Is gaming misogynistic ?

“Hi ugly”, “let’s see your cleavage”, “can you bend over?”, "go back to the kitchen”, “Go mop my floor”... When you're a girl and you play online video games, this is the kind of comments you receive pretty much every day. And they often get much more trashy than this.

Gracia Kahungu

Gracia Kahungu

Sexism, a societal problem that we have also encountered in video games

Regardless if in the streets or on the Internet, sexism is, unfortunately, pretty common. Whether on Youtube, Twitch or on discussion forums, misogyny is floating in the air, and conversations so often drift into male-dominant ideologies. As if to make women feel that it’s not their place there.

Yet girls play as much as men: half of the video game players are women. Now that gaming has become mainstream, more and more women are making themselves noticed. Yet, sexist clichés persist.

For several years, Youtube and Twitch have been proposing live streaming to everyone. A lot of content creators stream live videos of themselves treating a topic they’re interested in, and many of them like to stream themselves playing video games. These platforms are a wonderful means to creating content, exerting freedom of speech, and interacting with people around the world.

But a streamer is more often than not alone in front of a community that reacts live through a chat. Streamers rarely have control over or a way to moderate their stream. Streaming live in front of people for four, five hours or even more, animating, keeping at least a minimum of skills focused on the game, reading a chat, paying attention to the camera - that’s already requiring a lot of concentration and causing plenty of concern.

Some of these streamers have the option for someone to help them moderate their lives, deleting messages and banning certain viewers from the chat. But it's complicated to get someone to offer their time for free, or even paid, to moderate. Most of the time, streamers don't have any moderation - they are completely alone. And it happens regularly to them, especially to female streamers, to receive live insults, cyberharassment, sexist comments.

Influential female gamers and streamers regularly raise their voices to challenge the status-quo.

Testimony of Nat_Ali :

*“You can't realize it until you have experienced it, but there is clearly a difference in treatment between women and men. Very quickly, in the chat, viewers talk to them about their physical appearance "oh you're really pretty", "hello beautiful" and it often gets out of hand "hello ugly", "oh you're disgusting"... where it's much less frequent with guys, or at least ‘ordinary’ guys. But as soon as they belong to a minority, they will also be exposed to it (ex: black, overweight, etc.). Women on Youtube or Twitch often get a double punishment.”*

Streamers want a safe place, one where no one discriminates another. Youtube and Twitch channels are, for some of these streamers, like their home. They want a positive space, which they need if they are to stream serenely.

How can we tackle the problem of sexism in video games?

With over three years of analyzing toxic content found on social networks, Bodyguard - a start-up originally founded in France - benefits from a good understanding of the issue and decided to act to help women feel more “at home” in the world of streaming.

Bodyguard created a technology solution to protect as many people as possible against toxic content online, cyberharassment and hate speech. The team at Bodyguard holds this mission very close to their hearts, wanting to also help as many women as possible to create content and express themselves freely.

The technology developed by Bodyguard has been employed into a free application which moderates users’ lives automatically and autonomously on Twitch and Youtube, but also protects their Twitter and Instagram content. Over 50.00 people have already turned to this Bodyguard assistant for being protected on social media. Half of the users are female. They are young influencers, content creators, gamers or even public figures in the cultural, political or media field. Bodyguard’s technology analyzes and moderates comments in English, Italian and French, with other languages planned.

Available on iOS and Android, this free app subscribes to a model where technology is employed for the greater good. With just a few clicks, users choose which social network accounts they wish to moderate, so that the Bodyguard technology can collect and analyze all the comments they receive, and block anything found to be hateful. More than 5 million comments are analyzed every month.

To go even further and offer a superior user experience, Bodyguard now gives users the possibility to set their own moderation rules, tailored to their individual needs, which they can change at any time. As part of the analysis, Bodyguard effectively categorizes the nature of comments that circulate on social platforms into:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Moral harassment
  • Insults
  • Ridicule
  • Threats
  • Trolling
  • Racism
  • Hate
  • Homophobia
  • Misogyny (new)

Bodyguard now also moderates misogynistic comments

In partnership with the Stream’Her collective (a growing-by-the-day group of female French streamers and gamers) and its female users, Bodyguard analyzed millions of comments to better understand this societal issue and to be able to efficiently moderate sexist insults on streaming platforms.

Hate expressed towards women can be very complex. With the data collected, Bodyguard was able to create a new “Misogyny” category, which allows them to detect with extreme precision sexist behaviors and better protect female online creators.

Going off the principle that the computer or smartphone screen isn’t a strong enough barrier against the impact of hateful comments, Bodyguard offers a powerful and customizable technology for helping platforms like Youtube or Twitch to become healthier and safer online environments. Bodyguard’s technology aims to change mentalities and let creators express themselves and create freely, in a more respectful and caring digital medium.

Bodyguard and Youtube now join forces, striving to solve this society problem and helping women to finally stream serenely.