This article is dedicated to the trolls, the assholes and the griefers of multiplayer games. To those who call me a bitch no matter if I just headshot them or if I’m having a bad round. I’ve listened to your bullshit for years, all the way through Quake III, CS 1.6, Call of Duty, LoL and now CS:GO. And no, it doesn’t seem to get any better.
Competitive online gaming is, in all respects, a sport. It takes practice. It’s stressful. It’s depressing. You can’t win on your own and need to rely on others. Everybody’s got a temper and it sometimes gets out of control.
That part I get. What I don’t understand is why, as soon as you miraculously figure out that I am a girl, everything I do is wrong. You suddenly feel this urge to express your disagreement with sexist slurs or detailed threats of rape.
If somebody were to talk to me like that in RL, they’d soon be looking for their teeth on the floor. In online games, I can mute or report them. Muting them means that I’ll miss out on information about the enemy or team strategy. I’ve got no idea what reporting does because the games don’t have any kind of status update for my tickets. Honestly, I don’t think community managers watch a 40-minute match every time some guy gets reported.
So, what else can I do? There’s always the possibility to feed the troll. After listening or reading your abuse for a while, I might just answer. First politely, asking you to stop. Then, more aggressively, describing how my shotgun might be a good fit for your rectum. This will go on for a while, until my own team decides to side with you and kick me for defending myself.
“Oh, Nikira…”, I hear you say, “why don’t you just hide the fact that you’re a girl?”. Well, it’s not that I want special treatment or free goodies from people. I just want the online community to realize that yes, girls actually game. And that they might just kick your ass. Nothing special about that. Besides, hiding your gender due to abuse doesn’t solve the issue. It just sweeps it under the rug. So I’m just going to keep my feminine nick name and avatar. I’m going to keep voicing the position of the enemy, so my team can win the round.
IMHO, the lack of respect for female gamers isn’t just due to the anonymity of the internet. It’s also deeply rooted in social issues, which grow exponentially worse in cyberspace.
The depicition of women as lightly-clad, girly girls with high-pitched voices and sexy pain moans is common, especially with MMORPGs. In military shooters, women are virtually non-existent. Kids see these stereotypes over and over again. They might get enforced by family members. Then they go online and react to females the way they’re used to, without any kind of reprecaussions by the community or the admins. They might grow up and change their mind. Or they might become mysogynistic assholes.
To be fair, the depiction of men in games isn’t realistic either. How many guys you know have a six-pack and run around with a 300kg sword? Interestingly, as long as they act and sound like a white caucasian male, they’re fine. Except for the occasional “omg, noob, gtfo, no-life fat guy”. Correct me if you’ve had different experiences.
So, how do we solve this? There’s no straight-forward solution, but I’d like to propose three points that might help:
1. When witnessing abuse, have the decency to step in. Just saying something or writing helps. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll have the victim know that they’re not alone.
2. This one goes out to the devs. Implement feedback for sent tickets. If I report somebody, I want to know whether that had any consequences.
3. Also for the devs. Yes, you’re manufacturing interactive dreams. But unless you’re making Striptease Simulator 2014, please just get us some clothes and decent lines.
[EDIT] Extra Credits does a good job at describing what flaming does to the gaming community a whole.