Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Exploring Language and Gender through Blood and Combat

Exploring Language and Gender through Blood and Combat

Kelsey Garason

Video game research has been an area of study that has grown significantly over the years, with scholars from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, cultural studies, linguistics, psychology, sociology, etc.  Much of the research conducted on video games revolves around the types of games that are available, the effects of gaming on behavior, the content within video games and positive and/or negative outcomes of gaming.  However, not much research has been conducted about the specific genre of first-person shooter (FPS) games and about the gamers who play them.

This paper explores the use of linguistic behavior between younger American men and women while in engaged in FPS games.  FPS games are typically thought of as games for boys and men, yet many females play this genre of game as well.  This paper examines the linguistic differences between men and women who play FPS games, gender discrimination while playing and how this video game genre can provide insight into the relationships between younger men and women living in the United States.  A literature review of both general and FPS gaming was used, as well as an online survey of nine people who play FPS games.  As FPS games have not been studied in much detail, there is a need for more research on this genre of game, in addition to how it works in conjunction with language and gender.  An ethnography of FPS gamers would prove especially beneficial to further studies of this subject.

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April 15, 2013 - Posted by | abstract


  1. This is really interesting to me, as it is a topic I have seen discussed on various blogs, especially ones concerned with women in video game culture in general. I have some questions: What is the pool from which your participants are drawn (what are their backgrounds, where are they from, etc)? And do you plan to make reference to any of the popular cultural discussion on this issue, such as materials on blogs like And while you talk in your abstract about gender discrimination generally, are you planning to discuss specific issues such as harassment?

    I certainly agree that it is an area open to future research possibilities!

    Comment by H. Hatch | April 15, 2013 | Reply

  2. Gender and linguistic differences in video games is something worth studying. I am thrilled to see the results, especially because the game is typically a game for males.

    Comment by Hind Ababtain | April 15, 2013 | Reply

  3. This is a really interesting abstract. You probably already know about this, but there’s a woman on youtube (feministfrequency) who discusses feminism, and her new “series” is about tropes and stereotypes of women in videogames. Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it:

    Comment by Katie Korth | April 23, 2013 | Reply

  4. Gender discrimination in FPS game play is an intriguing aspect of your abstract. I would imagine that the online survey of the people who play FPS games is rich in data that could further the conversation. I would be interested in knowing more about your informants and what informs their individual perspectives on gender and language.

    Comment by Darlene Pennington-Johnson | April 28, 2013 | Reply

  5. TOGTFO. j/k but srsly as a female gamer (I cut my teeth on “Rainbow Six” back in the day) I am eternally fascinated by the second class status that women are given within the gaming community. Having played over 10,000 games of Halo 3 multiplayer I think you have found a good topic to research. The attitudes towards women and racial minorities have been so startlingly offensive and the Microsoft’s system of reporting so weak that I long ago gave up on using my headset. When I play COD, Gears of War or other FPS now on Xbox Live, I don’t ever use my mic, just because I hate the reactions I get from (some) members of the live community once they peg my voice as female. However, by cutting my headset, I effectively become ‘invisible’ within the arena, which creates it’s own set of problems. Does it reflect a larger cultural problem? Probably, but to some extent I suspect it’s that there’s a lot of young people in the data, which I suspect presents it’s own socio-linguistic variations to your research, as we all know tweens/teens have their own ‘language,’ oftentimes incomprehensible to outsiders aka old fogies like me ;)

    Comment by Sofía Syntaxx | April 30, 2013 | Reply

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