June 21, 2006

Queer Gamers Get Some Airtime

Filed under:News, Statistics, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 6:53 am

Newsweekly has an article on the first academic study on queer gamers. Recent graduate Jason Rockwood tells Newsweekly that first he has to prove that queer gamers exist, and that:

Gay gamers experience a double edged sword of prejudice. [...] The mainstream gay culture and media is not supportive of video games. Then you have the video game culture that is not supportive of gay culture. So you have these people stuck in the middle who have this double edged prejudice. I’m hoping this survey would shed some light on how or why people go through such a process.

You can help Rockwood out by taking the Gaymer Survey yourself. I just took it and this is what I wrote in the feedback box:

The survey only allows female, male, FTM, and MTF as options for sex, when biological sex comes in more varieties (i.e. intersexed). I also saw no question asking for gender identity. I also had to pick my sexual orientation on a spectrum, so I felt dishonest because I don’t really feel that represents who I am. In future surveys, I hope that there are open option for respondents to write in their physical sex and gender identity and sexual orientation, since indentity doesn’t always fit into ratio checkboxes.

But don’t let me discourage you… take the survey!

Via Netwoman.


April 18, 2006

Statistics Remind Women That We Game

Filed under:Statistics — Lake Desire @ 9:42 pm

Via Guilded Lilies, a CEA study reports women gamers ages 25-34 outnumber males.

One of the common statistics often cited by video game industry trade groups is that the average age of a gamer nowadays is around 30 years old. What you might not know, however, is that among game players between the ages of 25 and 34, women far outnumber men, according to a new study by the Consumer Electronics Association (as reported in The New York Times).

This doesn’t surprise me, but it’s always nice to have another study countering the “straight guys are the majority of gamers” argument sometimes used to silence calls for more gender inclusive games.

More from the GameDaily BIZ article:

Steve Koenig, a senior analyst at the Consumer Electronics Association, said that the CEA study did not specifically ask women why they preferred casual games, but he explained that unlike traditional console video games, casual titles are generally “nonviolent, and are not necessarily supercompetitive against other players.”

As Guilded Lilies commenter Sjofn pointed out, the women surveyed weren’t asked by they prefer casual games. I find it unsettling that men are studying us and drawing conclusions about why we make certain choices without actually asking us. I imagine casual games appeal all genders because of their accessibility and they offer an alternative for those who find violence unpalatable.

What casual games do you play, and what do you enjoy about them?


January 4, 2006

Playing With Others

The latest issue of The Daedalus Project is out, including Playing With Someone (Part 2). The study focuses on MMO players who play with romantic partners and their parents or children.

As a single Final Fantasy XI player, I find it interesting that:

About 80% of female players and 60% of male players are in a romantic relationship. On a tangential note, this gives rise to an interesting “singles” imbalance. If we assume an 85:15 gender ratio and the noted singles rate, then for every single woman in an MMO, there are 10 single men.

I didn’t realize I am quite so outnumbered. My linkshell (guild) on FFXI seems to have a fairly even gender balance. I plan on bringing this up next time I play (which unfortunately probably won’t be for a while–my courses just started and I don’t have a PC).

I find it interesting that almost 27% of female MMO players are introduced by a romantic partner, versus 1.1% of males introduced by a romantic partner. I’m curious how many of the respondents are in same sex relationships.

In other news, the latest issue of the Carnival of Feminists is out over at reappropriate.


December 27, 2005

Women Who Play World of Warcraft – Compiled Survey Responses

As a companion to my women gamers survey, I also polled posters on the wow_ladies LJ community in November of 2005. I received 57 responses. Like my previous survey, this is by no means scientific or unbiased.

Read the original survey questions and actual excerpts.



December 14, 2005

Horde Hotties?

Filed under:Gender, Massively Multiplayer Online Games, Statistics, World of Warcraft — Lake Desire @ 2:43 pm

Via Terra Nova, PlayOn has posted a study on gender, race, and class selection in World of Warcraft. PlayOn’s bloggers Nick and Eric say what I was thinking when I read the name of the study: “It’s a little eerie how those 3 words have their own meanings in an MMO, but yet when you put them all together, you realize how much weight they carry over from the physical world.”

Onto the study results:

Here’s what we found in our data. The gender ratio is different for the Alliance and the Horde. There are fewer female characters on the Horde side. One out of three characters is female on the Alliance side. On the Horde side, it is one out of five. Our intuition is that fewer players choose to be female on Horde side because the female Horde characters are kinda … ugly.

Kinda ugly? Eloquence aside, what sparks my ire is the surveyors defining what they find attractive in their conclusion. No surprise, I believe beauty is a social construct. We are conditioned to find certain traits valuable and attractive, and night elves and humans in WoW conform to some of those Western standards. I don’t disagree, however, that many players as individuals do pick characters they are are visually attracted to. I happen to find tauren and dwarves good looking, but that doesn’t mean I have a fetish or am some sort of deviant.

The PlayOn writers consider gender-bending in character selection:

The Daedalus Project data suggests that male and female players are equally represented on both the Alliance and Horde. This implies the observed gender differences are driven almost entirely by gender-bending. Given that players who choose Horde are more likely to be competitive and achievement-oriented than players who choose Alliance who tend to be more customization and role-playing oriented, this makes a great deal of sense. Of course, as many players point out, they gender-bend to have an attractive avatar to look at. Playing a female Horde character would defeat this purpose.

It’s an interesting theory, but again, androcentric, as it neglects reasons women may choose to play male avatars.

Terra Nova responds by citing a study from 1977:

[M]ale undergrads chatted over the phone with female undergrads they did not previously know. Half the male undergrads were given a photo of an attractive woman and the other half were given photos of unattractive women (unbeknownst to the women themselves). This is analogous to interacting with an attractive female Night Elf online.


Given that Alliance avatars are more attractive than Horde avatars (especially the female avatars), and given that many social interactions on Alliance side are parallels of the classic Behavioral Confirmation study – men interacting with who they believe are attractive women, might this cause Alliance players to become friendlier, more charming, and more sociable in general than Horde players over time regardless of their RL gender or attractiveness? That is to say, a form of behavioral confirmation cascade that has an effect on the community rather than simply the individual level.

Again, I ask: who decides what is attractive? I’m curious if sexual orientation was considered in the 1977 study, or if all respondents were presumed to be heterosexual.


December 6, 2005

GameFAQs Poll of the Day

Filed under:Gender, Statistics — Lake Desire @ 6:36 pm

Today’s poll of the day on GameFAQs is Do you think video games are too sexist?

Yes is currently losing at 4.74% of the votes, perhaps because it’s followed by “it’s driving female gamers away.” Those two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, GameFAQs. Women participate in plenty of things that are sexist, including video games.

The poll responses also assume I’m male: “No, games are fine for us guys.” Hah.


November 30, 2005

Survey Excerpt

Filed under:Gaming Women, Statistics — Lake Desire @ 12:23 am

In addition to general demographic questions, I also asked survey respondents to share their experiences with online harassment, their views on women in gamers, and invited any general comments on any of the topics raised by the survey. The following are excerpts from the survey responses. Original spelling and grammar are still intact.



November 29, 2005

Women Gamers Survey

Filed under:Feminism, Gaming Women, Gender, Statistics, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 5:44 pm

In October of 2005, I conducted a survey of women gamers from the girlgamers community on Live Journal, feminist_gamers community on Live Journal, and Video Game Recaps web forums. I was curious about women who game, how they see themselves in games, and how much of an interest there was in a feminist gaming resource. I received 32 responses. This survey was by no means scientific and certainly was not free of bias.