Men Who Harass Women Online Have Inferiority Complexes, Study Suggests

Academic studies can be fascinating… and totally confusing. So we decided to strip away all of the scientific jargon and break them down for you.

The Background

The gaming community is notoriously hostile to women. Despite the fact that 48 percent of gamers are women, you don’t have to do much digging to find stories of female gamers who have been viciously harassed and had their lives threatened online. Researchers have become interested in these gender dynamics, hypothesizing that the hostile competition in video games is a microcosm of how things play out on the rest of the Internet and in the real world. How genders interact with each other in gaming, it seems, might just tell us a lot about what women in general encounter outside of these virtual fantasy worlds.

The Setup

A recent study out of the University of New South Wales and Miami University looked at the interactions between men and women playing the first-person shooter game Halo 3. The goal was to examine how players, who had no idea they were being studied, reacted to male and female-voiced teammates. (The game features a real-time voice channel where players are randomly assigned to teams with anonymous strangers with comparable skills, and can talk to one another.)

The researchers analyzed video recordings of 102 games in which they played with random Halo players using pre-recorded commentary by a male and female voice to interact with their unsuspecting teammates. The researchers broadcast a set of phrases that were deemed “harmless” and “inoffensive,” like “I like this map,” “nice shot there” or “I think I just saw a couple of them heading this way.”

Then the researchers transcribed these interactions, deeming responses to the pre-recorded audio as positive, negative or neutral. Interestingly, none of the —> Read More