In today’s world of smartphones and ultra-fast computers, every individual can access video games through their respected devices. It has become a hobby for people of all ages and also has emerged into a booming business worldwide. Gaming has its roots dating back to the ‘60s when Spacewar!, the world’s first-ever video game, came out for the public. The gaming industry has advanced in an unbelievable way since that time. Women are allegedly like a blue moon in the gaming industry as they are rarely seen playing video games- or has it been perceived that way as everyone believes gaming to be a masculine fad? This stereotype homes in a lot of people’s minds.
In a research survey done in 2020 in the USA, the composition of female gamers was 41%  yet still, people think of gaming as a male’s pass-time. Females face discrimination and gross harassment on a daily basis in the gaming world by various means which range from random messages from people in their game inbox to people outrightly directing disgusting blabber at them through voice chat.
Sexism is the notion that one gender is inferior to the other gender or just of lesser value. Sexism in our society is most commonly applied against the female gender. Because males were supposed to be subjected to far higher selective pressures than females, notably in conflict, struggle for mates, food, and clothing, female inferiority was a natural conclusion of the Darwinian world view. Norms requiring adult males to provide for and protect women and children, on the other hand, safeguarded women from the selection. Females are devalued in the gaming industry because of the games themselves. The games portrayed women as characters who seem only there for the gaze of the male eye because of the hourglass figure and their body parts popping out of the clothes. The games like Call of Duty or Counter-Strike are thought of as masculine or hard-core games because of all the bloodshed and explicit content and it is speculated of females to be gentle and delicate souls and that is why when someone pinpoints a female playing these kinds of games which is rare, the people become vocal and because of the immaturity, they start harassing the person. On the flip side, a lot of women like to play casual games like Candy Crush because they appeal to be more calming to them.
HOW ARE FEMALES HARASSED?
Bitch, whore, cunt, go back to the kitchen and cook you do not belong here are a few of the foul examples of how a woman is tormented by male players who queue with them in an online gaming lobby. One such incident that took place was a girl was playing PUBG on her mobile phone and she solo-queued putting her with an unknown squad in-game. The other squad members were male and the moment they got to know that one of the squad members was a female they started pestering her, passing sexual advances, asking for her social media accounts or phone number to connect with her and if the female never replied to their comments, they start abusing her and call her a “bitch” or a “whore” which they find to be very amusing.
Nowadays, there are female streamers too who are earning their bread and butter by playing video games and according to a study it has been found that sexual harassment with the female in their work increases the probability of them committing suicide.
LAWS DEALING WITH HARASSMENT
- Cyber Stalking- If a person gets a females’ socials through a gaming community and monitors or stalks her and tries to contact her despite her making it clear she’s not interested, the person can be booked under Section 354(D) of the IPC, 1860.
INGREDIENTS OF SECTION 354(D)
- If a man even after the female has shown apparent indifference in him attempts to follow and contact her to cultivate a personal relationship with her or,
- If a man keeps an eye on a female’s cyberspace or any other form of internet communication can be charged under this section.
Proviso: If the man is able to prove the following, then he shall not be charged under this law.
- That the act of stalking was done in order to prevent or detect a criminal act and the man had been entrusted to do such action by the state
- That the act of stalking was done to abide by any instruction imposed by any person under a law
- That the act of stalking was done and had a reason or basis behind its execution.
Whosoever commits the crime of stalking shall be punished for imprisonment which may extend to 3 years and fine on the first conviction and at the second time shall be imprisoned for a term which may extend to 5 years with fine.
Stalking is a cognizable offence and can be tried by any magistrate. On the first time, the person can be bailed, unlike the second time when the offence is non-bailable.
- Criminal Intimidation- If a person is grieving in-game and is giving you death threats or is telling you that he would cause harm to any of your property, then the person shall be punished under section 506 of the IPC, 1860 shall be applied. Criminal intimidation is identified under section 503 of the same code. If someone is threatening you in-game who is anonymous to you then the person shall be prosecuted under section 507 of the IPC,1860.
INGREDIENTS OF SECTION 503 and 506
- If a person threatens another person with an injury to his belongings, his reputation or his self or to the reputation, property, or body of a person related to him to do or to abstain from doing something which he might not be legally bound to do shall be committing the act of criminal intimidation.
- The punishment for criminal intimidation shall be fine or imprisonment which may extend to two years or both. In the case where the intimidation is graver, for example, death threats, threats to cause grievous hurt or to hurt the chastity of a woman shall be given the punishment of fine or imprisonment which may extend to a term of seven years or with both
In both cases, the offence shall remain non-cognizable and bailable. The only difference is that in the case of graver criminal intimidation, the matter shall be tried by the magistrate of first-class, and in simple criminal intimidation, any magistrate is competent to hear.
INGREDIENTS OF SECTION 507
If a person threatens someone anonymously or conceals their identity when making threats shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years in addition to the punishment of criminal intimidation of section 506 i.e. 2 years + Punishment of section 506.
- Name-calling- If a person is calling you distasteful names like bitch or slut and harassing you and your character, you have the right to file a complaint about defamation under section 499.
INGREDIENTS OF SECTION 499
Whosoever by speaking or by writing or by signs or by visible representations makes or publishes any allegation which he knows could harm such person’s reputation or he intends to harm the person’s reputation shall be committing the offence of Defamation. Libel is the defamation committed through written documents, for example, publishing defamatory content in the newspaper and Slander is the oral form of defamation, for example, if a person is directing cheap slangs at you in-game and you record the incident, then that shall be known as slander.
Punishment for Defamation is defined under section 500. Defamation is a bailable and a non-cognizable offence and has a punishment of imprisonment which may extend to 2 years or with a fine or both.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT LAW AGAINST HARASSMENT
One more Legal provision that is very important for this issue is Section 509. Section 509 talks about the modesty of the females which could be smeared by the use of words, gestures, or acts intended to insult. This section is a cognizable and a bailable offence and its punishment is fine and also with imprisonment which may extend to 3 years.
It is disheartening to see how even in 2021 there is so much stigma against women playing video games. For this stigma to extinguish, the game developers should take prompt steps by adding strict guidelines against such discriminatory behaviour, promoting gender equality, and punishing people by banning their accounts regularly. There is still a large number of female gamers and streamers in the world who would like to be recognized as equals and not be discredited in their gaming skills just based on an irrelevant concept to gaming- gender.
Author(s) Name: Dhruv Grover (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University)
 J. Clement, ’Distribution of video gamers in the United States from 2006 to 2020, by gender’ (May 5, 2021) https://www.statista.com/statistics/232383/gender-split-of-us-computer-and-video-gamers/ accessed 8 August 2021.
 Bergman, Gerald. “The history of the human female inferiority ideas in evolutionary biology.” Rivista di biologia vol. 95,3 (2002): 379-412.