Sections

Kongregate CEO: It's harder to be a woman in games

Emily Greer says she gets four times the harassment as her co-founder brother

After seeing the recent flurry of attacks on women in the industry, Kongregate co-founder Emily Greer became curious about how her own experiences measured up with those of her brother and co-founder Jim Greer. She shared her findings yesterday in a blog post on the company's website.

The siblings have been involved in the company from the start, in equally prominent roles (Jim also served as CEO before Emily), equally involved in the community, and neither had been particularly vocal when it came to issues of gender in the industry. So Emily compared the messages each has received through Kongregate's messaging system over the last seven-plus years. The 5,000 messages were split nearly evenly, but Emily found nine harassing messages sent to her brother, and only two of them sexual. She had received 36 harassing messages, nine of them sexual.

"This is not a perfect comparison, of course, as Jim and I have slightly different relations with the community and the overall level of harassment is not high," Greer said. "We invest quite a bit of effort into moderation of forums, chat, etc, and active players on a site are likely to hold the founders in high esteem. It is, however, about as close to a natural A/B test as you're going to get of the difference in treatment between a publicly known male and female in the game industry."

Greer said the messages were transparently the work of young men looking for attention, but wondered why they would target a woman so much more frequently. Regardless of the reason, she came to a sad conclusion about the effect of such actions.

"Running these numbers through a statistical significance test confirms what should be obvious to anyone following Gamergate: with a 99.9 percent confidence level it is harder to be a woman than a man in the game industry, independent of what you say or do."

Related stories

Kongregate acquires Bit Heroes from Juppiomenz

Publisher plans to turn mobile, web-based RPG into larger franchise

By Rebekah Valentine

Emily Greer: "New stores are changing the expectation that only Steam matters"

The outgoing Kongregate co-founder discusses the ongoing breakdown of Valve's monopoly, and the need to take a stance against offensive content

By James Batchelor

Latest comments (16)

Andrew Clayton Assistant Designer, EA DICE4 years ago
I played Gears 3 online on my wife's profile for a couple of hours. I got a message asking me if I was hot. Wanted to reply, but also didn't want my wife to get stalked or doxx'd.

I have no problem with her avoiding online games.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Christopher Ashton Carlos Software Programmer 4 years ago
I would too play games online where A. My girlfriend would be on voice chat (but sound came out the speakers. Gears, Halo, and Call of Duty primarily). B. I used a female avatar (like in an MMO) with a female tag attached. I have noticed a few thing from it.
1. Shooter games you get hit on a lot, and even so many friend requests/ messages quickly.
2. I could use my female look-alike on MMOs and get gear and items from some people if I just played along.
3. Some of the messages and stuff said made me livid and want to punch the person on the other end of the screen.

It's really disheartening to see and hear, but anonymity leads to so much trouble these days. No one really knows who is on the other end, and I have to say hearing stories like this and hearing the things online, would many of these people really be saying such things in the face of someone they don't know? I'm sure some do, but how many would really overall? I the percentage higher?

I don't know if such a way of deterring or fixing this problem though really is possible. The harassment women face I don't think is just exclusive to gaming, but since gaming has become such a social tool these days, it is frequent there. Online harassment in general is just too much because when you are just a faceless message, you feel you can say whatever and not have to worry about repercussion.
5Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Richard Vaught Studying B.A. in Game Design, University of Advancing Technology4 years ago
While there can be no doubt that she did receive more 'harassment', though nothing was actually said about what they considered harassment, I would like to point out two things here. The first is that she received a TOTAL of 36 harassing emails out of 2500, he received 9, and of those 36 she received 9 were sexually explicit. That represents 1.4% of all emails as harassment, and .36% as sexual harassment. Moreover, she readily admits that she is more in contact with the public than her brother, so her exposure is naturally higher.

I think it is fair to say that a 98.6% positive or neutral message rating is pretty darn good, in any industry. Yes, 100% would be better, but no industry is perfect. These types of trends also carry over to other women in the industry, even those who are very outspoken about their harassment. For example, Sarkeesian and Wu both received roughly 7% harassing texts, less(percentage wise) than the males who were used in that survey. (The journalist from the GG thing) Yet, many claim that the sheer volume that they received indicated that harassment was more prevalent towards women. The thing is, both of those women are MUCH more active in the media than the males used in the survey. So, they participate MORE and are harassed LESS according to the percentages.

Here is the thing. Statistics work on scale, so that the least representative can be compared to the most directly. Statistically, people that interact with the media get more harassment. Imagine that. People who expose themselves to other people are more likely to interact with the occasional asshole, and people that play games that cater to action packed adrenaline twitch gamers are more likely to interact with aggressive people. That is like saying that a person standing in the middle of a highway is more likely to get hit by a car.

I've played Male and Female characters equally over the last 25 years, and there has been very little difference in the way that they have been treated by the online community. As a general rule, the people that were assholes when I was on a female character were just as likely to be assholes when I was on a male character. Assholes are assholes, and the more you interact with other people the more likely you are to find one. Especially if you knowingly go where they hang out.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (16)
Moreover, she readily admits that she is more in contact with the public than her brother, so her exposure is naturally higher.
I don't see this anywhere in her blog post; rather she says they "have had similar levels of involvement and profile within the Kongregate community since the start." It's true that the numbers overall are relatively small but they are fairly stark.

I'm getting more than a little tired of being told that women are exaggerating or overreacting to the amount of harassment we receive and that it's just the same sort of thing that men get despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that strongly suggests that that's not true at all. You don't have to listen when we talk about it, but telling us 'oh that's not how it really is' when we keep on giving y'all evidence like this is ridiculous.
15Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Richard Vaught Studying B.A. in Game Design, University of Advancing Technology4 years ago
@Jessica Hyland

You are correct, I misread a statement there. My apologies. <- See how easy that is to admit you made a mistake. Try it sometime.

However, it does not negate the point. <2% by no means is representative of an entire culture. <7% is also not representative of an entire culture, nor even a significant majority. Also, i did not say "it was the same kind" or that "it is the same thing males get". I said the VOLUME is roughly equivalent. The numbers don't lie. The numbers say men and women get roughly equivalent VOLUME of harassing emails. Could it be that the difference in type is simply due to what a male will find offensive as opposed to a female? Could it be that, for example, a woman saying she wants to rape a man generally has 0 emotional impact on the guy. Not surprisingly, empirical evidence does not indicate that women are victimized more than men, it indicates they are victimized equally on the whole, though in slightly different ways and volume depending on the context. Numbers don't lie. Assholes are gender agnostic.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/10/22/pew_online_harassment_study_men_are_called_names_women_are_stalked_and_sexually.html

and

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/04/men-are-harassed-more-than-women-online.html

Read all of it. It will tell you that the numbers say you are both wrong and right, but somehow I have the feeling that you will only see where it says you are right and ignore where it says you are wrong.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Vaught on 26th October 2014 11:37pm

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
The numbers don't lie. The numbers say men and women get roughly equivalent VOLUME of harassing emails.
Once again, 'the numbers' don't say that at all. And I quote Emily's blog post(emphasis mine): "I found only nine harassing messages for Jim, two with sexual content, backing up his sense that he is almost never hassled; once a year doesn’t leave much impression. Among mine 36 were harassing, nine with very sexual content. That’s 4X the amount of harassment Jim receives, and a slightly higher multiple on sexual content."

I have read the Slate article, amongst many others, on the Pew report. Slate is not the only writeup to take issue with the vagueness of Pew's definitions(or lack thereof) of harassment, and yet it is fairly unambiguous that women are more likely to sustain sexual harassment and stalking(ie sustained harassment) than men. There also seems to be a fairly large difference in the emotional reaction that harassment triggers in women vs men - maybe it's because men are socialised to shrug it off, or women are socialised to be ~delicate flowers~, but it seems that even if 'assholes are gender agnostic', the damage they do is not.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 27th October 2014 1:56pm

8Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Also, you can cut this childish snark right out, thanks:
Try it sometime.
somehow I have the feeling that you will only see where it says you are right and ignore where it says you are wrong.
16Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Shane Sweeney Academic 4 years ago
Even without any harassment it's harder being a women in the games industry.

Harassment levels just make an obvious point irrefutable.
5Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Richard Vaught Studying B.A. in Game Design, University of Advancing Technology4 years ago
So, you concede that the levels of harassment were roughly equivalent (within 2%), that the types were different, but somehow you feel more victimized because women are more easily offended? And I suppose that is the fault of men too. I mean, what you essentially have said here is that men have been trained to deal with crap and keep moving and women have not. So if two people receiving similar levels of hate and one raises more hell about it, it is the fault of the other one for NOT raising hell about the had that they receive? What about women hating on women? You do well to notice that the kongregate article doesn't mention WHO sent the harassing messages. The general narrative in the media is that it is always privileged white males, but anyone with half a brain knows that is a lie.

http://www.thenation.com/article/178140/feminisms-toxic-twitter-wars#

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Vaught on 27th October 2014 5:03am

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Richard Vaught Studying B.A. in Game Design, University of Advancing Technology4 years ago
Thing is, you can't have a double standard. Either all harassment is bad, or its not. Either all victims are victims, or they're not. Either all people are expected to deal with crap, or they're not. You can not simultaneously cry "EQUALITY" while marginalizing the people you are claiming to want to be equal with. If you do that, you are part of the problem.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend4 years ago
but somehow you feel more victimized because women are more easily offended? And I suppose that is the fault of men too.
@Richard

Look, people get picked on and harassed whether they are male or female, I get it, it happens either way. But on balance I would say its harder to be a woman full stop. I am male and even I can see we get the best end of the deal in most cases.

I think to comment on your quote I would have to grudgingly say "Yes, it is the fault of [some] men that women feel more fear than men". Generally, women don't go around raping men, y'know, biology n shit.. But I am sad to say it happens all the time the other way around, even to young girls barely old enough to know whats going on. I would hate to have the threat of this whether it is someone saying they will do it on the internet, or someone in real life.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 27th October 2014 10:47am

10Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Mark Hughes Software Developer, 4J Studios4 years ago
So let me get this straight Richard.
You're arguing that women aren't treated any differently from men online, and then the first women who posts in disagreement, you reply in the most condescending manner possible, for no apparent reason (other than she's a woman?)

-> See how easy that is to admit you made a mistake. Try it sometime.

I'm speechless :-)
9Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Oh, I'm sure it has nothing to do with my gender Mark. I was just the first person to disagree with him. Whether he would have been as condescending to a man disagreeing with him is a question only an A/B test on reality could answer!

I think Darren touches on a good point. Women are socialised, both by hundreds of years of bitter experience as well as scary stories in the media and a culture that quickly turns on victims and blames them for their own abuse, to fear things like rape as a very real possibility. We are taught to avoid potential danger by withdrawing from public spaces, to appease potential attackers, to keep quiet, to carry a rape alarm in our handbags, to have a friend call when meeting a stranger just to make sure everything is okay. Such lessons are rarely taught to men, even though men are more likely to be victims of (non-sexual)assault.

Women are taught to live in fear. When someone makes a threat that reinforces that fear, women take it more seriously because we are constantly being told - and shown - that these are things that could very likely happen to us.

Now, please don't take this post as a weepy declaration that all women are born victims. Social messaging is a powerful thing, but women are plenty resilient - I take courage and inspiration every day from the women I see standing up to sexist harassment and threats.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 27th October 2014 1:15pm

13Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Richard Vaught Studying B.A. in Game Design, University of Advancing Technology4 years ago
@Mark, No, it was not because she was the first to disagree, or because she is a woman. It is actually because of the tactics and types of arguments that I have seen her use in this and other threads. Pure and simple.
I'm getting more than a little tired of being told that women are exaggerating or overreacting to the amount of harassment we receive and that it's just the same sort of thing that men get despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that strongly suggests that that's not true at all. You don't have to listen when we talk about it, but telling us 'oh that's not how it really is' when we keep on giving y'all evidence like this is ridiculous.
Now, A) I didn't say Emily Greer exaggerated the amount of harassment she received. B) I didn't say she overreacted. I happen to think she was a model of how it COULD be discussed, i.e. by the numbers and not like a raving lunatic. C) I didn't say women receive the same 'sort' or type of harassment. D) There is always this nebulous claim to overwhelming evidence that is not that overwhelming when looking at actual peer-reviewed studies conducted by non-feminist (read non-biased) researchers. http://tinyurl.com/jvuf8jw

THAT is what cause me to react to her with the same scorn and contempt that I would react to anyone that uses that type of discussion. They are all straw man arguments.

@Jessica

I might point out that even trained soldiers are taught to go out in pairs, take some method of communication, let someone know where you are going, avoid certain areas and situations were bad things are known to happen, and to appease attackers if caught unawares with no means to defend yourself. That is called good advice. Hell, my current employer makes the same recommendations to all employees regardless of gender, and really hammers on it when we are in foreign countries. Telling someone to be smart, cautious, and not a complete idiot is not sexist. I, as a male, have been hearing the same advice my entire life.

People are just people. It is not about us vs them.

@Darren The whole 'men can't be raped' line is a bunch of B.S. I can't even believe you put that out there. It is true that adult men are raped less than adult women, but it does still happen. Male children on the other hand, are raped quite often, and by women. At least according to the legal definitions. http://tinyurl.com/npcuwkk

@All

Violence of any sort is about power. It isn't about sex, and it isn't about gender. It is power and control. By throwing the false flag of sexism into the mix you misdirect the discussion. Instead of figuring out how to solve the real issues, you waste your time and spin your wheels chasing down red herrings. http://t.co/snefW9Vk7h

Believe it or not, and I really do not care what you BELIEVE, I actually want a diverse workplace. I think we will have better games and a whole hell of a lot more fun that way. What I don't want, are for victims of any sort to be marginalized. I don't want the atmosphere in the industry to become more toxic to everyone than it already is.

http://newscastmedia.com/domestic-violence.htm
http://tinyurl.com/oxwsq7t
http://tinyurl.com/mvlzx2

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Vaught on 28th October 2014 6:45am

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend4 years ago
@Darren The whole 'men can't be raped' line is a bunch of B.S. I can't even believe you put that out there. It is true that adult men are raped less than adult women, but it does still happen. Male children on the other hand, are raped quite often, and by women. At least according to the legal definitions. http://tinyurl.com/npcuwkk
There is a big difference between the numbers of women raped vs men raped (and men rape more men that women ever have). Nobody ever said it didn't happen (read what I actually wrote, not what you think I wrote), but seeing as you love throwing numbers around as if they are irrefutable fact, just compare the numbers.... Then you may see how ridiculous that statement actually sounds.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 28th October 2014 12:30pm

2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
As much as there are men rapists, there are also very many women that will wrongly accuse and use the threat of rape as a weapon to manipulate,
Woow, that is not what that statistic means. Actual false accusations are a tiny percentage compared to rapes that go unreported or unconvicted. Charges are often dropped because the rape victim is made to feel ashamed or guilty for having being raped, because they are afraid of the accused or their friends, because the authorities investigating the crime are abusive themselves or simply because they believe there is no point pressing charges because so many cases get thrown out. Accusing huge numbers of women of inventing rape accusations in order to manipulate men is cynical in the extreme. Misrepresenting statistics like this is horrendous, please don't do this again.

Also, this:
The stigma has just as many effects as the actual crime.
...is actually disgusting. Being falsely accused of rape is bad and can lead to not getting sex or intimacy from people who are now wary of you, but being actually raped is far, far worse. Victims of sexual assault can suffer from PTSD for decades afterwards, they are at significant risk of substance abuse, self-harm, psychological disorders and suicide. There is absolutely no comparing the two.

I wasn't going to step into the rape discussion because it's getting way too far off topic but this comment is shocking.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.