By David Futrelle
If you ever wonder why online gaming culture is such a complete shitshow, it’s not because it’s dominated by angry teenagers who think it’s fun to call other players “f*ggots” and possibly even send SWAT teams to their houses. These people could easily be banned, No, the real problem is that so many adult gamers either don’t give a shit about the rampant harassment or think it’s actually pretty cool.
Consider, for example, the reaction of Reddit’s KotakuInAction to a report from the Anti-Defamation League suggesting that the overwhelming majority of online game players faced harassment, much of it severe and prolonged abuse that went beyond name calling to violent threats, stalking and even doxing.
You might have expected that even in the KotakuInAction subreddit — which still identifies itself as “the main hub for GamerGate on Reddit” — there would be some small number of commenters who would find this at least a teensy bit disturbing. But when I looked in on a thread devoted to the topic today, there were 56 comments up and not a single one of them suggested that all this harassment might be, you know, a bad thing. In other words, according to my completely unscientific survey, 100 percent of them don’t give a shit.
Instead, some commenters minimized and misrepresented the study’s results; others mocked the victims of harassment; still others more or less reveled in the toxic culture portrayed. A few posted neutral comments and jokes. But no one stood up to take issue with the culture of harassment.
The ADL’s findings are genuinely distressing:
Seventy-four percent of adults who play online multiplayer games in the US experience some form of harassment while playing games online. Sixty-five percent of players experience some form of severe harassment, including physical threats, stalking, and sustained harassment. Alarmingly, nearly a third of online multiplayer gamers (29%) have been doxed.
Much of this harassment seems to have been motivated by some form of bigotry — from misogyny to racism.
Fifty-three percent of online multiplayer gamers who experience harassment believe they were targeted because of their race/ethnicity, religion, ability, gender or sexual orientation. Thirty-eight percent of women and 35 percent of LGBTQ+ players reported harassment on the basis of their gender and sexual orientation, respectively. Approximately a quarter to a third of players who are black or African American (31%), Hispanic/Latinx (24%) and Asian-American (23%) experienced harassment because of their race or ethnicity in an online multiplayer game. Online multiplayer gamers were also targeted because of their religion: 19 percent of Jews and Muslims also reported being harassed.3
So how did KiA commenters respond?
By dismissing those complaining of harassment as wimps:
They are privileged coddled children in adult bodies who need to spend extended time in the wild without help or support.
By telling victims to suck it up:
Be adult. Get called f*ggot by online stranger.
Thats being an adult.
By suggesting that getting harassed was actually a badge of honor:
You’re not online gaming right if you’re not getting called a f*ggot.
By suggesting that the whole point of online gaming is to make others miserable:
If the person I’m playing against online is having fun, I’m not having fun.
By encouraging those who get harassed to harass back:
Get called f*ggot by online stranger.
Call him the same.
By dismissing harassment as little more than meaningless “name calling.”
I don’t even think they know what harassment is. Calling someone a name and not making a continuous campaign of it is not harassment. It’s just being rude. Now what some of bluechecks do to Trump is harassment.
By literally declaring that “boys will be boys.”
its not harassment, its called smack talk and its just what guys do to each other to stop our egos getting out of control.
Or “kids will be kids.”
74% of adults get harassed by 12 year olds who like to smack-talk because that shit’s funny when you’re 12.
This is kids being kids. If anything it’s a parenting problem, not a society problem.
The game industry could take steps to significantly reduce the amount of harassment in online gaming. But they won’t, not so long as there is such a loud and vociferous pro-harassment lobby out there, on Reddit and elsewhere.
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