Jen Herranz’s career was ended by a tweet. streamers, presenter and writer specializing in the world of video games, has spent a decade working in that niche where women are barely represented. With a total of 160,000 followers between Instagram, Twitch and Twitter, she explains that she decided to leave everything a few months ago because of a “slightly unfortunate comment about exes” that she made on networks. “A tweet that, if a colleague had posted it, nothing would have happened. But women are always treated differently, especially in this world, where harassment is continuous, ”says Herranz.
The comment had to do with the speed with which keyboard players know how to play the keys. League of Legends (LoL), the popular online game that hooks more than 180 million people. Herranz shared a tweet from another user who expressed the desire to have a boyfriend who plays LoL (because of his supposedly better ability to masturbate a woman). She added to the original tweet that, after having been with two gamers, he could assure that his abilities to make “good fingers” were limited. The avalanche of attacks, insults and threats that she received from her in the following days (almost all from men) led her to the decision to leave her accounts on social networks and leave her job as a presenter. “It has been the best decision for my mental health, she had come to have anxiety attacks daily. Although this decision also works against me, because I have lost the main source of income and thus it becomes difficult to pay the mortgage and the bills”, she affirms. “I had been in this sector for ten years and now I have to start from scratch.”
Actually, Herranz didn’t quit his job because of an unfortunate tweet about his ex-boyfriends. She left it because since she began to write and speak on video game networks, users spoke of her as “the girlfriend of” and called her “whore” and “bitch”, words that she had to filter in the comments of her content during these years. Her case is no exception in the world of video games, where harassment is very present, especially towards female players. Five in six adults (83%) between the ages of 18 and 45 experience bullying in online multiplayer games, according to a 2022 report by the Anti-Defamation League and Fair Play Alliance, which is also significant growth compared to bullying. two years ago (then they were 74%). The largest increases in bullying occurred among women and the LGBTIQ community.
“Online harassment is a very problematic issue, because for many users this seems tolerable or even acceptable. There are those who think that it is necessary to behave like this to be part of the group”, explains the psychologist Celia Hodent. The expert, who works as user experience director for different video games, acknowledges that in some cases online games are beginning to have codes of conduct to penalize cases of harassment, although it would be even more effective to introduce changes to the gaming systems. For example, that when connecting, the microphone is closed and the player has to be the one to activate it: thus, nobody is forced to reveal their sex if they don’t want to.
On the other hand, when it comes to prevention, Hodent emphasizes the work done by platforms such as Raisings Food Games and the Fair Play Alliance to educate young players: “It is about stopping forgiving certain behaviors with the excuse that they are boys , and the boys are like that. It is essential that they understand that when they are playing online they are still in a social space, where the same rules of conduct and respect apply in real life.”
Jen Herranz has not left the video game sector: she has been fired. Marta Trivi has not abandoned social networks: they have thrown her out. And so with many colleagues who do nothing more than reject job opportunities, collaborations and proposals for visibility because they mistreat us.
— Isi (@IsiAngeath) May 1, 2023
Actually, men stopped having a monopoly in this sector years ago. When it comes to getting behind a console, women represent 53% of users in Spain, according to the White Paper on Spanish Video Game Development 2022. However, this percentage plummets when it comes to talking about those who work on it. , where women represent only 24% of the professionals. Euridice Cananes, PhD in philosophy and co-director of the video game company Arsgames, believes that one of the causes of this disparity between men and women is in the socialization that takes place in childhood. “When asked at school who plays video games, boys quickly raise their hands, while girls have a harder time admitting it. They usually say that they play, but always after finishing their homework. And this is a problem when it comes to finishing working on this, because the consumption of video games is closely related to the choice of STEAM careers. [siglas en ingles de ciencia, tecnologia, ingenieria, arte y matematicas]”, comments the expert, who is in charge of designing games and researching the dynamics of that industry.
According to Hodent, another reason why the industry continues to be male-dominated is due to the so-called indrogrupal bias, that is, the tendency to hang out with people who look like us. “Right now, the video game industry is controlled by men who were passionate about fighting games in the 1990s, who had an almost exclusively male audience. These same men, when it came time to create a video game company, would hire their own friends and before they knew it, they would end up with an all-male group,” he says.
“They criticized me for being a woman”
Women not only represent a minority in companies that develop video games, they are also missing in the world of specialized communication associated with this activity. Women barely make up 18.6% of the staff of the major magazines in the sector, and in most cases they are external collaborators, according to a study by the University of Malaga that analyzes the presence and role of women in game journalism. “Job insecurity, along with machismo, is another of the reasons why there are so few women in the industry,” confirms Cabanes.
A few days after Jen Herranz decided to leave social networks, another well-known woman in the world of video games said goodbye to a decade of career. Marta Trivi began her career as a cultural journalist writing for film and television, until eight years ago she began to deal exclusively with video games. In 2018 she was one of the few women who wrote on AnaitGames, a specialized portal for which she worked until this month of May. “I had to constantly prove everything. Many times people criticized me for being the only woman in the group. When I screwed up in an article, the comments were always loaded with machismo,” the journalist explains: “It’s not that I was wrong because I was a person who makes mistakes, as was the case with my colleagues. I was wrong because I am a woman who gets into these issues without knowing.
However, the “always more aggressive and misogynistic” criticism has been just one of the motivations that have influenced his choice to leave the medium for which he had been working for five years. “It is precariousness that kills us. There are few women on staff and, even when it comes to collaborations, they are paid less than men. I am tired of spending hours on weekends playing video games to write a review. There were hours that nobody paid me, and then having to put up with unbearable levels of machismo”, admits Marta Trivi.
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Source: EL PAIS