Published in Gaming

Scientists find that sexist gamers are pants players

by on23 July 2015

Being a poor player makes you a jerk

Some interesting research about gamers who hassle women suggests that the worst offenders are not good at playing the games.

In a study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, Michael Kasumovic and Jeffrey Kuznekoff tried to understand the roots of misogyny among computer gamers.

They found that sexism in the male-dominated environment of Halo 3 seemed to have more to do with the skill of the guys and their status within the game than with any women playing.

Kasumovic, a professor at the University of New South Wales said the fear of losing to a woman irks a lot of men so they lash out in an attempt to remove women from the competitive playing field.

In other words, men who may already be losing in the game don't like women encroaching on their turf where they will end up losing to them too.

Kasumovic and Kuznekoff, an assistant professor at Miami University Middletown, examined data from an earlier study that featured three kinds of players each teaming up with others in the hugely popular multiplayer shooter Halo 3. Game play was recorded to allow the researchers to analyze the results.

Each player would say a few phrases to his or her teammates. The key difference between them was perceived gender: the "control" player didn't speak, the "man" interacted by speaking with a prerecorded male voice, and the "woman" interacted by speaking with a pre-recorded female voice.

The goal was to see how players would interact with and the kinds of comments that would be made towards the male-voiced player versus the female-voiced player.

"Men who were of lower skill were more positive towards men and more negative towards women," Kasumovic says. "When men were of higher skill, they were much more positive to women."

The research is interesting because it could be applied outside the gaming world in workforces which have a marked gender bias.

There will strong hierarchy and a aggressive way for men to ensure their status above women. But the people making the most noise about enforcing it, will be the poorest performers.

Last modified on 23 July 2015
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