We are VALORANT! We are Fighters! Gender Discrimination in Online Gaming

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The rise of personal computer (PC) gaming (and voice chatting) has resulted in gender discrimination in video games, which has been well-documented in other research. Voice chat matters because people can often determine someone's gender from their voice. This study examines women's perceived gender discrimination in a video game called VALORANT, developed in 2020 by Riot Games. This is a first-person shooter game that requires communication between teammates (five per side) to coordinate team activities. Therefore, it is a perfect situation in which to document perceived gender discrimination because i) teammates must talk because it is faster than text chat, and ii) it is a high-pressure situation that requires input from other teammates to win. Little previous research has explored whether in-game pressures to win and maintain one's in-game rank (such as in the competitive mode in VALORANT) have increased perceived gender discrimination. That is, does competitive pressure increase or decrease perceived gender discrimination? Thus, this inquiry focuses on the following: Do women who play VALORANT perceive gender discrimination, as found in other research? Furthermore, does the level of competition matter? Specifically, do women in VALORANT perceive that they experience more gender discrimination from men in unrated versus competitive modes? Using 17 online interviews with women who play VALORANT, I found that women unsurprisingly say that they experienced gender discrimination while playing. Regarding the second research question, the respondents perceived that gender discrimination was worse in unrated modes because players’ ranks were not at risk.

Embargo status: Restricted until 06/2024. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.

gender discrimination, sexism, video games, online interviews, competition