Audience will follow industry lead on misogyny, report claims

New research funded by The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) suggests that the games industry itself must lead if it ever hopes for its audience to abandon misogyny and homophobia.

That’s the finding of a new paper called ‘Love You Guys (No Homo): How gamers and fans play with sexuality, gender, and Minecraft on YouTube‘ that was funded by the government organisation.

The study analysed language used by an unspecified Minecraft video community. It found that when the video content itself offered a broader depiction of gender and sexuality, the comments that accompanied it were more balanced.

Furthermore, tolerance of those who expressed unacceptable views diminished as a result.

When powerful people, in this case the video producers who are revered by their young fans, use language that promotes tolerance and inclusiveness, there is a trickledown effect where young people begin to avoid homophobic language themselves,” the report’s author Dr Amanda Potts, a researcher at the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) based at Lancaster University, said.

What we are seeing with #GamerGate is that the more powerful video producers and professionals are divided in their points of view, and are taking up arguments for both sides of the story. So this leads to divided opinions amongst the different fan communities, who aren’t being given a strong enough message that abuse of women and other groups perceived to be in the gaming minority is wrong.”

It’s certainly fair to say that while the traditional press has – when outlets have been brave enough to take a stance, at least – fallen very much into the ‘anti-GamerGate’ camp, the video press has been more evenly split, with some prominent YouTubers being more sympathetic to what they perceive to be GamerGate’s journalistic ethics agenda.

If game producers don’t take the lead in working against harassment, then it is much harder for communities to organise themselves positively and powerfully,” Potts added. Not creating and promoting an inclusive environment as a producer leads to a lack of inclusiveness in fandom.”

These sentiments echo those of Brianna Wu, Zoe Quinn and MCV itself that the industry is obligated to take a stronger stance to oppose the attacks on females and minorities perpetuated not only in GamerGate but also in other sections of the games industry fanbase.

Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime became one of the few senior games industry figures to speak out against online abuse at last weekend’s Blizzcon 2014.

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