As video game developers push the boundaries of their medium, there are growing concerns that women gamers will suffer more than men, with some suggesting that the gender gap is even wider than previously thought.
The findings have raised questions about whether women are more likely than men to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as whether it is the case that women are experiencing more severe symptoms than men.
“This is a very large and growing body of research that suggests that women experience higher levels of PTSD than the men,” said Dr Rebecca Liss, from the University of Cambridge, UK, who led the study.
“It’s important that we look at these different types of trauma in a broader way and try to understand why women might experience PTSD and what those differences are.”
The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of data from more than 50 studies on over 30,000 women in gaming and non-gaming settings.
They also looked at the effect of age, gender, race, disability and education on the prevalence of PTSD, including gender-specific and overall PTSD rates.
“We found that women who were younger were more likely [to experience PTSD] than women who are older, women who had more education, and women who used gaming as their main source of communication,” said co-author Dr David Miller.
“There are two important caveats to this,” he said.
“First, it’s not a clear relationship between the amount of time women spent gaming and PTSD, as some of the studies do not differentiate between women who play games and women without games, and thus don’t distinguish between games that they’re playing and games they’re not.”
Second, the results don’t support the notion that women don’t experience PTSD, or that women with higher education experience PTSD.
This suggests that we need to take a more nuanced view of PTSD.
“The more nuanced approach is that we do need to recognise that women do have PTSD, that there is a difference between PTSD and anxiety and that there are other stress-related conditions that are related to anxiety, like social phobia and anxiety disorder.”
A survey of more than 2,000 gamers, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, also suggested that women in the gaming industry are more prone to PTSD, and that they suffer more from symptoms of depression.
“Women are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression compared to men, and they are also more likely not to have a regular social life,” said lead author Dr Sarah Davenport.
The researchers also compared the symptoms of PTSD to those of anxiety disorders in a different age group, with the older group showing a higher prevalence of symptoms of anxiety.
Dr Liss said there is also an increased likelihood of the game itself being linked to post-trauma symptoms.
“Some of the research that’s been done suggests that it’s more likely that people are exposed to traumatic events in their gaming experiences, rather than having trauma as a cause of PTSD,” she said.
There have been concerns that the gaming community is ignoring and discounting post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, but Dr Miller said that is not the case.
“If anything, I think it’s the opposite.
There is an increasing recognition that PTSD is a real condition and is something that is worth addressing,” he explained.”
Our research shows that a lot of the time, people are saying ‘Well, that’s not PTSD, but we need more gaming.'”
So if you have a problem with PTSD, it is a symptom of that and you should be taking it seriously.
“Topics:health,psychosis,health-policy,psychology,sexual-health,community-and-society,mental-health,…,crispin-jones,london-3131,united-kingdom,united_statesMore stories from Northern Ireland