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Video gaming no longer a male dominated culture

I love video games and that’s possibly the understatement of a lifetime, however contrary to popular culture, so too do many women.

As most people can attest, whether it’s movies, reading a book or watching sports, the diversion from everyday life is almost always welcome and moreover, necessary.  Similarly, the style of gaming doesn’t matter either; alone, cooperatively or competitively, there is always some level of entertainment value for varying tastes.

Bearing this in mind, I quite often find myself fascinated and impressed by women who play video games, especially those who do so solely for enjoyment.

In fact, when I did my research on the prevailing rise of the Gamer Girl- those ladies who are taking over the video gaming world, I found that women account for 45% of overall gamers in North America in 2018, meaning the ratio for women to men video game players is almost equal.

While boys’ competitive nature drives their gaming habits, where they play more shooter and role-playing games, research suggests that girls prefer games with a cooperative element and can be seen playing more casual games.

Therefore, the evidence suggests neither gender is better at video games; rather the differences lie within the preference of game or style of play. However, that does not mean there are not women who also enjoy first person shooters and role-playing games. Furthermore, there are several women involved in game-play- live- streaming across the globe, with some also turning their love of gaming into a source of income.

In Australia, for example, some female gamers earn up to six figures annually from playing games online.This includes sponsorship from their viewers, brand sponsorship and advertising revenue on live streaming media such as Twitch, in addition to recorded montages uploaded to YouTube, and donations from viewers which range from hundreds of dollars to thousands.

While the temptation to believe the old trope ‘guys are better at video games than women’ is strong, my reply to that is bollocks.

In my opinion, these facts dispel the myth of the female gamer as the casual player interested only in Facebook games such as Farmville and the ever-present Candy Crush. Instead, they prove that women are more than capable of competing against male players in stereotypically male-dominated games.   Added to the stereotype of an already perceived lack of skill, disinterest in violent games, and those with a high emphasis on competition, gamer girls often find it difficult to be taken as seriously as their male counterparts.

Among the challenges these female players face is the backlash from male competitors and sometimes their viewers, which goes beyond abuse, thereby leading women to hesitate to identify themselves as gamers.

This kind of behaviour must not be tolerated. Instead, women who appreciate video games on a deeper level, and make the effort to forge an understanding and master their games of choice, need to be lauded.

Besides, any guy who is lucky enough to have a gamer girl in his life needs consider it a box on his list, ticked.

Is gaming disorder a mental condition?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially listed gaming disorder as an ailment people suffer from and would need rehabilitation to cure.

WHO describes gaming disorder as having “impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

They added that in order for the disorder to be diagnosed, those suffering would need to exhibit a pattern of severe behaviour that would impair their family and social lives or negatively impact their education.

Video game addiction is not unheard of and several cases have popped up throughout the years. A couple in 2010 neglected their child while obsessively playing video games. They were raising their virtual child, Anima, in a game called Prius Online. Meanwhile, their real daughter passed away from malnourishment and neglect. In 2015 a 32-year-old Taiwanese man died after a three-day gaming binge, which made him the second gaming-related death in Taiwan that year.

One of the more recent cases follows the story of a nine-year-old girl who was brought into rehabilitation for her Fortnite addiction. It was reported that she was playing for up to 10 hours a day and had even wet herself during a binge to avoid having to log off. Her mother expressed to Sunday People that she wasn’t aware of how addicted her daughter would be when allowing her to play.

Though WHO and various psychologists believe that gaming disorder is a sensible mental condition, gamers on Twitter were quick to shut the idea down. Many Twitter users and gamers specified how they spend 20 hours gaming a week and how classifying gaming as a disorder opens the door for more unjustified disorders.

Of those to express their concern was American wrestler Xavier Woods. He wrote on Twitter that “If this becomes a thing then it sets a precedent for anything to become a disorder. Reading too much, watching the world cup too much, hanging out with your spouse too much. At this point anything done too much that someone doesn’t get = a disorder.”

Other online personalities like Ben Broman (better known as ProfessorBroman online) wrote on Twitter that “[…] instead of raging at news organizations about reporting on this “gaming disorder” report, offer to educate and inform them about your passion and the good things gaming does on a daily basis. We control the conversation, we must do it in a respectful way.” Various studies have concluded that video games help children’s cognitive behaviour by improving multitasking and external functioning. Studies have also discovered that video games treat amblyopia and helps children overcome dyslexia.

WHO explains that the reason gaming disorder is included in the Revision of the International Classification of Diseases is because of available evidence and the general consensus of experts from around the world. They also warned that those who play video games for excessive periods of time should monitor how long they play and any negative changes to their mood or physical health.