B.C. teen admits to SWATTing female gamers
May 24, 2015 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Tri-City News reports that a seventeen-year-old "has now admitted to a total of 23 offences of extortion, public mischief and criminal harassment." "He had a consistent pattern of trying to connect with the online gamers — many of them fans of the game League of Legends. But when they denied his requests, he shut down their internet access, posted their personal information online, repeatedly called them late at night and contacted the police in their hometown, posing as someone else. "Often, he would tell the police he was holding a family hostage, had napalm bombs or had killed someone in the house."

Ars Technica has dug up online footage of the unnamed youth performing one of his SWATs.
posted by sardonyx (155 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why did it take so long to catch this kid? How many fake 911 calls do you have to make before the cops show up at your door?
posted by Horselover Fat at 10:32 AM on May 24, 2015 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get it. You would think police would care more about a crime where they are among the victims. I hope this kid gets the rehabilitation he needs.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:33 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why did it take so long to catch this kid? How many fake 911 calls do you have to make before the cops show up at your door?

7 proxies and jurisdiction.
posted by Talez at 10:34 AM on May 24, 2015 [21 favorites]


To clarify that footage is I hours HE HIMSELF posted online of him doing this shit.

I haven't even read the rest but that jumped out to me bc I thought it meant footage like by surveillance camera somewhere... Not of him being all "hey I'm l33t look at my mad sw4t skillz". W. T. F. Is wrong with people, both for doing all this shit and also posting videos like he doesn't know it's wrong.

He should get a punishment like Case from Neuromancer where he is biologically unable to jack into games. Like he's only allowed to use a computer for boring things like paying bills.

How do we even handle this shit? What is the equivalent of taking someone's license away for this sort of thing?
posted by sio42 at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2015 [27 favorites]


>the teenager posted an eight-hour video stream of himself making fake bomb and ransom threats to various police stations.

Ah.. so he's the brains of the outfit, then.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2015 [34 favorites]


17?

I'd say jail time.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:37 AM on May 24, 2015 [10 favorites]


sio42, I'll agree that he basically needs to be disconnected from the net as part of his penalty.
posted by sotonohito at 10:39 AM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


You would think police would care more about a crime where they are among the victims.

I honestly wonder how much the police care about false reports. I mean, the individual rank-and-file might gripe about it, but there doesn't seem to be any downside for the department as a whole. They get overtime for standing around, some practice on their recently-acquired toys and another tickmark for next year's budget. The family being held at gunpoint (and the taxpayers) seem like the real victims.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:42 AM on May 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


How do we even handle this shit?

You jail him for a good many years for attempted homicide.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:44 AM on May 24, 2015 [82 favorites]


At least limit his online access to Internet.org.
posted by Nevin at 10:44 AM on May 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


Why did it take so long to catch this kid?

1. The victims of this kind of harassment often have to explain the internet to law enforcement and the FBI*, sometimes repeatedly, and are told "just don't use it" because the harassment is their fault and within their power to stop it and they don't have to work or anything since they're usually women.

*Who only know what the internet is when it suits them.

2. The SWAT units enjoy it.

3. Very strong Somebody Else's Problem Field generators.

And ultimately he probably only got caught because he did it in Canada.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:47 AM on May 24, 2015 [73 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get it. You would think police would care more about a crime where they are among the victims.

The funny thing is, even if the police do care (which I speculate that they would, nobody like the budget being blown out because of a shithead with access to a spoofed caller ID site) the police can't do much because they really don't have the resources or the expertise to nail down the offender's identity.

I suspect the perpetrators are too stupid to figure this out and get more careless with their identities until, like this fine specimen of a moron, they're doing it brazenly on a live fucking stream because they think the cops don't care when in actual fact they're waiting for this little shit to slip up and say on camera "HEY I'M CALLING IN A SWAT TEAM! HERE'S WHO I AM!"
posted by Talez at 10:47 AM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


he basically needs to be disconnected from the net as part of his penalty

Jail has got this covered.
posted by ryanrs at 10:48 AM on May 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


Sadly, in order to call this attempted murder, the legal system would have to admit that SWAT tactics are a threat to public safety, and that won't happen any time soon.
posted by idiopath at 10:50 AM on May 24, 2015 [99 favorites]


Yeah, nothing is going to happen to him. He'll be fine. One of his victims had to drop out of college because of his harassment, but only the victims are going to suffer any lasting damage. He'll get some sort of gentle caress on the wrist, and then he'll go on to have a lucrative tech-related career during which he'll amuse the other guys with funny stories about his teenage days SWATing bitches who thought they were better than him. He will win. The women who thought they had a right to turn him down will lose. That's how it works.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:52 AM on May 24, 2015 [90 favorites]


The Reply All podcast has a good episode on SWATing. It includes excellent interviews with a police officer and a victim. It explicitly calls out Microsoft Skype being part of the problem, that it's too easy to spoof caller ID in a 911 call. I doubt that's the only attack avenue, but it sure sounds like an easy one.

The SWAT units absolutely do not "enjoy it". (Or if you have a citation where they do, please post it.) Every article I've read about SWATing includes comments from police saying how worried they are one of these is going to go wrong and they'll end up killing someone. Also part of SWATing is hoping the cops show up on camera, making them the butt of the joke. Don't know a cop who would much care for that idea.
posted by Nelson at 10:53 AM on May 24, 2015 [14 favorites]


I know it shouldn't surprise me but somehow it does: that law enforcement can so predictably be used as a weapon.

This kind of thing is perhaps the clearest example of "terrorism" that I can imagine, though of course no one will use that term here.

I guess if there's any good news it's that the volume of crimes attributed to one individual suggests that maybe the dangerous hate group at the core of g****g*** may not be as large as they are capable of appearing.
posted by EL-O-ESS at 10:54 AM on May 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


He'll get a gentle caress on the wrist because this is Canada. Our judges hate to mete out tough punishments. It's downright embarrassing most of the time.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:55 AM on May 24, 2015


In the Minnesota case, the parents of the young victim told Coquitlam RCMP that the release of their online personal details resulted in people across the U.S. trying to open bank accounts in their names. It destroyed their credit rating.

The fact their credit rating could be destroyed, makes me want the credit bureaus to be charged equally in harassment and defamation.

The victims of this kind of harassment often have to explain the internet to law enforcement and the FBI*, sometimes repeatedly, and are told "just don't use it" because the harassment is their fault and within their power to stop it and they don't have to work or anything since they're usually women.

Yeah, I wish women would riot in the streets raging against how the System destroys their lives through apathy and blame, but I don't think I will get my wish.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 10:55 AM on May 24, 2015 [10 favorites]


Wait, he posted the live stream of him swatting people AFTER pleading guilty to making bomb threats against Disneyland? So he had already been caught doing this shit and just kept at it?
posted by ryanrs at 11:00 AM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


it's almost like he's secure in the knowledge that there is seemingly zero interest in protecting the women who are victims of this sort of action...
posted by nadawi at 11:02 AM on May 24, 2015 [61 favorites]


There are a number of cop forums out there to explore, I'm not going to go fetch a specific example since I just ate.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:04 AM on May 24, 2015


"I think maybe he should stay at least another six, another few months, just to make really sure if he’s really being truthful the way he says sorry."

"I don’t think this has scared him enough. I get that he was upset, but I don’t think it’s still really phased him enough."


That's his mom saying he needs more time in jail.
(source radio interview)
posted by ryanrs at 11:10 AM on May 24, 2015 [37 favorites]


The combination of individual pathology with fragile public services (911 spoofing) and standards of care (how the heck is it so easy to get valuable personal details from third parties) is super horrifying to me and drives a desire for anonymity (which unfortunately requires a whole lot of skill).
posted by Matt Oneiros at 11:11 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


ArbitraryAndCapricious: He'll get some sort of gentle caress on the wrist, and then he'll go on to have a lucrative tech-related career during which he'll amuse the other guys with funny stories about his teenage days SWATing bitches who thought they were better than him. He will win. The women who thought they had a right to turn him down will lose. That's how it works.

Is it, though? Have there been any documented cases of former SWATers going on to lucrative tech careers?
posted by bluecore at 11:13 AM on May 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


The only bright spot in this horrible story is that the Newport teen got ahead of him. Then again, I'm looking at the fact that a teen had been made to realize that she would be part of a series of attacks for rejecting a guy as a bright spot. Jesus wept
posted by biggreenplant at 11:14 AM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nail the fuck to the wall and as many of his mates possible too.
posted by Artw at 11:14 AM on May 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'd also be curious to know if other SWATers later went on to lucrative tech jobs with no criminal penalties. Here's hoping the media spotlight and the loads of evidence this idiot himself provided will have an influence on his sentencing.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:18 AM on May 24, 2015


I wonder what the cost of a SWAT raid is? Basically I assume it's the total cost of operating that unit for that period of time, plus administrative writeup costs, fuel, etc. So if a bad SWAT call ends up costing the unit half a day, then basically the costs part of the penalty should be at least 1/730 of the total budget for the unit including salaries, benefits, and share of the total operating costs of the station where they're based. Sounds nice and expensive even before damages and penalty.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:20 AM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


well there are certainly stories of people who have horrifically harassed women becoming a poster boy for free speech, especially as it relates to tech. not sure how lucrative it is, but i'd bet he's not starving. hell, we even had sizable groups here arguing that he was just an ironic white supremacist sexist.
posted by nadawi at 11:20 AM on May 24, 2015 [28 favorites]


Well true poetic justice would be posting his numbers and ID information and inviting Russian mobsters to steal his identity.

And then making him clean disgusting public toilets for a year.

THEN jail.
posted by emjaybee at 11:32 AM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


all the Internet surveillance by the NSA and FBI and others, yet terrorists like this can stream their terror for years.
posted by humanfont at 11:33 AM on May 24, 2015 [20 favorites]


If we can charge mountain climbers for the cost of their rescue, we can certainly charge people for the cost of malicious 911 calls.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:33 AM on May 24, 2015 [31 favorites]


He should be handed the bill covering costs, so that when he gets outta jail he can spend the rest of his life with his wages garnished.
posted by parki at 11:36 AM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


In other news notorious troll Chuck C Johnson just got kicked off of Twitter, hopefully permanently.
posted by Artw at 11:37 AM on May 24, 2015 [27 favorites]


drives a desire for anonymity (which unfortunately requires a whole lot of skill).

And being forced into anonymity harms you in other ways - good luck having a career, for example.

Is it, though? Have there been any documented cases of former SWATers going on to lucrative tech careers?

Not as straight-up sociopathic as SWATing, but Mitnick, John Draper and Steve Gold spring to mind as people who have traded notoriety for security careers.
posted by Leon at 11:43 AM on May 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Is it, though? Have there been any documented cases of former SWATers going on to lucrative tech careers?

There's a routine path of individuals who abuse trust and system loopholes going on to success in the tech field. For example, Marc Zuckerberg used the initial versions of Facebook to socially engineer passwords.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is Textbook Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, and while I don't know exactly how that tort is covered in Canada, this kid should be sued until his future selves are having to pay it off.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:46 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


In the States, the last person to get caught doing this kind of shit got the book thrown at him. The same should happen here. What a nasty little piece of garbage this guy is.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:47 AM on May 24, 2015


Oddly, our city decided to prosecute a malicious 911 spoofer. He chose to have the public defender represent him, essentially making it city/county vs state. This was declared "unworkable." It evaporated. I think the requirement for making a case is FBI jurisdiction.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 11:47 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oddly, our city decided to prosecute a malicious 911 spoofer. He chose to have the public defender represent him, essentially making it city/county vs state. This was declared "unworkable." It evaporated.

Wait... what?
posted by Etrigan at 11:55 AM on May 24, 2015 [21 favorites]


Well...I guess they should have liens on his lifetime earnings to pay for the costs of all the swats and for monetary compensation for all the victims.
posted by asra at 11:56 AM on May 24, 2015


I'm not going to lie. I will talk IMMENSE trash while gaming, but it stops there. Once it gets non-digital, I am DONE.
posted by Samizdata at 11:56 AM on May 24, 2015


Oddly, our city decided to prosecute a malicious 911 spoofer. He chose to have the public defender represent him, essentially making it city/county vs state. This was declared "unworkable." It evaporated.

Wait... what?


Agreed - what the hell?
posted by Navelgazer at 11:58 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait... what?

I'm guessing the city proscetutors have a smaller budget than the state public defenders office? Maybe?
posted by pwnguin at 11:59 AM on May 24, 2015


pwnguin: "Wait... what?

I'm guessing the city proscetutors have a smaller budget than the state public defenders office? Maybe?
"

I'm calling "citation needed"!
posted by Samizdata at 12:01 PM on May 24, 2015 [14 favorites]


This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy against spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content.

Not sure how it qualifies under that, but at least he won't be making internet money from it anymore.
posted by quinndexter at 12:02 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I didn't want to post this with the main links so as not to derail the thread with a "what about the (American) menz? detour, but I found this interesting: SWAT against anti-SWAT legislator.
posted by sardonyx at 12:11 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jesus, these are games, people. They're supposed to be fun, not create real world assholery and danger.
posted by jonmc at 12:14 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


comments from police saying how worried they are one of these is going to go wrong and they'll end up killing someone

If only whether or not they killed people was under their control.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:17 PM on May 24, 2015 [44 favorites]


Did I miss something or is there no mention of the kid's parents? I'd sure as hell go see what my kid was doing if he was spending all that time in the basement.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:20 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


George_Spiggott: I wonder what the cost of a SWAT raid is?

Austin, Texas police estimate their SWAT response costs slightly over $1K an hour.

California has a law in place that requires people who provoke SWAT responses to fake emergencies to reimburse departments up to $10,000. The lawmaker who originally sponsored the bill was a victim of SWATting.

Police officers in Cincinnati compete to be members of the SWAT team because the overtime pays so well. [Paywall.]
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 12:21 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


after his time in prison should come a 5 year probation, during which he is forbidden to have or to use a computer

by the time he gets done with that, his skills will be way out of date - good luck finding a tech career
posted by pyramid termite at 12:25 PM on May 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


I call bullshit on having to explain the internet to cops; at least in Canada. We not only have special units for it but a lot of the force grew up with the net. The vast majority of people under 30 with full time jobs are going to be accessing the net at least a few times a week. Probably under 40 for that matter. I know quite a few people older than me who don't but no one younger.
posted by Mitheral at 12:25 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jesus, these are games, people. They're supposed to be fun, not create real world assholery and danger.

Tell that the the guy who stalked me through Ingress. He uses 3rd party software to track individual players, and would even comment on actions I was taking TWO STATES AWAY. He physically followed me, reported on my whereabouts to other people when I wasn't even playing the damned game, and generally made me feel like I was in danger.

The cops told me to stop playing. How dare I play games while in possession of the XX set! Niantic did sweet and fuck-all. "You can change your name or change your faction!" Uh...no. Howzabout you disable the stalker's account instead?
posted by MissySedai at 12:27 PM on May 24, 2015 [102 favorites]


> I call bullshit on having to explain the internet to cops; at least in Canada.

Then their other options include "We don't take internet threats seriously, especially if made against women." That is not a good option.
posted by rtha at 12:31 PM on May 24, 2015 [21 favorites]


SWAT teams are super-lucrative for the individual officers since it's more pay and overtime. No wonder so many warrants are served through SWAT now.

That raids can be used as harassment and/or a weapon is just a pleasant side-effect for some people.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:32 PM on May 24, 2015


warrants [...] served through SWAT

What now? Dude's so dangerous you have to go in like an SAS squad, but you expect him to turn up to court?
posted by Leon at 12:35 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy against spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content.

Not sure how it qualifies under that, but at least he won't be making internet money from it anymore.
posted by quinndexter at 12:02 PM on May 24


I just checked and the excerpt link on Ars still appears to work. It's the full link that's down.
posted by sardonyx at 12:38 PM on May 24, 2015


MissySedai - I agree with you, throw his ass in jail. I'm just amazed that fucking games are causing this level of asssholery. And that law enforcemnt seems incompetent at combatting it.
posted by jonmc at 12:41 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


What interests me, is just how like foreign policy manipulation, this is. Just as unreal and just more dangerous on the grand scale. The kid is making mini war. Presumably he learned this gaming.
posted by Oyéah at 12:48 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm just amazed that fucking games are causing this level of asssholery.
I don't think that games are causing the assholery. It may be that some assholes are attracted to games, or it may just be that some game-playing assholes are exploiting the asymmetry between their own tech skills and those of most people in law enforcement.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:51 PM on May 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm just amazed that fucking games are causing this level of asssholery.

The games aren't the cause. The games are just the conduit. People who harass others will use whatever means available to them.

And that law enforcemnt seems incompetent at combatting it.

In my experience, it's not incompetence. It's indifference, and it's far more pronounced indifference when it's a woman doing the reporting. I've had my identity stolen twice, and both times my financial institutions required me to file a police report. Both times, I was told "It's your own fault for using the internet."
posted by MissySedai at 12:52 PM on May 24, 2015 [30 favorites]


Fair enough. It was more a comment of...astoundedness, I guess. The last videogame I played was SuperMario Bros, so I admit to being out of touch with current gamer culture. Forgive my ignorance.
posted by jonmc at 12:54 PM on May 24, 2015


Jesus, these are games, people. They're supposed to be fun, not create real world assholery and danger.

It's actually about ethics.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:55 PM on May 24, 2015 [26 favorites]


I'm just amazed that fucking games are causing this level of asssholery.

I think saying the games are causing it is like saying the internet is causing it - it sounds like the game featured mostly as a social/chat platform - he went after women who turned down his friend requests. It sounds to me like issues with rejection and power and self-esteem.
posted by anonymisc at 12:55 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think saying the games are causing it is like saying the internet is causing it

I didn't really mean to imply that. I'm lousy with my words today.
posted by jonmc at 1:00 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Games definitely don't cause the assholery, but tourney playing seems to be a magnet for some of the biggest assholes on the planet. Like if I'm on my usual gaming haunt, and some new user is being a misogynistic shitposter with serious impulse control and a penchant for ironic racism, then I see their LoL stats in the signature I'm like "Oh, well, of course." [NOT-LEAGUEIST]
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:00 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm just amazed that fucking games are causing this level of asssholery.

Given that a number of these games are "Run around with increasingly powerful weaponry and blow away almost everything you see" I am completely not surprised that this is Yet Another Gamer Asshole Phenomenon, because Video Gaming is basically built to be asshole bait.

And, personally, I think SWATting should be, at the very least, criminal assault, and if anyone is actually killed, actual murder.
posted by eriko at 1:01 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Previously on Metafilter: Alleged swatting prankster “Famed God” arrested in Las Vegas
posted by andoatnp at 1:16 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, so that article - it doesn't say anything about how this guy was targeting women, or anything about how this guy's crimes relate to the ongoing problem of women being harassed online. You only know that his victims were women because they're individually referred to as "she" and "her."

What a cowardly reporting choice.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:27 PM on May 24, 2015 [30 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted. Please don't do the "I wish violence on these guys" type of comments here; thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:28 PM on May 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


The only machine this jackass should be allowed to operate for the next 15-20 years is one that makes license plates.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:32 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, League of Legends is way more about competition than most games, even most online games. So you get a lot of aggressive bullshit, and it tends to attract people who are for whatever reason driven to "win" on the Internet, which as you can imagine includes a lot of unpleasant people.

Interestingly, the game itself isn't particularly macho or violent. It's a cartoony fantasy aesthetic without any blood. It's just that skill is the only thing that determines who wins, and the game consists only of head-to-head matches. There's not much fun about it if you don't really enjoy beating your opponents.
posted by vogon_poet at 1:32 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


after his time in prison should come a 5 year probation, during which he is forbidden to have or to use a computer

Poetic, but increasingly unworkable these days.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:36 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was thinking of getting into streaming at one point, and live in Vancouver (Well, Burnaby, right beside Coquitlam). I told a coworker of mine this at one point, and he warned me not to do it yet as someone was swatting local streamers. He said it wasn't too bad, as the police had figured out what was going on, and just took down your IP address and technical details instead of the full SWAT team approach and were really nice about it. I wonder if this is the same guy and it just took a year to build up a case against him?
posted by Canageek at 1:43 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I hope they catch more of these idiots. It's dangerous and part of a nasty pattern of anti-woman harassment, and deserves to be treated with a great deal of seriousness by the legal system.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:55 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


In the world of professional sports, there is near-total sex segregation (the only non-segregated example I can think of is mixed doubles in tennis).

In gaming though, you've got women competing alongside men without height and strength differences getting in the way. Brings up that eternal pop culture sneer: "I can't believe you just got shown up by a girl."

If sports started eliminating the sex barrier, we'd start being more and more exposed to men and women competing against each other. The sight of a woman "showing up" a man would become more commonplace. Sure, there are the aforementioned height and strength differences, but only the tallest and strongest make it to the top tiers of professional sports in any case.

Gives me new appreciation for all of the reality TV competitions out there that don't enforce any kind of sex segregation.
posted by mantecol at 2:01 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


A lot of swatters apparently abuse relay services designed for the hearing-impaired, which have special protections regarding location and identity that normal phone calls do not have.

But that can't be the only reason this tact is so simple, rather I think it's that Information Retrieval does not make mistakes.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:22 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Equestrian sports (racing, show jumping, dressage, 3-day eventing) are fully integrated. I think sailing doesn't limit team members by gender. Auto racing allows women (although admittedly, there aren't enough of them competing at the highest levels.) If you look hard enough, there are sports out there that put men and women on an equal footing.
posted by sardonyx at 2:22 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I call bullshit on having to explain the internet to cops; at least in Canada.

I'm also skeptical about police internet awareness. My impression is that with the possible exception of people with specialized security or IT roles, cops are usually gamers or guys with a very narrow hardware/programming interest. And it's rare that somebody from one of those groups makes it into a public communications job, so we're certainly left with the perception that police services are ignorant about the Internet.
posted by sneebler at 2:24 PM on May 24, 2015


At least limit his online access to Internet.org.

Hm, well there's a bit of an idea in there maybe. Recreate internet.org but not with the goal of giving people free stuff, but of allowing only the bare minimum that could reasonbly be expected to be part of functional life these days. What would be in it? Some electronic bill-paying applicaton, maps, email - what else is considered necessary?

Then of course, it would be run as a lucrative contract by the government, where they charge usurious rates just because they can, like prison phones.
posted by ctmf at 2:25 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


In the future, everyone will have a chip in their wrist, and if you don't behave, the state/phone company/Anonymous will take away your internet privileges. Do you have to spend the whole ****n day in the basement? Why don't you go outside and get some fresh air?
posted by sneebler at 2:28 PM on May 24, 2015


The last videogame I played was SuperMario Bros, so I admit to being out of touch with current gamer culture. Forgive my ignorance.

"Gamer culture" at my house includes cheeseburgers, beer, and Mario Kart. You'd fit right in!
posted by MissySedai at 2:31 PM on May 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


Maybe I'm missing something obvious - I do skim when I read - but why exactly do so many guy gamers hate women?
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 2:33 PM on May 24, 2015


mmm, cheeseburgers. Actually, my latest fast-food obsession is this place. Soaks up beer nicely.
posted by jonmc at 2:34 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm missing something obvious - I do skim when I read - but why exactly do so many guy gamers hate women?

Excessive saturation in a super shitty online culture centered on an artform that's pretty backwards most of the time and no sense of perspective that would come from exposure to the outside world.
posted by Artw at 2:36 PM on May 24, 2015 [35 favorites]


Oh, and a crappy unearned persecution complex that makes them go full on MRA if any of that is pointed out.

I love me some games, but "gamers" are the worst.
posted by Artw at 2:37 PM on May 24, 2015 [34 favorites]


Because they feel women shouldn't be able to play in the fort where they made no girls allowed sign and because they also feel women should feel flattered by their attention, as per MissySedai's story above. If the women don't feel flattered, they go overboard on the rejection, like this guy did.


That's why they hate women. Same reason as any non gamer dick head. Just different types ways of making your life hell because you said no, not interested or because you got a promotion or because you were alive and female.

The usual..
posted by sio42 at 2:42 PM on May 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sexism.
posted by maxsparber at 2:52 PM on May 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


Whether or not there are SWATers getting lucrative tech careers, there are certainly people who make a career out of online harassment. There are quite a few people in GamerGate making a living off of gaters, and Eron Gjoni, the asshole who started the whole thing, has raked in quite a few for legal fees (or "legal fees"), all while flagrantly ignoring his restraining order (in addition to rallying the hate mobs of GamerGate against Zoe Quinn in the first place, he was physically abusive).
posted by NoraReed at 2:57 PM on May 24, 2015 [16 favorites]


I'm also skeptical about police internet awareness. My impression is that with the possible exception of people with specialized security or IT roles, cops are usually gamers or guys with a very narrow hardware/programming interest.

Well, the reported experiences of women like Briana Wu and Zoe Quinn and Kathy Sierra does not jibe with the "all cops are gamers" theory, do you think either they or the cops are lying?

Most law enforcement officers are on the move 12+ hours a day, I don't they they're playing LoL on their in-car laptops, or programming.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:03 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just because a cop plays a lot of Call of Duty doesn't mean he knows how the internet works, though I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them are pretending they don't understand the internet because they don't want to deal with it. Or they're doing "what can ya do, not my jurisdiction" and shrugging. It's basically the internet version of "we wouldn't want to ~interfere~ with a ~domestic matter~"; it's another excuse to ignore women's problems with the sexist culture that they are invested in perpetuating
posted by NoraReed at 3:08 PM on May 24, 2015 [30 favorites]


Then of course, it would be run as a lucrative contract by the government, where they charge usurious rates just because they can, like prison phones.

Plus all that sweet, sweet data collection from a captive audience with no rights. The more I think about this the more it seems like someone's probably already working on the idea. Internet house-arrest as a service.
posted by ctmf at 3:10 PM on May 24, 2015


Internet house-arrest as a service.

Charlie Stross had an interesting post a few days ago about identifying places where you could charge rent from regulations. Combine IHAaaS with restraining orders or ASBOs, and you may have hit on a goldmine.
posted by Leon at 3:16 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe I'm missing something obvious - I do skim when I read - but why exactly do so many guy gamers hate women?

I don't think it's that so many guy gamers hate women, but rather that so many guys in general hate women. It comes out a lot more on the internet (not just in games, but also in any kind of internet writing or public internet forum, which we've had many Metafilter posts about in the past) because people will say things under conditions of anonymity that they wouldn't necessarily say in public and in person. Basically, I think that a lot of guys are a lot more misogynistic not just in a systemic way but in a really angry personal way than most of us would like to think.
posted by IAmUnaware at 3:27 PM on May 24, 2015 [47 favorites]


Maybe I'm missing something obvious - I do skim when I read - but why exactly do so many guy gamers hate women?

It's not just simple hate. It's also wanting to use women. The article uses the euphemism "trying to connect with" and provides an example of a woman "declining a Twitter request" (i dont know what they mean - "follow me or else"?) but the guy pleaded guilty to, amongst other things, extortion. So I am assuming he was demanding access to these women (follow/convo/ friend me or else) and escalating from there (online sex presumably).
Clearly, from the boasting YouTube videos this guy isn't an isolated case -he's got a whole enthusiastic audience of dudes cheering him on.
posted by gingerest at 3:35 PM on May 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


Just to add to that: the systemic way and the angry personal way are intimately related, and the systemic way really enables the personal way to happen, and allows it to be socially tolerated.
posted by NoraReed at 3:36 PM on May 24, 2015 [21 favorites]


Seems like most of the gamers mentioned in both articles were victims of one jerk who was also a gamer.
posted by squinty at 3:44 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Because there are still a lot of people who don't know about it, I'll just drop a link to MeFightClub here, our coming-up-on-8-year-old gaming MeFi-satellite site, where the foundational principles include a no-tolerance policy in our community or the games we play for sexism, racism, homo- or transphobia or any other of the other awfulness so common in much of the gaming world. All are welcome.

I would argue that there is a large and growing segment of the videogaming world that is unwilling to put up with the sort of things people are talking about here, but words are just words. I started MFC to do something concrete. Come join us!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:50 PM on May 24, 2015 [57 favorites]


Seems like most of the gamers mentioned in both articles were victims of one jerk who was also a gamer.

Can you expand on this? As it is, I have no idea what the point of your comment is.
posted by dialetheia at 4:19 PM on May 24, 2015


For those who are interested, there is a big social context of abuse and harassment of women in technology and female gamers, online and offline, and some interesting perspectives have been collated at Ravishly. Our own NoraReed (see above) has a site about GamerGate in particular that provides some insight into the wider negative effects of the activities of that group of online harassers.
posted by gingerest at 4:24 PM on May 24, 2015 [16 favorites]


Seems like most of the gamers mentioned in both articles were victims of one jerk who was also a gamer.

Can you expand on this? As it is, I have no idea what the point of your comment is.


Just guessing that the point is that letting these SWATting assholes define who "gamers" is is a bad idea, considering that all of their victims, who are much more numerous, are gamers as well.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:25 PM on May 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


In that case, maybe the gamers who don't SWAT and harass people could push back against the people doing this stuff within their culture. The e.g. Gamergaters are the ones who claimed the "gamer" name for themselves - it's not like those of us objecting to this behavior are the ones who came up with it. Otherwise it's basically just #notallgamers.
posted by dialetheia at 4:30 PM on May 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Navelgazer said what I meant better than I did.
posted by squinty at 4:41 PM on May 24, 2015


Playing No True Scotsman with the word "gamer" manages to conveniently ignore the deep roots that misogyny and sexism have in the game industry and the gaming community. It's been toxic since long before GamerGate, but that's managed to really shine a spotlight on some of the worse aspects of it. I think the bad thing about that spotlight, though, is the same problem that we often have with hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church-- there ends up being a focus on that group, and not the endemic problems that allowed it to exist, and we can all say we're "against" that group and pat ourselves on the bat for having the correct political opinions without working to actually fix the deeper cultural issues. This dude doesn't seem to be a gater, but the same toxicity that created GG created him and the same police bullshit (whether that bullshit is negligence, ignorance, hostility, incompetence, misogyny, or some combination of the lot) made him one of a very, very small number of his ilk who actually get caught.

This is all intersectional, of course. The same cultural attitudes and issues of law enforcement not taking this kind of thing seriously that makes this particular guy a rare example of someone who actually managed to get caught are the same attitudes and issues that enable enormous quantities of violence against women and violence committed out of male entitlement and misogynistic rage, and so connect to people like Elliot Rodger. It's all of a piece. But the gaming community needs to take a long, hard, unfun look at itself IN PARTICULAR, because even if there's a layer of this shit covering most of society and culture, gaming is a roiling cesspit.
posted by NoraReed at 4:44 PM on May 24, 2015 [54 favorites]


Nothing says that "gamers" and "gamer culture" are cultural garbage and should be fed into a shredder more than it's own defense of itself.
posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


I couldn't agree more, NoraReed. An interesting aspect of Gamergate, though, is that it largely rose up to fight against Anita Sarkeesian, because of her work to expose and change the broader intersectional misogyny endemic to the industry. Wheels within wheels.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:02 PM on May 24, 2015


Gamergate was pretty much there already, them gathering under one flag just have a name to the thing.
posted by Artw at 5:03 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, sort of. It had been there for a long time before it got named #GamerGate and Sarkeesian was their main target, but GG itself started as an attempt to ruin Zoe Quinn's life in particular.
posted by NoraReed at 5:11 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Most law enforcement officers are on the move 12+ hours a day, I don't they they're playing LoL on their in-car laptops, or programming.

Yes, I could have been clearer. I meant that some cops are gamers or hobbyists, not that all are, and that we shouldn't expect them to be more savvy about the internet than other groups of people with similar backgrounds, no matter how they present themselves in the media.
posted by sneebler at 5:37 PM on May 24, 2015


Yeah, I got a bazillion rape threats, not related to gaming, just online, and the cops were super-nice but they were like, "Yeah, that happens to women a lot, either get offline or ignore it." I got literal threats of, "Vote how we want or suffer the consequences" which is straight-up threatening of elected officials but the cops read it all as generic threatening of women and weren't too fussed. Seriously, really nice, really sympathetic, didn't think it was a big deal.

Far less offensive things said to a male elected official in the same jurisdiction resulted in a SWAT raid, because it's obviously threatening to say things about a male sexual official's sex life. But raping women? No big.

I had a meeting with the mayor two days before his warrant was signed. He said if the rape threats bothered me, I didn't belong in politics. Then he cried at the next city council meeting because the hurt his wife and kids' feelings with less-graphic threats.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:57 PM on May 24, 2015 [102 favorites]


I don't understand the whole "threats via the internet don't count" thing. Like if women printed out their threats, did the whole serial killer each letter from a different magazine thing and pasted them word for word onto paper, then mailed them to themselves, would that make the cops take them seriously? "Well yes of course now that there's a stamp on it we have to take swift and decisive action!"
posted by supercrayon at 6:25 PM on May 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


It will be interesting to see how the prosecution and sentencing goes. I don't believe that Canada has particularly lenient sentencing laws. It's an imperfect system. RCMP (who are contracted to do policing in Coquitlam) are stretched thin as it is.

I work with tech sector companies in British Columbia, and it seems pretty unlikely to me that such anti-social behaviour would be accepted on the job. It's a small community. Not utopia, but definitely not willing to overlook transgressive behaviour like this.

It's definitely not perfect in Canada or British Columbia, but ideally the prominence of this case, plus pressure from law enforcement peers south of the border, will motivate the Crown to take this case seriously. But even in the best of times, prosecuting a "slam dunk" is anything but easy.
posted by Nevin at 6:27 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Tell that the the guy who stalked me through Ingress.

Oh yeah. I played that for a while and it was pretty cool until I realised "wow it would be super-easy to stalk the shit outta somebody through this". And it's sad that I though that, because it's a neat and fun concept.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:33 PM on May 24, 2015


[One comment deleted; in a thread like this, please don't make your point using charged analogies. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:37 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah. I played that for a while and it was pretty cool until I realised "wow it would be super-easy to stalk the shit outta somebody through this". And it's sad that I though that, because it's a neat and fun concept.

I decided that my fake name G+ account was enough distance to take the risk. I'm pretty sure anyone who cares to know, knows the general shape of my commute, but are tracking a pseudonym I've been using since 1991. Mind you, I had to weigh the risks and make that call, because it's not all that hard to hop from the online persona to my real life data, if a net savvy person really wanted to.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:51 PM on May 24, 2015


[Couple of comments deleted. Sorry quadbonus, at this point the conversation has probably moved on from that point; not worth going back for a fight over whether one comment is phrased narrowly enough.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:13 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I will talk IMMENSE trash while gaming,

This may be deleted as a derail - obvs, this is in a different league to what's happened in the OP - but seriously dude, why do you do this????

It is so unpleasant. So unpleasant and horrible. I'm sure you wouldn't talk that way to someone you didn't know if you were in a room or sharing public transport with them? If you spoke that way in any refereed sports match at literally any level, you would immediately be sent off the court/field and possible banned from the season/venue/league.

I truly don't understand it - this is harassment and bullying. The fact it's only verbal doesn't lessen the impact; the fact it's a game or its culturally sanctioned etc is equally irrelevant. You consciously decide to pursue a course of action you know could hurt someone, for no real gain.

I dunno. I literally never play multiplayer games (except mario kart on the wii back in the day, where you weren't allowed to talk to anyone. I love you, nintendo) - this is basically the prime reason.

Apologies in advance if your idea of a immense trash is "I'm gonna beat you so badly, you'll rise like a well-made souffle."
posted by smoke at 9:49 PM on May 24, 2015 [64 favorites]


I dunno. I literally never play multiplayer games (except mario kart on the wii back in the day, where you weren't allowed to talk to anyone. I love you, nintendo) - this is basically the prime reason.

It's also why I (and many other MefightClub members) play multiplayer games only and exclusively with other MFC members (and why we're always keen to have more new, similarly-minded people to play with).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:44 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Speaking of immense trash, the funniest killing blow I've heard recounted is -- "I just had an Irish girl tell me, that I play so bad, that she would have had sex with me, so just she could do an abortion of my child." (particularly funny because the gender is reversed, like some kind of metacommentary)

I really dislike trash talk as well. The anonymity factor is a big part of it, particularly in team games: a big part of the frustration is people blaming the matchmaking system. It's easy for the bullying to gain momentum when your team realises they are losing, and they look to blame the weakest player on the team for their loss. There is some irrefutable logic in that: if they had a better player instead, they would have won that game! If that player hadn't made some "obvious" misplay, they wouldn't have lost. Losing feels bad (in any game) and any chance to deflect the blame - and shame - of losing - onto a more "deserving", weaker, player, is welcomed.

I had a really good experience in Guild War 1 where you were forced to actively find and play in teams of 8. There was no anonymous matchmaking. Everything was about cultivating networks and friendship groups - well, now, just like real life, isn't it. You couldn't piss anyone else off too much, because it harmed your reputation and your ability to play in teams, so even if someone made you angry, you just wisely didn't mention it. I saw remarkably little toxicity in that game, both in "public" pick up groups and in established teams, even at higher levels (we were ranked 35th globally, and were versing the top 10 teams). The worst I potentially saw was a hilarious german team leader, who had really bad English, and he spent the entire game yelling at his team in an exact parody of the Onyxia raid (YOU!!! 50 DKP MINUS!!!) and while the experience was somewhat unpleasant, it wasn't targeted at any particular player and I couldn't exactly complain since I agreed to play a specific position for him, and after the game (which we did quite well) I thanked him and never played with him again.

So I guess games nowadays give you a choice - you can solo queue and potentially get toxic players in your games, or you could exclusively play with friends.
posted by xdvesper at 10:57 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


In games as in life, I don't see the point of random multiplayer, it always seems to be full of shit.
posted by smidgen at 1:01 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


The cops told me to stop playing. How dare I play games while in possession of the XX set! Niantic did sweet and fuck-all. "You can change your name or change your faction!" Uh...no. Howzabout you disable the stalker's account instead?

I genuinely don't understand how or why it works this way. I just don't. It's been this way for at least 15 years.

Someone is harassing people, especially women? Just avoid them! It turns in to a missing stair thing like instantly. They'd rather make a huge wall of people angry and complaining than disable an account and have to tell one person "no, you don't get a refund" or refund them, or not get their money every month, or whatever.

The weird thing is it even happens on free to play stuff or messageboard/communication services where nothing would be lost by the company banning them except having an angry, whining customer whose on the wrong side of the truth anyways.

Somehow the accused always gets the benefit of the doubt, but telling the person complaining to just avoid them is preferable to doing anything about the harassing asshole.

Why the fuck is this? It's not even a conflict aversion thing because they'd rather deal with the conflict with the people complaining than deal with the asshole.
posted by emptythought at 1:20 AM on May 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's that so many guy gamers hate women, but rather that so many guys in general hate women.

I don't buy this. I haven't ever bought this. There's a lot of nerdy dude/gamer-specific concepts and language aimed at hating women specifically.

My response to this every time it comes up is "fake geek girls". Yea there's "fake punks" or "graph s***s" or whatever else in various other subcultures, but the lore of the fake geek girl and attention aggro-er runs deep.

If so many guys hate women, they're unusually concentrated in nerdy gamer communities.
posted by emptythought at 1:33 AM on May 25, 2015 [4 favorites]




Oh, and a crappy unearned persecution complex that makes them go full on MRA if any of that is pointed out.
I'm not going to say it was unearned. For decades, anyone playing games past puberty was a "dweeb" and a "loser" and the media portrayal of them were always around the "dorky looking kid dressed like a 60s NASA engineer" or "dangerous, drug taking, raver-punk anarchist", and people like Joe Libermann (and later Jack Thompson) spent quite some time trying to pin the blame of societies ills on videogames. Columbine was a side-effect of playing Doom, the 9-11 hijackers trained with Flight Simulator, The Sims is a voyeuristic playground, everytime a teen robs a car it was GTA influences, etc.
These days, gaming has gone mainstream: there will always be the bizarre portrayals on police procedural shows (like they do with everything), but the general media portrayal of videogames these days is for the most part very neutral. The "war" is over.

... and that's where the problem begins. Siege mentality dies hard. This started with the backlash against early cellphone games, the Nintendo DS and even Facebook started catering massively to a general population (nevermind that classics like Tetris, River Raid, or even Sim City would be "casual trash" these/those days) instead of just fluffy mascots or roided-up space marines (and sports, although I also got a lot of crap for liking sports games because they were "dumb jock shit"). Then it evolved to where the already prevalent misogyny and racism found room, including the incredibly misguided "ethics in videogame journalism". For 30 years the videogame press has been trading away favourable coverage for exclusive previews, pre-release builds, invitations to trade shows, ad space, review hardware, advance copies, and the list goes on, but apparently it only got dead serious when a woman allegedly* traded sexual favours for coverage for a free, indie game. You really have got to be shitting me.
A bunch of assholes that think that having a protagonist that isn't a mirror of their own imagined selves is ruining gaming are undoing all kind of goodwill I have built towards gaming in 20 years, all in two years (and I'm going to stop the derail here)



* only conceding "allegedly" to make a point, because I'm not buying the story
posted by lmfsilva at 2:06 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


This may be deleted as a derail - obvs, this is in a different league to what's happened in the OP - but seriously dude, why do you do this????

I will use this opportunity to tell people about someone who griefs only for justice, and that is my sister. She plays lots of multiplayer games online. Whenever she's playing with someone who decides to yell out sexist, racist, or homophobic crap she frags the shit out of them (even if they're on her team) then camps them killing them repeatedly while spamming this sound clip over and over again until they ragequit. She is my hero.
posted by supercrayon at 3:21 AM on May 25, 2015 [58 favorites]


Actually if we could just confine the culture wars to video games that would help a lot.

Idea: a video game with the explicit purpose of encouraging people on different sides of contentious issues to murder each other for points. Worst idea or best idea you decide: kickstarter link
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:20 AM on May 25, 2015


Siege mentality dies hard.

I dunno. In my years of gaming, pretty much no one I knew ever took the gamer stereotypes seriously (some even played up on them, for comedy purposes, e.g., "reporting in from mom's basement") and they certainly didn't take the media alarmism seriously. Anyone who did was regarded as paranoid, self-important, and possibly a bit unhinged.

The rampant misogyny in gaming isn't so easy to distill to a single cause. The misogyny in the games themselves probably has a lot to do with it, though. Immerse yourself for hours and hours in a game where attacking and objectifying women is rewarded and it's likely to fuck with your worldview a bit. Then there's the "there are no girls on the internet" meme, which is so ubiquitous that it's even one of the Rules of the Internet (amazingly, the Know Your Meme page on this meme breaks it down pretty well), coming right before "Tits or GTFO". And if you happen to be a tourney or MMORPG player, where your hatred and fear of women is reinforced by your bros, you're probably going to head even deeper down the rabbit hole. And that's off the top of my head.

As there are multiple causes, I don't think there's one simple solution. But it would go a very, very long way if police would start taking this shit seriously. The lack of accountability is part of what lets this keep happening, and while not the only way to fight this, police taking online harrassment seriously is what needs to happen first and foremost, to my mind.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:45 AM on May 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


[Comment removed, let's not start from scratch with an argument about misogyny as a biological imperative or whatever.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:25 AM on May 25, 2015 [21 favorites]


As there are multiple causes, I don't think there's one simple solution.

There are, and the problematic behaviour seems to be self-reinforcing as well. Stavros has mentioned MeFightClub a couple of times in this thread, which I find to be a wonderful haven from everything that's bad about online gaming culture.

I inhabit a couple of the more obscure corners there, and here's what my experience has been:

We've occasionally had folks join in who found it from places other than MetaFilter, and some of them started with the trash talking and offensive remarks that are so common elsewhere. It hasn't taken anything stronger than "Yeah... we don't really do that here" to get it to stop. And the reaction has been universally along the lines of "Oh, okay. Cool." Then generally followed later by some comment about how much nicer it is to play without that crap.

My take-away from that is I think at least some of the guys who behave like jerks (to put it mildly) are doing so to fit in. They don't speak out against it because if they do, they just become a target. As soon as they end up playing with a group where the majority have no use for that nonsense, they're pretty happy to be rid of it.

What I don't know is how to expand that effect from a tiny, close-knit group of people who enjoy behaving like adults (sometimes while shooting each other in the face) to the more mainstream gaming culture. Maybe the trick is not do to that, but instead keep creating more islands of relative sanity and let the mainstream culture wither and die as all the reasonable people go elsewhere.
posted by FishBike at 8:30 AM on May 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


smoke: " I will talk IMMENSE trash while gaming,

This may be deleted as a derail - obvs, this is in a different league to what's happened in the OP - but seriously dude, why do you do this????

It is so unpleasant. So unpleasant and horrible. I'm sure you wouldn't talk that way to someone you didn't know if you were in a room or sharing public transport with them? If you spoke that way in any refereed sports match at literally any level, you would immediately be sent off the court/field and possible banned from the season/venue/league.

I truly don't understand it - this is harassment and bullying. The fact it's only verbal doesn't lessen the impact; the fact it's a game or its culturally sanctioned etc is equally irrelevant. You consciously decide to pursue a course of action you know could hurt someone, for no real gain.

I dunno. I literally never play multiplayer games (except mario kart on the wii back in the day, where you weren't allowed to talk to anyone. I love you, nintendo) - this is basically the prime reason.

Apologies in advance if your idea of a immense trash is "I'm gonna beat you so badly, you'll rise like a well-made souffle."
"

By and large, it is that sort of thing, although it tends to be topical to the game. The Left4Dead series - "You are my lunch. Mmmmm, delicious, delicious tears..." and the occasional live action Tick reference - "[name], you are now my bitch!" (in my best Patrick Warburton imitation). Things like that. I chalk that up to basic gender-neutral competitiveness. I see trash talk as trying to throw someone off their game. And, BTW, when the game is over, so is the trash talking.
posted by Samizdata at 8:48 AM on May 25, 2015


I think at the lowest level, it's simply Male Privilege, Mostly White. It's what "everyone" (ie the most important, loudest, malest voices) does, and when you get to live a life in which pretty much all your petty sexism goes unremarked-upon and unchallenged, this is just turning it up one or two notches for fun because testosterone and endorphins are making everything louder and bigger.

There are some people who do it in games who wouldn't in real life, but it's still a privilege to be safe to do it and to get to do it for fun and then walk away. And there's always someone listening/participating who doesn't know better, and for whom the game is a major source of social interaction, and is maybe a lot more impressionable, and if treating women that way is a viable means of continued interaction and a way to earn respect among those peers, the eventual end result is Boss Level: trying to get them killed by a SWAT team.

(Also: "bitch" isn't gender-neutral just because you only say it to boys and it's not exempted because it's a (now obscure as hell) joke quote.)
posted by Lyn Never at 9:08 AM on May 25, 2015 [35 favorites]


"[name], you are now my bitch!"

Yeah, if I hear that - I don't care if it's a reference that you think is fucking clever or funny or whatever, I immediately come to the conclusion that the person who uttered it isn't worth my time or my respect, and nope out. I play games for fun, not to hear people hurl gendered terms of abuse at each other (or me).

Trash talking in general is hostile behavior, and I dislike it, and it contributes to a lot of unpleasant behavior that makes gaming less pleasant for women specifically - but this is another level and you should cut it out.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:13 AM on May 25, 2015 [30 favorites]


I've been lurking here, but: even as someone who is happy to reclaim "bitch" for myself and tends to be relaxed about its use, there is no way in hell that calling someone "my bitch" is remotely gender neutral. It is a usage that is sexist as hell unless you are actually referring to a female dog.

I don't care if it's a reference. It was sexist in the original and it is sexist now and it is not cute to sling around.
posted by sciatrix at 9:16 AM on May 25, 2015 [21 favorites]


Quoting myself for the other side of the point I should have made:

but it's still a privilege to be safe to do it and to get to do it for fun and then walk away. And there's always someone listening/participating

It's also a privilege to get to make other people listening feel bad and afraid to speak up and forced to endure that kind of assault if they just want to play a game they otherwise enjoy. This is the life of women writ small.

There's always someone listening who is hurt or offended or discomfited by it. The primary targets. The people who don't use bad language because of family or religious culture or just personal preference, the disabled people listening to your casual ableism, someone who knows how devastated their partner or child or friend would be to know they willingly listen to that garbage, the parent who is worried there's sound bleeding from their headsets (and the parent who doesn't give a fuck whose family gets to hear it whether they wanted to or not). There's always someone there listening who doesn't think it's funny and cool.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:25 AM on May 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


the problem with the idea that the popular version of nerd has created the environment that allowed the misogyny to fester is that for as long as that stereotype has existed, there have been women in the group, fighting for the right to exist - and the youngest casually sexist gameygator i know is 13ish - gaming has been popular his whole life and women have made up give or take a bit half of audience. so no, i don't think that's the driving reason. it seems more like a convenient justification.
posted by nadawi at 9:37 AM on May 25, 2015 [13 favorites]


Also, because it's rather unbelievable, but needs to be said -

I just want to point out that your defense of your trash-talking included an example of you calling someone your bitch in a thread about how gaming culture can be hostile to women.

Trash talking itself causes a lot of problems for women. Put aside questions of gendered socialization, and whether we're equally at home with aggressive behavior in general; we don't know when it's trash for trash's sake or trash because we're women because we get so much fucking trash for being women.

Assuming your best intentions, this is a perfect example of how this stuff is so goddamned normalized within the culture that it passes by unnoticed by those who aren't affected by it.

And, story time: Just a few days ago I was gaming and a friend-of-friends joined the group, and he started to talk about "getting raped," which is of course what you call it when someone dominates you, and what do people do when I say "not cool"? Ignore it, pretty much. Not noticing is sometimes a choice.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:47 AM on May 25, 2015 [37 favorites]


The weird thing is it even happens on free to play stuff or messageboard/communication services where nothing would be lost by the company banning them except having an angry, whining customer whose on the wrong side of the truth anyways.

My understanding/assumption is that it's partly a scale problem - you can't easily automate the banning of users in response to complaints, or otherwise give users an appearance of power over the accounts of people they don't like, because then you're encouraging the genuine complaints to be drowned out by malicious complaints. (if SWATing and false 911 calls is a problem, think how big of a problem false complaints would be if motivated by the power to kill accounts).
So bans need human investigation supported by comprehensive logging tools, and the number of employees needed for that (size of userbase) vs the amount of money available for that... Some companies the numbers work out, some don't.

Basically, like how metafilter pays for moderation and it works, but plenty of forums don't pay for moderation, and from a business perspective that works too - the cost savings cover the loss from users going elsewhere due to the nastier climate.
posted by anonymisc at 10:01 AM on May 25, 2015


I hate trash talk too, it just makes for an unpleasant experience. I play a lot of League of Legends and it has a really awful toxic culture. Not so much specifically stalkery or misogynist, although there's that too, it's mostly people flaming their teammates "u suck uninstall and commit suicide fag" kind of things. (In this context, I don't take "fag" as a personal insult despite my being gay.)

What's interesting about LoL is that Riot Games, the game maker, has recently put a lot of effort into trying to police the community and punish the most toxic people. It's a hard problem, there's some 60 million players. But they recently deployed an automated system that will ban bad actors pretty much immediately after a game. It seems to be based on manual inputs (people clicking "report this jerk" buttons) and some sort of machine learning trained speech classifier on the text logs. But I'm guessing. Anyway it's one of several community management efforts Riot has been taken and it seems to be helping. I have a lot of respect for Jeffrey "RiotLyte" Lin for his work leading this team, he's given a lot of interesting talks and writing.

Trash talk is nothing near as dangerous and terrifying as SWATing. It does seem to be part of a cultural continuum, though. To me it comes down to a lack of empathy.
posted by Nelson at 10:05 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hate trash talk too, it just makes for an unpleasant experience.

Nothing will get me uninterested in playing something faster. A lot of players have griped about it, but I really like that Splatoon isn't going to have voice chat, for exactly this reason.
posted by JHarris at 5:02 PM on May 25, 2015


Kutsuwamushi: "Also, because it's rather unbelievable, but needs to be said -

I just want to point out that your defense of your trash-talking included an example of you calling someone your bitch in a thread about how gaming culture can be hostile to women.

Trash talking itself causes a lot of problems for women. Put aside questions of gendered socialization, and whether we're equally at home with aggressive behavior in general; we don't know when it's trash for trash's sake or trash because we're women because we get so much fucking trash for being women.

Assuming your best intentions, this is a perfect example of how this stuff is so goddamned normalized within the culture that it passes by unnoticed by those who aren't affected by it.

And, story time: Just a few days ago I was gaming and a friend-of-friends joined the group, and he started to talk about "getting raped," which is of course what you call it when someone dominates you, and what do people do when I say "not cool"? Ignore it, pretty much. Not noticing is sometimes a choice.
"

Sorry, I guess I see "bitch" as a gender-neutral epithet denoting submission. And I will stop trash talking if someone honestly calls me on it. Online and in life.
posted by Samizdata at 9:29 PM on May 25, 2015


You mean, if you get honestly called out on it again? Or did this time count?
posted by maxsparber at 9:32 PM on May 25, 2015 [22 favorites]


Sorry, I guess I see "bitch" as a gender-neutral epithet denoting submission.

On the list of words that might be considered gender neutral, "bitch" would not appear. (It can be used in complex and reclaiming ways, but that's not what you described, and even in those contexts it is still not gender neutral.)
posted by Dip Flash at 9:51 PM on May 25, 2015


Sorry, I guess I see "bitch" as a gender-neutral epithet denoting submission.

...

...

...

So, do you see what I said up there about not noticing sometimes being a choice? How in the world do you not notice the sexism of calling someone your bitch to indicate their submission? Or is this some terrible attempt at "ironic" sexism?

I mean, pointing out the way that bitch is used to imply that someone is submissive, dominated, at the beck and call of someone else, weak, and so on - that's something that people do when showing that it's not gender neutral and is used in a sexist way. If you've made that connection between the meanings, you actually consciously use it that way, and still insist it's not sexist ... dude, you are part of the problem with gaming culture.

You may not be actively harassing women, and you may even insist that you never do anything that discriminates against women, but you need to grow up, listen to what people are telling you, and cut it the fuck out with the gendered slurs already.

And I will stop trash talking if someone honestly calls me on it.

You've been called on it, or have you not noticed that either? Right here, in this thread, female gamers are telling you their problems with trash talking in general and your use of gendered slurs more specifically. You've also been given a good explanation of why it's shitty to assume that people are okay with your trash talking just because no one has objected.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:09 PM on May 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


the problem with the idea that the popular version of nerd has created the environment that allowed the misogyny to fester is that for as long as that stereotype has existed, there have been women in the group, fighting for the right to exist - and the youngest casually sexist gameygator i know is 13ish - gaming has been popular his whole life and women have made up give or take a bit half of audience. so no, i don't think that's the driving reason. it seems more like a convenient justification.

Yea, and that entire time there's been men there saying "this space isn't for you".

I don't really understand how what you're saying refutes what i said, that the men in these spaces are misogynistic in levels greater than the background radiation. You don't have to go far to find women(or really, any non-white-male) person who says that they were surprised at the hostility they experienced upon either entering those spaces, or the lack of it upon leaving them for some other subcultures space.

So yea, i don't really get it. These two things can both be simultaneously true. I'm not saying there's lack of women in the space, or that there ever was and that's somehow changing. I'm saying the men that are there are misogynistic in a higher concentration than any other random place despite the fact that it isn't like it's a boys only club, or ever has been.
posted by emptythought at 10:16 PM on May 25, 2015


I'm not going to say it was unearned. For decades, anyone playing games past puberty was a "dweeb" and a "loser" and the media portrayal of them were always around the "dorky looking kid dressed like a 60s NASA engineer" or "dangerous, drug taking, raver-punk anarchist", and people like Joe Libermann (and later Jack Thompson) spent quite some time trying to pin the blame of societies ills on videogames. Columbine was a side-effect of playing Doom, the 9-11 hijackers trained with Flight Simulator, The Sims is a voyeuristic playground, everytime a teen robs a car it was GTA influences, etc.

A lot of gator types have latched on to this, but similar to the whole "you weren't promised flying cars" bit, for anyone under 30 honestly this isn't true.

The doom = columbine thing blew over quickly. The flight simulator thing was fox news crap, as was the GTA thing. It existed on the news, and in the mind of Jack Thompson(who amusingly the gators have now teamed up with).

On the ground, even in the 90s, everyone including the jocks were playing videogames. Maybe not PC games, but everyone had a nintendo or a sega or whatever. It was already mainstream by the time anything you just mentioned had happened. There were bad games that were outrageous like rockstar stuff, yea, but it was already a mainstream activity.

Proto-gator type white dudes who really desperately wanted a legitimate thing to point at and claim oppression latched on to the idea of the taped glasses persecute nerd being beat up for his lunch money, but that was over. That had been over since the days when gaming mostly meant arcades.

A few outrageous games getting airtime on the news doesn't equal general persecution or casting out from society. This and the scott aaronson FPP about an article those types of pathetic weiners latched on to really covers how weak and BS this concept is. We really don't need to repave that road here.
posted by emptythought at 10:26 PM on May 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


Idea: a video game with the explicit purpose of encouraging people on different sides of contentious issues to murder each other for points. Worst idea or best idea you decide: kickstarter link

Idea: A real Mouse Army. kickstarter link
posted by fullerine at 12:21 AM on May 26, 2015


Since he's 17, nothing bad *can* happen to him, beside some jail time. His name will never be public. Mission accomplished for one little prick.
posted by Yowser at 5:15 AM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't really understand how what you're saying refutes what i said

um. did you copy and paste the wrong thing because i wasn't refuting you - i was responding to this :

I'm not going to say it was unearned. For decades, anyone playing games past puberty was a "dweeb" and a "loser" and the media portrayal of them were always

i was saying that's bs as far as an excuse to why they treat women so shitty - because we've be there the whole time and we've been treated shitty the whole time. we were right along side the dudes when everyone was mocking nerds...except we were being further marginalized in the nerd space by dudes who couldn't get over their primary school "ew, yuck, girls!" phase.
posted by nadawi at 8:11 AM on May 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


I will talk IMMENSE trash while gaming

As an admin on some of the most popular Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 servers I can tell you first hand that admins REALLY hate trash talking in almost any form. Some good-natured encouragement is fine. "I'm going to get my revenge Nadawi!" is fine. "You are my lunch. Mmmmm, delicious, delicious tears..." isn't doing you any favors but I wouldn't say anything about it."

Calling other people your "bitch" just makes you look bad. If you need a favor from an admin, I'm not even going to consider it for someone who talks like that.

Trash-talking serves no purpose other than making yourself feel good and others feel bad. Video games are a hobby and, when you play online multi-player games it's a hobby that you're enjoying with a bunch of other people that enjoy the same hobby. It's in your best interest to make sure that everyone keeps on enjoying your hobby or you're not going to have anyone left to enjoy it with.

I've pushed HARD for us to change the policy on our server to make using words like "f*g" right up there with "n***er" and to crack down players that use homophobic or misogynistic language.

The response I get is that they all agree with me that those things are bad and should be stopped but if we crack down on it they're afraid that A.) We'll be spending all of our time dealing with it and B.) We'll ban so many players that the server will empty out (and when your server empties out it's REALLY hard to get it full again). The other admins HAVE agreed to police it a little better and ask people to tone it down if/when they get carried away so there has been some progress.

It is nice to have admin powers myself though so I can nip that stuff in the bud pretty quickly. While our little corner of the gaming world doesn't take a zero-tolerance stand against sexism, bullying, etc. I sure as hell do. It's hard to keep up with the polishing on my ban-hammer since I use it so much but it's satisfying to do so.

The only thing I have to be careful of is that, when the trolls figure out that you're strict about that sort of thing, they'll take any opportunity manipulate me into helping them with false accusations. Much like "SWATing" they just know that if they contact the right person and say the right things, they get to make someone else have a bad day.
posted by VTX at 12:55 PM on May 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


...is there a reason you name checked me in your example? or did you just pull one from the thread?
posted by nadawi at 1:53 PM on May 26, 2015


Just needed a username and yours was the comment above me so it was the first one I saw.
posted by VTX at 1:54 PM on May 26, 2015


aha -thanks.
posted by nadawi at 2:50 PM on May 26, 2015


When I read the words "trash talking" plus "online gaming" alls I can think of is that South Park episode where the boys turn into pimpled, morbidly obese slugs.

Take "trash talking" out of it and I can picture in my mind something joyous and wholesome, much like field lacrosse without the physical exercise.
posted by Nevin at 3:29 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


« Older John Forbes Nash, Jr. (1928-2015)   |   "Welcome to One World Observatory" Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments