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Survey says 59% of women hide gender to avoid harassment while gaming online

Most women gamers are happy with portrayal of women in AAA and indie games, want better representation in ads

59% of women hide their gender while playing games online to avoid harassment, according to a new survey.

Reach3 Insights and Lenovo today released findings from a survey of 900 women gamers in the US, Germany, and China about their playing habits and perceptions of how women are portrayed in games.

"A lot of the time I end up playing as male characters in MMORPGs so people don't realize I'm a girl," one woman explained. "We try to hide what we are so people don't flirt with us, send us stuff, send us messages we really don't want, or pictures."

77% of women surveyed said they had experienced gender-specific discrimination while gaming, most commonly with comments about their skills (70%), gatekeeping (65%) or patronizing comments (50%). 44% said they had "received unsolicited relationship asks."

While women reported poor treatment from their fellow players, they were largely satisfied with how they're depicted by developers.

80% of women gamers were happy with the representation of women characters in AAA titles, with 91% happy with depictions of women in indie games.

As for where there's room for improvement in the industry's treatment of women, 71% chose ideas to improve gaming ads, for example by showing more women, having women provide the voice-overs, or by showing women playing AAA titles.

Women gamers' fondness for "core" gaming genres was a theme of the survey, with 88% of women playing competitive games, 75% playing action/survival games, and 66% playing shooters.

61% of respondents also said they wanted to see game companies form all-women esports teams to compete at the highest levels.

Disclosure: GamesIndustry.biz was asked to participate in the creation of this survey and suggested a handful of questions.

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