Under Siege: Women Gamers Shine Despite Online Bullies
Video games give fans a chance to outwit and defeat bad guys in any digital realm, but many women gamers find these worlds are not free of real life issues like bullying. According to a 2017 study by 'Ditch the Label,' an anti-bullying group based in the United Kingdom, 57-percent of gamers have reported being bullied online.
Lotte Grondahl describes herself as a hardcore gamer.
“I do spend a great deal of my day in front of a PC or in front of a console,” Grondahl said.
Like kids before her, this 90’s baby was first turned on to video games by Super Mario Brothers.
Riot Games, the company behind the game, told Forbes that nearly 27 million people play “League of Legends” daily.
Anna Nguyen is another “League of Legends” player. She says she’s less vocal.
“When I play a game, if there’s voice chat, I don’t want to let be known that I’m a female that probably a part of it,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen says she less inclined to play with strangers or reveal her gender.
“There’s a stigma that girls aren’t good at playing games, so it’s like oh man I have a girl on my team,” said Nguyen.
Both women are San Diego professionals who dedicate hours to the gaming culture. They are part of the one of the biggest gamer demographic in the United States, according to a 2013 report by the Entertainment Software Association.
Grondahl compares it to hazing.
“When someone brings up a video game and you engage in conversation the male never has to prove himself of worthy of joining the conversation but usually everyone stops the conversation turns to me and kind of quizzes me,” Grondahl said.
Nguyen says the taunts and negative comments have completely turned her off from group chatting.
“People say really toxic things online just cause there’s a screen because you don’t have to deal with people face to face,” said Nguyen.
Mia Consalvo is a professor at Concordia University in Montreal and serves as chairperson for “Game Studies and Design.” She says harassing behavior and gaming have a long history.
“As long as people have played games and as long as we’ve had research about digital games, online games or two player games there have been problems with bullying, abuse with harassment,” Consalvo said.
Consalvo says women aren’t the only targets.
“It’s also a problem not just for women you know gay players have been harassed, minority players have been harassed as well,” said Consalvo.
According to the “Ditch the Label” report, 47 percent of gamers said they have been threatened and 38-percent surveyed said they have been hacked within a game.
“Game culture certainly has it’s problems,” Consalvo said. “But unfortunately we see these things happening in lots of places, in online culture in general now.”
Nguyen says she thinks anonymity fuels the toxicity.
“It is a mirror of society but may be amplified because you are behind the screen,” said Nguyen.
According to Grondahl says there’s no better way to decompress, escape and kick butt.
“A lot of people say get a life,” Grondahl said. “Well sure I’m a gamer. I have lots of lives.”