2. On Vulgarity, Threats, Prejudice, and Generally Dickish Behavior
This is the part of the article I warned you about. It’s the part where I have to play some twisted and sick version of “show and tell” so that you, the reader, understand exactly the level of putrescence that the world’s unwashed gamer masses are capable of creating. It ain’t pretty. If you often find yourself blushing in the women’s underwear section, or nauseated by the word “poo poo”, I strongly suggest you just skip to the next page and assume that people on the internet spew enough filth that they could easily win Olympic dual medals in hate stupidity. You’ve been warned.
The above suggestions and potential actions were the response to a recent incident of blatant harassment that took place on the reality show Cross Assault. It seems that the Tekken Team coach couldn’t help talk about his team member’s bra size and smell her hair for a solid 13 minutes. It was a rather mild and simultaneously rather aggressive case of sexual harassment in gaming, because it took place not over Xbox Live, but in the real world. But, the problem of online harassment has been one since the birth of the internet. Every person who has played an online game or used an online game forum has likely been exposed to (if not the recipient of) a slew of slurs and verbal assaults that only a prepubescent (read pre paleolithic) mind would find anything other than detestable. The problem is large enough, that gamers worldwide have earned a reputation of being a community of intolerance and bigotry. And, it is with that fact in mind that Portnow suggested such strict measures.
The majority of online gamer rage takes form in loosely combined hate speech targeted at one of three groups: women, ethnic backgrounds, and homosexuals. Sadly, that isn’t all that surprising. However, the levels to which that hate speech and harassment can reach are surprising. We’ve all (unfortunately) come to expect a measure of ignorant blathering when playing online. The competitive nature of gaming, combined with the age group of modern gamers, and the anonymity of online interaction result in a substantial amount of anger. That anger often comes out in blind, hateful bile filled insults about some one’s race, body type, or how many dudes they like to kiss.
It’s bad enough that we expect this. But it’s worse that absolutely disgusting incidents like this one happen, in which a man messaged a girl with about a dozen voicemails over Xbox Live. The mails range from sexual advances, to threats of rape, and threats of physical violence. And to top it off, the incident was started by a racist comment that triggered a smart assed grammar correction. Doesn’t it always start with grammar?
The problem is real, so real in fact that efforts to address the problem indirectly through awareness campaigns and the like are often met with fierce backlash. For instance, Sam Killerman started a website with the sole purpose of taking online pledges to not engage in racist or bigoted trash talk online. The result? His site was hacked, filled with racist slurs, a little goatse action, and his pledges were all wiped. His crime? Um…..not…um….liking bigotry? Incidents like this one are sadly abound. Another shining example is the case of Anita Sarkeesian, whose Kickstarter project to fund her feminist perspective video game review series drew enough misogynistic hate to make a Klu Klux Klan member feel embarrassed.
Honestly, I can’t write any more in this section. If you clicked on half the links provided, you’ve learned that online hate speech is a real problem, that really affects people. I feel a bit ill having researched and watched/read all of those articles/videos. I think most people (not racist pricks) can agree that the presence of such hate is not a desired thing, and that the aforementioned measures, if taken by Microsoft would have the positive effect of at least limiting the amount of pointless aggression that spews forth from such…..unenlightened individuals. So let’s go ahead and slap some duck tape on their mouths. Let’s do whatever it takes to shut them the hell up, right now. Right?
It’s not like we’re limiting free speech…oh…