In a chapter in the "Teens, Technology, and Friendships" report released earlier this month, a pretty picture is painted describing the benefits of online gaming and social media in terms of helping male teenagers find new friends. "Girls who have met new friends online are more likely to meet them via social media (78% vs. 52% of boys), while boys are substantially more likely to meet new friends while playing games online (57% vs. 13% of girls)." Now why is this? A lot more females play games than we would think, according to the report, 60% of girls between 13 and 17 play games on a computer, a console, or a phone. Not all of them play mobile games, so why are girls not making more friends online?
Of course, there can be several reasons as to why, maybe the outspoken girls find new friends elsewhere, use social media more actively and spend less time playing games where interactions with other gamers are required or even an option. A common misconception is that girls only play certain games, mainly on mobile or through Facebook. But according to another study, more than 35 percent of the girls questioned claim to play RPGs and more than a quarter say they play FPS games. More than 15% of the girls play all of these categories too: MOBA, RTS, platformers, sports games, and MMOs. So with that cleared up, how come they aren't making any new friends while playing all of these?
A part of the Teens, Technology, and Friendships report is looked at by Kotaku, specifically the part showing that out of the girls playing online games, only 28 percent use voice chat to talk to other players. However, 70% of the boys do. Maybe we have our main offender here? These girls aren't communicating, and there could be a million reasons as to why. There's no secret that you will find individuals with lacking moral standards and no regards for the emotions of the people around them when venturing online. Hiding behind the anonymity of the internet, some people will show less favorable sides of themselves, it is easy to be tough on a distance. The confidence some lack in real life, seems to go into overdrive online. "She can’t play, she's a girl" or "Ohh sweet a girl. You got pics? I wanna see ya n***d, babe. No pics? FAT COW! I bet you’re ugly!" are comments mentioned by a female gamer as examples of why she prefers to keep the mic muted and stay anonymous. Another mentions the overly friendly, more creepy encounters as her reason. The fear of being stalked is not pleasant.
As a female "gamer", I'm almost afraid to use the term as I'm not 1337 MLG pro, so lets just say as a female that have enjoyed playing video games for many years, both offline and online, I don't blame the silent girls. I was one of them for years. I never unmuted my mic unless I was in party chat with friends, and would often have to quit the game if we accidentally joined game chat and I said something. Not only would I get harassed in the chat, but also in game. My "team mates" would intentionally line up in front of me to make me constantly team kill them, then report me and finish up with spamming vulgar messages for a day or two. Keeping the mic permanently muted seemed like a good idea to me. Now, that I am older, I still stay muted unless I'm playing with friends. Not because the internet heroes makes me feel uncomfortable, but because I don't want to ruin whatever self-esteem they have left by responding.
I'm not saying that all males playing online games are duchebags. On occasions, I have joined the game chat in games like Borderlands or Battlefield, but only after listening in for a bit first, to make sure my team was consisting of somewhat normal human beings. And I did actually make a few friends. But quite often, I found it best just to stay quiet. Some might say, "Hey, it's the internet, deal with it." Sure, girls do, by remaining quiet.