Does a player's gender affect their gaming experience?
In a recent social experiment by Women in Games Argentina, three male VALORANT gamers played Riot Games' first-person shooter using voice changers to make them sound like women.
The experiment brought to light the misogyny that women face while playing online video games, and the gamers' experiences were documented and released on YouTube in a video titled Switch Voices.
"With this action, we intend to make visible a situation that is denounced daily by gamers around the world, and for which they do not find support from video game companies and, in most cases, not even from the gamer community itself," Women in Games Argentina stated in the YouTube description.
All three participants experienced misogyny in-game, with some other players refusing to cooperate after hearing a female voice, all while hurling insults throughout the match. One player was even told to "contribute in the kitchen".
Alfredito, a streamer, got 15 kills and only two deaths in the first part of the experiment.
However, as soon as he turned on the voice changer, he started receiving insults and sexual slurs. The players on his team also stopped cooperating with him.
As a result, he finished the match with 16 deaths and 3 kills, because no one wanted to help him.
"That's not something you want to do anymore. I can't really fathom having to go through this every day," Alfredito said in the video.
Another streamer and caster named Lucius also had a similar experience.
Lucius got 20 kills and 5 deaths in the first game, but only got 6 kills and 17 deaths when he turned on the mic and used the voice changer.
"You can’t play like this," he mentioned in the video, adding that he felt sad and frustrated after the experience.
The results were also the same with Tasher, another streamer.
He said in the video that he wanted to give his best, but he couldn’t do so because of what he experienced.
Tasher got 17 kills and 3 deaths in the first round, but his performance dipped with 5 kills and 14 deaths in the game when he used the voice changer.
Pros from VALORANT Game Changers experience misogyny too
It’s not only casual female gamers that experience this.
For VALORANT Game Changers, developer Riot Games had to heavily moderate the chat in both the YouTube and Twitch streams, deleting sexist, homophobic, and transphobic comments posted by some viewers.
At times, it got so bad that Riot had to mute the chat altogether.
During the VALORANT Game Changers Championship last November, it was observed that some viewers — with male-sounding handles or profile pictures — would either attack the transgender women from certain teams, or intentionally flood the comments with insults on how the female and LGBT pros were awful at the game, when there was no evidence of that.
Some comments were even observed to be more sexual, and could be compared to catcalling and sexual harassment.
With toxicity and misogyny still a common sight in the gaming community and industry, companies like Riot and Ubisoft have even initiated AI research to help combat toxicity in-game.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.