It’s no secret that some online video gamers make hostile and harassing comments over voice chat. A new study suggest that men who do so against women are, quite literally, a bunch of losers.
The researchers found a clear link between how well a player performed in a game of Halo 3 and how likely they were to be positive or negative to a female player. Contrastingly, the nature of comments made by male players to other male players was largely consistent, regardless of the respective skill levels.
Michael Kasumovic of University of New South Wales and Jeffrey Huznekoff of Miami University played 163 games of team deathmatch in Halo 3. In each game they did not speak themselves but played the occasional generic audio clip through their microphone making inoffensive comments relating to the gameplay. In 82 games they used a female voice and 81 with a male voice.
They then listened to audio recordings of the games and analyzed the responses to the pre-recorded comments, grouping them as positive, negative or neutral. They then identified the speaker and looked at their Xbox Live skill ranking, along with their performance in the specific game
Of the 189 players who made at least one response, none had a voice that the researchers believed belonged to a female player. The breakdown of the players showed that:
..lower-skilled players were more hostile towards a female-voiced teammate, especially when performing poorly. In contrast, lower-skilled players behaved submissively towards a male-voiced player in the identical scenario. This difference in gender-directed behavior became more extreme with poorer focal-player performance.
The researchers believe that having a female player disrupt the usual “male hierarchy” of the game heightens the perceived difference in status among players of differing abilities, with the poor players responding aggressively to the female to try to mitigate their lowly position.