Gendered Conversation in a Social Game-Streaming Platform
Online social media and games are increasingly replacing offline social activities. Social media is now an indispensable mode of communication; online gaming is not only a genuine social activity but also a popular spectator sport. Although online interaction shrinks social and geographical barriers, it is argued that social disparities, such as gender inequality, persists. For instance, online gaming communities have been criticized for objectifying women, which is a pressing question as gaming evolves into a social platform. However, few large-scale, systematic studies of gender inequality and objectification in social gaming platforms exist. Here we analyze more than one billion chat messages from Twitch, a social game-streaming platform, to study how the gender of streamers is associated with the nature of conversation. We find that female streamers receive significantly more objectifying comments while male streamers receive more game- related comments. This difference is more pronounced for popular streamers. We also show that the viewers’ choice of channels is also strongly gendered. Our findings suggest that gendered conversation and objectification is prevalent, and most users produce strongly gendered messages.