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Gamer Girls: Navigating a Subculture of Gender Inequality

Consumer Culture Theory

ISBN: 978-1-78635-496-9, eISBN: 978-1-78635-495-2

Publication date: 28 November 2016



Video gaming, which remains culturally embedded in masculine ideals, is increasingly becoming a leisure activity for female consumers. Guided by social dominance theory, this paper examines how female gamers navigate the masculine-oriented gaming consumption context.


Eight avid female gamers (ages 20–29) participated in-depth interviews, following a phenomenological approach to better understand their lived experiences with video gaming. Data were analyzed using phenomenological procedures.


Findings reveal an undercurrent of gender-based consumer vulnerability, driven by stereotypical perceptions of “gamer girls” in the masculine-oriented gaming subculture. Further, the findings highlight the multilayered, multidimensional nature of gaming as a vulnerable consumption environment, at individual, marketplace, and cultural levels.

Social implications

The culturally embedded gamer girl stereotype provides a foundation upon which characteristics of consumer vulnerability flourish, including a culture of gender-based consumer harassment, systematic disempowerment in the marketplace, and conflicting actions and attitudes toward future cultural change.


This research suggests female gamers struggle to gain a foothold in gaming due to the socially and culturally constructed masculine dominance of the field. Our research study provides a stepping-stone for future scholars to explore gendered subcultures and begins to address the dynamic interplay of power, gender, technology, and the market.



Harrison, R.L., Drenten, J. and Pendarvis, N. (2016), "Gamer Girls: Navigating a Subculture of Gender Inequality", Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 18), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 47-64.



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