Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Survey Results

It has been far too long in coming, but I have finally produced the graphic analysis I want from the (now closed) Gamer Survey Scrz and I conducted in August and September of 2012. My sincere apologies to all the participants and other interested parties for the long delay in publishing the results. I am excited to present them to you now with some explanation of the various questions we posed to each gamer. Each of the graphs below is clickable, if you want to see it full size.

I received a couple of comments regarding the definition of gamer which I will share in a second. As far as the survey goes, this is an implicit question. By completing the survey, the respondents declared themselves to be gamers, whether the rest of us would consider them as such is irrelevant. (Comments are in quote blocks and Helvetica font. All comments used were edited for uniformity of spelling and grammar, and to maintain anonymity.)
I consider myself a gamer but you may not, LOL. Non-gamers (AKA my wife) tell me all I do is play games. Other gamers, meanwhile, are perplexed when I tell them I only have an hour or two to play just now. I just can't win! As much as I love to play, I've managed to keep bigger priorities in my life just that—bigger priorities. It constantly shocks me how shocked almost every other gamer I talk to is by that.
Even though I'd played WOW for hours a day for almost four years (single at the time), I didn't really consider myself a gamer until I tried my third MMO, LOTRO. And that was after I'd started this gaming blog. In retrospect, I totally was a gamer.
I ticked we were both gamers prior to meeting, neither of us actually would have described ourselves as gamers way back then (we played megadrive type games and PC RPGs) It's only since we've been playing MMOs that we consider ourselves gamers. Plus our gaming history stretches back for around *cough* 15 years so the term may not have been invented :P But even so, wouldn't have categorized ourselves as such.
Gender
My lovely bride has told me on several occasions that I just don't get sexist issues from her perspective. I have to confess this is true. Despite being concerned with sexism in all aspects of life—including in the gaming community—some issues I view as "no big deal" are actually a very big deal to my female friends.

ONE HUNDRED FOUR (104) people took the survey, about two thirds (66) of whom were males, and one third (38) females. With such a small sample, I can't know whether that reflects the gender breakdown of the larger MMO community. I say MMO because this blog is almost exclusively about MMORPGs; and, as you'll see below, every respondent "confessed" to playing them. I used the gender question to break down the results.
Relationship Status
This question leads into the next. But if a respondent didn't have a significant other, we didn't ask the next two questions about S.O. gaming habits and influence. The legal status of the relationship was not relevant, so we composed it as generally as possible. Female respondents were somewhat more likely to be in a relationship at the time of the survey.
Female Relationship Status
Male Relationship Status
We'll return to include our single comrades in the next round of results.

Gamer Status of Significant Other
So about six months ago, Sctrz and I had a couple discussions stemming from recent gaming news, specifically a PR faux pas made by a developer from Gearbox, creators of Borderlands 2. The Mechromancer character was described as a "girlfriend mode" apparently because it was/is easier to play than other character types in the game. It made me curious about how female players got involved with gaming in the first place. Specifically, what is the likelihood that a gamer, regardless of gender will be attempting to introduce a female to gaming, versus introducing a male to gaming. I was hoping to get more gay and lesbian respondents to confirm or deny my hypothesis, but only a few took the survey.
Female Respondents (30 total):
Regardless, the males seem to have the most "opportunity" to get their significant other interested in gaming; though I'm guessing most already have, and their S.O. simply is not interested. I hope no one has an S.O. openly hostile to their hobby.

Male Respondents (46 total):
S.O. Influence on Gamer Status
So how much influence does the gamer exert on their significant other to start gaming? Hard to say. All of the male respondents were gamers when they met their S.O. (None were influenced to start gaming by their S.O.) On the other hand, none of the female respondents have an S.O. that does not also play, at least some of the time. I realize now that perhaps I should have separated "hardly games" and "never games" in the prior question. Don't give up hope, guys; almost a quarter of the male respondents have successfully introduced their S.O. to gaming.
Now, I know that we are looking at both sides of the same relationship in some of these tallies. That is, both partners responded to the survey, which is great. A full 80 percent of the female respondents were already gamers prior to meeting their S.O. and that's wonderful to see. It's also cool to see how many relationships were formed over multiple sessions of WoW or other games.
After all that lovey-dovey stuff in the last post, it's time for some hard hitting survey bloggerism. From here on out, we see questions that every respondent was asked, regardless of gender or relationship status. It begins, innocuously enough, with a question about the types of games you play. Or so I thought.

Genre of Games Played
Male respondents (66 total):
Female respondents (38 total):
I did not expect this question to stir up any controversy, but . . .
Why wasn't RPG on the list? Currently engaged in some Fallout and Mass Effect.
Well! The missing SP-RPG category was simply an oversight on my part. I encouraged respondents to add it in as part of their remarks at the end of their survey, but none did besides the commenter quoted above. So I have to assume at least some of the "Other" responses were for the SP-RPG category.
Civilization isn't an RTS.
Here, we have a question of definition. I am not sure how else to categorize Civilization; but then I would also include SimCity in the RTS genre, even though there is no fighting in it. In my view, the "strategy" comes from the effective use of resources to grow territory, regardless of whether one is fighting an opposing army, or simply an unruly budget. So what genre is CIV? and would SimCity also be in that category?

In any event, possibly because of my audience, every respondent plays some MMO regularly. Most of the other percentages are remarkably similar between genders; though again, the sample size is too small to gauge any true reflection of the gamer population at large.
And the total percentages (out of 104 participants):

Customization Options
Another perennially hot topic you may recall from this summer is the issue of, shall we say, inappropriate costuming for female characters in our various games. I saw more and more complaints about the dearth of body-type and armor-coverage options as the year went on. People don't all want their avatars to run around as if they're part of a Frazetta painting. I myself am of two minds here. There are times when I am perfectly OK with a skimpy costume on an attractive female computer generated model. However, I also find that sometimes the choices are ridiculous. Take for instance, the high-level female human cultural medium (and light) armor in GW2. I find myself clothing my females in "practical" garb, unlike some people.

In asking the following question, I wanted to find out how people feel about about how gender/sex is portrayed in the games they play. I wasn't concerned about non-gender costume issues like oversize shoulder pads or unrealistically huge swords.
Male respondents (66 total):
Female respondents (38 total):
Regarding portrayal of female characters: I only play games that offer a choice of how you present your character. If I'm railroaded into having to have an overtly sexualized character, they won't get my money. Choice is the key term here: I don't care if other people want to run around in a chainmail bikini, but give me the option not to please. ;)  Oh and that goes for female NPCs too: variety and/or equitability with male NPCs is better.
The game Tera, while not offering much by way of variety in physiques, is at least egalitarian in the distribution of skimpy costuming. I have other issues with the game, stemming from poor marketing choices, so I have not experienced Tera first hand.
I've often been disappointed that I can't make weakling casters for male human WoW characters. They always look like steroid freaks, no matter their vocation. It's a very minor complaint, to be sure.
This had never occurred to me, though I did avoid human male characters in World of Warcraft, which are uniformly muscular. Another respondent had a great suggestion:
On the characterization options, sure we'd all like more and better of those, but since I always play the least human options available the often very poor representations of humanoid males and females doesn't usually directly affect me. My advice is always play a talking animal of some description. Give it a gender-neutral name and no-one will even know what sex it's meant to be, and they certainly won't ask.
I have yet to play a game where there wasn't at least some sexual dimorphism across the "races." Even GW2, which is praised for that aspect of the Charr and Asura models, has some dimorphism; though it's not as pronounced as the racial model in WoW, where the least human-like races show the most extreme dimorphism.
It would also be great if I could play a female character in ANY modern day FPS, I mean seriously, that is just blatant discrimination.
Agreed here, especially regarding any FPS set in the present or future (or some semi-fantastic past). A realistic FPS set in WWII might not have female infantry, but any game with Space Marines—Hi, Games Workshop :P —has no excuse.
And the totals (out of 104):
A Note: Assuming those who checked "never had an issue" only checked that (because what else would they do?); if 42% of respondents never had an issue (53% of males and 24% of females), then well over half, 58% have had some issue with either character physique or costumes in the games they play (47% of males and more than three quarters of the female respondents, 76%).

Online Insults
And so we begin to wind down the Gamer Survey results. But not before everyone gets all riled up about the caustic environment that can be in-game chat and VOIP, other people questioning everything from your ability to play the game, to your gender and sexuality. Give me Barrens Chat any day with its endless Chuck Norris Facts and people asking where to find Mankrik's wife (although I'm sure it deteriorated into nastiness at times. General chat is filled with such inanities that I usually just turn it off, making a custom channel with just Guild, Party, and maybe Say, so I can interact with players in my immediate vicinity. But what happens when the party you're in is the source of the insults?

In June, I wrote a post about insults and epithets, words people use to lump other people into groups that may or may not be accurate, and almost certainly are derogatory. It's something I personally feel strongly about, since as a child I was bullied and picked on until I grew big enough to ball up a fist and break a nose or two. To this day, I am particularly sensitive about being made fun of, and have an oversize sense of justice.

We'll look at these questions together, because they two sides of the same coin. My intent in asking was whether the respondent interpreted or intended remarks as insults. Gentle or friendly ribbing as to someone's abilities may not be insulting; but they can cross the line if we're not careful. Also, I intended for the second answer (irrelevent characteristic) to include inaccurate statements (i.e., calling someone a "fag" even if they are heterosexual.)

First, the responses from female gamers:
I just wanted to add a note that although I said earlier that I had not been a victim of insults in a game, there have been times when I had been a victim but not due to the circumstances listed in the other two choices. The only times I've been a victim when I was playing male characters and the people who were tossing the insults either had no idea I was female or it didn't matter at all to the situation. The first series of events was in Ultima Online where people harassed *anyone* they could because there was no behavior moderation at all in that game. It was completely anything goes and people there acted like they were in Lord of the Flies. The other times was related to guild leaders who went crazy and screamed insults at members when they stopped doing everything the guild leader wanted.

Even when I play my female characters, I seem to repel the typical sexist, etc. type of behavior from others, but I have seen it happen time and time again to friends who seem to attract the weirdos in every game.
I usually play female characters, but not always. As I have mentioned before, my nom-de-blog is actually taken from my Main in WoW: Rowanblaze, a human female priest. I am pretty sure on at least a few occasions other players assumed I was a female player, but usually that's not the case for me.
I tend to keep my gender on the downlow, so as not to provoke unwanted insults/advances.
I don't blame you.

Although I've never directly been negatively called for because I'm a woman, I do remember the days (this sounds old, but it actually was only 5 years ago) that people would be surprised to learn I was one. This mostly was through using Vent after we'd been clearing some cave for a while already. Perhaps I'm lucky (your survey will tell!), but people have always been inviting me to come help out with their raid and were happy if I could come. If anything, I'd almost feel more positively discriminated than the other way around. Perhaps this really depends on which game you play as well: I've always thought the LOTRO community was very friendly.

I used to be annoyed when people would refer to me as "he", even though they could see I was playing a female character. Those people who assumed that everyone around them was male were *always* male themselves.
I almost always take a character's gender at face value. It's simply easier to think of them as being male or female based on what I see, not what gender I think the player may be. On the other hand . . . (sorry about the quality)
As a female gamer who is not feminine in the slightest, it's always fascinating to me to see different viewpoints on how people feel they're treated. I have only ever personally been targeted due to my gender once, and that was an extreme circumstance (guild drama). I have no doubts whatsoever that people make sexist remarks all the time and that some even erroneously believe that women are not as good at gaming as men, but I myself have so rarely been a target of it that it's a foreign concept to me in some ways.
It sounds like you've been lucky, given some of the other responses. :) Guild drama is never a good thing, and I try to avoid it myself. We had several players in my WoW raiding guild, Mutiny (Uldum), that were gender-bending their avatars (including my own Rowanblaze). I'll always remember the guy we called "Joan." All of his characters had "Joan" in their name, starting with his paladin, Joanofarc. I very quickly got used to hearing Joan's masculine voice over Ventrilo, and thought nothing of it. We also had female players playing male characters. Now, were there occasional jokes made about gender and stereotypes? Yes, but I think happens in almost every casual group of friends, with rare hard feelings. I was lucky to be in a raid group with very patient leaders, and we didn't have any guild drama that I can recall.
I personally haven't been a "victim" of insults regarding my gender, but my gender has been victimized. In male-heavy guilds I've seen a lot of, "so-and-so sucks because she's a girl" followed by a hasty, "but that doesn't apply to you" when they remember I'm in that gender camp. Or, "I don't believe you're a woman, you play too well." I have been accused of being male and using a voice modulator in Vent. But, I've also had people apologize for suggesting I suck off an officer to get favors—after they realized I'm a woman. Apparently the suggestion would have stood had I been male. =)
One's gender or orientation has no bearing on his or her ability to play a game. At least they realized how inappropriate the suggestion that you were giving out blow jobs for favors was considering you are female. It's a shame they didn't realize it's insulting to anyone to suggest they are exchanging sex for status.

How male gamers answered the questions:
(Not every remark below was necessarily made by a male gamer, I'm just breaking up the post a bit.)
~I once was invited to a group in City Of Heroes and as I was Kinetics they expected we to have the mandatory Speed Boost skill. After that back they all ran off in separate directions but all wanted healing, with the expected abuse for not being able to do so. I exited the mission, quit the group and left them all to die.

I intentionally didn't pick speed boost until level 49 just to spite players that thought they knew how I should be playing/building my character.
Playing the healer more often than not, I have often left a group in the lurch because of the poor behavior other players. I was once laughed at for using a sub-optimal spell (Frostfire, when I was specced Arcane). I was in a PUG where frankly it didn't matter, and I simply thought it looked cool, nothing more. Unfortunately, the other player took it up on himself to tell me I was "doing it wrong" and boast of his own expertise as a Mage (he was not playing one at the time). It would have been, far better if he had whispered something like, "Hey, Frostfire is really meant for Frost and Fire Mages. You're not getting the best DPS by including in your Arcane rotation." Instead, he tried to humiliate me in front of the rest of the party. We'd barely started the PUG. I /ignored him and dropped group, leaving them to their own devices. Maybe it wasn't the most most mature reaction on my part, but I don't play any game to get berated by punks who think they are Überl33t.
I had to think long and hard about whether or not I have ever insulted another gamer. I don't think I have ever explicitly said "l2p", but I am pretty sure that there have been times where I have been critical of other gamers’ performance. I have also been guilty of telling 3rd parties that "person x needs to l2p."
I have been guilty of whispering to another player about the abilities of another, but I don't think I have ever directly criticized a player without offering a constructive solution. I become more incensed about the the behavior of players than their gameplay. The quickest solution to lowering my own blood pressure is simply to drop group. I have better things to do with my gaming time than get worked up about another player.
While I have not been the target of harassment, I have witnessed horrific harassment of women and minorities in games and on game forums.
Unfortunately, so have I. Even the implication that someone is a member of  a particular group and therefore inferior, whether they actually part of that group or not, is repugnant.
I don't expect to be treated any differently than anyone else in a game and I don't think I get treated differently either. I will play a game on a more casual mode as long as it is still fun. I don't play competitive games.
I rarely play competitively, sPvP in GW2 is a lot of fun though.I certainly have never done any tournaments, like WoW Arenas and such. I am not sure whether it because I am not competitive or because I am too competitive.

A couple respondents offered solutions to rudeness:
I may have been insulted, but I'm pretty laid back and don't stress about that stuff. I /ignore the person and get back to playing. So I don't remember any instances, but it may have happened.
I avoid game forums for similar reasons as /ignoring people. It's not worth reading the dreck in order to find a few gems of information.
On rare occasions within LOTRO, there are people who are rude, obnoxious, degrading, and demeaning. Three good options exist to deal with those people: report it as Harassment with in-game tools, put them on Ignore where I never have to see them, and tell my friends who can "close ranks" and keep those bad eggs at bay. Be good, and others will be good to you.
That last bit is ultimately all we can do. The Golden Rule is in full effect. I wish there were more I could do as an individual to stem the tide of nastiness, but I can only control own little corner of the Internet.

Percentage Totals (out of 104):
Thirty-two (31%) lucky respondents have never been insulted in online games. The other 69% of us (72 respondents) have had to deal with rudeness and even bigotry. On the other hand, 86 (83%) of us are gentle folk who have never insulted anyone online, with 18 (17%) rapscallions running rampant through the survey.
Whew!
Thank you to everyone for your enthusiasm and encouragement. Once again, I apologize for my procrastination. Sctrz had nothing to do with the delay. I was hoping for a few shortcuts, when it would have been faster if I'd just done my homework in the first place. I'll leave you with two final, hopeful remarks from respondents.
Nowadays, I feel being a woman in gaming is 'normal,' and I think this is simply because there are so many more of us. I never get any surprised responses when people get to know I'm a woman. And that's how it should be. :) (Then again, this might also be because I pug less, and because I often play together with my "significant other", which places me in a category.)
You're right, it is how it should be. I often play with my S.O., as well.
Female gamers are coming into their own. No longer are we in the shadows!
I sincerely hope that's the case going forward—in every aspect of life, not just gaming.