Girls, Guys and Games: How News Media Perpetuate Stereotypes of Male and Female Gamers

Erin Maclean
Despite the sheer popularity of gaming, stereotypes of gamers are persistent and often ill-informed. The average age of an Australian gamer, for example, is 33 and nearly half of gamers are female. Yet, few mainstream and gaming news articles seem to acknowledge this diversity. Because news media and public perception are intertwined, such misrepresentation may affect the way gamers are perceived by the public and, in turn, how gamers negotiate their identities. This paper, through a primarily
more » ... hrough a primarily qualitative analysis of 75 online news articles, explores many examples of simplistic and distorted portrayals of gamers that characterise news coverage. In particular, it examines three gendered tropes-'not real' female gamers, women as the victims and oppressors of gamers, and toxic male gamers-that news media use to frame the narratives that misrepresent gaming in social life. Ultimately, this article argues that two prevailing themes underlie many news stories about gaming: the perpetuation of male technocratic privilege and moral panic. Both of these phenomena have relevance to the #GamerGate controversy of 2014, which news media portrayed as a 'culture war' between these inaccurate notions of male and female gamers. Thus, this indicates that the media blame game and alienation of gaming culture, as a multibillion-dollar international industry of increasing social importance, must be acknowledged and addressed.