Researchers from the University of NSW and Miami University have probably got themselves onto the “gamer-gate” hate list with a study that finds men who get fragged in online games really despise losing to a woman.
The study, by UNSW's Michael Kasumovic and Miami uni's Jeffrey Kuznekoff, ploughed through recordings of 163 games of Halo 3 played on Xbox Live by 189 individuals, recording how losers interacted with winners.
It's published in full at PLOS One here.
What they found probably won't surprise anyone: “low-skilled” males were submissive towards male-voiced teammates, but hostile towards females.
It's all about status, the study suggested. When beaten, losers tried to protect their status (what was left of it) – or, in the convoluted phraseology of academia:
We suggest that low-status males increase female-directed hostility to minimise the loss of status as a consequence of hierarchical reconfiguration resulting from the entrance of a woman into the competitive arena.
On the other hand, winners take the opportunity to be nice to female players – and (although the study doesn't put it this way) preen: “Higher-skilled players, in contrast, were more positive towards a female relative to a male teammate ... in an attempt to support and garner a female player's attention”.
Skill level, the study also found, had no effect on the tenor of comments male players made to other males.
The study was designed to test two hypotheses of sexist behaviour: the first, that sexist behaviour was designed to drive women away from a “male-dominated arena”; the second, that “sexist behaviour was in response to a threat to a male's position in the hierarchy”.
The researchers concluded: “By demonstrating that female-directed hostility primarily originates from low-status, poorer-performing males, our results suggest that a way to counter it may be through teaching young males that losing to the opposite sex is not socially debilitating.”
Good luck with that ... ®