I can’t wrap my mind around gaming culture in 2014. Imagine a world where you’re charged money to play video games with anybody including strangers and though many share fun experiences, you’re always a step away from harassment.
If you play a game online long enough, you will eventually meet somebody who intends to ruin that experience for you. It’s better to avoid them and report them if it gets too far out of hand. However even if you report the user, chances of action happening depend on the severity of the case. Your odds of being harassed increase depending on lack of gaming skills or whether or not you have a vagina. There’s a lot of gray area between what will or may not get you harassed. It’s a lot less common to find a bunch of black gamers harassing insecure homosexuals but it happens in some corner of the internet I’m sure. The prevailing winds will tell you that white male* is at the top of the chain when it comes to not getting harassed. But that is white male* with an asterisk. Which means these White males*(with competent game skills, who isn’t arrogant and does not have an accent) can pretty much move through the gaming space undetected. In fact most of the time male gamers without accents (“without accents” as far as North America is concerned.) probably avoid a lot of trouble. Some argue that I don’t get harassed because the people would assume I’m white. Aside from being racist, that is wrong. It’s because I don’t sound unlike “them”… Whoever “they” are.
Of course I have gotten a bunch of hate online but I am able to shrug it off. Some can’t. Women… For example… have a tough time escaping it. Yes, there are a lot of men in the space compared to women but that doesn’t have to be the crazy issue it is.
Yeah, maybe games were never completely popular with girls in the past but they are catching on with the so called “fairer” sex. Didn’t we [men] want girls to play games with us? Didn’t they tease us for doing so? Is this hatred of women some sort of bitter resentment as a result of us spending our teen years in pubescent angst subjected to female ridicule as we SMAAASHED foes in Earthbound? Now, the men have the balance of power and we’ve become bitter and resentful over the fact they never wanted to play games with us. Now that they want in on our boys club, we shun them! And why not? It is our right! We bought into games at the ground level and do not need stupid poser imposters, AM I RIGHT!
We [the mean spirited gamers] are bullying women in the same way many gamers have been bullied. We taunt in the same way we were probably taunted and threaten the same way we were threatened. Maybe we do it out of some sick and twisted sense of justice. Now that we swing the sword of justice around these parts, we get to call the shots! But… But… thinking that way is stupid. All the bully gamers are doing is paying hate forwards.
Gamers used to be playful in the way they antagonized each other. Sure there were always fanboys (AND GIRLS) that took everything a step too far but we always laughed at them. The console people called the PC people “The master race” and giggled harder and harder the more they adopted the name as if the nazi implications were (and still are) lost on them. It was fun! Most PC gamers have a console kicking around and a lot of console gamers have one or two PC games they adore. On the surface there always appeared to be a “console war” kicking off every generation but beneath the “fog of war” was gamers playing games. Often gamers enjoy the experience but sometimes we do not.
It was bad enough when gamers would snap and cannibalize their own in the online space but now they’ve repeatedly begun to channel that energy at the people who create games. Naturally, the most vulgar and ugliest instances of rage were directed at women such as Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian. Brianna made a game some people reacted negatively to so naturally she deserves to have her life taken. Anita decided to ask gamers to think more critically about the images they see with regards to women and her reward was constant harassment and death threats.
Gamers are among the first to cling to the idea that they have a right to say whatever they want to whoever they want and yet want to strip others of that freedom once a point of view differs from the hive mind. This attitude needs to stop because it is no longer an innocent argument on the playground. People are now afraid for their lives.
What seems to be worse is the lack of enforcement. People get swatted constantly still, women are still harassed constantly and unless PSN and Xbox Live received overwhelming reports, those hateful users still operate the same way they always do. The hammer of discipline so rarely gets dropped. Twitter rarely steps in to ban accounts that harass users unless the stench is too awful to bare. Hate filled gamers in the space seem to operate without any repercussion for their actions. In both the PSN & Xbox Live Terms of Service, they both require the end user to conduct themselves in a dignified manner. The TOSes do not require you to use clean language or refrain from trash talk, only that you, and I paraphrase, “Don’t be a dick.” It is pretty much common sense. But these TOS seem to just be suggestions on how to use the service but not a requirement. Act as bad as you want, you’re probably not going to get banned.
So… What can be done? Developers and publishers will put out the games they want to put out and gamers get to react like gluttonous kings and queens demanding a better product or they will have you beheaded as is their divine right by God! This behavior will never be curbed. It is a billion dollar industry that thrives on this energy.
I’ll explain it like this. When you go to a comedy club, you’ll notice they do not immediately throw out the drunken heckler. Why? That fool is buying drinks at the bar, he’s tipping the waitress and he’s buying wings for his table. As long as he’s not charging the stage or destroying property, he can do whatever he wants because he’s putting money into the club. These deranged gamers are given the same pass for the exact same reason. The dudes that harass sweet Anita Sarkeesian are probably the guys who bought the Super-duper-limited-mambo-tango-foxtrot-Edition and pre-ordered every bit of DLC including the Day 1 expansion pack the Seasons Pass does not cover.
As long as the developers and publishers keep catering to the assholes and not even give them a slap on the wrist when they act up, this will never stop. We need to police ourselves, Game Nation. We need something more than a petition decreeing people are opposed to harassment. We need Thor with a Ban Hammer that gets swung wildly. Any user who gets his or her PSN/XBL tag banned probably deserved it. It is rare to have a tag banned in the first place so chances are something vile or rule breaking happened. In addition that user will simply make another account anyways after they complain about their gamerscore or trophy count being reset. As long as developers, publishers and the people in charge of running PSN and XBL online services are scared of gamers, you could have a million petitions and a billion industry woman openly slapped on camera and not one thing will change. The bottom line is very sad. Nobody actually cares that much about these women getting harassed. So get back in the studio and make me a game, bitch! — Yeah, that didn’t taste very good even when writing it down.
The Jaded Gamer