Women gamers have been reporting online abuse in greater numbers – in a survey of 4,000 female gamers, 49% of respondents report abuse when playing online or streaming. However, for women aged 18-24, that figure was much higher, at 75%. Of all respondents, 80% revealed that messages and comments were sexual in nature and 35% were violent. The research also found that 25% of females had experienced depression following abuse and 27% feared threats could be translated into real-life attacks. The survey was conducted by Sky Broadband. In addition, one in 10 female gamers surveyed felt suicidal after suffering online abuse.
In relation to the views of male gamers, 66% of both sexes believed that women were more likely to suffer abuse. Half of males surveyed had reportedly seen women being harassed when streaming. Speaking to Sky News, Jasmine Skee, CEO of Guild Esports, said of the abuse: “The reality is if this was happening on a football pitch, you would have a ref that would literally blow a whistle and send someone off.”
Skee stated that gaming organisers cannot exclude themselves from the need to provide a duty of care to gamers and to monitor and regulate offensive behaviour, concluding: “We can’t keep watching these numbers keep happening and these women keep having this experience. This is all about looking after their mental health and making sure women feel that they can play and do the thing that they love and feel very inclusive of it.”
The findings support Marie-Claire Isaaman, CEO of Women in Games, who, in response to recent reports of sexual assaults at a gaming conference, asked if the industry is “going backwards”.