While recent events like Gamergate and the abundance of overly sexualized female video game characters would have you believe that the gaming community isn't a good one for women, a recent survey of middle school and high school-aged gamers just might restore your faith a bit.
Author Rosalind Wiseman and a team of colleagues, including gaming expert Ashly Burch, put together a survey to find out what young boys really think of the over-sexualized gaming landscape. Wiseman cited her students' frustrations with the following Kate Upton "Game of War" ad as an impetus for beginning the project:
Reporting for Time, Wiseman and her team came to some surprising conclusions in their research. Most notably, the young boys are actually put off by how women are portrayed in gaming culture. Of boys who self-identify as "gamers," 55% would like to see more female heroes in games and 57% think games shouldn't treat women as sex objects. A broader group of respondents, which included both gamers and non-gamers, answered similarly. In this group, 47% of middle school boys were troubled by women's portrayal as sex objects in video games and 61% of high school boys take issue with it.
“If women are objectified like this it defeats the entire purpose of fighting,” eighth grader and "Mortal Kombat" fan Theo told the researchers. “I would respect the [female] character more for having some dignity.”
Another notable data point disproved another myth: that men won't play video games starring women. 78% of boys surveyed said they'd play a game regardless of the main character's gender.
This is promising news for a culture that often gets a bad rap. It's truly a case where you shouldn't hate the players, but -- at least in the case of that Kate Upton ad -- you wouldn't be too far off hating the games.