By Latisha Horstink
The following page is dedicated to the controversial topic of female coders and gamers. Topics such as violence, lack of representation and sexualisation will be discussed in this wiki page.
It's a new media subculture influenced by video games. A new form of entertainment which has arised from the every increasing popularity of computer and video games. Article
“Institutionalisation of video game practices, experiences and meanings in contemporary societies…“
Combines digital culture, neo-liberal political rationalities and other aspects of reality with leisure and consumption.
“There is no doubt that video game culture is part of and overlaps with other cultures and social processes, but it is still important in order to understand our society and, above all, provides the opportunity to study contemporary identities and social universes of meaning in a strongly framed and bounded way, as if it were an almost perfect sociological laboratory.”
Ada Lovelace, known to be the first computer programmer as she had supposedly created the worlds first algorithm. She had befriended a fellow mathematician and inventor, Charles Babbage. Ada was commissioned to translate an Italian engineer's paper into English. She added many notes to the translation, describing how machines could possibly handle letters, symbols as well as numbers, in addition to theorising a way for the engine to use a loop. Which is now conceived to be the first algorithm.
As the image above states, ”aptitude- the one most important quality a girl needs to become a programmer. She also needs a keen, logical mind. And if that zeroes out the old Billie Burke - Gracie Allen image of femininity, it's about time…” Here Lois Mandel, the author, is talking about women's ability to handle details as well as being patience coming naturally to them, therefore making it a suitable job for females to code. All in all, the article is stereotyping women, but it allows us to see how times, and roles have, and possibly could, switch.
“Since the 1990s,female gamers have commonly been regarded as a minority, but industry surveys have shown that in time the gender ratio has become closer to equal and since the 2010s females have been found to make up about half of all gamers.Source“
“A new study by the Entertainment Software Association reports that 45 percent of all gamers are now female.” Source
Regardless of making close to half of the 'gamer' population they are still treated as minority believed to be due to the lack of representation. On the other hand, when there is a female character option the logic of 'the less it covers the higher the armour class' usually applies, which, when in realistic circumstances, isn't practical. Female characters are usually overly sexualised, large breasts, skinny waists and to top it off, large buttocks. Most of these characters then end up being a side character, usually the partner of the main character.
“Despite ongoing progress, the industry is dominated by male game developers. That means that games often reflect the play styles and tastes of male gamers.It also means, in role-playing and first-person shooter games that involve a player manipulating the actions of a human (or human-like) avatar, there tends to be an over-abundance of macho protagonists that players can choose from. No so much for female avatars. Some game publishers have said, point blank, “You can’t have a female character in games.”” Article
“Efforts to include greater female participation in the medium have addressed the problems of gendered advertising, social stereotyping, and the lack of female video game creators (coders, developers, producers, etc.).”Article
Males have been said to dominate the developer's market by a whopping percentage of 92.1%. Source
However this isn't due to the lack of females who wish to continue into the development field, however could be due to companies not hiring females as they want to appeal to the male 'majority'. Then again, there's a endless list of the possibilities of the lack of female developers, the society we have been raised in being a large category, which we will not go into in this research.
“A female developer who created a text game about depression has been in the midst of weeks of online attacks over a salacious blog post published by a jilted ex who alleges she slept with a game journalist in exchange for a favorable review.Article“
The following video shows developers talk about some experiences and struggles they have faced in a male dominated industry
”…realism does not matter. But these issues matter to female players. The concern is not only misogynistic attitudes of programmers, but also the slings and arrows and F-bombs of some pretty angry men which females must endure as they game.”
“One gamer known as TheIneffableSwede recently reported her story of playing in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) and the abuse she received:
“Whenever I won against my opponents, which I did almost always, some male players would threaten to rape, mutilate, or even kill me (but rape was by far the most frequent threat). I reported these threats to the game operators, whose response was:
1. It’s your fault for choosing a username that reflects your gender. You should change your name to something that is gender-neutral.
2. If you are concerned about this, report it to the police.””
“When female industry followers point out the gender bias, they also get trashed.”
“It all suggests to me that men fear women encroaching on their digital turf… For some men, video games feel like a final realm where they can act like misogynistic brutes and suffer no consequences. The anonymity that the Internet provides ? gamers don’t typically know each other’s real identities ? provides a convenient shield behind which this cowardly sexism can thrive. Ironically, you’d think in a game world, it’s performance, not gender, that matters. But real-world sexism (and racism) bleeds into imaginary places.”Article
“The term “girl gamer” has been used as a reappropriated term for female players to describe themselves, but it has also been criticized as counterproductive or offensive.”Article
An animated clip of how some women are treated, by not only men but by other women.
On top of being minorotised and mis-represented, females are often abused when online. Somehow, by letting people know you're a female triggers other (male) players to believe that they are now allowed to hide behind their keyboards and usernames in order to threaten and abuse women. Comments about rape, murderer and the 'Go back to the kitchen' jokes are an everyday experience to the female gamer population. It's understanding that it would be hard to control all, if any, form of online abuse, however women do not need to hide their gender to avoid these comments, as the community should be playing to enjoy the game, which I personally believe is missing when people play games nowadays.
Video of Geek Girls reappropriating the term
As for the term 'girl gamer', as many words such as Tree Hugger and even Impressionist, have been reappropriated from derogatory connotations to more positive associations. By reclaiming and self-referencing the term Female/Girl Gamer, when once an expression of oppression it can now be brought back to become a more acceptable idiom.
with Soukina Abu Khalil currently studying Computer Science in Kings University London
As I am not to absorbed into the gaming culture and online playing field I decided to ask a close friend on her opinions of the game culture society as well as some additional questions regard computing and her background.
Originally did a Skype call, but the video got corrupted, however these are the answers she gave.
Do you consider yourself a part of the game culture society? (Y/N)
→ If no, why not?
Do you consider yourself a gamer? (Y/N)
→ If no, why not?
I personally feel like I’m a gamer, but wouldn’t say that. I’ve said I‘m a gamer before to people who get annoyed and say you’re not a gamer. A lot of the time people take girls saying oh I’m a gamer as being an attention whore thing. Instead I’ll say like oh I like playing games but I don’t play a lot and I'm not very good. If the person doesn’t play a lot games they are just like wow cool. But a lot of gamers get really uptight about people calling themselves gamers, especially girls. They expect you to be amazing and know everything if you want to actually be a girl gamer.
Are you more towards the gamer stereotype or computing/programming type?
How long have you been interested by computers/programming?
What got you into it?
Wanted to make my own game
How much have you thought yourself compared to what you've been taught in your high school curriculum?
Taught myself programming before learning it in school, learnt more theory from school though
Have you heard about the Girls Who Code Initiative? (Y/N)
→ What coding initiatives have you heard of?
→ Was it appealing to all genders, or was it more biased? (It's more appealing to males than females)
Have you heard of Ada Lovelace? (Y/N)
→ If yes, were you taught about her, or did you find her based on personal interested?
What types of games have you mostly played?
Have you played online games? (Y/N)
Have you ever received online harassment?(Y/N)
→ What was it/about?
Typical female jokes, requests to Skype/pics, sexual crap. You get the kitchen jokes like make me a sandwich, get back in the kitchen. You get people who are like I don’t believe you’re a girl you’re faking it probably some 40year old creep etc. doing it for attention. You get less offensive but still rude stuff like you’re female you must suck or you’re female play support roles. Less often you get the people like who go oh suck my dick bitch. One guy as soon as I joined a lobby said a bunch of stuff like that (only person I've ever been bothered to report and I left the game).
→ How did it make you feel
When they say really rude stuff it makes you want to quit the game because it just kills the fun and makes you feel crap. When I started league I made my name Lady cause I thought it sounded cool but now I'm tempted to change it because I didn't realise how much crap I would get for putting an obvious female thing in the name (but changing your name costs real money so nope). Which is sucky because you get plenty of people with like Lord/Sir etc. in their names but nobody comments. But as soon as you put a female thing (Lady etc.) people assume you’re some attention seeking girl.
How do you feel about the term gamer, and female gamer?
I feel like female gamer is redundant cause gamer shouldn't be gender specific (shouldn't just assume to be male). I think gamer can refer to anyone who plays games no matter how serious. I get that gamer also means usually you’re more serious. I don’t like how some gamers act like being a ‘gamer’ is some exclusive club. I think calling someone a female gamer is silly because you don’t say oh he’s a male gamer. I think it isolates females from the mainstream gaming community. It’s a shame you don’t see females in pro play and competitive teams like ever even though there are girls who are really good.
Have you ever been called a geek/female gamer?(Y/N)
How do you feel about being called geek/female gamer?
I don’t mind geek cause I just see it as dedicated unless someone’s saying it in an obviously derogatory way. I don’t like when people are like wow you play games when like most girls play games.
In conclusion, I believe that the community have been developing and have drastically become more accepting in the past decade, not only in the Video Game Culture, but in society as a whole. However, there is always places to be improved and (definitely) a few wrinkles to be ironed out. Many of things mentioned in this research, such as abuse, by no means only happens to women. Black, gay, Muslim, Jew and many many more receive endless amounts of hate and abuse in the gaming community. However, these are a topic for another time. By taking the first step and accepting the opposite gender (and hopefully queers), we can further look into accepting other ethnicities, and even minuscule things such as sexual preference and eventually religion, in which has no influence on game play, but somehow still arise as a, rather, large topic.
Gamers react to abuse they receive online from posting 'provocative' usernames
“We are a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors.
With support from public and private partners, Girls Who Code works to educate, inspire, and equip high school girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields.”
With programs like these it makes it makes it easier to reappropriate the stereotype of female 'geeks'
In the first article of Muaz Zekeria, he creates a list of the top 10 minorities in games as a response to Black Hisotry Month in Feburary 2013. He then lists a valid 4 candidates from Altair from Assassin's Creed to Admiral David Anderson from the Mass Effect Series. After 4 characters does he realise that he wasn't even able to get to five characters of minorities. A few of his categories whilst choosing his characters were that they shouldn't be sterotypical characters (“loud-mouthes soldier or the thuggish rapper”), they had to be main characters or had to have an essential part in the story telling. He then goes on at how experiences would not be the same as “experiences of people from different racial, religious, or economic background.” Which again doesn't validate game developers to “go into the stereotype pool to dig somebody.” From popular demand Zekeria has been asked to touch up on the subject again this time shining light on some other minorotised races. »“Latino, Asian, and Native-American characters, for the most part, aren't portrayed any better. Yes, there are good portrayals of every race but they are few and far between. I’d love to see more game devs giving minority characters the spotlight without having them fit into one of the mentioned stereotypes.”