Chapter 4
Underworld: Violence, Addiction, Toxicity, Representation, and Brand Safety

For a pastime that's supposed to be fun, gaming has a lot of baggage. So much so that at various points, those in the industry were in favor of removing the words “game” or “gamer” from conversations with those outside the industry, instead relying upon more sterile terms like “interactive entertainment.” Public flashpoints like Gamergate, where female game developer Zoe Quinn came under fire based on a factless insinuation from an ex‐boyfriend that she had used sex to advance her career, served as a bit of vindication for those who held onto stereotypical conceptions of gamers or the gaming industry. A larger dialogue around representation and biases in gaming ensued, and “gamers” marched out (online, naturally), virtual pitchforks and torches in hand, to attack those in the industry who didn't look or think like them. In seeing a mob of angry young men attacking women, journalists, and nonwhite/nonmale developers, it wasn't a hard cognitive leap to assume that various other qualms directed at gaming fans (that they were violent, addicted to games, nasty to one another or outsiders, etc.) were also true.

Why does it seem like there are so many jerks in gaming? On the one hand, gaming tends to be full of jerks because the world is full of jerks.1 On the other, much of the toxicity in gaming tends to come from a very small part of the overall gaming population, and developers (along with other enthusiasts) are doing everything they can to stamp it out. Moreover, the science around violence and addiction as it pertains to gaming is, at best, mixed and often misunderstood due to our cultural tendencies to cast new media in an uncharitable light. The result is very skewed perceptions of an entertainment medium that is becoming as common for senior citizens as the raging young men at the heart of Gamergate.

Before delving into all of the above, let's address the elephant in the room. Media scholars and psychologists who address gaming operate in an environment where they are always at risk of being called out as a video game industry shill. Any more balanced (or even positive!) takes on the effect gaming may have on our minds or lifestyles is put under intense scrutiny. I write this book outside of my official obligations to any job or position, and the contents are wholly my own thoughts and opinions, but I am nonetheless (at the time of writing) employed within the gaming industry, and my purpose in writing this book is very much to extol the value of gaming. While I wouldn't go so far as to describe myself as a shill, I would understand a healthy dose of skepticism around my objectivity.

To this end, I express no high degree of authority or expertise on these matters, particularly for the thornier issues related to violence and addiction. Like the previous chapter, I'll be relying heavily on experts and respected scholars such as Pete Etchells, Cecilia Hodent, Jamie Madigan, Christopher A. Paul, Andrew Przylbylski, and T. L. Taylor, among others. For both space and other practical limitations, it will be impossible to give an exhaustive accounting of the scientific debate around these issues, so our focus will be on the high‐level overtures with ample starting points provided for those who would like to investigate further.

The intention here is not to flippantly wave away concerns around gaming that are potentially deleterious to entities or individuals entering this space, so much as to highlight what is fact versus hyperbole. Though video gaming has been around for the better part of half a century, in the history of media more generally it is still quite new. As a result, our tendency to fear the new belies a much more nuanced reality.

Shoot 'Em Up and Beat 'Em Up: Violence and Gaming

In Chapters 2 and 3, we addressed the gaming phenomenon of the 1980s and 1990s, which has largely shaped discussions around gaming. The industry used marketing and game design specifically tailored to their tastes in order to encourage young men in particular to play.2 Intentionally or not, the result is a long‐standing association between young men and gaming that has perpetuated long past the point where it was remotely true for the gaming population. It was right around this same period, specifically the early 1990s, when a series of games being released in part to push the medium beyond merely the pastime of children spurred one of the most influential and important public discussion around gaming.3 One popular game featuring intense violence (Mortal Kombat) and another featuring sexualized scenes (Night Trap) sparked congressional hearings around violence and appropriate content in games.4 Media coverage and political discourse took a sensationalized bent that, similar to the early conception of game fans, has not entirely dissipated some 30 years later.

The immediate result of these hearings is the now‐ubiquitous Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) grading on all games, an industry‐regulated system that identifies sensitive themes and age‐appropriateness of gaming titles. The longer‐term effect was catalyzing the cycle of moral panics around violence and video games, particularly for young men, perhaps best exemplified by the fallout from the Columbine tragedy and the association of this event with first‐person shooter videogames.5 As has been the case with other forms of new media and youth in the past, video games became an easy explanation for otherwise unexplainable behavior. Unfortunately, addressing these issues through the lens of a moral panic often does more harm than good,6 because it does not do justice to the complex series of causes for a given societal problem. Further, through the lens of moral panics we reduce the conversations around new forms of media to an overly simplistic argument between older generations condemning the behaviors of the younger ones, and younger ones being restricted from mediums of expression because of ill‐informed societal or governmental regulation.

Reductive or not, the repetitious conversation around gaming, youth, and violence reinforced what psychologists call familiarity bias, where we think things are true because of dramatization and repetition.7 Gaming psychologist Andrew Przybylski found that older Americans who didn't really have much interaction with games were almost six times more likely to believe that violent games caused violent behavior.8 This fallacy becomes particularly problematic when it influences the scientific dialogue around the relationships between violence and gaming. A study surveying over 175 scholars found that the age of the researcher was a significant predictor of attitudes around games (with older being more negative than younger), which only disappear when experience playing games was added to the model.9 Though the study does not explicitly connect these negative attitudes towards bias in the resulting studies, it becomes clear that understanding of the relationship between violence and games is made difficult not simply through the abstracted lens of moral panics in the larger society, but also the scientific discourse around the topic.

It is probably no surprise that this discourse, even today, remains very unclear (in one direction or the other) in terms of what influence gaming has on violent behaviors. Conclusions on either side of the debate tend to be heavily biased towards baseline discussions on the merit of the methodology of the study, rather than the conclusions of the study itself.10 Studies are routinely called out for external validity (i.e., do the findings hold up outside of a study environment), due at least in part to the fact that many psychological studies are conducted on undergraduate university students (as a convenience sample). Further, the difficulty in metricizing violence in games is (somewhat humorously) highlighted by a study that attempted to quantify the levels of violence in games with an ESRB “E” rating (suitable for ages six and over).11 The study found games like Pac‐Man and Centipede to be exceedingly violent, given a rather loose definition of “characters” upon which violence could be inflicted (one of the core mechanics in Pac‐Man is eating the other characters, after all).

Studies using more established measures such as the General Aggression Model (GAM) have found short‐term linkages between playing violent games and priming for violent behaviors (i.e., playing games featuring violent behaviors like punching would then trigger shorter‐term biases towards punching others). These studies have concluded that games can put us in the habit of using aggressive actions to deal with a given situation, even if we are not consciously aware of it, and thus identified gaming as a potential risk factor.12 However, priming tends to be fragile insofar as it is a temporary state, so these results say little for the long‐ or medium‐term effects of games on violent behaviors.

Longitudinal studies (i.e., those looking at these effects over a series of years with the same population under study) have typically shown weak or mixed results. A meta‐analysis on longitudinal studies of violence and gaming found only a moderate relationship between violent games and aggression over time, but these effects disappeared when variables relating to prior aggression (or simply being male) were taken into account.13 A team of scholars in 2015 found that violent behaviors (aggravated assaults, murders, etc.) since 1978 were negatively correlated to game sales, inclusive of analysis focusing on the periods following the release of particularly violent games.14

Given the rather predictable pattern of moral panics in countries like the United States, it's unlikely that this debate will be over any time soon. Much of gaming scholarship is focused on the effect of violence for this reason, though based on the historical challenges illustrated above it's unlikely that we'll find definitive proof in the near future. In the meantime, what we can safely conclude is that the association is mixed, and popular rhetoric has done much damage to what would otherwise benefit from being a reasonable and balanced line of inquiry. Games featuring violence are incredibly popular and represent some of the best‐selling franchises in gaming, but it would be wrong to assume that this is simply due to a darker urge in young men or others towards violent behaviors. These games tend to satisfy many urges attributable to the self‐determination theory: they are often challenging, satisfying games to play with occasional elements of sociability.15

However, moral panics and parental concerns around gaming have not simply been limited to violence. The potential addictive properties of gaming, particularly in a world where repeated engagements with a game are often a key factor towards monetization, has similarly raised concerns around the relative safety of gaming environments.

Just One More Round: Addiction and Gaming

Watching someone playing a game is not always a particularly thrilling experience—not the action on the screen, but the physical person as they interact with the controller, keyboard, or some other technological interface. To the outside observer, the occasionally unflappable expression on the player's face appears to be that of someone disconnected from reality. In some respects, this is true—in the previous chapter we discussed spatial presence (aka immersion) as the psychological concept where the edges of the game world and the real world disappear, and “involvement” as the processes in our mind engage with media in deep ways. The net result is that video games tend to be consuming media experiences—they engage the mind in a multitude of ways, and the body as it controls aspects of the game.

As a result, the rather deep cognitive and physical engagement required to play a game has all the signals one might expect from someone disconnected from reality in a less savory way—via drugs, alcohol, or otherwise. However, the reality is that games are a medium that are specifically designed to be immersive and interactive—engaging with a game instead of other pursuits doesn't necessarily mean that other aspects of that person's life are deteriorating.16 The history of other visual media, be it television or movies, has similarly been focused on technologies to increase immersion within that given experience—whether it be larger, wrap‐around screens (IMAX) or increasingly complex arrays of speakers to create the illusion of sound coming from any given direction. Games simply tend to be better at it than other forms of media, given the deep involvement required. However, involvement and escapism are close cousins to addiction, which has been the focus of occasional panics around gaming.

Similar to the ongoing debate on violence in gaming, scientific consensus on addiction in gaming has not yet been reached. One of the more impactful positions in this debate was when, in 2018, the World Health Organization included “gaming disorder” in its International Classification of Diseases. This catalyzed a furious debate among the academic community, with counter‐points largely revolving around concepts and signs of addiction that might otherwise be a normal or healthy behavior as it pertains to playing a game (for example, the seemingly dissociative behaviors of someone playing a game as outlined above).17 Much like the scientific debate around violence, the appropriate measures and challenges related to collecting causal data on the phenomenon of addiction have yielded a conversation more around methodologies and metrics than about what, if any, problems exist (including what are the most effective routes to treat the problem), and how common such problems truly are. Estimates of the true prevalence rate vary widely (from a few tenths of a percent to nearly half the potential gaming population).

The high degree of abstraction and incertitude in the scientific community on this topic, coupled with moral panics, raises barriers that make addressing more fundamental issues challenging—particularly when government action is involved. Such measures of control can, at times, be more harmful and impractical than helpful. As recently as 2021, China announced a crackdown on gaming for Chinese youth, where anyone under 18 is allowed to play games for just 3 hours a week.18 Given the skill that youth in China have developed to circumvent various government restrictions, it's unclear how effective these measures will be, but these restrictions demonstrate a case where a sovereign government finds itself in an impossible tug‐of‐war by wanting to invest in the internet or other technological literacy while maintaining political stability by promoting conservative values. More simply, they are attempting the near‐impossible and thereby inflicting near‐impossible‐to‐enforce regulations on their youths.

Though these measures were ostensibly put into place to address a widespread problem with addition, addiction as manifested through mediums like games is often rooted in deeper disorders—taking away the technological layer doesn't solve the underlying condition (in some cases it may make it worse). Such interventions also strip away the benefits of gaming. In reaction to the COVID‐19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (the same one that defined “gaming disorder” a few years earlier) recommended that individuals play video games together as a way to maintain social ties when physical proximity was impossible,19 along with a media campaign encouraging people to #PlayApartTogether. Much like the scientific debate around gaming, regulation via governments and institutional bodies continues to be mixed.

This is not to say, however, that addictive tendencies within gaming do not represent real risks that can inflict material harm. As previously discussed, compulsion loops in games are mechanisms that through operant conditioning (when we are trained to do something, because that thing will yield a reward) we are compelled to repeat series of actions (go through a game dungeon, find treasure chest, etc.) for a reward. Moreover, when these rewards are randomized and unknown, we're cognitively hardwired to be all the more interested in the potential outcome. These loops are often the core mechanism to many popular games. However, these mechanisms are not entirely different from the basic psychology of a slot machine, which is the basis for much of the concern around addition and video games when the mechanics in video games emulate those of gambling. Similar mechanisms are the basis of monetization tactics in many games—“gacha” games (named after the Japanese toy vending machine) provide randomized and unknown prizes for spending in game currency. Micro‐transactions in games often include “loot boxes” that operate under a similar premise—a player spends money to get an optional and unknown bonus to the game experience. There is ample room for potential concern when game designers deliberately exploit these psychological tendencies for financial gain.

Psychologist and game UX expert Celia Hodent warns of “dark patterns” in game UX design.20 A dark pattern is when design includes deceiving functionality to maximize profit at the expense of a user. Such patterns can be found in games relying on exploitation of known psychology to maximize revenue. However, even reputable game studios that rely on micro‐transactions have the potential to encourage spending behaviors that come perilously close to such exploitation. To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with “gacha,” “loot boxes,” or other similar mechanisms—how they are valued and positioned to the player can mean all the difference between an appropriate transaction vs. one that benefits from compulsion. It should also be recognized that many players who spend via these mechanisms, even occasionally in large amounts (often referred to as “whales”), do so fully cognizant of the costs and largely as an expression to support a developer they value.21

Addiction and violence as they relate to gaming are thus two very important topics where needed conversations have been stunted by heavy‐handed intervention from the press or government institutions, and scientific consensus is hampered by a number of issues common to the conduct of rigorous science. The resulting mix leads to an understandable amount of concern from outside entities. As noted, outside of specifically malicious intent baked into a game, the linkages between playing games and violent tendencies or addiction are vague, and will remain an ongoing and long‐standing debate.

These debates can occasionally be amplified by the fact that, well, portions of the gaming community can be really hard to sympathize with. Specifically, gaming has become somewhat notorious for housing communities that are particularly toxic and exclusionary, leading to persistent issues of representation in gaming (and by proximity, esports).

Git Gud: Toxicity and Representation in Gaming

The “chat” in certain games or gaming communities (the voice or text discussion overlaid on the game play) has occasionally become a thing of legend, or more accurately, notoriety. Exchanges in certain corners of the gaming community, ranging from specific games to generalized platforms like Twitch, are filled with the occasional good‐hearted ribbing (“git gud” is an invitation for players to “get good,” or improve upon poor play) one might expect from competitive chatter, but often teeters into the realm of excessive obscenities and slurs directed at specific groups—notably women and minorities. The mere presence of a female voice on a gaming chat‐enabled service like Xbox Live evokes upwards of three times as much verbal abuse as a male voice.22

It's probably unsurprising that as a result, certain aspects of gaming have a representation problem. Moreover, this is in some respects relished by small, virulent parts of the gaming community that hold specific beliefs around what does or does not constitute a game, what is or is not a proper way to play a game, and therefore who is or is not a “gamer.” The participatory culture around the fandom of gaming, as discussed in the preceding chapters, entails a high degree of ownership over the medium by portions of the fandom. When this ownership is mixed with what psychologist Christopher A. Paul calls “toxic meritocracy” built into how games are designed and brought to market, it is a particularly noxious mix.23

Paul argues that gaming is a place where the ideology of meritocracy runs rampant, seemingly unaware that accumulated and transferable skills from game to game have been enabled by game designers that had for many years designed games with an ethos of making them “for gamers” as the only viable demographic for game play. The resultant culture is one where skill within the game is privileged above all else, without awareness for why others might not have the same familiarity with game systems to be similarly “skillful.” The period in the 1980s–1990s where gaming was specifically focused on young men essentially cemented that same group, who were affluent and privileged enough to play games in their free time, as the default “gamer” group.24

Skillful game play was encouraged by design—early arcade and console games from this period were designed to kill you quickly, either as a means towards monetization (defeating the player would often yield another quarter),25 or through memory limitations (games could be small in size so long as it was hard to make much progress). Merit in games was thus assessed by those that had the economic ability and cultural permission or encouragement to play games. Those same players would thus go on to be game designers, creating what was essentially an echo chamber of this set of “gamers” making games in the vision and of the design that most conformed to these sensibilities, including characters and themes that would be interesting and relatable to this same set of young, affluent, and predominately white men.26

As gaming rose in prominence, and new populations had access and monetization methods that conformed better with their needs and expectations in gaming (as discussed in the earlier chapter on the rise of gaming), this formerly insulated community came under threat. In particular, many mechanisms in free‐to‐play games were reviled by legacy gaming fans as they represented a departure from supposedly merit‐based skill norms—thus, free‐to‐play mechanisms that provided a material advantage (for example, things like boosters) were derided as not real games, nor those that played them real “gamers.” Ironically, counter to this fetishization of masculinized skill among legacy gamers, the most acceptable mechanism for free‐to‐play from this group comes in the form of purchasing skins and other cosmetics or clothes for their virtual avatars in games like League of Legends.

The vitriol from this group fostered a complicated relationship with women in particular, who were more likely to find the themes and mechanisms of free‐to‐play games (predominately on mobile phones) to their liking, including lighter and more positively oriented aesthetics and settings more often found in casually oriented games. However, women resisted being associated with anything “casual” because of the negative implications in the more “traditional” gaming culture.27 But even when they enter these more traditionally skill‐based game spaces, the reaction is hardly welcoming. As noted above, female voices in these game environments were lighting rods for harassment, a phenomenon that was particularly amplified when the harasser is losing.28 Here too, the reaction is one of threat—in this case, around a concept technology‐oriented sociologist T. L. Taylor associates with competitive gaming known as “geek masculinity.”

Geek masculinity is essentially a counter to traditional sports or athletic cultures as a requirement for masculinity, inclusive of the physical activity of the sport itself. It is facilitated by interest in competition and relationships in alternative formats like video games. In this light, dominance is asserted by demonstration of knowledge and competency or skill within these environments. As women increasingly enter these spaces, they are fundamentally upending these systems of exclusion by threatening the status markers that men were relying upon to secure their masculinity.29 In this way, a subculture that has occasionally been the refuge for social outcasts adopts behaviors that are as exclusionary as the ones they may have faced in popular culture—all for the purposes of preserving identity around a fandom through which they have high emotional and personal attachment.

When developers and journalists contribute to the othering of these groups and modes of play, particularly in the assessment of how skill is a superior mechanism for assessing games, the attitudes of these players are reified by the larger social and cultural constructs within the gaming ecosystem.30 The previously discussed example of Gamergate31 once again serves as a poignant example, where female developers and journalists were largely under siege by the toxic elements of the gaming community for raising issues of inclusivity and making spaces for women in gaming. The reactions ranged from verbal abuse to physical threats against these women, thrusting the problem of representation and toxicity within gaming into the limelight, a problem that reverberates even today.

In summary, the increased presence of those not conforming to the idealized “gamer” challenged the very foundational identity of those who consider themselves “gamers,” leading to a high degree of toxicity and to considerable barriers for those not conforming to this identity (women, minorities) to integrate in a meaningful way. Toxic behaviors proliferate in gaming platforms due to the often deindividualized and anonymous ways in which communications can develop on these platforms—without fear of reprisal, the ugliest beliefs someone might hold are free to come to fruition.

However, it is not unreasonable to say that things are improving, and all hope is not lost despite the downsides of gaming and the undesirable elements of the game community. Much of this due to the efforts of both game publishers and gaming enthusiasts.

Clearing the Dungeon: Conclusions

Gaming has often been an area where marketers or decision makers were given great pause on the basis of brand safety, largely due to the negative connotations around violence, addiction, toxicity, and the potential impact of these factors on associated brands or entities. Though daunting, the wildest concerns around these aspects are more likely attributable to erroneous characterizations in the media. The science around violence and addiction is, as noted, incredibly mixed—definitive linkages and conclusions are few and far between due to intense methodological challenges. The net result is that we cannot be completely assured that gaming has no negative effects in these respects, but one should similarly not dismiss possibilities within the ecosystem based upon hyperbolic claims that have little factual basis.

A recurrent theme in this book is that the design intention of the publisher matters, and like many considerations in gaming, the best solution is to vet and partner with reputable publishers who prioritize the player experience. This not only provides some shielding from “dark patterns” in game design that can encourage harmful spending on the behalf of players, but can also provide assurances as to where the publisher is actively working against issues such as toxicity. Developers of games that have more toxic communities have implemented a series of measures, ranging from chat censoring to player‐rating systems, to counter expressions of toxicity. Riot Games, developer of League of Legends, has gone so far as to create a cross‐disciplinary “Team Player Behavior,” complete with game psychologist, to refine game experiences and systems to minimize toxic behavior.32 The agency of the larger gaming community is important—as aside from a generalized desire to be rid of the worst elements of the community (who, let's face it, are generally not that fun to play with), it keeps the developers in check. Pushback on predatory monetization practices that are often aligned with randomized elements that can foment addictive behaviors is often quick to spark a furious response.33

Basically, nearly every side of the gaming ecosystem is working to keep the worst tendencies of gaming in check. That said, considerable work remains to be done—many of the factors contributing to toxicity in the game environments have similarly shut down opportunities for women and minorities to engage with esports in a meaningful way, and no system is perfect at eliminating toxic behaviors. And yet, moving towards larger, more open ecosystems means better player experiences, more revenue for game developers, and (presumably) more and better games. Those wishing to align with gaming should be cognizant of these risks, but assured that that the expansion of the gaming ecosystem is predicated on all actors being incentivized to make it better.


  1. 1. Roughly paraphrasing Paul, who in turn was referencing Adrienne Shaw, “The Internet Is Full of Jerks, Because the World Is Full of Jerks: What Feminist Theory Teaches Us about the Internet,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 11, no. 3 (2014): 273–277.
  2. 2. Carly A. Kocurek, Coin-Operated Americans: Rebooting Boyhood at the Video Game Arcade (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015).
  3. 3. Tiffany Hsu, “When Mortal Kombat Came Under Congressional Scrutiny,” New York Times, March 8, 2018,
  4. 4. “Senator Calls for Warnings on Video Games,” Washington Post, December 2, 1993,
  5. 5. Mike Nizza, “Tying Columbine to Video Games,” The Lede (blog), July 5, 2007,
  6. 6. Erich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda, Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 1994).
  7. 7. Jamie Madigan, Getting Gamers: The Psychology of Video Games and Their Impact on the People Who Play Them (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), 225.
  8. 8. Andrew K. Przybylski, “Who Believes Electronic Games Cause Real World Aggression?” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 17, no. 4 (April 17, 2014): 228–234, doi: 10.1089/cyber.2013.0245.
  9. 9. Christopher J. Ferguson and John Colwell, “Understanding Why Scholars Hold Different Views on the Influences of Video Games on Public Health,” Journal of Communication 67, no. 3 (March 2017): 305–327,
  10. 10. Madigan, Getting Gamers, 225–226.
  11. 11. Kimberly M. Thompson and Kevin Haninger, “Violence in E-rated Video Games,” JAMA Network 5, no. 286 (August 1, 2001): 591–599. doi:10.1001/jama.286.5.591.
  12. 12. Craig A. Anderson et al., “Violent Video Game Effects on Aggression, Empathy, and Prosocial Behavior in Eastern and Western Countries: A Meta-Analytic Review,” Psychological Bulletin 136, no. 2 (March 2010): doi: 10.1037/a0018251.
  13. 13. Craig Anderson et al., “Interactive Effects of Life Experience and Situational Cues on Aggression in Japan and the United States,” Pediatrics 122, no. 5, 208, doi: 10.1532/peds.2008-1425.
  14. 14. Patrick M. Markey, Charlotte N. Markey, and Juliana E. French, “Violent Video Games and Real-World Violence: Rhetoric Versus Data,” Psychology of Popular Media Culture 4, no. 4 (2015): 277–295.
  15. 15. Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson, “Why Kids Play Violent Video Games,” in Grand Theft Childhood: The Suprising Truth about Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008).
  16. 16. Pete Etchells, Lost in a Good Game: Why We Play Video Games and What They Can Do for Us (London: Icon Books Ltd, 2020), 167.
  17. 17. Ibid., 169.
  18. 18. Brenda Goh, “Three Hours a Week: Play Time's Over for China's Young Video Gamers,” Reuters, August 31, 2021,
  19. 19. Mike Snider, “Video Games Can Be a Healthy Social Pastime During Coronavirus Pandemic,” USA Today, March 28, 2020,
  20. 20. Celia Hodent, The Psychology of Video Games (New York: Routledge, 2021), 78.
  21. 21. Nick Yee and Nicholas Ducheneaut, “High-Value Monetizers-De-bunking Assumptions Using Personality Psychology,” lecture given at the 2014 Game Developer Conference, San Francisco (March 17, 2014).
  22. 22. Jeff Kuznekoff and Lindsey Rose, “Communication in Multiplayer Gaming: Examining Player Responses to Gender Cues,” New Media & Society 15, no. 4 (2012): 541–556.
  23. 23. Christopher A. Paul, The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games: Why Gaming Culture Is the Worst (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018).
  24. 24. Kocurek, Coin-Operated Americans, 188.
  25. 25. Christopher A. Paul, Free to Play: Mobile Video Games, Bias, and Norms (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2020), 9.
  26. 26. Raph Koster, Theory of Fun for Game Design, 2nd ed. (Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media, Inc., 2013).
  27. 27. Amanda Cote, “‘Casual Resistance: A Longitudinal Case Study of Video Gaming's Gendered Construction and Related Audience Perceptions,” Journal of Communication 70, no. 6 (December 2020): 819–841,
  28. 28. Kyle Orland, “Study: Online Gaming ‘Losers’ Are More Likely to Harass Women,” Ars Technica, July 21, 2015,
  29. 29. T. L. Taylor, Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012), 120–121.
  30. 30. Paul, Free to Play, 169.
  31. 31. Caitlin Dewey, “The Only Guide to Gamergate You Will Ever Need to Read,” Washington Post, October 14, 2014,
  32. 32. Paul, The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games, 118.
  33. 33. Paul Tassi, “EA Now Seems Legitimately Terrified of Loot Boxes After ‘Battlefront 2,’” Forbes, April 17, 2018,
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