A study commissioned by the Internet Advertising Bureau last year revealed a striking truth. The study, based on 4,000 interviews with UK residents found that 52% of gamers in the UK are women. The gaming world, once an industry solely dominated by males, now appears to have more female participants than their counterparts.
The study highlights the crossover between the rise of female gamers and the ascent of the smartphone, suggesting that while the gaming sector (everything from Candy Crush to Call of Duty) is predominantly consumed by female gamers, the traditional console market is still occupied by men, whereas the smartphone game market is more heavily utilised by female gamers.
Still, women are progressively beginning to transcend the cultural barriers of console gaming, and as a result the apparent misogynistic climate which lurks amongst gaming culture is beginning to pose more of a problem than it did with an almost sole male audience.
This has also seen a rise in bringing female characters to the fore, as the need to represent a strong portion of the gaming world is more important than ever.
Last year GameLoading released a video with interviews of prominent female game developers and their struggles with harassment in the gaming industry. The developers spoke candidly of physical and online threats and how they overcome the prejudice aimed at them.
Jeffery Lin, lead designer for American videogame publisher Riot Games, also recognised the harassment problem in an interview recently: “As we spend more and more of our time online, we need to acknowledge that online harassment and toxicity is not an impossible problem, and that it is a problem worth spending time on.”
Additionally, to combat harassment and to feel safe and in a controlled environment, companies like 1&1 give gamers an opportunity to create their own dedicated server setup, to play peer-to-peer with friends or people you trust.
League of Legends, is Riot Games’ biggest title and attracts 67 million gamers every month. The game is also the subject of an ingenuitive project to eliminate harassment from the game. The company have even created a system titled ‘Tribunal’, which creates a public case log of files in which players can review and analyse reports of racism, sexism and homophobia, then vote on its validity.
The data taken from those votes is loaded onto an algorithm which detects any instances of bullying by players which have been agreed upon by the community.
According to Lin, since the implementation of the system, reports of discriminatory slurs have fallen 40% and just over 90% have changed their behaviour as a result of comments being flagged by other members.