Now that I’ve got your attention take a journey with me really quick. It’s Friday night, you’ve just got home from a long day of work and all you want to do now is play some online multiplayer in your favorite game. A few moments go by, your heart begins pumping slightly faster than normal, getting ready to trash some other players, and come out victorious. Of course your mic’ed up, just joined a lobby, you say hello to address the lobby, and then it happens. “Oh look ANOTHER N***ER just joined get out of here and go find your father or something”. Or, “Hey a chick just joined, let’s all leave. You know she’ll suck so why bother”. My personal favorite, ” GREAT who invited the “cholo bastard sounding like a grown little taquito? Now we’re gonna lose because he can’t even speak English!”. Now of course these are very mild comments in comparison to the actual dialogue, which I’m sure you can imagine is far worse. In recent light of numerous events occurring throughout all groups of color and non color, gaming has become a new stage for discrimination which is the catalyst to create the various epidemics we all know but don’t acknowledge; racism, sexism, and bullying. Pewpewdie’ s Janet Jackson’s style racial nip slip, wasn’t even a drop in the ocean. These cancers are sucking the fun out of gaming and it needs to stop. But first, it needs to be acknowledged and understood that these aliments exists in order for anything to be resolved.
Whether it’s direct or even indirect racism, online gaming has taken this issue to new heights via a new and medium called streaming. So much so that we now have gamer’s who tap into racial stereotypes for financial gain. For example, if you’ve ever played GTA V you would know how much that fuels the fire of the various forum’s that exist. Real life in a video game with limited consequences is the best way to sum up what the game is about. We have players, usually picking black characters engaging in virtually simulated crime. Now, I personally do like GTA V and I am both Latino and African-American, and always make my character look like me or how I would envision myself. After reading that last sentence you probably thought I contradicted myself. Negative! I can be what I am and be proud of it using whatever medium. However, when other races begin to make the characters purposely African-American or Latino and not who they resemble in real life, wouldn’t that be considered a form of racism? Are they not feeding into the stereotype that has plaque that particular race? You may be thinking “well wait in gaming you can be anyone you want, so your argument isn’t valid”. Not when your streaming to the world, using racial slurs within the stream, screaming through the microphone using “lobby mystonistic remarks” and definitely not for monetary gain. Pewpewdie’s disaster is a perfect example. His views on his channel have skyrocketed ever since word got out he used the “n” word during a live stream out of rage and yet again when he “accidentally” adorned a KKK outfit. People either saw it as funny or were highly upset about it. Yet, they are either still subscribed or they still watch his videos because it’s “not a big deal”. But it is. In GTA V, granted the entire game feeds into sterotypes, built on real life scenarios, and flourishes in racism, users still have the CHOICE of what they want their character to look like and how to conduct themselves appropriately online. Then again, racism is a CHOICE that is taught, without a full detail explanation. However, by spreading the word that it exists within gaming and in the real world, we can reteach what is and is not the right CHOICE for a more enjoyable online gaming experience.
In order to understand sexism, one must be open-minded to the other gender’s perspective. It’s when one claims to be more dominant than the other, belittles the other, or is completely bias to their own gender, sexism infects you. In order to grasp and understand its inner workings I needed various views on how it came about, how a female gamer handles it, and so forth. So I interviewed three female gamers, two of which stream their gameplay, to shine some light on the matter:
“So ladies question one, explain a time where you “raged quit” a game due to a male berating you or in other words being a “douche” to you.
Maria P: “I was playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, I was mic’d up, the lobby heard I was a girl obviously. So then people kept trying to say I was cheating or they were lagging more now because I was ahead of them on the leaderboard. They literally kept targeting just me, solely me, so after dying in my spawn site repeatedly I just quit. I don’t use a mic a lot now for that very reason. It’s super annoying to have to “prove” yourself and that you are not cheating, just better than you.”
Dana H: “When I used to play Halo online I stopped playing because I had a group of guys harassing me about the size of my tits and asking me to text them pictures of my feet. It grossed the HELL out of me!”.
Jande F: “Do you mean like how I get asked about my tits when I stream, am I a real life girl, or if I can send them nudes? Because that stuff happens regularly when I stream. It’s as if the males online have never spoken to a female before ever in real life”.
Question two, Has this experience or any other changed you in any way? If so, how?.”
Dana H: “I stopped using the mic after that incident for a long time. That is until I started playing Grand Theft Auto and people would be suuuuuper weird about me having a female character. It was either them throwing themselves at me (like giving me money or trying to give me rides) or they would tell me I was a pathetic dude so I would eventually get mad at those insults. It was as though I was mic’d up just to get the “shouldn’t you be in the kitchen” bull crap. Who likes to be belittled like that?! So that’s why now I don’t play online games with chat functions anymore. At all. Completely done. Unless its quick chat stuff like RL or HOTS.”
Maria: “Growing in the gaming community, channeling my inner nerd, I grew accustomed to just shrug these behaviors out but being a woman you will always hear someone say something like, “you’re a pussy” or “you fight like a girl” or “oh we raped that”. So it’s like we are supposed to just deal with it. We even get thought of as we only game to seem cute and that we can’t actually game at all. I had someone tell me at a GameStop one time tell me Call of Duty wasn’t meant for me. I should be playing The Sims instead. I walked right out and never shopped there again.”
Jande F: “Of course it would make a female feel crappy being treated with no respect online. Through a microphone no less or through a comment in a live stream. It’s as if just because we have a vagina we are all of a sudden a taboo that’s breaking social norms. Oh look a gamer girl! Just because I’m a female doesn’t mean that I can’t beat you or play just well as you do”.
“Question three, do you feel the need to prove yourselves or stand up against this? If so, how or what would you do? Or if you’re doing something already about it what is it?”
Maria P: “Honestly, I just don’t feed into it anymore and just keep rocking out. I allow my gaming to speak for itself. Also, the more women who become public gamers the better its become, even though they are pressured into being a “sexy gamer”.There’s a double standard at play. You could be a 32 yr old fat-bald guy and no one would care or say anything to ridicule him. But if you’re a female, anything you do gets commented on. From the way you look in a stream to how you play in a game. I also feel like we get tested a lot more like oh what MMO is your favorite or whats the boss’s name on stage five of such and such”.
Dana H: “I feel pressured to play better than a guy with the same gaming experience. So I feel like it makes me push myself harder but that also ruins the experience itself. Once a game goes from being fun to something I HAVE to prove myself in it loses its appeal. So I guess I’m kind of dealing with it by quitting most games when it begins to become that way. There’s also constant accusations of female gamers being deemed “fake gamers” if we don’t prove ourselves. Or that you only like games for to get the attention of males. It’s sickening.”
Jande F: “It depends honestly, sometimes in like yeah I got tits so what get over it and I keep playing. But other times, like when I play Friday the 13th, once they hear that I’m a female the males would immediately hunt me down with the other males. Just because I’m a girl who plays video games and doesn’t belong according to their standards”.
“Last question, if given the ability to eliminate sexism completely from gaming how would you do it?
Maria P: “I don’t think it comes from gaming I think it’s embedded into our culture that we grew up in and the social norms we are fed. Boys read comics and boys play video games. Girls like makeup and dolls. Like nah I like it all. I believe the more we remove gender identifying behaviors I think the less sexism you will eventually see.
Dana H: “You would have to eliminate sexism in the world first. Theres always going to be sexism in gaming. Maybe a step towards it could be more positive representation of females in games. Female armor in MMO’s for example, actually being armor instead of being butt naked fighting high level monsters”.
Jande F: ” We want to be able to escape reality without having to deal with male gamers constantly belittling us. I thought that’s what gaming was for, an escape. Your heaven away from hell. I don’t even get free games or anything like some other male streamers who also are less skilled than me. But yet here we are in a sexist world. It’s ashamed it’s overflowed into gaming but I still won’t let it break me down. I love gaming too much to allow a bunch of males to ruin it for me. Sexism shouldn’t even exist to begin with”.
Deep down everyone loves to gloat, let’s face it. The moment when victory is secured in your favor, a barrage of words engulf the loser from your mouth. Including, but not limited to, insults that belittle the other. This can turn into either one of these three scenarios. One, the loser of the previous match would be filled with so much rage that they leave the lobby to join another. Two, the losing player would channel that negative feedback and use it as a motivator to do better the next match. Or three, the player stops playing the game entirely. For good. Words are one of mankind’s strongest weapons. It can be used for either good or evil. When used negativity in the gaming community it steers gamers away from the game entirely mostly. I can’t count the times I have stopped playing a game in the past due to negative comments about my gameplay. I fed into it and allowed it to control what I liked and disliked about the game. Turning my once love for the game into hatred. Of course it was misdirected, but I didn’t know then what I know now. That is to channel whatever negativity that comes from others into something positive. Whether it’s developing witty comebacks, staying silent while you focus on honing your skills or strategy for the next match, or simply laughing it off. Which ever way you choose, utilize it to defend yourself and not allow a fun gaming experience be ruined forever.
Discrimination at the end of the day, is all around us. Whether the form is physical or digital, it exists. After hearing from the three awesome female gamers, I’ve learned that sexism in the gaming community resembles racism and bullying. They are separate forms of discrimination that are designed to hurt others for so sort of gain. We play video games to leave reality behind, so why bring it in? Spread this article to every gamer who you feel has gone through this. Let them be heard. The more people know it exists the better of a chance we have of curing this disease that’s plaguing our gaming community. Maybe even someday the world. But it all starts with you.