Harassment and Dismissal: Women Fighting Masculinity to Win Space in the Video Game World technology

Gene Herans’ career ended with a tweet. streamersA broadcaster and writer specializing in the world of video games, she has spent a decade working in a space where women are barely represented. With a total of 160,000 followers between Instagram, Twitch, and Twitter, he explains that he decided to drop it all a few months ago due to a “little unfortunate comment about some exes” he made on the networks. “A tweet, if a colleague had posted it, nothing would have happened. But women have always been treated differently, especially in this world, where harassment continues,” Herrants says.

The comment was about how quickly keyboard players know how to play the keys. League of Legends (LoL), The popular online game that attracts more than 180 million people. Herranz shared a tweet from another user who expressed his desire to have a friend who plays LoL (because of his supposed ability to masturbate a woman). She added to the original tweet that after she was with two players, he could confirm that his abilities to form “good fingers” were limited. The torrent of attacks, insults and threats she received in the following days (almost all from men) led her to decide to give up her social media accounts and quit her job as a presenter. “It was the best decision for my mental health, I come to suffer from anxiety attacks daily. Although this decision also works against me, because I have lost my main source of livelihood and therefore it is difficult to pay the mortgage and bills,” he affirms. “I have been in this sector for ten years and now I have to start from scratch.”

In fact, Herranz did not quit his job due to an unfortunate tweet about his ex-boyfriends. She left him because ever since she began writing and speaking on video game networks, users have talked about her as a “girlfriend” and called her a “bitch” and a “bitch,” words she had to filter into her content comments during these years. His case is no exception in the world of video games, where harassment is extremely rife, especially towards female gamers. Five out of six adults (83%) ages 18-45 are bullied in multiplayer online games, according to a 2022 report from the Anti-Defamation League and Fair Play Alliance, which is also a significant growth compared to bullying. (then it was 74%). The largest increases in bullying occurred among women and the LGBTIQ community.

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“Online harassment is a very problematic issue, because for many users this seems acceptable or acceptable. There are those who believe that it is necessary to behave in this way to be part of the group, ”explains psychologist Celia Hoddent. The expert, who serves as a user experience manager for various video games, acknowledges that in some cases, online games have begun to create codes of conduct to punish cases of harassment, although it would be more effective to make changes to the gaming systems. For example, when calling, the microphone is closed and the player must be the one to activate it: thus, no one is forced to reveal their gender if they do not want to.

On the other hand, when it comes to prevention, Hodent emphasizes the work that platforms such as Raisings Food Games and the Fair Play Alliance are doing to educate young gamers: “It is about stopping tolerating certain behaviors under the pretext that they are boys, and boys are like that. It is necessary that they understand That when they’re playing online, they’re still in a social space, where the same rules of behavior and respect apply in real life.”

In fact, men stopped having a monopoly in this sector years ago. When it comes to owning a console, women represent 53% of users in Spain, according to the White Paper on Spanish Video Game Development 2022. However, this percentage drops when it comes to talking about those who work on it. , where women represent only 24% of professionals. Eurídice Canañes, PhD, co-director of video game company Arsgames, believes that one of the reasons for this disparity between men and women is the socialization that occurs in childhood. When asked at school who plays video games, boys quickly raise their hands, while girls have a hard time acknowledging it. They usually say they are playing, but always after they have done their homework. And that’s a problem when it comes to finishing work on this, because video game consumption is closely related to the choice of STEAM jobs. [siglas en inglés de ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería, arte y matemáticas]Comments the expert, who is responsible for game design and research on the dynamics of this industry.

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According to Hoddent, another reason why the industry remains male-dominated is due to the so-called random bias, i.e. the tendency to hang out with people who look like us. “Right now, the video game industry is being controlled by guys who were passionate about fighting games in the 90s, and their audience was almost exclusively male. Those same guys, when it came to starting a video game company, they would hire their friends, and before they knew it, it would be over.” It’s only with a group of men.”

They criticized me for being a woman.

Not only are women in the minority in companies that develop video games, but they are also missing out on the world of specialized communications associated with this activity. Women make up barely 18.6% of the staff of major magazines in the sector, and in most cases they are external collaborators, according to a study by the University of Malaga analyzing the presence and role of women in gaming journalism. “Job insecurity, combined with masculinity, is another reason why there are so few women in the industry,” Cabanese asserts.

A few days after Jen Herranz decided to leave social networks, another famous woman in the world of video games said goodbye to a decade of work. Marta Trevi began her career as a cultural journalist writing for film and television, until eight years ago she began dealing exclusively with video games. In 2018, she was one of the few women writing on AnaitGames, a niche portal she worked for until May. “I had to constantly prove everything. Many times people criticized me for being the only woman in the group. When I made a mistake in an article, the comments were full of manhood,” the journalist explains: “It’s not that I was wrong because I was a person who made mistakes, as it was With my colleagues, I was wrong because I am a woman who got involved in these issues without knowing.

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However, the “more aggressive and misogynistic” criticism was just one of the motivations that influenced his choice to leave the medium for which he had been working for five years. “It’s the instability that kills us. There are few women on staff, and even when it comes to cooperating, they get paid less than men. I’m tired of spending hours on weekends playing video games to write a review. There were hours that weren’t paid.” Nobody, then I had to endure unbearable levels of masculinity, ”admits Marta Trevi.

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