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“Women’s Online Gaming Communities: Don’t Hate the Game, Hate the Players”...

“Women’s Online Gaming Communities: Don’t Hate the Game, Hate the Players”
Pervasive stereotypes such as ‘women don’t game’, ‘women don’t know how to game’ and ‘women don’t play violent videogames’ have long saturated the media as an explanation of why there are not more women gaming. The purpose of this presentation is to address these stereotypes and examine the online gaming experiences of women in Xbox Live that may explain why women appear absent in online gaming spaces. Using data from the GamerchiX Forum, I will discuss issues of harassment that women experience, and how the GamerchiX community (consisting of 2700 female gamers) offers different types of social support to address and overcome these negative gaming experiences, and how GamerchiX creates a safe, secure and encouraging community of female gamers. Moreover, I will explore the role GamerchiX plays in the lives of these women outside of gaming, which often encompass forum discussions that are not related to gaming at all, face-to-face meetings and associations in such spaces as Facebook.

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  • Hello to everyone, and thank you for coming today! My name Is Tracy Kennedy – or Professor Tracy as you know me here in Second Life. I am going to talk a little bit about a Women’s Online Gaming Community.

Citasa Presentation Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Women’s Online Gaming Communities: Don't Hate the Game, Hate the Players… Tracy Kennedy Microsoft Communities & Technologies Research Group Redmond, Washington CITASA MC 3.0 Second Life – August 2007
  • 2. Why are Online Gaming Communities Significant…
    • … to Social Researchers?
    • What role do online gaming communities play in gaming experiences both inside & outside the game?
    • Revisit traditional notions of community & examine convergences of Physical & Virtual Spaces
      • What do people talk about?
      • What roles do community members play?
  • 3. Why are Online Gaming Communities Significant…
    • … to Female Gamers?
    • What socio-cultural barriers or obstacles exist inside/outside the game for non-traditional gamers?
    • Harassment & Hostile gaming spaces
    • Stereotypes
      • Women don't game
      • Women don't know how to game
      • Women only play puzzle games or 'casual' games
  • 4. Case Study: GamerchiX
    • Online Forum -XBox Live
    • In July: 2700 Female Gamers
    • Private/Public: Membership Only & Moderated
    • Have a Manifesto
    • June 19th 2007 ‘snapshot’ of the forum
    • 410 topics posted
      • 11301 replies
      • 124686 views
    • Topics Coded into 15 Broad Areas
      • Sub-coded into 3 themes: Gaming Support, Relationship Building & Social Support
  • 5. How is the GamerchiX Community Structured?
    • Social Processes – Discussion Topics
    • Gaming Support:
      • Any topic related to Games & Gaming
      • 200 topics & 6072 replies
    • Relationship Building:
      • Play invites, F2F Meetings, Interactive posts, Looking for friends, Introductions
      • 179 topics & 4600 replies
    • Social Support:
      • Encouragement & Help for Offline Personal Issues & Online Harassment
      • 33 topics & 629 replies
  • 6. Today’s focus: Social Support
    • Women post topics about…
    • Personal issues:
      • Depression
      • Weight & Diet
      • Problems with spouses/partners & family members
      • And of course……
  • 7. ….Harassment
      • Verbal abuse
      • Porn photos & exhibitionism on webcams
      • Team killers (only kill the chicks!)
      • Exclusionary practices (booted from games)
      • Invites for cybersex
    • Harassment occurs :
    • During game play
    • Outside of game play
    • In discussion forums outside GamerchiX
  • 8. Harassment
    • “ Hey Ladies! I hope you can help me on this one. I'm being harassed by two guys that used to be on my friends list. They keep sending me friend requests over and over even after I decline them. They're even doing it with their alternate accounts. Is there any way at all for me to block them from sending me friend requests??? I've searched all over and I can't find a way to block them. This is day 3 of all this and it's getting quite annoying. I can't believe how childish some people are. =”
  • 9. Harassment
    • “ Well me and my friend were playing split screen on <gamertag> on GOW. A guy joins the room and I boot him since I was just about to invite my friend. The guy keeps coming back – about 3 times, and he sent me messages saying curse words and more. I message him and tell him - I’m not scared of you so leave me alone - He sends me a pic message with him holdin the xbox controller in one hand and a gun that’s real and its pointing to the camera, i immediately blocked communication with him, what should i do about this person?????????”
  • 10. How does the community respond?
    • Example:
    • Community support
    • for a fellow
    • GamerchiX who was
    • harassed
  • 11. Different Roles in the GamerchiX Community
    • Social Roles – Community Involvement
    • Initiators:
      • People who primarily post topics
      • 212 GamerchiX posted topics (less than 10%)
    • Repliers:
      • People who primarily reply to topics
    • Hybrids:
      • People who post & reply
    • Lurkers:
      • People who do neither & just observe/read
  • 12. Why is community so important to Female Gamers?
    • Meeting people with common interest (gaming)
    • Sharing stories – not alone
    • Help on how to stop abuse & harassment
    • Creating safe spaces to discuss sensitive topics
    • Creating safe online gaming places – gaming with friends, groups & clans
    • Mentoring & learning
  • 13. Community (still) Matters!
    • “ GamerchiX has really given me an opportunity to meet some wonderful ladies. I've been online so much more than I was before and have become much more vocal when I game because I'm not afraid of getting talked down to.”
    • “ I feel GamerchiX has encouraged us ladies to become more vocal and active on Xbox LIVE without having to worry about being hit on, cussed out or kicked out of a game just because we are girls.”
    • “ Girls of all ages and from all backgrounds have a safe environment to chat and play without fear of negative comments and remarks.”
  • 14. Conclusions
    • Women do game!
      • They are just careful about which social spaces to play in
    • Women know how to game!
      • They do it well & they play more than just puzzle games
    • Community is important!
      • Solidarity helps overcome (gendered) barriers & obstacles
    • Community is multifaceted!
      • Members have different roles and ways in which they participate
      • Social support is diverse & complex; it includes non-gaming + gaming related discussion
      • Community is not limited to virtual spaces
    • GamerchiX is a good community model!
      • A diverse, safe, secure and encouraging community of female gamers
  • 15. ….game on!
    • Tracy L.M. Kennedy
    • Microsoft Communities & Technologies Research Group - Redmond, Washington
    • PhD Candidate – Department of Sociology
    • Graduate Fellow - Knowledge Media Design Institute
    • NetLab Research-Coordinator
    • University of Toronto
    • 725 Spadina Ave.
    • Toronto, ON. Canada, M5S 2J4
    • www.netwomen.ca/Blog
    • [email_address]