A new study shows that men who lose at video games try to re-establish their status by harassing other players -- just the females ones.
Researchers reached this conclusion after watching multiplayer matches of the video game Halo 3 -- 163 games to be precise -- and found that men who performed badly directed more negative comments towards women on the team.
This graph clearly shows how negative comments increased when male players' skills decreased.
However, guys who were better at the game were quite happy to be supportive towards female players.
The study was lead by two researchers, Michael M. Kasumovic from the University of New South Wales in Australia and Jeffrey H. Kuznekoff, based in Miami University in Ohio.
While their research sample size is quite small and they don't give examples of the types of negative comments mentioned, their observations provide important insight into the pervasiveness of sexism within the gaming community.
The paper, published in the journal PLOS ONE, states:
Dominance is tightly linked to fitness in men as studies from hunter-gatherer societies demonstrate that dominance rank increases fitness through offspring number and resource availability.
Even in modern day society, dominance and not attractiveness is associated with college male mating success.
Low-status and low-performing males have the most to lose as a consequence of the hierarchical reconfiguration due to the entry of a competitive woman. As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status, the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.
This idea is reinforced by the fact that higher-skilled males that should not feel threatened by a female increased their number of positive comments.
They also found that women tended to speak less during the game. During 102 games, a 189 players spoke and all of them were male.
The researchers say this proves that the gaming world is still very much a male-dominated arena, a fact proven by Fifa 16's latest cover.
However, all hope is not lost. There are a few shoots of change springing up within the industry, which could alter mindsets for the better.
At this year's E3 conference, a whole host of games were unveiled that appeared to make a move away from gender stereotypes that the industry has propagated in the past.
Thomas Tamblyn, The Huffington Post's tech editor who was covering the event describes how the industry might just be growing up:
FIFA 16, Horizon Zero Dawn, Mirror's Edge Catalyst, ReCore, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Dishonoured 2, Fallout 4 and finally Assassin's Creed: Syndicate all allow you to play as women, either in the main role, or in an equal role with a man.
The fact that this is even news is wrong enough, yet it has to be recognised for what it is: an important step that shows the industry finally opening its eyes.
We wait with bated breath to see if this will shape the views of those actually playing the games.