In May, Valve changed their policy for ranked matchmaking games, making it so that you had to link a phone number to your Dota 2 account. The idea is to prevent bots from making a heap of accounts, getting them to a certain matchmaking rank (MMR), and then selling them. And I guess to prevent smurfing. Which is a problem for my experiment, as I wanted to compare how I was treated on my smurf where I would use voice chat, and my regular account, where I would not (and thus hide my gender).
Fortunately, stingy me found that you can get a SIM from Aldi for $5, that lasts an entire year, so now I have a real fake phone number to give to spammers and people I don’t care about.
You can order these online, and they don’t even charge a shipping cost. Mine took a few days to arrive. You do need a form of ID though (driver’s license, passport).
Now I’m all set to begin my experiment. I have played enough games (133) to unlock ranked matchmaking (which now requires a level 50 experience trophy). Before I begin, I do want to set out some guidelines, as I want to work out what it is I’m measuring so that I can be consistent throughout the entire experiment. I also want to set out some rules, and I also plan to record every game I play and upload to YouTube, so that other people can check my data if they really want to.
I had originally intended to compare my real account (~3.9k MMR) to my smurf account, which I had planned to tank to below 2k MMR. The idea behind this was that if I was playing well below my actual skill level, any complains about me being unskilled would more likely be because of my gender, rather than because I played badly. Unfortunately, according to Open Dota, it estimates my smurf account’s MMR to be 3752. That’s a looooooooooong drop. Voltzy offered his account (~900 MMR), but I didn’t want to ruin his reputation. Though I find it funny how most of my records are on Shadow Fiend from all the practice I’ve had. Oh, I just realised those records are all from a stupid game we played against a team that looked to be all bots, and I went 35-0. Doesn’t really count. :(
Anyway, as some people have pointed out, there are other flaws with that plan: it could just be that people at that skill level are unable to recognise that I’m playing well (e.g. being a low level due to roaming), or it could be that people at that level are just more toxic in general, so they aren’t flaming me just because of my gender, but because they’re angry people. So my new plan is to compare how I’m treated across my two accounts, which are now roughly the same MMR.
- there are no female playable characters
- armour for female characters is unrealistic
- people complain about having a girl on their team – comments like “gg we got a girl”, etc.
- they are expected to play badly
- they get hit on while playing
- if they do get hit on, and reject the other person, then they get abused (“you’re probably fat and ugly anyway”)
- they are expected to play the healer / support role
- they get comments like “What are you doing outside the kitchen?”
- they get asked for pics / nudes
- they get hateful private messages from their opponents for playing well and winning (this one I don’t understand, but I’ve seen enough screenshots to believe it exists)
- they get called attention whores
- they end up muting / reporting a lot of people
What I’m going to measure:
- how many friend requests I get
- how many commendations I get
- how many reports I get
- how many reports I make (or would I would report if I had run out of reports)
- how many of my four teammates would I be willing to play with again
- how many complaints I get about my play (this one is a bit hard to measure, as it will be tough to tell the difference between genuine feedback and a complaint. I’m going to roughly categorise a comment that suggests I do something differently as feedback, and a comment that just criticises my play, we a complaint. It will get a lot of false positives, but at least it should be consistent across both accounts as long as I keep the classification the same. Or maybe I’ll break down the comments into different types)
- how many complaints about me being a girl
- how many times I get called an attention whore
- how many times I am asked for a picture of myself
- how many times I am hit on (this one is also a bit subjective, and I’m unsure about how to measure it. I’m thinking I might type out a transcript of the chat from every game, and have a group of 3 people look at it and vote on whether I was hit on that game or not
One thing that will be tough to rule out is what the effect of having voice chat will have on my play. Dota 2 is a game that requires a lot of team co-ordination, and it’s much easier to do that via voice chat than text.
I have never muted anyone in a game, because the game requires too much communication, and muting people just results in even worse play, so I’m not going to measure how many people I’ve muted.
I’m also going to make a rule that I’m not going to add anyone back as a friend. For the smurf account, it’s mostly because I’ll probably dump this account once the experiment is done, but also because I want to be able to keep playing solo ranked. It also makes it easier to keep track of who has added me. I already have some friends for that account anyway, so it won’t look too suspicious seeing an account with no friends. For my real account, it’s because I don’t really like adding people I don’t know (or know through someone else).
Roles and Heroes
- offlane support
- safelane support
- safelane carry
The reason why I didn’t want to do it at first is because I feel like perhaps I am not “girly” enough. But then I realised that this forced girliness would be in contrast with my desire not to cross the “gamer gurl” threshold. I am a girl / woman, so by definition, I am girly enough.