It’s simply a fact that in the WoW realm in which I was playing, there were many female players who were generally known to be female, and who didn’t have a problem chatting or playing in pick-up groups. All the downvotes and gifs in the world won’t make that less a fact. It’s also a fact that I didn’t get all that much in the way of sex-related whispers despite extensive play on female avatars. (And my main avatar was pretty, honest!)
I’m sure there are differences between then and now, not least the fact that realms were isolated and movement between them was not that easy, as well as cultural differences between the US and Europe and between now and a decade ago. And in the game format that was the subject of this experiment, one would expect much less in the way of social cohesion anyway compared to a MMORPG.
Nevertheless, the apparent complete silence of female players seems worthy of attention. I have to wonder how many of the comments were something like “Gosh, I didn’t know girls played this game”. And if they weren’t, how does it fit with the findings? Are there many fewer female players in-game at any time than is thought? Sure, test your hypothesis against the data. But if you’re going to the trouble of gathering data, why not look at the stories it is telling, not just the answers to the specific question you chose to ask?
It also makes me wonder again why everyone seemingly wants to play games with voice communication, at least until vocoders are perfect. Seems like it’s just asking to break down the barriers between the real and virtual worlds.