The Portrayal of Female Gamers in Popular Culture


Although online gaming has been rapidly increasing over the years, the gaming world is still considered to be uncharted territory for many. With numerous individuals posing hardly any knowledge towards online gaming and how it all works, there is no way for anyone to truly understand what goes on within the gaming communities unless they have experienced it first hand. Like many, I was introduced to the simple joys of gaming as a small child. After years of playing Mario and a various array of racing games, my friends would suddenly lose interest in gaming. As they moved on to other activities, I was never able to shake the love that I had for playing video games.

As the years moved on, my taste in video games definitely followed. Consumed in various FPS (first person shooting) and RPG (role playing) games, my skills were definitely beginning to reflect the amount of hours spent in front of the screen. Before long, I discovered the world of communicating with other players through headsets (speakers with an attached microphone). Until then, I always considered gaming to reflect a positive and exciting experience. That is, until I began receiving various hateful messages and was being attacked by other players for the simple reason of me being female. That was when I was presented with the dark side of online gaming, which quickly became inescapable. It was at that moment when my views of online gaming suddenly shifted. Online female gamers are being harassed and abused for no other reason than them simply being of the opposite gender.

Founded in June 2011, Twitch is the world’s primary social video platform and community for gamers, video game culture, and the creative arts. Each day, close to 10 million visitors get together to watch and talk about video games with more than 2 million streamers broadcasting live.

One thing thats certain is that female gamers and streamers will always have a much higher number of viewers than most other males. Although they have a much larger audience, it is not necessarily because they are skilled at the game they are playing, but simply because they are female. Along with that, many individuals will be rapidly commenting on the broadcast and speaking up. The broadcaster is able to see the comments live, which gives them the opportunity to respond to their viewers. Usually, though, the females will receive extremely rude and sexual comments. Many of which contain things such as death and rape threats. In the article titled Press Start: Sexism is still rampant in online gaming communities by Patrick O’Rourke, a research was conducted where three gamer tags (Xbox Live usernames) were created and assigned to a pre-recorded male or female voice. Then, as they played the online game, reactions from their opponents were recorded and divided into negative, positive and neutral responses. The results stated that “…of the three gamer tags, the one with the female voice received approximately three times as many negative comments as the male and voiceless gamer tags.”

Looking at the bigger picture, there are generally two different types of male “players” that a female has to deal with online. There are those that abuse and harass, and those that are referred to as “white knights.” A white knight is someone who tries to step in and assist the female when she is being harassed or needs help. Although this may seem like a heroic act, it can actually be quite the opposite. “White knights” are not helping for the pure sense of being a good person, but to be able to befriend this female and then get closer to her. This often leads to stalkers and males who become possessive.


The Girl Gamers series is a five-part series that looks at the gaming culture and playing while female, including the finer points of game design, working in the industry, identities, and why a good female heroine is so hard to find. It was begun by Latoya Peterson, who herself, is a gamer. While Peterson has always been a gamer, she knew it was considered very weird, so she didn’t tend to talk about it. Many females that play video games tend to persistently keep up a low image, constantly being aware in order to not reveal their gender to the online community.

With Peterson going back to find the root of the issue of abuse and harassment, we are able to see that men are losing their grasp of dominance in online gaming. Surely enough, when a female gamer comes along and is able to beat every male in the game while coming out on top, it is definitely going to hurt the ego of almost all. This makes them turn to harassment. Harassing and threatening the female in attempt to win back something that they have lost. I personally find it unfair and strange that male gamers are feeling threatened by females in the gaming industry. Because of this, they begin to lash out in abusive ways in order to restore their ground.

Most female gamers, such as myself, are always cautious when playing online. This means making sure to keep a low profile that has no direct ties to the fact that you are a female. This is extremely unfair on many levels. Female gamers don’t always have the opportunity to take part in the full gaming experience because doing so may cause unwanted attention. Peterson points this out and how so many females are reluctant to admit to the fact that the do play and enjoy online video games. Speaking fro my own experience, one thing that tends to happen a lot in online gaming is a male player acquiring female characters and gamer-tags. This happens extremely often because they know exactly what kind of attention they are going to draw toward themselves, and feed off of trolling other players. Either way, it is not fair how females are so afraid of using female characters in regards to being harasses, but so many males use them because they find it funny and a good joke.

The documentary called GTFO pries the 20 billion dollar industry open in order to take a good look at the video gaming industry. Within in, we get a front row seat to watch how two populations clash. In a world that was once run mostly by the male population, females have grown to account for about 40% of the gaming controllers held in hand. Women receive the brunt of the consequences every day, with acts of harassment ranging from name calling to cyber vandalism and death threats, with little to nothing being done about this

GTFO opens a door to a much larger world, allowing everyday people to see just the kind of injustice females are forced to quietly deal with on a day-to-day basis. Instead of stepping up and demanding justice, female gamers have been forced to grow accustomed to abuse and harassment that no individual should have to face on their own, simply because after so many failed attempts, no body is taking the online abuse seriously enough to help out or do something about it.

GTFO went out if its way to explain how much of the gaming industry is actually being run by females. Seriously just about 40% of players are female. This seems absurd to me, simply because when I’m playing, I will hardly ever come across another female that is playing the same game. Which means one of two things. Either the statistic about 40% of gamers being female is a lie, or that females have been forced to resort to animosity when playing online video games for the sake of their own safely. And to be honest, since a statistic is a statistic, I vouch for the second option. I believe that’s the case simply because I myself play with a male character and a male gamer-tag so that, unless I speak up, no one is able to figure out that I am female

Player Girl

Females are being extensively harassed and abused in online gaming communities. Even though it is happening to virtually every female, it is something that has only recently began to surface the waters. Instead of feeling like I was the only one who had ever experienced incivility within online gaming and communities, I am now able to understand that I was never alone in this. Virtually every female that has ever associated with online gaming has most likely experienced some variation of online incivility, whether or not that means people speaking rudely, making death and rape threats, or any other form of abuse and harassment. This is beginning to open doors for me and all other women who have never even known there were any to begin with.



Learning Moments…

One of the major learning moments I had gained through this class has been analyzing and understanding media literacy. As professor Bergland stated in her week 9 blog post, “It’s also really important to know the possible political slant and bias of the source you’re looking at. Again, those biases and slants don’t necessarily mean the information isn’t good, you just need to take into consideration that there are likely other points of view or interpretations of the information.” There on after, I have a much better understanding and grasp about media literacy.

The second major learning moment that I had in this class is the influence of advertising. In the week 3 blog post, we read and discussed the effects and images of advertisements. After researching and looking further into the advertising world, I was able to understand just how important advertising really is, and how important it is for it to be done well. The connection between the advertisement and the potential buyer is crucial.  As professor Bergland once again stated in her week 3 blog post, “Advertisements use appeals to our anxieties, values, and desires.”


Works Cited:

Myers, M. (2016). “Girl Gamers” Episode 5 Unlocks the Hidden History of Women Gamers & Creators. Retrieved November 30, 2016.

Pena, S. J. (2013). Online communities of female gamers: A resistance analysis of the PMSclan (Order No. 1535659). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.

Sun-Higginson, S. (Director). (2015). GTFO: Get the FF&#% out

O’Rourke, P. (2013). Press Start: Sexism is still rampant in online gaming communities.

Simpson, G. (2016, April 8). Tomb raider movie Reboot rumored for fall 2017 release date. Retrieved November 30, 2016.

Twitch. Retrieved November 30, 2016.





2 thoughts on “The Portrayal of Female Gamers in Popular Culture

  1. Hey Maryanna!
    Wow! You’ve come so far! This is so awesome to see the improvement of your paper. Solid! I really enjoyed reading your post. You made a lot of great points and made me realize how dark gaming can be if you were a female. Your transitions are smooth and easy to follow. You made a great point about the 40% statistic. I think that’s crazy how females feel like they have to hide their identity. Pretty crazy. I really hope things start to change and people can realize that female gamers are rad.

  2. Hi Maryanna,

    Definitely learned a lot from your blog post! I don’t game but I’ve heard how bad trolling can get, especially towards women. I find it odd how most of society can view girls gaming as “weird” because I think everyone should be able to enjoy video games. I mean, it is video games!

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