Toxic game culture: How to deal with sexism among gamers?


Women, the gambling video games, be Play Online often insulted or harassed. Concerned and game industry react to it differently. Protected areas for women are the right answer?

A scene in the computer game “Fortnite”

In the queues on the game fair “Gamescom”, from 20. – 24. August 2019 to take place in Cologne, to the rule of law in a civilized manner. It is different to Play in Online. There is not blasted, only wild, but also with words properly dealt.

Two of the three players have been insulted in Online Games, or even harassed. Because they were women, Black, gay, or just at the wrong time in the wrong place. The conclusion of Ditch the Label”, an American Anti-bullying Organisation”. “It is a daily reality,” according to the game company Electronic Arts (EA) on request, and open-hearted: “It is one of the biggest problems with Gaming today is faced.”

“You belong in the kitchen”

Also Lovi has experienced this. The 19-Year-old is Streamerin and plays almost every day, “Fortnite” in front of an audience. While she plays, to look at your hundreds of and chat with her. “Why are you gambling for? You’re a girl. You belong in the kitchen,” have you read it often in the past, she says in a DW Interview. “Some of the people it was intended to be a fun, others serious.” Have not ceased to be such contradictions. “It happens more often that I’m offended by spectators.”

She puts a lot of time in your Stream, it plays exactly like the male Streamer hours long to be getting better and better. “That is hurtful to get thrown at you all of this achieved only because of your ‘Tits and bonus’. I work hard at the thing. You will not do well in a video game without something.” It holds the defaults for normal, laughs now about it and give them no attention any more. Do it now your moderators in the Chat. “It usually helps to ignore the people. Otherwise, you will get attention and make more and more, because they find it funny.”

Offensive Handling

Players like Spawntaneous game sessions record, where they are being harassed and post then in the Social media. Such a Problem becomes visible, which existed for years, and with the success of Multiplayer Online Games has increased. These are games where many players come together to play in Teams with or against each other.

Meanwhile, more than 2.5 billion people gamble according to the “Global Games Market Report 2019” digital games. And the market continues to grow. It is the Online-Portal “TechCrunch”, according to a huge business with a turnover of more than 43.8 billion dollars last year alone in the United States. For comparison: The American film industry gained in the same period, nearly 41.1 billion US dollars.

Poisoned Communities

In English-speaking countries, the term “Toxicity” for malicious or inappropriate social behavior in Online Communities. “Sexism is a structural Problem in almost all areas,” says psychologist Benjamin Strobel for the Grimme-Institute. “In the play area of the breeding ground is perhaps even stronger than in other areas, because Games were marketed for a long time, mainly about boys and Gaming has long been a male-dominated Hobby.

This is no longer today in many Parts of so. The acceptance for this change is missing in some Places still.” In addition, some players would tend to miss a result, others carry the can. He said: “I’m sorry, there are no robust empirical Work known whether the sexist behavior is a bigger Problem in the game area than in other areas. But there are studies that have found links between video game consumption and sexist attitudes.”

Lack Of Acceptance

However, as game to go with it? Ignore how Lovi, make it public, as the Youtuberin Spawntaneous, not to identify yourself in the Chat as a woman, only with good friends playing, the game manufacturer may report incidents? The latter seek, in the meantime, the Problem in an active way. In June, organised EA with a summit, “building healthy Communities”. Currently, the American company that sells, among other things, the “Battlefield”series, the football simulation “Fifa”, and the building game “The Sims” to work in the US, more than 1500 employees, in the Communities for a good atmosphere. The company wants to work together, especially with the players and a “Council of players” reasons, the members of which should, in turn, have an effect on the other players.

It sounds a bit: The market will regulate itself – a strategy that could not contain the Problem so far. Visible is also in the professional eSport. At tournaments, women are under-represented under massive. “At the moment women by the exclusive behavior, due to the toxic behavior, due to the effective exclusion of less professionalization opportunities,” says Benjamin Strobel from the Grimme Institute.

High hurdles for women in eSports

Even if you are insanely good players are going to the majority of women still join a professional Team, denied, criticized, Fernando Pereira, President of the eSports Association, “Grow uP eSports” and organizer of the Girl Gamer eSports Festival, an international women’s tournament.

As in the case of the big eSports tournaments in General, almost only teams composed solely of men. Within the Teams you have big doubts, whether the communication and cooperation between men and women end smoothly. Therefore, they prefer to stay among themselves, explains Pereira.

Women sitting in the audience, men on the PC: In the “professional” women are still the exception

“We are firmly convinced that men and women are able to play on the same Level,” the festival head on. “We firmly believe in mixed eSports tournaments. But until then, we need events such as the Girl Gamer eSports Festival as a transitional solution.”

Benjamin Strobel looks in women’s tournaments at the moment is a necessary step, to give women and girls the opportunity to compete in competitive Play and to professionalize and to be at the same time in front of sexist attacks.

Measures against toxic behavior

But to create separate spaces for women, can not be the only solution. Although there are in Online Games the ability to report other players, but it takes a while, until a reaction comes. “The Problem from a psychological perspective, is no longer here, that punishments are very effective if made with a delay,” says Benjamin Strobel.

Pereira calls for stricter rules and more inspections in the chat and on the game platforms. A kind of referee who would attend every game and inappropriate behavior will immediately be punished, would be ideal, says Benjamin Strobel. The brace due to the high regulatory burden in practice, however, hardly, especially as voluntary, we would need trained and trustworthy staff.

The “League of Legends”, the creators of reward for good Behavior

Reward instead of punishment

The tables can also turn around. Games could work much more frequently with reward instead of punishment. “Riot Games, the developer Studio of ‘League of Legends’ has conducted empirical studies with the players, to see what measures can improve the Situation there,” says Strobel. “You have found that it helps, before the game in the loading screen what are the advantages of it, a positive effect on his team-mates to interact with.”