These things I know to be true:
- Online harassment in video game communities exist.
- Critics of the culture of harassment have received some really, really disturbing threats that have made them fear for their lives, quit the gaming industry, as well as a variety of other actions.
- I don’t know Zoe Quinn and I don’t care about her social life. My only thought about her is “Oh sweet, she made a video game! I wish I had programming skills so I could make a video game!” I also think that about Ken Levine, the guy that made Earthbound, and Naughty Dog, for making The Last of Us.
- I don’t know what #GameGate is, and that is essentially because the information I have read has told me it has to do with everything from corruption in gaming journalism to the harassment of women, to how many pancakes bunny rabbits can balance on their heads until they fall off with adorable ‘plooping’ noises.
- Harassment is not defined by gender; both victims and perpetrators have and continue to be male and female.
- Harassment, and indeed any type of bullying is wrong. Can we all agree that it is wrong? It is wrong.
- The issue of harassment is commonly broken down into an us versus them mentality, which is true for those of us that aren’t douchehats, but problematic because said douche hats probably aren’t reading the criticism essays about their attitudes. They’re too busy being douchehats, you see.
And while it is great that we are having a discussion about how awful the harassment is, whether the conversations are politely structured or are reduced to petty name calling, the fact of the matter is that it really isn’t getting us anywhere. Women are still getting death and rape threats, men are still pointing out that they are misrepresented, and those putrid little bastards that take harassment to an extreme level are still… well, harassing.
None of us, none of us needs that around. Life is tough enough out there in the real world without that sort of scum-sucky attitude infecting our time online. So maybe someone can answer me this…
Why are we letting them get away with it?
We’re spending all this time arguing with each other about this and that when really, like I said before, we all think harassment and bullying are wrong. That, at its most basic level, is a problem we should all be concerned with. Because bullies that think it’s okay to make death and rape threats to women, and men, while online are probably just as comfortable telling that teenage girl to kill herself, or that young man that he’s worthless because of his sexuality. Those people are the same ones that think they’re untouchable, that have no concept of consequences and that, when their victims react and, sadly, often act as these threats suggest, don’t get that they actively contributed to the pain, suffering or even death of another human being.
That shit is messed up, man. So why are we letting them get away with it? Why are we making excuses of ‘that’s just the way it is’ or ‘oh he/she is young and doesn’t know any better’? Nu-uh, I call bullshit. If they are old enough to be online, in an environment like that, then they sure as hell are old enough to be educated about what normal people do and do not do.
Our inaction against these bullies and their harassment, and our focus on each other is exactly what is allowing this sort of attitude to prevail. Wouldn’t our attention and energy be better off dealing with those morons? And no, I’m not suggesting battering them down with vitriol and sarcasm. As much as I enjoy calling them ‘douchehats’, I have to acknowledge that to make a firm difference we need to be adults. As gamers, no matter the gender, we report harassment when we witness it. As moderators we treat every instance of bullying and harassment as if it is the final straw. We show that there are consequences for being a total nob.
Because nothing is going to get through to these people who bully, harass, and troll earnest individuals except real world consequences.
So don’t make excuses for it. Don’t say ‘That’s just the way it is’ or ‘he’s just a kid’ or ‘he doesn’t know what he’s saying’. Make the person know what they are saying. Educate them about their stupidity, and if the trend continues even for a single instance after that, punish them through real world consequences.
I just… it’s so simple. We’re on the same team here, gang. We all want bullying to stop, and when it does, then we can finally have real conversations about gender portrayal and balance and tropes and cliches and who is better, Tifa or Aerith, and why sandbox games are becoming so popular, and hey how about that Bioshock Infinite?
Because I don’t know about you, but I’d love to talk about video games and everything about them, but I’d rather not have some asshat tell me he is going to find and kill me for expressing an opinion.
Also the answer is Tifa, obviously.