Raising the Visibility: Collective Power’s Potential to Break the Gender Barrier in the Video Game Culture

Research Track

10/08/20, 3:30PM - 4:00PM PT

About the Presentation

Video game has long been known to be a highly gendered area dominated by male adolescents, in spite of the actual ratio of women who play video games. Past literature pointed out that this stereotype was repeatedly generated because of the low visibility of women gamers. Recently, after a multiplayer shooting game called ‘Overwatch’ gained a huge popularity, numbers of female gamer groups started to come to the front and raise women’s visibility in the game fan community.

This paper presents a case study of a game-fan community/feminist group called the National D.Va Association (NDA), which has struggled to thrive in the gendered space of the online gaming community. First, a content analysis was conducted to describe the traits of Overwatch that appealed to female game fans. Also, this paper presents a tweet analysis around the National D.Va Association (NDA). The purpose of the analysis is to find out how female gamers formed a collective group, and how it contributed to the rise of the women’s visibility in the game community.This study combines quantitative and qualitative study methods to analyze the tweet data. 5,846 tweets, all tweets posted by NDA (@for_diva_) and mentions sent to NDA from November 21, 2016 to September 4, 2017 were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively.

Frequency of the keywords in NDA’s tweets engendered topics that were discussed vigorously during certain periods. Those keywords were divided into 4 phases: Phase 1 – Attracting public attention, Phase 2 – Building cohesion, Phase 3 – Wartime, be brutal, and Phase 4 – NDA as a sustainable feminism activity. In the result section, the top keywords for each period were presented, along with the qualitative analysis of related tweets, to illustrate how NDA organized the collective power of female gamers and raised their visibility among the gaming community.

NDA has worked to overcome the invisibility of women resulting from gender bias in the gaming environment. NDA accomplished their goal by uniting women’s collective power and raising the visibility of women in the gender-biased environment of online gamers. This paper also addresses the potential of video gaming as a medium to impact society and the ways in which the interpretation and reproduction of the game fan community leads to their participation in social activity.

Je Seok Lee

PhD Student, UCI Department of Informatics

Jeseok Lee is a Ph.D. student studying social behavior of esports game players. He investigates players’ in-game behavior pattern and seeks for a connection to other aspects of their life. Currently, he is applying machine learning methods to analyze complicated patterns of collaborative behavior when people play cooperative games.

Constance Steinkuehler, PhD

Professor, UCI Department of Informatics & School of Education

Constance researches the cognitive and social aspects of multiplayer online videogames and esports. Current projects include studies of teenage boys and gameplay, parenting and videogames, and impacts of the NASEF high school esports league. She formerly served as Senior Policy Analyst under the Obama administration in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, advising on games and digital media, and founded the Higher Education Video Games Alliance (HEVGA), a national network of game-related programs.