• Casper Østergaard Sørensen
2. Term (Master), Media Studies (Minor subject) (Elective Study or Minor Subject)
Multiplayer video games as a medium have introduced social play in entirely new dimensions. Distinct from other media, such as movies where interaction between participants is limited, the social interaction afforded in video games serve as reflections of behavior and socialization, so when reports by ESA in 2021 defined the American gaming population as 55% male and 45% female, showing an increasing number of women playing video games as time passes, one would assume that the demographic is accurately represented. Yet, in the decade that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has had an active esports scene, the scene has yet to see a woman play at a major tournament. On the English broadcast for those majors, the highest ratio of female-to-male representation was three women to thirteen men, with the men taking up all analytical roles. This study claims these patterns such as these are not coincidences, but results of a toxic culture that the study investigates through female perception in online spaces. Video games and the surrounding culture are viewed through angles of cultural analysis. Through this, we find that there is both a notion of video game culture being a result of the values of the people who play it, and the notion that the video games being played are cultural artifacts that incite a certain culture of behavior through their (mis)representation.
The study incorporates a number of theories, including Myers and their theory of social contexts of play, used to introduce the concept and different instances of social settings within video games. This serves to lay the foundation for understanding how sexist values are represented on a micro-level through groups and how it further leads to a negative experience and perception of women in game culture. Additionally, cultivation theory and the online disinhibition effect is used in analyzing social perception of female streamers on Twitch as a result of representation. Through the application of cultivation theory, the study investigates the relationship between video game media and sexualization of female characters and voyeuristic perception of female streamers on Twitch, connecting female perception in two spaces, concluding that the two spaces affect each other and help to perpetuate and spread their cultures. Approaching this pattern through the online disinhibition effect indicates that there is a possible connection between the voyeuristic behavior and viewers being virtually invisible, rather than anonymous.
In the professional, competitive end of team-based video games, the study approaches cases of initiatives for female visibility and the response from the surrounding community as a framework for understanding the harassment
The study highlights the problematic relationship between misrepresentation and perception before moving onto a discussion of rape culture and sexism in Valorant’s community, where it problematizes the culture as being unwelcome for women despite featuring no sexualization of female characters. Through the sexist discourse retained online by the community, the discussion emphasizes how representation is one step on the ladder, meaning that the culture of sexism is not dissolved by one highly popular video game, but a general shift in the approach to female characters and actors in video game culture.
The study not only elaborates on how video game culture is constituted of online spaces that reflect an underlying sexism, but also how these cultures help to perpetuate their values and reinforce them through closed instances with little opposition.
Publication date31 May 2022
Number of pages47
ID: 471684925