Communities and Social Media

It’s not just about the “looks”. Sincerely, from all the girls in the gaming industry.

Sexism faced by women is a significant social threat to the growth of the online gaming industry due to ‘geek/nerd masculinity’ (Friman & Ruotsalainen 2018): born from the systematic portrayal of women in the wider media.

Society is composed of individuals and these individuals have the agency to form and reform our identities based on aspirations and desires but limited by biology. Every individual is a unique fineprint that is by their environment, upbringing, culture beliefs and the people surrounding them. Individuals internalise or resist cultural norms. With the growth of social media and digital presence, more and more people are making a career out of ‘networked individualism’, creating an opportunity to share their own unique personalities, skills and experiences via the multitude of digital social media networks available today.

One such social network is the gaming live streaming service Twitch. Twitch were one of the pioneers of the online live streaming space, and for years have been an endemic place for gamers (the influencers) to live stream and share their interests, activities and hobbies as well as interact with people and communities (the lurkers) around the world. With the current uprising trend of women in gaming and a subsequent rise in female streamers has disrupted a traditionally male-dominated industry, many of whom are now feeling that “their personal space” is being invaded (Bergström & Ericsson 2020) . This is often coupled with the notion that women are more likely to have lucrative careers in the gaming industry because the age old adage of ‘looks sell’. This paper will explore the fact that in reality, studies and statistics have shown that the opposite is the case. We will be dissecting the assumptions shared by many around how ‘easy’  it is to sell your personal branding as a woman and how social change is needed to combat the systematic portrayal of women in the media that has contributed to this gross misconception.

Toxic behaviour is perceived as the lack of consequences for antisocial behaviour due to being able to become anonymous on the internet which leads to griefing, trolling, flaming, harassment, bullying and cheating (Bergström & Ericsson 2020). Additionally, there is a significant ‘gatekeeping’ culture within the gaming industry and communities, particularly in the competitive ‘esports’ niche (Friman & Ruotsalainen 2018). 

Resistance towards hyper-masculinity is the solution to facilitating a community where diversity and inclusivity in geek sub cultures and identities can be embraced.

Portrayal of women in media affecting other females in different communities

“The content released to the media reflects the pattern of value in any society” (Kumara & Joshi 2015). Kumara and Joshi state that the prevailing attitude of society is often reflected in the way women are portrayed in the media. This is not lost in the instance of female interaction in gaming social media, such as live streaming, YouTube and other content creation platforms. Whether or not this portrayal is intentional, there is no doubt that certain exaggerated stereotypes based on society’s assumptions that have little to no basis in reality carry over into every new industry. This is particularly concerning as studies have shown that the way certain circumstances are portrayed in media have a strong and lasting impact in the younger generations of Gen Z and millennials (who make up over 78% of the gaming demographic), who often imitate and take inspiration from characters portrayed in popular culture and media  (Kumara & Joshi 2015).

Women are often depicted within the media as sexual objects with little other value, perpetuating a degrading message about women in society (Kumara & Joshi 2015). Female characters depicted in pop culture are far more likely to be sexualised than male characters, or forced into sex-based stereotypes including dependency on men for protection, decision making or approval (Courtney and Lockeretz, 1971).

“Gamergate” campaign & geek masculinity

The concept of ‘geek masculinity’ was popularised during the infamous “Gamergate” campaign. Gamergate refers to a series of false narratives painted about Zoe Quinn, an American video game developer, by her ex-partner Eron Gjoni. Gjoni alleged that Quinn exchanged sexual favours for career development in the gaming industry, which sparked outrage and began a targeted online harassment campaign against Quinn. These false claims caused outrage amongst the statistically male dominated community of video game enthusiasts who felt threatened by the growing presence and influence of women as both players and industry participants (Salter 2017). 

Using the “Gamergate” campaign as an example, Salter’s article emphasizes the emergence of online abuse from within the argumentation relationship between reactionary formations of masculine identities and computing technology (2017). In Gamergate, it was evident that there was a masculine impulse to defend particular social networks, in this case was the online video gaming community, from the perceived encroachment by women and more diverse users (Salter 2017). 

Geek masculinity thus revolves around the issues of sexism and anti-progressivism due to gendered subjectivity, in which males often assert super technological knowledge and aptitude within this particular social network (Salter 2017).  The ‘geek’ stereotype was created around the early characterizations of programmers and computer engineers’ socially awkward behaviour and being antisocial geniuses (Salter 2017) since then it has changed into an identity affecting boys and men for whom technology offers an alternative pathway to masculine identification. In geek masculinity, masculine self esteem and social capital are built through specialized technical knowledge and skills, rather than through mainstream indices of masculinity such as being athletic or heretosexual prowess (Salter 2017).    


As a female in the gaming industry, whether you are working in development, publishing, as an influencer/content creator or in other roles, you are automatically a statistical minority within any of the sub-communities you primarily engage in (Yokoi 2021). Combined with the factors above, this creates an environment where taking a contradicting position against systematic sexism is often met with harassment through the form of cyberbullying. 

One such example of normalised sexist treatment is the perpetuation of the term ‘e-girl’ as a way to identify females within the online gaming community. The ‘e-girl’ is a digital persona originally born as the equivalent of a traditional influencer, however this status is obtained not through lavish lifestyle choices but rather creating and portraying a strong digital presence that is often layered upon with other various pop culture aesthetics, e.g. alternative culture, kawaii culture and others (Jennings 2019). However, the term ‘e-girl’ nowadays holds a negative connotation caused by hegemonic geek masculinity. 

Whilst it can be argued that the interpretation is subjective, this negativity is supported by a vast derogatory meme culture ‘e-girls’ are subjected to. Given that memes shared through social media are often a reflection of a “culture of system of behaviour” of the community in which they circulate, we can derive, at the minimum, a strong subset of the gaming community that hold negative opinions on the ‘e-girl’ status.

Additionally, studies have shown that cultures where hegemonic geek masculinity are prevalent result in a higher rate of sexual harassment toward women (Routsalainen & Friman, 2018). One specific instance of this type of harassment that supports the thesis statement is the notion held by many, particularly men, that females who are content creators on live streaming, video or other content platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, Instagram and Tiktok have it ‘easier’ due to the ease of sexualising their image, or for lack of a better phrase, ‘showing more skin’ (Setupgamers 2021). However, this has been debunked thoroughly by reports and studies which show that of the top 500 live streamers on Twitch in August, 2017, only 16 were women, equating to only 3.2% of the total hours watched (Hatchet, 2017).

It’s not just about the “looks”

In today’s social media environment, female content creators must establish strong personal branding in order to achieve a level of networked individuality that leads to personal and financial success (Dodaro 2018). This can be achieved through a number of avenues, either their content quality, personality, social media and community engagement or physical skill. Users who consume content often choose what to watch based on one, or a combination, of the factors above. As a female content creator’s target audience segment would be different from a male’s, the hypothesis that women are unfairly ‘stealing’ opportunity from men is one that is counter-intuitive. 

Content creators fall into many different types of categories based on their primary social network and  medium (live streamed video, video on demand, short form video, images etc). As a live streamer, the most common network used is Twitch, Amazon’s gaming and lifestyle online live streaming subsidiary. Whilst male streamers on the platform often specialise in either one video game title or genre, women are more likely to be ‘variety streamers’, meaning that they play a wide assortment of games, and that the main draw for viewers lies in their personality and theatricality (Bingham 2017). Variety streamers are those that attract a loyal following by being fun to watch (Bingham 2017). 

Variety streamers’ identities often revolve around a quirk or gimmick to distinguish their channel from others and maintain consistent growth. For example, Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys is one of the biggest female variety streamer in the world, who originally played League of Legends and Fortnite then branched out to other content categories, while CodeMiko is a virtual reality streamer who stands out through her hyper realistic VR character model developed and coded by herself, with highly interactive stream commands and basing the majority of her content around social content, such as interviewing other live streamers (Aquino 2020). A third contrasting female streaming personality is C9 Mel, who is part of C9 White (one of the first female professional esports teams formed in 2020). Her content is based on an element of implicit competitiveness, focusing on gameplay that favours an online multiplayer over narrative (Bingham 2017). 

Consequences of being a female twitch streamer

On top of the challenges women within the gaming industry face in terms of career growth, there are other consequences they face, particularly within the content creation and social media space. These female influencers are often only known by their chosen on-screen handle, or at most a first name. This level of semi-anonymity is both a choice and a necessity due to the increased threat of targeted harassment they face, often simply for being a woman. 

There have been several examples of female Twitch streamers who have faced extreme cases of online stalking. In an interview public statement, a female Twitch streamer by the alias of ‘BrookeAB’ revealed that she had been the victim of “countless stalkers”, suggesting that what she has experienced is shared by “counterless women in gaming”. These instances of harassment range from constant physical threats of violence, doxxing (releasing sensitive personal information) of the victim and their family members, death threats and more. The psychological damage endured at the hands of these instances places a severe toll on the victims, as well as serving as a always looming threat for females who are considering pursuing career opportunities within the gaming industry. As such, this places an increasing strain on the growth of the industry through discouraging women, who already make up a small minority, from investing more time and resources in the space. 


In a society that glorifies and promotes networked individualism, women still face intense sexism and anti-progressivism that are detrimental to the overall success and growth of certain industries and communities. Social networks such as Twitch serve a beneficial purpose in enabling individuals to connect to complex networks centred around themselves, however also serve as a platform to amplify systematically toxic cultures within society, such as the concept of geek masculinity. The anonymity afforded by social media to ‘lurkers’ in contrast to the level of vulnerability ‘influencers’ must endure during the process of creating content and engagement creates major physical and mental risks, particularly for women. There are several high profile examples of these instances which have resulted in leading figures within the female gaming industry to speak out and use their platform to drive societal change and provide a safe environment for women to practice their hobbies, and advance their careers.


50 thoughts on “It’s not just about the “looks”. Sincerely, from all the girls in the gaming industry.

  1. Hi Christabel

    This was a good read and a good insight of how the male dominated industry are dampening the power of women within the industry and how the male masculinity within the industry are labeling females in a negative connotation. however, i feel like that if you would add more examples of how females are being undermined such as the riot games discrimination againts female lawsuit would add a stronger persuasive power for your points as well as you could extend on the harrasment that females have been received, i.e twitch chat screenshots or twitter call outs further highlighting the harrasment and internet troll, as well as look up on gamer doc documentaries interview to get insights on how psychology works on receiving harrasment or do research on psychology of toxicity behaviour (with source) can be damaging towards an individual mentally. adding those would improve your paper and persuasiveness of your points alot more. also you should also be playing devil’s advocate and add more points about how females streamers are capitalizing on the fact that they can set up only fans or showing more skins i.e hot tub stream to gain more subs (money) which an action by a female streamer can also damage the reputation and add to the stigma of e-girl, your paper would be more balanced instead of just shifting the blame solely on the geek masculinity, its not just the media that portray them that way, social medias and twitch allow venues for individual to share more about them self and themself choose to portray them that way as well, and also talk more about the effect of generalization of stereotype which can be discouraging more females to join the field as they dont want to be stereotyped that way

    Kind Regards

  2. Hi Christabel

    This was a good read and a good insight of how the male dominated industry are dampening the power of women within the industry and how the male masculinity within the industry are labeling females in a negative connotation. however, i feel like that if you would add more examples of how females are being undermined such as the riot games discrimination againts female lawsuit would add a stronger persuasive power for your points as well as you could extend on the harrasment that females have been received, i.e twitch chat screenshots or twitter call outs further highlighting the harrasment and internet troll, as well as look up on gamer doc documentaries interview to get insights on how psychology works on receiving harrasment or do research on psychology of toxicity behaviour (with source) can be damaging towards an individual mentally. adding those would improve your paper and persuasiveness of your points alot more. also you should also be playing devil’s advocate and add more points about how females streamers are capitalizing on the fact that they can set up only fans or showing more skins i.e hot tub stream to gain more subs (money) which an action by a female streamer can also damage the reputation and add to the stigma of e-girl, your paper would be more balanced instead of just shifting the blame solely on the geek masculinity, its not just the media that portray them that way, social medias and twitch allow venues for individual to share more about them self and themself choose to portray them that way as well, and also talk more about the effect of generalization of stereotype which can be discouraging more females to join the field as they dont want to be stereotyped that way

  3. Hi Christabel,

    Amazing read, this is a topic that I have been reading up and discussing with others actually quite recently as I am a frequent twitch user my self. I do agree with a lot of your points, especially how you outline that nearly all female gamers with an online presence are categorised as ‘e-girls’. The whole ‘looks sells’ is another really good stand point for this topic. Unfortunately there are many influential female streamers that do flaunt there looks and sexuality to get ahead on the Twitch platform. While this is there choice its unfortunate to see it have such a detrimental effect on other female streamers who do not choose to market themselves online this way.

    A hot topic I read about and have been following lately is the belief that many people hold to be that females who have breached Twitch’s ToS (Terms of Service) by streaming sexual content have been given more chances and multiple bans, more than many other streamers have received for similar ToS breaches. It could be said that this is unfair and that these breaches are not being fairly punished. As a result Twitch is indirectly creating a hate sentiment towards streamers breaching ToS in this way. However this is just circulating amongst the Twtich community but does however relate to your post in a few ways.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

    Regards, Jacob.

    1. Hi Jacob, Thanks for reading my article!

      I can’t exaggerate your sentence “While this is there choice its unfortunate to see it have such a detrimental effect on other female streamers who do not choose to market themselves online this way.” enough. It’s sad that the standard is set so unrealistically these days.

      Hard topic to discuss, as I have been talking about this issue amongst other streamers as well. I’m not 100% sure how Twitch regulates their streamers, but there’s definitely a lot of unfair and grey areas that needs to be discussed more from Twitch’s end.

  4. Hi Christabel,

    What an awesome read! You make some great points, and I love the use of memes throughout the paper, it definitely broke it up and made it fun to read as well as keeping it serious with such a hard hitting topic.
    I find your paragraph on ‘E-Girls’ quite interesting, as I don’t game and from what I’ve seen on social media I thought being an ‘E-Girl’ was more of a style trend than a way to describe women who game seriously. If someone referred to you as an ‘E-Girl’ would that be something you find derogatory? I guess also it’s all in the tone being used and the implications behind the word!

    Your paper was eyeopening for me as well, as a woman you hear about how sexist the gaming industry can be, but to read about it in depth and further understand just how harsh it can be is unsettling.


    1. Hi Amy! Thanks for reading my article 🙂

      The term “E-Girl” definitely started without any harm, but the misogynies amongst the gaming community have somewhat influenced it into a derogatory term as seen from the memes I’ve attached. I’m glad you found it interesting to read! I personally find the “E-girl” aesthetic fascinating and cute so I don’t really find it offensive unless someone uses it in a negative connotation 🙂

  5. Hey Christabel,

    This was a pretty cool topic you chose. I myself don’t know much about gaming, but I do understand a bit of the discrimination a lot these female gamers get in comparison to males. There is obviously still that stereotype that exists about females not having a role in “male sports”, which gaming is a part of. There’s that existence that action based games, blood, gore, killing and etc is too gruesome for the female attention. Even more so, I think there’s also a small fear that a female gamer could excel over a male gamer, and that supposedly causes shame when you are “beat by a girl”. It’s these little things we were taught as children that transcend with us into adulthood, and it becomes increasingly harder for females to be accepted into male dominated communities.

    Cool essay, I really enjoyed reading it.

    – Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle! Thanks for reading my article 🙂

      Yeah I definitely agree that when someone says “you got beat by a girl” it’s very ego crushing from a guy’s perspective, unfortunately that’s just how the gaming industry is. But I believe that the newer generation can shape a better future for girls in male dominated industries!

  6. Hello Christabel,

    I found it interesting even though we live in 2021, sexism is still on goinf and have corrupt the online community. it is hard for female who gone through it and it is unfair for the just to accept in and move on. I wish there is some method to filter sexism off from the online platform. Although, what is your opinion if its happen the other way around? what if sexism happen to the male gender user in the online community?

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your conference paper. It’s fascinating how online community are still affected by issue that are happening offline. If you have time, you can visit my conference paper. I hope it found your interest.

    Best Regards
    Christopher Benson

    1. Hi Christoper, Thanks for reading my article! 🙂 I have definitely seen sexism happen towards males in the online community, but if I’m going to be perfectly honest, that rarely happens in the gaming community as they would only “banter” (playful teasing regarding the player’s skills in game) with “the boys”.

      I will definitely check your article out!

  7. This is such an important topic! I find that discussions around sexism in the gaming community (and honestly all other communities) are almost always shut down with only further sexism and misogyny, downplaying women’s experience by attributing it to overall negativity online.

    I’m fascinated by the idea of geek masculinity and I’m so glad you discussed it in your paper! I think that because misogynistic men are often constructed as alpha males who are overtly sexist we tend to dismiss men’s misogyny when they don’t fit into this dominant stereotype. As another commenter mentioned, The Big Bang Theory is a perfect example of how we accept sexist behaviour from individuals we don’t consider to be in positions of power. The show ran for years and gave a platform for this ‘geek masculinity’ to be normalised.

    A great article that explores this is Sluts and Soyboys (Jones, Trott and Wright 2020) as I have seen this happen specifically in the indie music community and the ‘softboy’ or ‘soyboy’ phenomenon.

    Jones, C., Trott, V., & Wright, S. (2020). Sluts and Soyboys: MGTOW and the production of misogynistic online harassment. new media & society, 22(10), 1903-1921.

    1. Hi Grace, Thanks for reading my article! 🙂

      I’m glad that someone else understands how hard it is to step up amongst the sea of misogynies, and how crazy it is that “geek masculinity” is being normalized in any community. The article you linked me is such an eye opener, still baffles me that us females are being ridiculed simply for being “female”.

  8. Hey there! Super interesting paper, with a super interesting community at study here.
    I can’t say I have ever been much of a gamer myself but I have spent a fair few hours watching gaming videos on YouTube. As an unexperienced gamer I have an opinion and question I would like to raise. I have always had a stereotypical idea of gamer girls being overly sexualised, so I ask where do you think this idea has come from? You mention the “nerdy” girls but I believe there is the opposite too. Take GTA for example, the female character is always dressed in a bikini and walks around aimlessly. I wonder how these depictions of women in games have changed the steroype of female gamers.
    I would love to hear what you think of this and if you are interested have a read of this text I found very insightful:

    1. Hi Yana, Thanks for reading my article! 🙂

      The article you sent to me pretty much answers your question! Turtiainen (2017) mentioned that most games minimize the roles of women either by not having female characters, presenting them as dependent upon men or in supporting roles to men, or portraying them as sex objects and overall as contributing less than men. So I think, the stereotype has been passed on from the traditional female stereotype.

  9. Hi Christabel,

    Your chosen topic is very interesting and I believe it is an important issue to be addressed in our online communities. I have found the lens of misogyny and the sexualisation of women through the male gaze to be extremely prevalent within the gaming community and the fandoms that surround it. To support your discussion of the hegemonic geek masculinity I found several articles/videos that critique the incredibly successful sit com “Big Bang Theory”. Evaluating how it exemplifies the misogynistic and sexist themes of the typical male gaming community through the characterisation of being adorakable, by creating characters that are social outcasts, highly educated, and romantically inept the show has attempted (and was successful) to manipulate audiences to empathise with their sexism as a way of being endearing.

    In turn it catalyses the need to bring light to that the detrimental effects the behaviours of hegemonic geek masculinity and sexism troupes that are romanticised in entertainment media have on the self esteem of women online. Therefor these troupes leads to the justification of the toxic gaming community to continue to ostracise and demean women because of the belief that this behaviour is endearing and allowed formulated through entertainment media like Big Bang Theory.

    Links to Critique Media Examples:

  10. Hi Christabel,

    I enjoyed reading your paper! This issue is quite complex, and probably hard to tackle in a single paper.

    I have actually had a personal experience with people using the ‘e-girl’ label in a derogatory fashion. I (used to) play League of Legends, and there were multiple cases where people would make fun of me because I chose to play a particular champion (character) or role. There were strong implications that I was not a ‘real gamer’ and that I was automatically ‘less than’ or ‘bad’. I’d argue that it’s a common phenomenon for men to view women in the gaming this way, often subjecting them to various forms of gatekeeping because of their presented gender.

    In the case of Twitch, I concur with your observations. There are some people who believe that female streamers have it ‘easy’ because they’re able to leverage their appearance to garner followers and views regardless of their personal level of skill. I would like to pose the question: is this wrong? If a female streamer chooses to sexualise their stream/persona, is there a detrimental effect for other female streamers? Did you have any thoughts about how women treat other women in gaming? (For example, is there any form of gatekeeping or shaming from women toward female streamers and gamers?)
    I would also be interested in hearing your thoughts on how this issue might be affected by the rising popularity of ‘v-tubers’, or streamers who only use a virtual avatar instead of their real self. Do you think that the stereotype of a ‘e-girl’ might be applied to female v-tubers?

    I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts!

    1. Hi Cathy, Thanks for reading my article! :slight_smile:

      I have definitely experienced the same thing before. It’s just interesting to see when males play a “support” role, no one seems to harass them for it.

      I personally think it’s not wrong for a female streamer to have a sexy persona if that’s what makes them confident and the content they’re going for. It shouldn’t harm anyone. But the real issue here that people except women to comfort to society’s image and expectation of them, which can be harmful.

      Similarly to how women dressing provocatively shouldn’t be taken as invitation for men and women to say/do inappropriate things. Women streamers should be allowed to dress in a way that makes them feel confident on their streams without worrying about online viewers saying inappropriate things to them.

      As for v-tubers, I don’t think the stereotype of an “e-girl” impacts the community at all as people usually use a combination of different aesthetics to form their Original Character, along with having an anonymity helps keep the V-tuber community less harsh on girls.

  11. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing such an insightful paper.

    I am not an active user of Twitch, or within the gaming industry, so it was really interesting to learn about “Gamergate” and the identity issues faced by female gamers.

    Your points about financial remuneration in this digital space for female gamers seem to have parallels to the injustices female athletes have been trying to resolve in the pursuit of equal pay and the desexualisation of their uniforms. When female basketball players are required to wear form-fitting bodysuits as their uniforms while men wear baggy uniforms, as you point out, there is still a long way to break down the existing patriarchy in these communities both online and offline.

    Well done on your informative paper.

    1. Hi Joseph! Thanks for reading my article 🙂

      It’s sad to see that females are still getting treated unfairly in every community, BUT I am glad to see the progress female empowerment has done, it’s still not the ideal outcome but it is the first steps for us females.

  12. Hi Christabel,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your paper about sexism in the gaming industry. I would like to know what are your thoughts regarding Male streamers who have been objectified and has received disgusting messages, etc. Do you think this is the same if it’s the opposite?

    Thank you.

    Feel free to read my paper about how social media can help individuals with mental illness:

  13. Hi Christabel!

    Oh my, where do I even start! I saw the title of your paper and was immediately invested. I wrote an essay this semester about how games and gaming deploy cultural ideas about gender, and your paper was really interesting and addressed so many points I didn’t get to talk about.

    I think one thing that I think people often think of when they think of “the gamer girl” is a girl who either uses her boyfriend’s gaming setup and has a quirky and silly personality while she plays online games. Or the image of the girl who has an all-pink setup and is portrayed as antisocial and awkward as she plays online games.

    According to Bróna Nic “The gendered dimension of these issues tends to be fiercely disputed and has competing understandings in online spaces”(2018. p. 119). With the way that online gaming has become part of mass media, we really see the way in which female gamers are heavily gendered within the gaming community.

    I think that it is really apparent that, through games that show inequalities of gender, we are also able to see that the way female players are represented as lesser or ‘not true gamers.
    The concept of the gamer is also heavily gendered in the way that authenticity is often attributed to game players who play serious games rather than casual. Women will often be mocked and will be considered to only play casual games like candy crush.

    Hope you have a great day!



    Bróna Nic, G. E. (2018). An exploratory study of sexism in online gaming communities: Mapping contested digital terrain. Community Psychology in Global Perspective, 4(2), 119-135. doi:

    1. Hi Emma, Thanks for reading my article! 🙂

      That was such a good point that you brought up. It’s sad to hear that “girl gamers” have so many negative connotations to it, especially when girls have an all-pink setup people automatically assume they aren’t real gamers. Though in my opinion it is a very cute thing to have!

      The article u linked brought up so many important points that I didn’t get the chance to, so I heavily recommend others to have a scheme through it as well 🙂

  14. Hi Christabel,

    I do not have a large amount of knowledge surrounding the gaming community however I do recall listening to a podcast that touched on the topic of “Gamergate” and I recall how unsettled I felt about the way women are treated in this industry.
    My only criticism is that there is an undertone of slut-shaming (not necessarily coming across as an opinion that you have necessarily but it is something that instantly came to mind). The concept that there are gamer girls that are accused of using sexual favors or their image as a way of developing their career does not sound the most ethically sound, however the criticism of the concept of the “e-girl” and the negative connotations surrounding it felt a little off. Again, I am not someone in the gaming community so I have little experience with seeing how these people are or are treated. It sounds like there is definitely a very toxic hypermasculine patriarchy in the gaming communities and this would definitely cause the concept of the “e-girl” to be constantly shamed by the men involved who cannot use their body to make any variety of development whether that be in the game they are playing or in their career. I do wonder though if you believe that these girls in the gaming community are doing the wrong thing by using their bodies and an elevated image to gain an advantage? Do you think there would be a very different perspective on the “e-girl” if the gaming community was more diverse?

    Thanks for the thought provoking paper and I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  15. Hi Christabel,

    As both a Twitch streamer and variety gamer I really enjoyed reading your paper!

    I definitely agree with how women are treated in both the gaming and Twitch sphere. I encounter this kind of behavior constantly in multiplayer games (I have found fps to be the biggest culprit), simply by being female I am targeted in voice chat and in game, with derogatory comments and worse.

    While I have been lucky enough to not have this come into my Twitch channel I have witnessed it in others. I have seen disgusting comments made in chats for streamers like Pokimane, Valkyrae etc… and this is not just directed at their looks or how easy they have it. I loved that you mentioned “due to the increased threat of targeted harassment they face, often simply for being a woman” regarding doxxing etc.. I know this does not just impact female streamers, there are a large amount of male streamers as well who experience this, but there is an increase level of threat and level of harassment towards female streamers. I would enjoy hearing your opinion regarding the new phenomenon of ‘Hot tub streamers’ as well!

    Thank you

    1. Hi Jessica! Thanks for reading my article 🙂 I’m glad that I met someone who understands what it feels like being a female twitch streamer. Unfortunately the verbal harassment happens all the time and I’m so sorry that you had to go through that nasty experience as well.

      I definitely think the “hot tub streams” creates a new fun category to twitch, it’s not just about gaming. I find it ridiculous though that people are complaining “hot tub streamers” are “stealing” views and drowning other content, where in reality people need to realize that their target audiences are super different. It does no harm to anyone (restricted to mature ages)

  16. Hello Christabel,
    Thanks I appreciated your paper but, I would like to comment something about online gaming for girls. I am personally a gamer although I am not addicted to it because of a plethora of consequences where I was neglecting other stuffs in my life. It is true that people nowadays reflect everything and play game all day but this does not mean that they should keep their room dirty not only girls but boys as well because game is just for a short period of time and for time pass only.
    Overall, well written work and best of luck.

  17. Thanks Christabel,
    I am not a gamer but my 13 year old daughter talks a lot about the misogyny and sexist comments she experiences while playing mostly Minecraft. Most players are boys. Her “skin” is masculine and she is a skilled player so she is often assumed to be a boy. Revealing she is a girl is met (she tells me) with disbelief and insults.
    Are there any female only gamer spaces that have developed as a result?
    Do you think that if the environment was less anonymous, this behaviour would be reduced?
    Best wishes, Sonia

    1. Hey Sonia
      I’m not Christabel but I would like to add a comment to your question above. Regarding Minecraft, I have seen a lot of “servers” dedicated for a specific gender only. I am a gamer myself and I have a few female friends who prefer to join an only female server so they would feel much safer from sexist comments, etc.

  18. Hey Christabel.

    I find this paper to suffer several major issues. It was my understanding that the papers should have been posted in full, but there is no abstract, or reference list.

    This is definitely a topic that needs more significant professional research, especially in gaining well-developed and detailed primary research material. This paper seems rather heavily focused on limited examples.

    Let me give an example. You wrote:
    “One specific instance of this type of harassment that supports the thesis statement is the notion held by many, particularly men, that females who are content creators on live streaming, video or other content platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, Instagram and Tiktok have it ‘easier’ due to the ease of sexualising their image, or for lack of a better phrase, ‘showing more skin’ (Setupgamers 2021).”
    Is the end line in the paragraph coming from Setupgamers? What article is this? Who is “many”? I see that Setupgamers is a journalist outlet, so where is this research coming from? Is it coming from a researcher at all, or is this one person talking about their personal experiences?

    I’m not saying this statement is incorrect, I’m just seeing no way to parse this statement as anything other than “someone else said it happened”, with no supporting data or analysis.

    “These female influencers are often only known by their chosen on-screen handle, or at most a first name. This level of semi-anonymity is both a choice and a necessity due to the increased threat of targeted harassment they face, often simply for being a woman. ”
    Is this different from men? Like Pewdiepie, Ninja, or Markiplier? Do these people not receive dangerous or disgusting “pranks” or harmful messaging?

    What are your thoughts on Vtubers, the relatively recent phenomenon (~5 years) of streamers (of both sexes) using no real-world avatar or identity, relying entirely on their personalities to build a viewerbase?

    If women make up 50% of gamers, why do female gaming streamers not possess 50% of the subscribers? Is there something more significant to be said about gaming demographics than a mere proportion? Is the proportion of gamers and viewers of gaming streams even related? Do these women lack skills and content quality of their male counterparts? Do female gamers find male gaming streamers more engaging?

    In short, I think there is a lot that can still be said about this subject.

    In any case, thank you for participating.

  19. Hi Christebal,
    What an interesting choice of community. Your paper was very insightful and well-researched and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is saddening to see the inequality between men and women translate into the gaming world. This particular example reinforces the fact that male dominancy and sexism still exist in our society and we are far from eradicating them.
    Having played my fair share of games in the past, I agree that there is an alarming number of issues in the industry, particularly the hyper-sexualization of female video game players. In regards to this, I’ve noticed how men treat women who are part of the gaming industry and they are not taken as seriously compared to men as this is not what they ‘should’ be a part of.

  20. Hi Christabel,

    I found your paper intersting as I myself am largely interested in ‘Twitch’ as a platform and believe that the platform has and will continue to have a large influence on internet culture as whole in particular within the gaming industry.

    Through both firsthand experience and readings on the topic I agree that sexism is still a wide spread plauge within the gaming industry especially within the influencer and audience cultures upon platforms such as ‘Twitch’. In particular I found the debunking of females ease of success on the platform interesting as it is scarily common how often the point that female streamers have it easier is brought up by both creators and users on the platform. While doubting said statements I had never personally researched the actual statistics pertaining to the success of female streamers on ‘Twitch’.

    The only argument in the paper I could see myself disagreeing with was that issues such as physical threats of violence, doxxing and death threats where inherent to female streamers as there have been many cases of the same issues occuring for male streamers such as ‘XQC’, ‘Tfue’ and ‘Summit1G’ suggesting that this is more so a platform wide problem than a practice used to specifically target female streamers.

    I would also be interested in your thoughts on the topical controversy currently taking place within the ‘Twitch’ community regarding hot tub streams as I believe that it reflects on many of the themes outlined in your paper.

    Link to article discussing hot tub contoversy:

  21. Hi Christabel,

    As soon as I saw the title of this paper, I knew I had to have a read.
    The topic of misogyny in the gaming sphere on the internet is something I feel very strongly about, so I really enjoyed your disection.

    I definitely agree with female content creators needing a stronger sense of branding to be successful. In exploring this, I suppose we can see the rise of ‘titty streamers’ who make bank from giving validation to their mostly male audiences.

    In finding myself realistically thinking about creating YouTube videos or streaming, I realised I thought I needed a way for viewers to take me seriously (because I’m female) and believed I needed to have a good reason to take up space on the internet. Love a bit of internalised misogyny.

    So, my question for you is if you’ve ever had a similar thought process about content creation and what was the outcome of it?


  22. Hey Christabel,

    This was a great essay on a really important issue. I don’t game as much anymore but I definitely noticed how the culture was predominantly dominated by men and I can see how that could breed misogyny, especially when players have the cover of anonymity. Do you think the sort of misogyny that you talk about in your essay would be as prevalent if players gaming accounts were perhaps linked to their other social media accounts, thereby making them more accountable for what they say? I suppose that’s hard though because a lot of the allure of gaming is being able to perform an identity that is removed from your real-world one.

    I also really enjoyed hearing about the concept of “geek-masculinity”. In my essay I discuss how the incel (involuntary celibate) community are radicalising it’s members with misogynistic ideology and I think the concept of geek-masculinity can be applied to many members of the community. Because incels definitely do not fit into the box of traditional masculinity, they have to find other ways to gain social status in their community and one way they do this is by flexing their technological adeptness. I can definitely see some links between the incel community and the toxic sub-culture of the gaming community. Did you happen to run into any incel ideology in your research? Here’s a link to my essay if you’d like to learn a bit more about them:


    1. Hi Cameron, Thanks for reading my article!

      Yes! It would definitely lower the toxicity if implemented properly (as if their social profiles are shown publicly, it could backfire and create more toxicity/cyber-bullying, doxing, etc)

      I’m not sure if you’re familiar with other region’s gaming regulations, but in Korea, As of 25 September 2006, you would need to register with a Social Security Number to be able to play any Riot Games (for games such as: League of Legends/Valorant), this is done so grieving, doxing and other negative behaviors can be avoided. And to steal someone else’s Social Security number could lead to imprisonment or a fine of not more than 10 million Korean Won.

  23. Hi Christabel,

    I loved your paper it was a very interesting and well researched article. It is a topic I had heard about before but never in great detail so it was definitely interesting to see the extent of this issue.

    My paper was to do with online identity and I covered the online gaming and streaming community as part of this. I mainly focused on the positive and how gaming allows people to play around with and help facilitate finding their identity so this paper provided a good counter argument for this. It was fascinating to see how women just trying to enjoy something that everyone has a right to enjoy are struggling.

    I have some questions regarding this paper such as do you believe that there should be more drastic measures taken against bullies and stalkers in the gaming community? Do you also think that the women standing up for change will be able to make a big enough difference against these issues?

    This was a great paper!

  24. Hi Christabel,

    Such a well-researched and insightful paper! I myself am not very involved within the Twitch community, so this is an issue I was unaware of and it was interesting to read about it. Sexism in the online gaming community, while not surprising, is so disappointing. It shows how far we still have to go to achieve equality in all areas of society, without feeling pressure to sexualise ourselves.

    It was also disappointing to read that only 16 women were amongst the top 500 streamers on the platform. That brings to question, do you think there is anything Twitch could do to assist in this particular issue? For example, could they launch a campaign to promote female Twitch streamers more prominently on the site, in order to give them more opportunities to launch their career in the gaming industry?

    Would love to hear your thoughts!

    1. Hi Asha, Thanks for reading my article 🙂

      I definitely think Twitch has improved over the years with promoting female-empowerment in comparison to 10 years back. It’s the start of something.

      As a matter of fact, e.l.f. Cosmetics is becoming one of the first major beauty industry to contribute into one of the many milestones for woman in the gaming industry. This article perhaps might interest you:

  25. Hey Christabel,

    This is a great paper and you’ve made a lot of fantastic points.

    I still consider myself a gamergirl, though I haven’t been able to stream properly for many months. However, when I was streaming with my friend, we did feel a lot of pressure to be cute and girly, and I suppose act a certain way in order to get viewers to watch us. We may not have “shown skin” but we did feel the need to put on make-up and perhaps have different personas than our “normal selves” in order to engage with other people. It’s a shame that we felt the need to cater to these stereotypes and expectations, but its definitely something we felt we needed to take into consideration to be noticed.
    I wonder just how many female streamers have completely different personalities from their online personas, and why they felt the need to create them in the first place. What are your thoughts on this?

    1. Hi Lauren! Thanks for reading my article 🙂 Society does suck in that aspect that us girls need to look a “certain way”. Sadly it’s been embedded in our heads that we need to look “flawless” due to the unrealistic portrayal of beauty standards (e.g: spotless photoshopped skin, plump lips, big eyes, hourglass figure, and so on).

      I think female streamers have a specific online persona due to a lot of reasons, but I don’t think it’s essentially being “untrue to themselves”. For example, I myself tend to be more talkative on stream but that’s because I’m comfortable with the community I’ve built even though I am more of a quiet person in real life.

  26. Christabel, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Sadly, it is my own experience that sexism is alive and well in online gaming. Many games have built-in sexism by objectifying female characters through representing them on-screen as stereotypes such as scantily clad temptresses or delicate little girls in need of protection. Did you know that to avoid online harassment women often portray themselves as male by selecting a male character (Lopez-Fernandez et al., 2019, see: It is disappointing that such tactics must be used to avoid harassment when around half of Australian gamers are female (Brand et al., 2018, see: I follow Viva La Dirt League, NZ content creators who highlight the comical aspects of online games and the gaming industry. They released a YouTube video only last month that aptly demonstrates the prevailing sexist attitude towards “girl gamers”: (Viva La Dirt League, 2021). Hope you enjoy it! Content like this can gently and humorously reveal the perceptual flaws in stereotypes of female gamers, offering hope that such attitudes will not be prevalent forever. Have you personally had any negative experiences with geek masculinity that you would be willing to share? Regards, Karena

  27. Hi Christabel,

    A very interesting paper that I have actually found as one of my favourites in this conference so well done! While I do have a playstation and play game occasionally I do not use it enough to classify myself as a gamer, but I am well aware of the sexualisation of females in the gaming industry whether that be how games portray a character or how we as society portray the role of a female in a game. In many situation the girl is a side character to the male character in games. In a lot of the action games I play as well the basic outfit for the female is tight khaki pants with a white crop top that usually shows off large cleavage because apparently every female gaming character needs to have big breasts. One game I played which I found the female to be one of the main characters was the Last of Us which was very enjoyable to play. It is a shame that the term ‘e-girl’ comes with negative connotations that you raised due to the sexualisation and harassment due to a girl merely existing online.

    Do you think going forward if the appearance of the female character in games and fighting the stigma around how females are portrayed in the gaming industry that there will be backlash from the males in the community and the games that don’t feature an over sexualised female will see their figures of people purchasing and playing the game drop?


  28. Hi Christabel,

    This is an interesting paper! As a female gamer myself, I can definitely relate to some of the more generalised stereotypes and tropes you lay out.

    You highlight a number of issues in the industry, in particular, the hyper-sexualisation of female video game players. I found it interesting in particular that, when referring to video game streamers, women are seen as having it easy compared to men as a result of ‘showing more skin’, but in actuality, women only featured 16 times in the top 500 streamers. Can you offer any insight as to why this is a popular assumption, when it clearly has no substance? Personally, I feel that it comes from the sexist perspective of women having less knowledge about video games due to the, as you said, “geek/nerd masculinity”. I have experienced this myself when browsing in a video game shop, when male shop assistants assume I’m shopping for a male relative, friend, or partner, simply because I’m browsing the new releases. I’ve also noticed this seems to be linked to the platform of choice; I have a Nintendo Switch and an Xbox, and when I shop for Switch games, shop assistants assume I’m shopping for me, whereas if I’m shopping for Xbox games, they assume it’s not for me. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    While the characters themselves were outside of the scope of the paper, I’d like to highlight character aesthetic as a potential path forward when de-sexualising female video game players, developers, and characters. Is there a particular path forward that you feel could drive a shift in de-sexualising these characters? Personally, I feel that it starts with who the characters are modelled off of, rather than who they are modelled for. For example, the protagonist of Hellblade, Senua, was digitally rendered using the face of the photographer and videographer of the game’s trailer and behind the scenes content, and her movement was similarly rendered from the same photographer’s body motion. As a result, the game featured a realistically proportioned protagonist, allowing the game to focus on the story rather than the character aesthetics. Further information can be found in the “behind the scenes” content available with the game purchase, that features a short documentary of how the game was developed. Regarding the way a character moves, should game developers focus on bringing in actresses to demonstrate how a woman moves through various scenes, and encourage the digital rendering of realistic female bodies? I believe this would eliminate the over-exaggerated swaying of hips and chest movement when running or fighting that many female characters fall victim to in games.

    The newest additions to the Assassin’s creed franchise has featured female protagonists, likely a result of many franchises beginning to acknowledge the gender diversity that exists in their audiences. In particular, I’d like to highlight that armour comes with a variety of options, allowing the user to customise their character (to an extent) to suit their needs, therefore limiting the often repetitive aesthetic of tight-fitting, revealing, and unrealistic armour for female characters. For indie game developers with small budgets that may not be able to accommodate digital rendering of movement from real actresses, perhaps consulting with clothing experts (and in some cases, fashion historians), could prove to be a more economically sound step towards de-sexualising female video game characters.

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Kind regards,

  29. Hi Cristabel,
    I found your paper extremely interesting and alarming. It concerns me that gaming communities perpetuate sexist attitudes and behaviours as features of the culture.
    Although it is beyond the scope of this paper, I would be interested to know whether there are links between the various communities that practice and develop extreme forms of hypermasculinity such as Incel and MRA groups and gamer communities?

  30. Hi Christebal,
    This is such a great paper and speaks to the issue of women being represented in society as a whole as well.

    I’m not a gamer but have heard stories about women in the industry. I remember hearing a story (can’t find the link, sorry) about people complaining about a female character who had full armour and the guys couldn’t see her boobs etc so they were upset.

    Below I included a link about female gamers and creators coming forward with the abuse they endured. I hope by them standing up that the industry changes.

  31. Hi, Christabel.
    That was a really fascinating piece!

    Several points you made resonated with my own experience of watching gaming content from both male and female content creators.

    I have noticed how several popular female gamers are not taken as seriously as their male counterparts.

    This ties to the phenomenon of ‘gatekeeping’ which is honestly disheartening when it questions the nature of one’s hobby.

    There is this common rhetoric for example, “oh you like gaming? Name every game character then!”

    In an era where we are moving with a progressive agenda, this just takes our efforts 10 steps behind.

    I believe debunking this issue would entail going back to understanding the nature of the ‘geek’ trope which is deeply rooted in the mindset of ‘I’m a geek and I’m not a valuable member of society. Girls don’t like me and other guys think I’m a loser.” I believe this is where the sexist perspective takes form and spreads into gatekeeping and toxic masculine habits among others.

    What are your thoughts on this? Do you think there is any chance of countering sexism from the inside of the gaming industry?

    Thank you for shedding light on this concerning topic!

    Feel free to check my paper where I discuss the role of social commentary YouTube as a way to voice out and fight against societal issues such as sexism as you explored in your paper.

    Hope to hear from you soon!

  32. Hi Christebal,

    Great paper to write about and agree with what you have written.

    Personally I am not a gamer but I have watched a few female gamers in the past play demo round of a game. Its a shame that in today’s society people that this happens but in actual fact they are real life gamers who probably beat a male gamer in a game.

    Do you think that this attitude towards female gamers is due to that games were designed by males? Lopez- Fernandez et al (2019) discusses about how that videogames were designed by males for the male population and that there is a stereotype against females that they can’t play games like the other sex can do.

    Also a lot of games like Fortnite don’t have a female characters that can play the main role. Games that I am more familiar with is Rachet: Deadlocked and Crash bandicoot their main characters are males.

    Let me know what you think of this idea?

    Well done on your paper.


    Lopez-Fernandez, O., Williams, A. J., & Kuss, D. J. (2019). Measuring Female Gaming: Gamer Profile, Predictors, Prevalence, and Characteristics From Psychological and Gender Perspectives. Frontiers in Psychology, 10.

    1. I’m not Christabel, but I’d like to quickly correct a misunderstanding.

      “Also a lot of games like Fortnite don’t have a female characters that can play the main role. Games that I am more familiar with is Rachet: Deadlocked and Crash bandicoot their main characters are males. ”
      Fortnite is not known for it’s “main role”, being most known as an online competitive shooter. Only the skins the players use, which are sexually diverse, and, for new players who do not pay money for specific appearances, of random sex. Fortnite’s single player mode has multiple playable characters, the first of which is female.

      1. Hi Joshua,

        Thank you for letting me know and its good that they have female characters in the game.

        Thank you

    2. Hi Amber,

      I would also like to mention that Crash Bandicoot has actually brought out the option (with the newest releases) that you can play the game as the female characters. There have also been previous Crash Bandicoot games (Crash Team Racing etc…) where you are given the choice to play as any number of characters including female options.

      1. Hi Jessica,

        That is good to know as its been over 10 years is I have played that game. The last time i played that game is back in the 2000s and it was on PlayStation 1. Its good that the developers have branched out to include female characters.

        Thank you

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