Gaming Is Least Welcoming Online Environment for Women, Study Finds

Pew study says online gaming is less welcoming to women than online dating sites, social networking channels, and comments sections.

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The Pew Research Center has released a new study about online harassment, and among the findings is that, of major online environments, gaming is the least welcoming for women.

The study surveyed around 3,000 Internet users (both male and female), and only 3 percent of respondents said that online gaming was more welcoming toward women, compared to 44 percent who felt it was more welcoming toward men.

"Most online environments are seen as equally welcoming toward men and women; the exception is online gaming," Pew wrote.

Other online environments featured in the study included online dating sites/apps, social networking sites/apps, comments sections, and online discussion sites. You can see how the online gaming category compares to the others in the chart below.

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Pew also shared some of the responses that participants provided in the open-ended question section of the survey. Harassment through online gaming mostly was attributed to "sore losers" and name-calling, the research group said, adding that "many" respondents "easily brushed off the negativity."

Below are some of the responses that Pew shared:

  • "Someone was a sore loser in an online game and hurled threats and insults."
  • "Nothing bad just someone didn't like how I was playing a game. The good thing is, on the computer, you can just leave!"
  • "When someone is losing a game, the opponent will abruptly leave but not without calling me or others a vulgar name or comment."
  • "A standard bully-type came into a video game broadcast that a friend of mine and I run and made offensive comments at the two of us, mostly referring to our breasts."
  • "This happens too regularly in online games to remember a specific occurrence."

This study comes as the topic of women in gaming has made headlines of late. Over the summer, Assassin's Creed publisher Ubisoft caught flak for its explanation as to why Assassin's Creed Unity has no playable female characters, while Magicka publisher Paradox said the industry should not shy away from talking about the topic. On top of that, another new study showed that the percentage of female game developers has more than doubled since 2009 to 22 percent, according to the latest data.

In terms of the bigger picture, the Pew study found that 73 percent of adult Internet users have witnessed someone being harassed in some way, while 40 percent have personally experienced harassment. You can read the full report at Pew's website here.

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