Women are worse than men at gaming, right? And science. And coding. And apparently everything except being nurses and cleaning the house. Except none of that is true and science has our back. When it comes to gaming, women have to put up with a lot of shit. Women are expected to only like certain types of games because of gender stereotypes. If we do ignore the stereotypes and play our favourite online games, we’re often faced with sexual harassment.
Many women love games but often find themselves hating aspects of the community because of this sexist bullshit. One way to combat the hostility is to take apart the nonsense stereotypes. A new study has looked at a long-lived stereotype believed by many: women are worse at games than men. The researchers focused on MMOs, a type of game that requires dedication and commitment to progress quickly. They conducted a thorough study to see if men are better at the game and to figure out why that should be the case if so.
The study used data from 12,000 gamers on 2 MMOs: EverQuest II and Chevalier’s Romance III (a Chinese game). The developers allowed the researchers to access data on gamers’ time spent playing, their current level, and their gender when they signed up (not the gender their character is represented as). Because these were the stats they were really interested in, they also recorded others (e.g. number of characters created) to control for them.
The researchers looked at how fast players level-up and progress through the game. They found that the more you play, the faster you get (since you’re more experienced and familiar with the game’s mechanics). These sort of findings were the same across genders. What was most interesting is that male and female gamers levelled up at the same rate.
In fact, previous studies have found that male gamers tend to be more motivated by achievements and female gamers tend to play for the social aspect. If true, it should slow women down since levelling up might not be the priority. So perhaps we should expect women to lag behind men in MMOs but that still isn’t happening.
“We conclude that the stereotype of female players as inferior is not only false, but also a potential cause for unequal participation in digital gaming.”
You can read the study for yourself and it contains some interesting references. It’s not perfect but it’s a good start. It’s important to note that the study only considered male and female but gender isn’t as simple as that.
Women aren’t worse than men when playing MMOs. We drop out more because of abuse but level-up just as quickly as the next person. The stereotypes aren’t harmless and there’s no good reason to make half of gamers uncomfortable doing what they love.
Images: Daybreak Game Company