Indiana University Study Finds Women Gamers Frequently Dismiss Sexual Harassment as Typical Gamer Behavior

A new study from scholars at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute has found only half of women gamers who experience some form of sexual harassment online identify the incident as harassment.

The study examined a group of women who play online video games at least once per week. The authors observed their interactions with other players, notating a variety of sexual harassment behaviors such as unwanted remarks, explicit images, and threats. The researchers followed up with each woman participant and asked them if they considered the authors’ observations as sexual harassment.

They found that 56.6 percent of participants experienced some form of sexual harassment during online gaming, however only half of these participants recognized their interactions as harassment, frequently stating that such behavior is typical among gamers. Similar results were found when witnessing sexual harassment incidents directed towards other women who were involved in the online game. About 45 percent of participants witnessed some form of sexual harassment towards another women gamers, but only 42 percent of this subset labeled their observations as an incident of sexual harassment.

The authors believe their findings point towards an urgent need for gaming companies to intervene and minimize sexual harassment in online gaming. They suggest companies implement more proactive monitoring efforts that go beyond gamer reports, as well as increased accountability for offenders.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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