A new study published by authors from the Virginia Tech Gaming and Media Effects Laboratory (VT G.A.M.E.R. Lab), Ohio State University, and Pennsylvania State University suggests that players of online "first-person shooter" games may adhere to sex-role stereotypes in their responses to male and female players online. The study is described in an article titled "Sex Role Stereotyping is Hard to Kill: A Field experiment Measuring Social Responses to User Characteristics and Behavior in an Online Multiplayer First-Person Shooter Game" that was published in the June 2014 issue of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and authored by VT G.A.M.E.R. Lab co-director Dr. Adrienne Holz Ivory with co-authors Dr. Jesse Fox of Ohio State University, Penn State College of Communications graduate student T. Franklin Waddell, and VT G.A.M.E.R. Lab co-director Dr. James D. Ivory. Undergraduate research associates Kwaku P. Akom, Marcela Weber, and Desmond Hayspell assisted with data collection in the study.

In a field experiment, researchers played a version of the popular online first-person shooter game Call of Duty using either a male or female user name. Also, the researchers used pre-recorded sound files to broadcast statements that were polite or rude to other players, or did not play sound files at all.  After the games, the researchers made friend requests to the other players they had encountered. This procedure was repeated in scores of matches with hundreds of players, with the user gender and voice chat characteristics randomly determined for each match.

Findings indicated that while the female player gained more compliance with friend requests than the male player, the female player gained the most friends while silent or polite, while the male player gained the most friends while rude. The authors conclude, "The results of the current study suggest that players of online games are expected to behave in accordance with the same sex stereotypes that are applied in offline, face-to-face interactions, and those that violate sex or gender norms may experience social disapproval" (p. 154).

The study has been discussed online in articles by Polygon, Complex, The Mary Sue, and GamePolitics. A detailed review of the study is also available at Ohio State graduate student Wai Yen Tang's blog, VG Researcher.

For more information or for a sample copy of the article, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .