The results of a recent study found that men who did not perform well while playing Halo 3 were more likely to treat their female teammates poorly.
Women are typically treated worse online than men, online chatrooms and video games are two domains where the male population can be especially vitriolic. In the study researchers observed 163 games of Halo 3 with about 50% of the games having a female voice on the mic and the other half using a male voice. One point to note is that everybody who responded during the study was male, not surprising to anybody who plays Halo, but the likelihood of running into a woman who uses her microphone is pretty rare.
We played a total of 163 games of Halo 3 in the two manipulations. We stopped at 163 as this is a substantial time effort. Data could not be analyzed during the experiment as the transcripts needed to be transcribed. Of the 163 games, 82 were in the female manipulation and 81 were in the male manipulation and players only spoke within 102 of the games. A total of 189 players spoke in these 102 games; all of them were male. This is not to say that women did not play, just that they did not speak. This does, however, reinforce the fact that women are entering a very male dominated environment. Of these individuals, 147 individuals were teammates of the experimental player and 42 individuals were opponents.
The researchers found that, out of the 189 players who spoke (42 opponents and 147 teammates,) teammates reacted neutrally to other male players regardless of their performance, but men who were not playing well treated female players poorly. On the opposite end of the spectrum, players who were performing well were more positive toward female teammates, but remained neutral towards other men.
A focal player was more positive towards a female-voiced player when they had a greater relative difference in maximum skill level, and more negative towards a female-voiced teammate when they had a lower relative difference in maximum skill level.
Obviously, as the female players skill increased the number of negative comments decreased. As you can see from the graph below an increase in kills for female players means a drastic reduction in negative comments, but men are virtually unaffected by this statistic. However, one situation where men received more negative comments than their female counterparts was when the player had more than 15 deaths.
At the end of the day we all need to be more supportive of each other online, regardless of gender. Verbally abusing somebody is never justified, and especially not when someone is performing poorly at a video game. This study shows that if you suck at the game you are playing it’s more likely you are going to lash out at female players, so obviously the solution is everybody needs to get better at video games. Seems pretty easy, right?