For many of us, video games play an important role in our daily lives. You’ll find us grinding for gear in an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). Or, flexing our strategic muscles in an RTS (Real-Time Strategy), getting flick-shots in our favorite shooter or making bank through play-to-earn (P2E) games on the blockchain. There’s no shortage of variety for people of all ages to enjoy.
Video games are also an excellent avenue to meet other people, share special experiences and make lifelong friendships. While there are numerous benefits to the world of gaming, there is another side to the coin. Toxicity amidst the gaming community has long tainted the waters, especially towards the female population.
If you’re an avid gamer, you probably know – and if you don’t, it’s time to tune in. Gaming, especially on the blockchain, is the future. And we must find a way to make it accessible, and welcoming for all.
Women gamers – an example of what happens
If you need an example, here’s a POV video of the female experience in the game Valorant. It is made by player Molly Barker. The following clip shows what often happens to women as we game. The constant off-color comments are excruciatingly annoying.
Here is the uncensored version, it isn’t a good idea to open it at work!
A prominent problem
According to recent reports, every single day, women across the globe are sexually harassed, bullied and discriminated against online. In fact, a 2021 study by Reach3 Insights and Lenovo surveyed 900 women on their social experiences. A mind-blowing 77% admitted to being harassed for various reasons. Roughly 59% of these women actively hide their true gender identity. Or they pretend to be male in order to avoid these unsolicited comments and actions.
Even serious gamers deal with these issues. In a recent report, Jasmine Jada, a 23-year-old full-time streamer from Leeds explains, “I’ve had men talk to each other trying to guess what my body’s like, guess what I’m wearing,” among other things – including sexist comments and remarks about spending time in the kitchen. “There’s no girl I know that hasn’t experienced some sort of sexism or sexual harassment while playing an innocent game.”
If that’s not enough to get you thinking, there was a 2-year investigation at Activision Blizzard (creators of World of Warcraft, Overwatch, the Diablo franchise and more). Female employees spoke about the same type of abuse in the game development business. We’re talking about degradation and sexual harassment, among other things.
I have personally spent more than 15 years trudging through the sexist gaming waters. From receiving unsolicited, explicit pictures to facing gate-keepers and heavy discrimination, I’ve experienced it all.
One of the common instances I’ve faced comes in the form of sexual harassment – such as a man approaching my female character in an MMORPG. And then and telling me that he wanted to “bend me over the fence and [do things to me]…”
I think you get the picture. This was 100% unsolicited, and from a complete stranger, might I add.
Voice chat brings a whole new slew of issues to the table. When a woman enters the lobby, oftentimes the demeanor changes, I’ve noticed it suddenly becomes a feeding frenzy of who can impress her the fastest. Sometimes they just sending lewd messages or images – all of which I’ve received.
Not only does this kind of behavior make the gaming experience uncomfortable, it also leaves me feeling dirty, embarrassed and frustrated. This is not okay. Why should I fear playing the games I love?
Stepping up our game
It’s not just a myth that females bring unique ideas and perspectives to the table in everything they do – and that includes video games. Whether we’re talking about game development or heavy-hitting competition, it is essential for women to be an integral (and respected) part of the community.
This is not to say that we are better or worse than their male counterparts. Rather that women are just different and possess unique skills that will create a healthier in-game environment and economy. We need more fully fleshed out games and a more robust experience all around.
Some of the world’s most well-known game franchises are backed by many talented women, including Bonnie Ross and Kiki Wolfkill (Halo), Kim Swift (Portal, Left 4 Dead and Half-Life 2: Episode 2) and Jade Raymond (Assassin’s Creed I and II). Without them, these games and more would not have been the award-winning masterpieces that they’ve become today.
Bonnie Ross, corporate VP of Microsoft and head of Halo 343 Industries says, “From an industry perspective, gaming will continue to grow and evolve with the help of a wide range of diverse perspectives and creators. We’ve made a lot of progress, and I’m looking forward to watching the industry continue to embrace new ideas and new people for the betterment of all… I hope that others across the industry can learn from this approach and strive to continue to build the industry for the better.”
Women gamers: Hitting the reset button
It is imperative that we all work together to reduce the number of toxic incidents throughout the gaming industry towards women, both blockchain and otherwise. The absolute best way is through accountability.
We need to hold our peers accountable for their actions. And, game devs also need to continue implementing new ways to handle these unfortunate occurrences. This includes both temporary/permanent account banning.
I realize that it may never be perfect, but we can do better. We need to do better.
As I continue to grow my work experience in the realm of blockchain gaming, I’m excited because I’m noticing the rare opportunity to reshape and reinvent the way we all work together. We can make it all-inclusive and supportive.
Women gamers: Support from above
For example, CEO of WAX, William Quigley and the leadership team have made strides to build an organizational structure that is diverse and open-minded. This includes inserting Jassy Jackson as VP of Operations. Her years of expertise and focus on inclusion creates an inspired atmosphere that brings everyone together (both men and women). She’s also working to start Women on the Block by WAX. This is where we can all share their experiences and dive into blockchain and gaming on a level playing field and without fear.
Says Jackson, “It’s imperative to have an inclusive workforce that sparks independent, out-of-the-box thinking in order to create a culture that everybody belongs to. I am very proud to work alongside some extremely talented people from all walks of life, backgrounds and skillsets. The wide range of diversity can sometimes be challenging since we all see things in a unique light, but ultimately, our differences are what makes us strong.”
It’s safe to say that we all need to learn to look out for each other, both men and women alike. Let us continue to learn, grow, improve and fight for our right to be heard, respected, accepted and appreciated on the blockchain and beyond.
In compliance with the Trust Project guidelines, this opinion article presents the author’s perspective and may not necessarily reflect the views of BeInCrypto. BeInCrypto remains committed to transparent reporting and upholding the highest standards of journalism. Readers are advised to verify information independently and consult with a professional before making decisions based on this content.