called male gaze. Andy Simmons provided the definition as ,” the sexual politics of the gaze and suggests a sexualised way of looking that empowers men and objectifies women.” To go into more detailed in male gaze, woman are positioned or framed to please a man’s desire. In video games it can just be when a camera rests on a character’s butt or breasts during a cutscene, the clothing, or even the way the character is talking or walking. For example, Anita Sarkeesian found modern video games such as Uncharted 2 when the main character is climbing up a wall, the player can stop moving and the angle makes the main character’s butt more prominent. This can be seen with many games such as Destiny 2, Batman, Saints Row, and other big name games. Most of the games provide subtle details such as the swaying of the hips when a female character moves, focusing the attention on the butt.
Many games are dominated by a male hero whose goal is to save a women, objectifying women and making them a goal. Some people are perceiving these messages as a women’s inability to protect themselves and require a strong male character to provide support and protection. However, when female character are strong enough to protect themselves, they are often sexualised in armor that is revealing and would result in a quick and immediate death. Chainmail bikini armor is a staple in many fighting games and massively multiplayer online games. A male and female character could be the same level with the same perks and wear the same armor but the male character would be more concealed. Most users who see this considers it inappropriate and have made it known that it is unacceptable. Unfortunately developers and publishers are just hiding behind their sales.
Sexual harassment doesn’t escape from users who play video games, an escape from reality. Twitch is a popular live streaming website, where anyone can stream the games they are playing and have an active chat. However those who hide behind their screens takes advantage of their ominosity and sexually harass the streamer, mostly females. In a World of Warcraft live stream, a man known as MetaphorSX was live-streaming World of Warcraft on Twitch and, during a break, decided to rate female Twitch streamers along with his viewers. In his chat, someone linked him to another streamer, a woman with a red top and glasses. Everyone who was watching MetaphorSX can see what was on his monitor so they also saw the woman. In his chat, they were rating the woman and explicitly making sexual references. The woman was Khaljiit, playing League of Legends. She quickly got on and felt offended since she did not do anything wrong or reveal anything yet the little exposure to her breasts gave birth to an everlasting topic to the World of Warcraft streams. Most women like Khaljiit have to carefully pick out their clothing before the stream in order to prevent their chat from insulting them. Only a handful of clothes can do this such as a jacket or hoodie. Why would a woman have to cover up but men can go shirtless and have no-one insult him.
There is a stigma where men think they are better at games and computers than women. However, there are women out there who have been playing or working with computers their whole life. By the Internet Advertising Bureau reveals that 52% of the gaming audience is made up of women in 2014, which means the majority of the gaming industry is played by women. Jennifer Boisier said, “No matter what I did, he kept going…. Then he said, ‘I’ll just do it for you’ and utters the phrase, ‘The PC gaming thing, it’s kinda hard.” Little did the man know, Jennifer has been playing games since she was 14 yet, the sexism was apparent here. The man talked about the very basics of computer such as frames per second. This shows how belittling men are towards women. Men think they are superior in this category, not knowing how capable women are in terms of gaming.
Often women admitted to feeling excluded around expos and conventions and end up not attending the opportunities for connections and networks simply because they are sick and tired of being harassed. David Gaider said that repelling women was a decision that people can just stop. The culture of sexism is deeply ingrained in the industry and the community but slowly, stigmas towards women are slowly changing. With more women coming out and speaking against their treatment and encouraging others to do the same, they are being accepted for positions in the gaming industry. This can be seen in the #Metoo campaigned.