WATCH — Are girl gamers welcome in the gaming community?

Elijah Sandiford
Story by Elijah Sandiford • CBC Kids News • Published 2021-02-05 07:00

Twitch and Ubisoft promise changes to ‘toxic’ culture

Twitch streamer Hive Queen knows as soon as she speaks up in a video game, she might face bullies.

“Half the time … as soon as I say anything, [other gamers are] going to be like: ‘Woman! She's a girl, like get out of our game’,” Hive Queen, a.k.a. Robin Lee, told CBC Kids News.

She’s not alone in facing this kind of hate or discrimination.

In the fall of 2020, allegations of toxicity, harassment and discrimination against girl gamers were exposed in the media.

Two news articles that say, Twitch confronts its role in gaming's me too movement. And Ubisoft survey reveals that 25 percent of employees have experienced or witnessed misconduct.

News of harassment against female streamers and game developers began to come out last year. (Image credit: Wired, The Verge)

Large gaming companies like Ubisoft and streaming services like Twitch were put in the spotlight.

“I might be a woman, but that has nothing to do with my skill level in gaming,” said Lee.

Does video gaming culture do enough to make sure girl gamers feel welcome?

Tune in to the video to hear about:

Toxic behaviour called out

Over the course of summer and fall 2020, dozens of female gamers, streamers and developers came forward with stories of negative experiences in the gaming industry.

Professional Canadian Twitch streamer, Robin Lee, a.k.a. Hive Queen, streams to her audience from her home in Ottawa. ‘I hope that I can inspire other women in this industry to realize we have a place here.’ (Image credit: CBC)

According to Lee, many other girl gamers report feeling this kind of ‘toxic’ behaviour.

“It's this feeling of … you have to prove yourself all the time…. I think historically, [for] women and girls, like, the gaming industry has not been a welcoming space for us until recently,” she said.

Gaming company promises change

One gaming company, Ubisoft, revealed the results of an anonymous survey of 14,000 employees.

They found one in four employees said they had seen or experienced harassment (been bullied or treated inappropriately) at work.

Female employees said they were more likely to have negative experiences at the company.

In response to the allegations of harassment and the results of the survey, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot released a video statement that promised change.

YouTube comments on the Ubisoft apology video say, we are so sorry we got caught. Press X to doubt and you took your time to respond, we almost forgot women were abused in your company.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot released an apology video. It was met with mixed reactions. (Image credit: Christian Petersen/Getty, Ubisoft North America/YouTube)

“This summer [2020], we learned that certain Ubisoft employees did not uphold our company’s values, and that our systems failed to protect the victims of their behaviour. I am truly sorry to everyone who was hurt,” Guillemot said.

Anyone who violated the company’s code of conduct (a policy that lays out what’s expected of employees) would be removed from the company, he said.

He also promised to invest in diversity, inclusion and underrepresented groups like women and people of colour.

Twitch makes a switch

Twitch also brought in some changes in January to discourage bullying and harassment.

This came after a large number of female gamers were bullied on their streaming service.

A twitch post that says, Why Now  We know that many people on Twitch–particularly women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Black, Indigenous, and people of color–unfortunately continue to experience a disproportionate amount of harassment and abuse online, including on our service. Not only is this blatantly unacceptable, it also undermines the community we’re building on Twitch and threatens the long term viability of streaming as a career for everyone who wishes to pursue it.

Part of Twitch’s new ‘Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policy’ says that harassment and abuse online are ‘unacceptable.’ (Image credit: Twitch)

Twitch users who don’t follow the platform’s new policy can face temporary bans or full suspensions.

For Lee, this kind of accountability is important and allows gaming to be fun, social and safe.

“I think it's up to [gaming companies] to make it harder for people to do such things in these spaces ... to have higher standards and expectations for their employees so that it doesn't trickle down,” she said.

Is it enough?

Are you a girl gamer? Do you feel welcomed in the gaming community?

Let us know more at cbckidsnews@cbc.ca.

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About the Contributor

Elijah Sandiford
Elijah Sandiford
CBC Kids News Contributor
You might know him as Agent Ocean on PBS’s Odd Squad or Prince Francisco in the Bruno and Boots series “This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall.” Fifteen-year-old Elijah Sandiford also has a huge passion for pop-culture, sports and content creation. After losing his father at a young age, he decided to make the most of life. His message for Canadian kids, “Dream bigger, dream brighter no matter your circumstance. The hard work you put in will take you on an exciting journey.”

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