I am a year 11 student. Our Head of Personal and Social Education challenged us to carry out a piece of research on an issue of our choice that we thought was important to young people in contemporary society. We would then write up our project as an individual project for the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification.
In order to learn about how to properly carry out research, our teacher modelled it, using the subject of Gender-Equality and Gender-Based Violence. During one of our lessons, we learnt about GamerGate (see next page). I thought that this was really interesting and, as a regular gamer, and a boy, I wanted to better understand how female gamers are treated.
It wasn’t complicated to do; I created two characters on Grand Theft Auto (GTA) 5 and then played for an hour as each avatar. I decided to find out how players who present as women are treated, in comparison to players who present as men. The other players would not have had any clue that I was a boy presenting as a different gender.
I created two different avatars: for the first hour of my research I was Bob, and I recorded how many invitations, messages and friend requests I received. I then played again as Jennifer.
As Bob, I didn’t receive anything. I got no attention! Within the first five minutes as Jennifer, I was sent a text saying ‘Hi’. I was then followed by a white Jaguar [car], honking its horn and following medown alleyways. A lot of the other game characters at the time were men, although you can’t tell what gender the player really is, and Jennifer definitely attracted more attention. I really got to experience how vulnerable women can be, even when playing for just one hour!
I had to carry out secondary research, as well as this practical primary research that I found out for myself. There is a lot of research that has been carried out by people at universities, as well as newspaper and online magazine articles about gaming and gender. It is also interesting to read people’s comments on gaming forums.