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Article

To Be or Not to Be a Female Gamer: A Qualitative Exploration of Female Gamer Identity

1
International Gaming Research Unit, Cyberpsychology Research Group, Department of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham NG1 4FQ, UK
2
Center for Visual Cognition, Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, 1165 Copenhagen, Denmark
3
School of Psychology, Institute for Mental Health, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2SQ, UK
4
Foundation Health Research Institute, Fundación Jiménez Díaz University Hospital, 28040 Madrid, Spain
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Kai W. Müller and Klaus Wölfling
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(3), 1169; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031169
Received: 30 December 2021 / Revised: 18 January 2022 / Accepted: 19 January 2022 / Published: 21 January 2022
The literature on online gaming has generally focused on male gamers and has been dominated by negative aspects of gaming. The present study addresses the gender gap in this field by exploring experiences of female gamers further by unravelling several positive experiences alongside some potentially harmful tendencies connected to gaming, including female gamers’ wishes and ambitions for their future gaming. A total of 20 female adult gamers across Europe were interviewed and results were analysed using thematic analysis. Four main themes were identified: (i) to be or not to be a (female) gamer; (ii) improving social skills and levelling up on mental health; (iii) not always a healthy escape; and (iv) there is more to explore. The present study is one of few empirical studies regarding the construction of self-image, and experiences of female gamers. It has showed participants have a history as gamers from adolescence, but still face problems derived from the stigmatised internal gender self-image. Externally, female gamer stigmatisation may result in sexism, gender violence, harassment, and objectification. Additionally, females may decide against identifying as gamers, engaging in social gaming interaction, or hold back from online gaming in general, thereby missing out on the opportunities for recreation as well as social and psychological benefits that gaming brings. There is, therefore, urgent need for more research and actions to promote change, equity, education, and security for female gamers as well as their male counterparts. Game developers would benefit from understanding this large gamer demographic better and tailoring games for women specifically. View Full-Text
Keywords: female gaming; qualitative analysis; gaming culture; game studies; female gender; identity female gaming; qualitative analysis; gaming culture; game studies; female gender; identity
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kuss, D.J.; Kristensen, A.M.; Williams, A.J.; Lopez-Fernandez, O. To Be or Not to Be a Female Gamer: A Qualitative Exploration of Female Gamer Identity. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 1169. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031169

AMA Style

Kuss DJ, Kristensen AM, Williams AJ, Lopez-Fernandez O. To Be or Not to Be a Female Gamer: A Qualitative Exploration of Female Gamer Identity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(3):1169. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031169

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kuss, Daria J., Anne Marie Kristensen, A. Jess Williams, and Olatz Lopez-Fernandez. 2022. "To Be or Not to Be a Female Gamer: A Qualitative Exploration of Female Gamer Identity" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 3: 1169. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031169

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