ARE GIRL GAMERS REALLY WORSE THAN GUYS?By Nick Fouriezos
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because false stereotypes in gaming can lead to fewer girls in STEM, too.
Belinda Van Sickle was scared. What had started as an online debate over media ethics in video game journalism had erupted into a visceral campaign of harassment toward women in the industry. Threats to dox, rape or even murder were consolidated by certain gamers under the Twitter hashtag #GamerGate. It got so bad that Van Sickle, executive director of Women in Games International, bought motion-detector lights for her home and added multilevel password security to all her financial sites. Even today, two years later, Van Sickle says she sees how the controversy hurt the recruitment of female gaming pros, and the episode fueled perceptions of rampant sexism throughout the gaming world. “It was a scary time for the industry, and it really hasn’t ended,” Van Sickle told OZY. “If you were on the fence about staying, this pushed you over the edge.”
The misogyny that boiled over then, and simmers today, has many roots, but much of it stems from the idea that women are impostors. Never mind that there are more adult women playing games than teenage-and-younger boys, according to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2016 report. Demographics aside, the assumption that women are less suited for gaming is on shaky scientific ground. Sorry to tell you, boys, but …