The Double-Edged Sword of Online Gaming: An Analysis of Masculinity in Video Games and the Gaming Community

LOS ANGELES, CA – 17 August 2021: The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, in partnership with Promundo, Oak Foundation, and the Games and Online Harassment Hotline, hosted a See Jane Salon earlier today to discuss the findings from the new, groundbreaking study, The Double-Edged Sword of Online Gaming: An Analysis of Masculinity in Video Games and the Gaming Community released by the Institute, Promundo and supported by Oak Foundation.

The research incorporates the first-ever content analysis on a streaming platform, video gameplay, gamer commentary, and chat features where viewers interact with one another. The investigation was sparked by a desire to understand how the video game ecosystem influences the development and beliefs of boys ages 8-13 including gender norms, promoting healthy boyhood to manhood vs toxic masculinity, and engaging constituents with actionable facts, including proposed interventions. The findings are highly relevant given that video game play spiked 75% during the pandemic.

Today’s event featured an intense, wide-ranging discussion examining what boys and young men are seeing and experiencing in the most popular video games and the TWITCH online gaming community. Anita Sarkeesian | Creator, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games moderated; Panelists included Veronica “Nikatine” Ripley |Twitch Streamer & Ambassador, Bijan Stephen | Video Correspondent, Podcaster, Twitch Streamer, and Dr. Kishonna Gray| Professor, Gamer and Author. In addition, Soroya Giaccardi | Senior Researcher, USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, presented the research findings.

Geena Davis, Academy Award-winning actor and founder and chair of the Institute, shared in her opening remarks: “Our study highlights the increasingly influential role that gaming plays in the lives of young men. It also spotlights the dramatic under representation of women, non-binary and queer folks, and people of color in both the content and throughout the development process. We need to create a better pipeline for these marginalized identities.”

Gary Barker, President, and CEO of Promundo-US added, “The video game ecosystem is a double-edged sword; It is part of the problem as it fuels harmful ideas of manhood; it is also an important part of the solution. The video gaming culture provides valuable human connections and a safe space to discuss feelings. The danger is that the current culture often normalizes violence, hate and fosters a belief system consistent with white extremism. By bringing these realities to light, we can begin to constructively dismantle the toxic Man Box.”

About the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Founded in 2004 by Academy Award-Winning actor Geena Davis, the Institute is the only research-based organization working collaboratively with entertainment media industries to reduce negative stereotyping and to achieve cultural equity and inclusion onscreen. Visit