The Ongoing Battle: Challenging Sexism and Harassment in Gaming
There are roughly 164 million video gamers in the United States alone. Out of that, 46% are female gamers, and fewer than 30% of game developers are female. As anyone can tell, the video game industry is dominated by men in multiple areas from playing to developing and everything in between. Even with a small percentage of the female base in gaming, there is no shortage of triumphs achieved by women in this realm.
In August 2014, #gamergate became a prime example to the extent of what women in gaming face. Proponents of the group #gamergate claimed that progressive culture was poorly affecting the industry and was unwelcome. Some directed threats of own, murder, and other harm at two female developers and a media feminist. The FBI was informed but made little attempt to resolve the situation, claiming that there was a lack of leads, and local law enforcement cited the same reasons. As of yet, there have been zero arrests made in the case but multiple identifications made.
In KSI, women have made strides in the male-dominated gaming organization through standing in some of the most impactful roles. There have been ladies-only divisions/squads and women in multiple roles, to include board positions and leadership roles throughout the ranks. Though some still deal with crass people, the ladies in KSI tend to have more positive experiences than negative.
One current member shares her story:
“I’ve had a guy message me after being in a party with me once and said, ‘I have a crush on you. I think you have a beautiful voice.’ It [was] taken care of and the dude didn’t message me again, but a couple of people in leadership roles still had a big joke about it. The fact that I was [put] in a very weird and uncomfortable spot was funny [to them].”
Another female gamer tells her story:
“I was playing in a match of Call of Duty with my squadmates and I was called a ‘*****’. I went to ignore it, as this is something that happens all the time, but my team said [that] only they could call me names and pick on me as if I was their trophy. This include[d] my Founder.”
That Founder was suspended from KSI for three weeks for allowing the behavior to continue in front of him but returned after suspension as though nothing happened. The female member was then passed over for promotion four times and was told she wasn’t working hard enough like her male counterparts. This is a classic case of reprisal. That Founder eventually left KSI.
Yet, it’s not all about the bad. KSI can also be a place for inspiration and equality. A former female senior member says:
“I rose through the ranks quickly, and, of course, anyone who didn’t know me said it was because I was a girl. The only female in senior leadership at the time advised me to rise above it, that I may have to work twice as hard to prove myself, but that it would feel twice as sweet to rise with integrity. I tried to emulate her that way. Eventually, I received a message from a former member who had risen significantly through the ranks who said that I had shown her it was possible for women to lead and be respected for it. All I did was pay forward the advice given to me. The increased presence of ladies among the community alone says that advice continues to run through these squads and divisions.”
KSI has long maintained a zero-tolerance policy of sexual harassment or discrimination of any kind which is strictly enforced among much of the community. But some continue to express that it only applies to those not holding leadership roles or those favored by said leadership. This has proven to be an ongoing discussion amongst members and leaders alike on how to handle the aforementioned situations. Even so, most members across the community are better equipped to educate themselves and each other in real-life societal situations no matter their title or rank or any other potentially discriminating factors.
Though not all women believe this is not just a KSI problem but a problem overall. For example, one gamer tells us,
“Will say though, gaming as a female is difficult. There are so many people that are highly opinionated that believe we don’t reach a specific skill level; they can be judgy, pervy, and downright disrespectful but in KSI, aside from a select few, people here make the couple weirdos worth putting up with.”
As the number of women in gaming grows, including those in the developer roles, it’s quite possible that this behavior will be taken more seriously than ever. KSI could become a leading force in that realm, but that all depends on the efforts of leaders and members alike.
If you or someone you know is experiencing issues similar to these or any other forms please reach out to any leaders. You can also submit an email to email@example.com