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[Ed. Note: When I looked this over, I immediately thought “this is familiar …” It sounded like something Kindra had spoken on before so I searched through her past articles, but I clearly did not look not far enough. Here is a link to the article in which she discusses why the proposed conclusions and methodology of the discussed study below gives flawed at best results. Both myself and Georgina apologize and promise to do better in the future. We’ll definitely be more thorough in the future.]

The latest study to come out on sexual harassment in online competitive gaming has discovered that players are more likely to sexually harass females in online games if the players are poorly skilled at the game in question, whereas skilled players are more likely to be extremely encouraging and complimentary of their female counterparts.

Harassment in online gaming is often discussed, though the forms of harassment differ between genders. According to a PEW study that was released last year, men are more likely to be called names or physically threatened, while women are more likely to receive sexual harassment or stalking. Sexual harassment online though is still fairly uncommon. On the Internet as a whole only 7% of women experience sexual harassment and just 4% of men, according to the PEW study.

This study looked at over 150 players interactions in Halo 3. It was suggested that during the period of observation women made up the vast minority of players. It is not known how many females participated outside of the study participant, but of 189 players who spoke during the recorded period, all were male.  In this male dominated environment, skilled male players were more likely to be encouraging and helpful to the female player, and  the majority of sexual harassment towards the female player was carried out by unskilled male players who were forced to be submissive to more skilled male players.

Halo 3 was chosen as a platform as players wear armor in game and therefore their gender is more difficult to be assumed by their avatar. Instead, gender was mostly determined by the voice of the player.  

The researchers suggested that the reason for this use of aggression by unskilled male players was due to the general societal pressure on men to be the “hunter gather” and in general to show skill and prowess. A failure to be able to do so can lead male players to demonstrate aggression.

So if you want to be aggressive online at least now you know you need to git gud.

What do you think of these latest findings?

Georgina Young


British girl, currently in Japan. Surviving on a diet of retro games. Worshiping the god that is the Sega Megadrive. I like Nintendo.

  • Zanard Bell

    While I’ve never harassed anyone online, I still suck as a support player. :/

  • Nope Naw

    Isn’t this the same study that MSM picked up on a while back and ran with, despite the study being heavily criticized on its methodology and its painfully small sample size?

  • WhiteNut

    I read about this last month or so. If you read the research notes, they fail to mention how well their team was doing and a whole host of other factors that could alter the results. And as its been pointed out before only one game and you choose Halo. Might as well just pick Dota or LoL if you want to pick a Toxic community.

  • Daniel Scholes

    They played 163 games that weren’t part of the control, which they opted to not include in the study, and people only spoke in 102 of them. That’s a total of 1,141 players that aren’t the researchers in the games played altogether, of which 147 speaking players were teammates and 42 were opponents. That means only 16.5% of people are even speaking at all.

    They then removed the opponents as they spoke less. Of the 147 teammates, 82 spoke to the female version and 65 to the male. That’s 13% of people playing the game that they’re even looking at. Of those, there were only 11 instances of sexist talk. Assuming that we assign one instance per person, that makes it just less than 1% of interaction was deemed sexist.

    They also noted that better skilled female players get disproportionately large amounts of positive comments compared to every other group and men receive more negative comments when they’re bad at the game than women. It’s worth noting that their male manipulation also played consistently better than their female one, meaning the collected data is under this effect.

    Basically they fiddled the numbers to give the conclusion they wanted rather than what the numbers said. Bad science.

    TL;DR covered it about a month ago –

  • Azure

    Here is how to end all sexual harassment in gaming:

    Step One: Press the Mute Button

    Online gaming on the most part if you do not have a thick skin there is no point in trying to interact with some people. If you want friendly people join a gaming community/group. Joining a random game with the intention to talk to others is just a bad idea, like chat roulette but thankfully without the webcam.

  • Lavos

    I expected better from Techraptor.

  • m-p{3}

    IMO it’s more about general poor sportsmanship than anything else.

  • Troy Sch

    hey didnt kindra talk about this study,

    also if you want a indepth analysis look at the study
    video culture replay has a video going over it

  • utera

    Yea for a second I thought this was another swing at the bat, but its the same old kasumovic stody…..ugh

  • utera

    Paste with some of the debunkings out there

    Daniel already posted the teal deers take down, I’m sure there’s more at this point, after all its from july. The study was thoroughly discredited, and proved to be a massive waste of tax dollars, I think it was a third of a million they some how scammed to create this bogus study.

  • mbits

    I have been playing games online for nearly thirty years and I have never witnessed a female get harassed in a game. Get lots of comments? Flirting? Idiots paying more attention to the girl than the god damn game they are fucking up for the rest of their team? Absolutely. But harass her? Nope. On the other hand, I have played more game sessions where multiple guys are harassed for no reason than I have played where they haven’t been.

    That isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen, but in thirty years and tens of thousands of online sessions with thousands of those involving women… The contrast of the experiences is absolutely dramatic.

    Of course, the problem here is that Halo 3 was used.

    That’s likes saying “In a study of the behavior of sports fans, 80% of all sports fans tend to be loud, obnoxious, and violent” where the only sport you included was soccer, to the exclusion of bowling, tennis, racing, etc.

  • Arbitrary

    That study is bullshit, Georgina Young. There have been other sites, (Gamesnosh or Niche Gamer, I think.), who have posted articles with links who thoroughly debunked this utter drivel.

    This was really, fucking bad form, Georgina Young. Please do your homework.

  • ArsVampyre

    This is the same study behind ‘sexist gamers are losers, literally’, right? Yeah, not of much merit IMO.

  • vivianjames

    Scrubs are generally salty. But yeah like what other comments pointed out the science is bad.

  • Ricardo Lima

    You hit the nail in the head Daniel.

  • Arto Pekkanen

    Hmm, you didn’t get into analyzing the study or it’s interpretations in the media, so the yield of this article was at most 1/5 … especially since I already knew of the study.

    If you’d looked at the study itself you’d have found that it’s flawed.

  • Angus the Deplorable

    I second that sentiment – Techraptor seems to be slipping a bit…

  • Dave

    Yeah, this is a garbage study, and probably your sloppiest article to date 🙁

  • Salt Miner

    At least you updated the article in finding that Ms. Young was in the wrong. Which is what seperates you guys from garbage sites like Kotaku, Polygon, Gamasutra, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, The Guardian, Jezebel, The Mary Sue, and *aaacckk* Gawker, ect. Keep the good work and be more focused from here on.

  • GrimFate

    While this study sounds like it’s B.S., it makes me think of something I have been contemplating for a while.

    The basic idea is that feminism has been changing society to make it better for women, but they have’t focused much on men, specifically helping men to adjust to the changes. This means we live in a society where western women – as a whole – are more capable than ever of jumping traditional gender barriers. But men, for the most part, are still relegated to the same role they’ve always had, because nobody has bothered to fight for that change. They are expected to be confident and the best at everything “masculine”, which includes career and displays of strength and that of skill, such as in video games. So if a woman shows ability in one of these areas, insecure and/or very masculine men who fear she is as good or better will probably try to tear her down to prevent themselves from possibly being emasculated.

    But that’s just a thought.