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New study explores sexism among Twitch commenters

Female streamers more likely to receive comments about their appearance than the games they play

A US-based university has conducted research into how livestream audiences interact with the host depending on their gender, and it shows - perhaps unsurprisngly - that there is an issue with sexism among Twitch's userbase.

Gendered Conversation in a Social Game-Streaming Platform, a report carried out by the Indiana University Network Science Institute, analyses messages posted across 200 male-hosted Twitch channels and 200 female-hosted ones. More than 70 million messages were studied and the results show female streamers are less likely to receive comments about their actual content, Polygon reports.

Instead, women who livestream via Twitch will receive more comments about their physical appearance, with some of the most common words used when posting under those 200 channels being "boobs", "babe" and "cute" - as well as more obscene terms. Conversely, male streamers found more comments about the games they were playing, with common words including "melee", "leaderboards" and "glitch".

"Female channels are characterised by words about physical appearance, the body, relationships and greetings," the report reads. "Male channels are characterised by game-related words words.

"Our analysis on both streamers and viewers shows that the conversation in Twitch is strongly gendered. "The streamer's gender is significantly associated with the types of messages that they receive. Male streamers receive more game-related messages while female streamers receive more objectifying messages."

The report is currently under peer review. While its results may not shock anyone in the industry, it does at least give an insight into how widespread sexism has become through platforms such as Twitch.

The authors also acknowledges that the study "does not investigate how streamers themselves engage viewers and the chat" due to the challenging task of analysing all audio and video feeds for 400 channels.

The report notes that "viligant user groups" that help moderate comments and steer the conversation back towards the streamed game do existed but more solutions need to be explored. Suggestions included developing methods for automatically detecting abusive, objectifying comments, as well as more "scalable communication and moderation techniques".

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Latest comments (4)

Micky Klugman Writer/Concept Guy A month ago
pseudo-anonimity is a breeding ground for sexism, racism, and homophobia. It is terrible, it makes us all look bad and discourages individuals from exploring their potential as entertainers and informers.
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Ruben Monteiro Engineer A month ago
We're talking about a medium still catering mostly to a young male audience.
The phrase "perfectly natural" comes to mind.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer A month ago
The comments on appearance happen on pretty much every image of themselves that women share on the net, regardless of context.

"This is a photo of me and my friends when we finally reached the summit of K2."
"Nice tits."
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad GamesA month ago
How very unsurprising... do they also have overall higher traffic average than male streamers?

Many of my women gamer friends often tell me about this huge problem, and while many choose to hide behind a neutral or male pseudonym, never to reveal that they are women, (which only proves how persistent this annoying behavior really is, some are even stalked online) others, when questioned why don't they tell them off, block them, etc. they often respond something like this:

Why would I? I get lots of free boost in any game, pick and choose awesome loot first, get into betas effortlessly, great guilds, and even receive real world gifts from people all over the world.

While women suffering this behavior and having to hide the fact they are women is very sad indeed, even unacceptable to certain degree, the behavior of these few others makes it impossible to eradicate, and rather propagates it by perpetuating the hot female gamer myth who may be available for texting or more, for all the desperate teenage boys out there.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Yiannis Koumoutzelis on 28th November 2016 4:15pm

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