Firstly, let it be known that there was a scientific study where subjects were asked to play Halo 3. We’re not entirely sure where our invite went either, but the findings cement the fact that men who "troll" are more than just cowards behind keyboards. They’re actual losers.
Apparently, the game makes for an ideal proxy for examining behaviour in the real world, thanks to the anonymity and lack of accountability within the game: the players are likely to encounter each other briefly, but never cross paths again and the sex ratio is strongly in favour of men, making it historically comparable to the workforce gender balance.
The study, published in the journal Plos One, tested the parameters of male verbal abuse against each other when they lost in a multiplayer match. Despite ‘your mum’ jokes and overzealous ‘LEEROY JENKINS’ exclamations staying firmly within play, once the game was over the men were gracious in their loss to one another. The study put it as ‘submissive’.
Add a woman into the mix and the reactions are considerably different. The researchers found that men became verbally abusive to female players who beat them.
It’s supposedly down to evolutionary insecurity. The study authors wrote:
"As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status, the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female's performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.
"We suggest that low-status males increase female-directed hostility to minimize the loss of status as a consequence of hierarchical reconfiguration resulting from the entrance of a woman into the competitive arena."
Conversely, successful male gamers were more likely to be positive and complimentary toward their female counterparts.
Our advice is resolute: Don’t be petty, Master Chief.