OMG a girl
January 28, 2019 11:54 AM   Subscribe

'So people don't seem to believe me when I say I have to listen to a lot of weird shit when I play games because I'm a girl.' A gamer has recorded her interactions with sexists while playing and posted them in a eight part and ongoing series called OMG a girl. Content warning.
posted by adept256 (68 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fat Ugly or Slutty, 2011-2015
posted by nicebookrack at 11:58 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


My wife and I both play video games and both realized long ago that the hobby is dominated by some of the worst people and behavior that humanity has to offer.

Much of what is said is criminal in nature and would be prosecutable as threats of violence in many jurisdictions if said in person. It is my hope that that kind of force will be brought to bear online. Soon.

Also just had an idea: Game and Shame. Record them, post them online, and then create a searchable database of the metadata and gamer tags that parents can use to find the shitty things that their shitty little boys are saying online.
posted by Revvy at 12:08 PM on January 28 [83 favorites]


Countdown to when she's forced off the internet cause of actual death threats? This shit isn't okay, and I want everyone to understand the huge amount of courage it takes to document this stuff publicly. Support these women when you see them speaking out, because it is at a Significant real-world risk to their lives, often.
posted by odinsdream at 12:10 PM on January 28 [84 favorites]


*sighs*
posted by Fizz at 12:17 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


The saddest part was hearing what appears to be a very young child/pre-teen telling her she shouldn't be playing the game. A perfect example of how this kind of toxicity is cultured and taught to young boys/men.

*sighs*
posted by Fizz at 12:20 PM on January 28 [37 favorites]


In my idealized vengeful fantasy world I'm just rich enough to be Rainbow Batman and spend most of my life showing up to harrass the shit out of these abusers. All of them.

I would meet their parents, family and employers with printed and recorded transcripts of the horrible things the say and do to people. They would find their neighborhood plastered with fliers about them. I would follow them to work, to the bar, to the store with a picket sign detailing their shittiness, naming and shaming them on a hurricane of different fronts and angles and hold them accountable for every hateful syllable.

I would give them the gift of The Fear.
posted by loquacious at 12:33 PM on January 28 [50 favorites]


Support these women when you see them speaking out, because it is at a Significant real-world risk to their lives, often.

If you're able to call people out, do so, but also don't put your own life or mental health at risk (and that is something that can and often does happen, people get doxxed for defending other women, lgtbq, poc). That being said, support and believe people when they talk about this kind of online abuse, it happens, it's ugly, and it's why I don't play online games.

I'm glad she's doing this. Fuck these bros.
posted by Fizz at 12:33 PM on January 28 [12 favorites]


My 13 year old nephew has gotten into online gaming through Steam. He friended my (male) spouse and they have played a few games together. He has seen me playing Steam stuff on my computer and wanted to friend me, too. I told him I don't do online games with other people. He was mystified. I am upset by what he must be hearing and worried about what he may be saying himself.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:39 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


The saddest part was hearing what appears to be a very young child/pre-teen telling her she shouldn't be playing the game

the incredibly horrifying things that shrill vicious broken-voiced male children have said to me without a single ounce of shame in gaming voice chat are like. fucking indescribable. i don't think it's an overreaction or exaggeration to say that i'm 100% sure some of them will turn out to be school shooters and/or rapists. i wish to god it was limited to "you shouldn't play this game".
posted by poffin boffin at 12:41 PM on January 28 [67 favorites]


among the garbage bonfire that are the comments on these videos, the internalized sexism is particularly soul crushing

there are heavily upvoted responses from self-identifying women who shame the series creator for provoking others into saying shitty things at her and then follow it up with some dumb shit like WELL IIIIIII'VE NEVER EXPERIENCED THAT THEREFORE IT'S JUST YOU

or some variation of you're bringing this all on yourself, i learned my place, why can't you learn yours

or offering her some absolutely mindless platitude like "don't let negativity get to you" like if you're just positive enough then men won't be shitty to you???

it makes me so sad that these commenters have arrived at the conclusion that being treated this way and having to put up with it is part of what defines being a woman
posted by Snacks at 12:44 PM on January 28 [39 favorites]


I'm fairly sure in 100 years when/if this era is documented, it will become known as the Era of the Brainworms. In 100 years people will react in disbelief when you tell them that exposing kids to social media and open gaming rooms was allowed with little or no supervision.
posted by benzenedream at 12:48 PM on January 28 [8 favorites]


Oh god just looking at the list made me tired and angry and sad. tangsrad?
posted by Scattercat at 12:57 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I made it less than 4 minutes into the first of these before I had to close it. I might have been able to handle a transcript, but listening to those ... voices was too much.

I admire the courage of anyone who loves their hobby enough to put up with that. For myself, I can't imagine playing online alongside people like that, much less being the target of their bile.
posted by ChrisR at 12:58 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]


I listened to a few, but failed to make it more than a few minutes into any of them. It's just too familiar.

I played many MMORPGs through the years, starting from 1998 or 1999. This shit has always been around and I'm so disheartened that it's just getting worse. I usually play healer types because I LOVE the art of healing. Anytime someone would drop the "make me a sandwich" line I'd warn them that if they said any more shit I'd let them die. I'd manage to nip it in the bud half of the time, but only because I was heals. I didn't have any clout like that when I played DPS. As a result, all of my DPS characters had male names. And then voice chat became a big thing and then a requirement for many decent groups.

I really wanted to play Overwatch. I had a blast in the tutorials but once I had to take the step to join a party...I chickened out because I'm a woman AND over-40 AND new at the game to boot. I have enough RL crap to deal with ... I don't have the desire anymore to spend my scant gaming time fighting with boys.
posted by kimberussell at 1:07 PM on January 28 [35 favorites]


In my idealized vengeful fantasy world I'm just rich enough to be Rainbow Batman and spend most of my life showing up to harrass the shit out of these abusers


... that... reminds me of... [NSFW]
posted by jkaczor at 1:10 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


I don't have the desire anymore to spend my scant gaming time fighting with boys

in overwatch specifically you can disable voice chat and all text messaging (and block all friend requests as spamming that is yet another way they enjoy being obnoxious) but obviously the fact that the only available solution to male toxicity in gaming is "don't allow them any way of communicating with you" is like. incredibly fucked up. and the main issue.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:15 PM on January 28 [40 favorites]


I haven't used it, but I know some MeFites spun off a MeFight Club so people can game with others while avoiding the cesspool.
posted by foxfirefey at 1:18 PM on January 28 [12 favorites]


that... reminds me of... [NSFW]

Nah, I'd be way more psychologically terrifying. I don't want to actually wrestle with pigs.

Also with Batman piles of money I could hire a bunch of PIs to do fieldwork for me.

Part of this dumb revenge fantasy involves some kind of rehab opportunity for abusers and bullies but it never really gets that far because that seems even less likely than me being Rainbow Batman.
posted by loquacious at 1:25 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Do modern online games have smallish servers hosted by people, or is it all just some thing you connect to and wait for other players to join? I haven't played online games in close to 20 years, but when I played Team Fortress, it was always on the same server, with the same people. I found them sort of by chance, but that particular server clicked, and I played on it for years. Got to know people, chatted on AIM and IRQ.

I remember sexism being a problem even then, but I don't know what the extent of it was compared to today (I'm a guy, so I heard about stuff second-hand from girls and women in my clan). I remember most of the people being older than me, and gross comments did not fly. Were things more trustworthy when you knew most of the people on your server, or is it just that voice chat made things harder to avoid? Or did I just luck out and find a relative oasis?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:26 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


And then voice chat became a big thing and then a requirement for many decent groups.

This would be mistake number two, definitely.

Do modern online games have smallish servers hosted by people

In general, no. There are a few still like that, but by and large server browsers -- let alone private server hosting with decent mod tools -- have been replaced by opaque matchmaking algorithms.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:29 PM on January 28


I really wanted to play Overwatch. I had a blast in the tutorials but once I had to take the step to join a party...I chickened out because I'm a woman AND over-40 AND new at the game to boot. I have enough RL crap to deal with ... I don't have the desire anymore to spend my scant gaming time fighting with boys.

I've been playing OW almost daily since last spring. I got on mainly because of the advocacy of a lady friend, who is a jaw-dropping monster with Mercy and Junkrat and a whole lot of other characters. She plays PC because she can communicate via typing--because she's a woman and doesn't want to deal with the instant garbage of men being shit.

I play on PS4. People use microphones infrequently, so there's not as much garbage, but it happens. I wind up reporting someone for racist, sexist, or homophobic garbage at least once every week or two, along with anyone who has a Nazi-evocative screen name. And as far as I can tell, Overwatch is one of the better online gaming communities. Blizzard is at least trying. The same can't be said for others.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:56 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


In my experience, any sufficiently large group grows some bad gamers for others to happen upon. My only reliably good experiences in online gaming grew from intentionally growing small squads of gamers around individual games and franchises.

It wasn't by any stretch of the imagination my worst experience in online gaming and gaming community, but by the time I got to MeFightClub it wasn't as welcoming as I'd hoped. Enough politics had taken root there that it wasn't a great fit for me.
posted by kalessin at 2:02 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


That said, and perhaps it's partly how the game is designed but I haven't had a poor experience on Watchdogs 2's online play. It's rare for folks to use headphones in that game in my experience, and griefing is not easy to do there.
posted by kalessin at 2:04 PM on January 28


Grumpybearbride and I were really into CoD: Black Ops back in... 2009? Maybe. And one of the first things we did with every match was mute everyone because OMFG. Homophobic, racist, sexist, all sorts of awful. I can see how communicating verbally with non-awful people would make for a great experience, but those appeared to be in short supply.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:07 PM on January 28


Why do they keep asking for jars of her pee?
Did I miss a meme?
posted by phunniemee at 2:13 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


There are a few still like that, but by and large server browsers -- let alone private server hosting with decent mod tools -- have been replaced by opaque matchmaking algorithms.

Would it help things at all if people could run their own servers again? I don't want to be all rosy-eyed about the past, but it seems like everyone would be better off if they had more control over the spaces they play in. Yeah, you'd get Nazi servers and stuff (remember those weird Day of Defeat servers where people would take turns letting the Nazis win?), but that still seems preferable to just having out-and-out Nazis roaming wild. Or 12 year old edgelords experimenting with being total dicks. Being able to ban someone for shitty behavior should be a lot easier than it sounds like it currently is (I'm assuming nowadays you report someone and then expect nothing to happen). Create your own space! It's not like you'd be limited by physical location (if I remember right, I played TF on Avalanche's server out of, I think, Colorado).

Plus, there could be MetaFilter servers, and that would be neat. I would totally play online games again with you all, and NO ONE ELSE.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:24 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


The flip side of the opaque matchmaking algo's is that you can totally control these toxic people with relative ease assuming enough money is pushed into moderation/review.

Automatic transcription of audio, flagged and sent to moderators, easier ways to flag users as abusers. Meaning they could be banned from talk/chat for X weeks, banned from the game for a period, or perma-banned (this means a lot more when people have invested in skins/addons), or even do tricks like automatically dropping their health by half, giving them a limp, making them glow neon in the dark, or their footsteps heavier, whatever is needed to affect a change.

The anti-cheat software installed these days is pretty good, so much so that I'd imagine your machine can be tracked through an uninstall/reinstall based on from various hardware id references. Take the effort that goes into stopping that anti-cheat and push it into anti-moron, and I think you'd end up in a nicer place (and I suspect the Venn diagram of the two overlaps significantly).

I've even had to flag people in my online cycling training app Zwift (e.g. indoor trainer+real bike in a virtual world) for sexist behavior. How's it possible to be that much of an idiot? You're sweating, working your ass off on a bike, yet you still muster enough energy to wipe the sweat from your hands and spew a sexist message.
posted by Static Vagabond at 2:24 PM on January 28 [12 favorites]


I was wondering about the jars of pee thing, too. Was it just bad luck that she kept getting the same weirdo or is that a thing?
posted by Karmakaze at 2:26 PM on January 28


Do modern online games have smallish servers hosted by people

I'm playing Monster Hunter World at the moment (rated as one of the top 5 PC games in 2018 and I wholeheartedly agree with its assessment, it's incredibly good). Their multiplayer is a REALLY good implementation of this - it's really a traditional single player game with local save files so you could play entirely offline if you wanted. You can host a server of up to 16 players and make it private / friends only, or make it public, with keyword descriptors so people can search through the server list to find someone doing activities that they want to do as well (how delightfully anachronistic). This often happens during "events" where, say, a certain super powered dragon shows up, and players need to create / search for lobbies to find other players to make a team for it. So for all intents and purposes, the "World" consists of 16 players max, and you can join and help each other in quests.

The other extremely well implemented part of the multiplayer is the SOS flare system. You can have a max of 4 players in an encounter at once. If you have less than 4 players, you can fire off an SOS flare, which flags your game as "open" to the entire world. There is a browser list of open SOS flares that anyone can browse and dynamically "drop in" to your game to help you. The entire system is so quick and painless - I can log in, open up the SOS flare list (sometimes 10-15 active flares) find one that is appropriate for me and click to join, in literally seconds I've hot dropped into the zone. Doing these hot-drops obviously leaves no time to plan and prepare but is ideal for easier encounters, both for newer players wanting to tag along with a more experienced team and get carried, or a more experienced player dropping into an easier encounter to help them out.
posted by xdvesper at 2:32 PM on January 28 [11 favorites]


wait do you get to bring your little cat buddy with you in multiplayer
posted by poffin boffin at 2:35 PM on January 28


Poffin: there is a max of 4 "players" in an encounter, and your cat buddy counts as a player. So you could have 2 players + 2 cats, or 3 players +1 cat.

The cats are funny. At first I thought they were only for healing me with vigorwasp or buffing me with the coral orchestra. Then I saw my cat leap up and smack an Arch Tempered Elder Dragon in the head and KO it... I'm actually now playing a primarily support build made around healing and buffing my cat and his tailrider (so when I play solo we're actually a team of 3).
posted by xdvesper at 2:38 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


As a long, longtime gamer (going back to Civ 1 and C&C), the big elephant in the room the gaming community doesn't seem to ever want to address is that there's too many kids running amok on centralized servers. This is what I'm hearing in those videos, a lot of older high school age kids. A lot of people like to point fingers at bad behavior by adults, but that's always seemed to me to be an attempt to shift blame... loudmouthed assholes who are 30 on a gaming server do exist but they make up a much smaller proportion of the user base.

The other side of this problem is the trend in gaming to put everyone on centralized servers, all of which have no effective oversight or vetting procedures at all. It's decentralized servers where owners can really focus on the quality of the people they're allowing to play.

I myself still am still playing Minecraft (which still supports decentralized servers), and it's a completely refreshing gaming experience. I'm currently on Intersnout, sort of a spiritual successor to the departed Metafilter Aporkalypse server.. it's all 18+ and easily half the players there are women. There's also a great community on MeFightClub though regrettably I fell away from the community once it started focusing on FPS games. Some good people there though.

Overall it's been clear to me that the gaming industry has been putting zero effort into attracting grownups (20s+), people who have a LOT of disposable money as a group, and don't want to sit down after work and team up with obnoxious 12-year olds. They want to talk to people like themselves. I think the first game dev company that gets their head screwed on and figures this out is going to be flush with cash. I don't think it's rocket science to figure out a system to make sure people saying they're grownups are in fact grownups... the last 3 big servers I've played on have been remarkably effective at keeping kids out, so it can be done.
posted by crapmatic at 2:57 PM on January 28 [14 favorites]


I haven't used it, but I know some MeFites spun off a MeFight Club so people can game with others while avoiding the cesspool.

I have used it, and (at least a few years ago, when I was active) it was great. (Am a dude, but I never saw any of this on their servers, and I expect that you would get permabanned immediately if you tried it.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:07 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


there is a vague reddit anecdote about a talented gamer who let his little sister do the voice commentary on mic while he dispatched various opponents in online multiplayer melee. It sounds kinda funny, I hope she's okay with foul language?
posted by ovvl at 3:18 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Then I saw my cat leap up and smack an Arch Tempered Elder Dragon in the head and KO it

gdit i have GOT to buy this game
posted by poffin boffin at 3:29 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


I got about four minutes into the first video and found myself checking the time to see how much more of that bullshit remained because it was getting really tiring to listen to.

And then I realized, jesus fucking christ she never gets to stop the video.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 3:44 PM on January 28 [9 favorites]


i'm a trans woman, i would *never* play a game with online random folk. even though i am fully aware this is like, a huge industry and totally normal for bros everywhere. it's fucking annoying and pretty depressing.
posted by odinsdream at 3:48 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


I don't think it's that videogames attract awful people, it's that videogames connect you with other people, and mostly everyone is awful but you usually never have to interact with them in their own homes. You walk or drive past dozens and dozens of terrible people all the time, but you're not competing with them. If they have a nasty thought, there isn't an easy way for them to get that to you. Being online and in a game, it is easy to send nasty thoughts. There are very few situations where you'll be given the chance to communicate and interact globally with strangers semi-anonymously, videogames happen to be the most common circumstance it occurs. People are garbage and that's why you seek out a tiny handful of the less garbage ones to be your friends.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:57 PM on January 28 [14 favorites]


I don't think it's that videogames attract awful people, it's that videogames connect you with other people, and mostly everyone is awful

I think that may be taking things a little too far, but there are a lot of awful people out there and their voices do tend to dominate.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:22 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


i'm a trans woman, i would *never* play a game with online random folk.

I'm a cis man and _I_ would never play a game with online random folk. And the shit that gets thrown at me is milk and cookies compared to this.

One can imagine a third-party interpersonal reputation service. The game makers could integrate it so that a reputation would carry across different game platforms; if you’re a shithead on Overwatch you’ll likely be one on Mario Kart too. Most importantly the service’s sole job would be to pay attention to the online behavior of individuals.

You’d get people trying to game the system as always, but a) there would be a lot more data to detect vote rigging/slander campaigns and b) you wouldn’t be asking a company that is focused on putting out its latest expansion to stop and root around its message boards for you.

What do you say — five bucks a month and I’ll guarantee you’ll only be matched with people with six months of non-shitty interpersonal behavior behind them?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:54 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I'd say it's about 27% of people who are truly awful. But that means in a 64-player server like for one of the Battlefields you'll have a little over 16-18 truly awful people, and even in a smaller 16-person game you're still looking at 4 or 5 truly awful people. For like a 5v5 MOBA, you're down to 2 or 3, but that's still pretty damned impactful.

And then you create a situation where nobody is empowered to do actual live moderation (muting doesn't count) and switching servers comes with a heavy "cost" (most of these games back-load their progression to encourage staying to the end of a match, if they don't outright punish "leavers") if you just can't take it any more and want to bail.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:22 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Perhaps I'm overly fond of money+technology solutions, but I genuinely think that with some care in the architecture you could seriously moderate the majority of online games presently in use with a reasonably-sized staff.

...but another angle on this is that you NEVER hear about penalties. Your voice just vanishes into the void, and you never know if anything was done to that raging asshole.

Consequently, I'm now of the opinion that punishments need to be visible to the user base. Consider this:

xXx_Snipa420Dudebro_xXx is deeply racist toward other players in an online game. Someone reports him, and he gets flagged for human review. He's found worthy of a weeklong ban, but by this time his game is over and he's in the lobby waiting for a new server. An email notifying him of his ban is dispatched, but that's not all...

...new game begins, everyone is scrambling for their starting positions, the clock ticks down, and suddenly the entire soundscape fades to be replaced by a choir of angels. A flaming sword descends from the clouds while a sonorous voice rumbles "Snipa420Dudebro has been judged an asshole and the punishment is death". His character bursts into flames; flames which also take 25% off the health of everyone on his side, just to make them angry at him. When the round is over, the other players are given the option to blacklist Snipa420Dudebro so they won't be matched with him again. Any player who ever reported him gets an immediate ranking boost.

Now he can't play for a week, and his in-game character is given a bright neon skin with minimal shading for another week beyond that (easy target).

His handle appears on a public list of assholes, his account is given a score downranking (gotta burn the cheevos!), and the matchmaking algorithm drops him a level in the priority list so he takes longer to find a game.

Alright, maybe I'm a little punishment-oriented. Still.
posted by aramaic at 6:51 PM on January 28 [37 favorites]


Overwatch does give you some feedback from reporting people. It doesn't give a specific person, but it does tell you something like: "Your reporting has resulted in action. Thank you."

It contributes quite a bit into feeling like reporting actually does something. It has a positive feedback feature of endorsing people that are nice as well. Good effort on the dev's part.
posted by demiurge at 7:07 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


The things they said to her weren't as bad as I expected one by one, but the total effect was shockingly worse.
posted by jamjam at 7:16 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


the gaming industry has been putting zero effort into attracting grownups (20s+), people who have a LOT of disposable money as a group,

Over-20s have disposable income, but they tend to have lifestyles that involve more interests than games. 16-year-olds with indulgent parents have money and nothing to do but study or play - many urban kids are stuck with very few "get out and socialize" options outside of school.

And besides, if the company makes a good connection with teenagers now, they'll be buying that company's games for the next couple of decades, as it's one of their favorite youth activities!
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:17 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


I remember the hilarity that was the Xbox Live ban appeal forum back in the day. People would appeal their Xbox Live bans, and many of them were stupid enough to think account names like PenIsThruster were sufficiently obfuscated.

I would like to see this come back, except I don't need to be the audience. I think the exact reasons for a ban should be mailed to the address of the cardholder. I'm willing to give up my schadenfreude for the parents of thousands of little shits receiving a letter detailing exactly what little Riley is saying to people on the computer.
posted by Merus at 10:50 PM on January 28 [9 favorites]


It'd be interesting, rather than banning, to lag the performance of these people. Make it more difficult for them to achieve higher rankings, and therefore less and less people want to play with them. It would also drive them away from playing the games in question, or force them to improve their behavior to improve their performance.
posted by herda05 at 12:21 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


This would probably backfire - if you're not telling them that they're being impacted because they're an asshole, they'll continue to abuse other people, and probably worse because now they're losing and need a quick boost of ego. If you do tell them they're being impacted, why not just ban them instead of letting them continue to play the game? Riot Games found simply telling people they've been noticed is enough to kerb quite a lot of this behaviour.
posted by Merus at 4:52 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]


I've never played a computer game, on line or off. They never appealed to me, or I was too busy when they were becoming popular back in the day. After listening to some of that crap, I never will, or at least not online. I want to cry for all the girls who are subjected to that awful, awful treatment.
posted by james33 at 5:14 AM on January 29


I'm male and know perfectly well that online I get a tiny fraction of the abuse any woman gets, and I'm too old for creepy comments that kids get. That said I don't enjoy playing with jerks in general and as it's been years since I've been in a clan/guild for gaming the only way I'm going to play large multiplayer games is with no voice chat at all. I'm also convinced that although they won't admit to it this is the reason Nintendo doesn't do voice chat - so I do drop in to Mario Kart, Splatoon, and Smash the way I don't other games.
posted by Francis at 5:46 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


My daughter (12) is a heavy Overwatch player on PC. She's of course not allowed to get on mic for exactly this reason. I was pretty up front with her: "Look kid, if you talk on mic, this isn't going to happen every game, but it is going to happen, and it sucks". Depressingly, she asked if she got a voice mod that made her sound like a boy if she could talk...

I watch things pretty closely and I will say Overwatch has an impressively low percentage of toxic players, I think there reporting and reward systems have made some decent progress improving the community. You sometimes get a sort of strained passive aggression instead of total meltdowns. But it still happens, and it happens orders of magnitude more to women and girls.
posted by malphigian at 6:58 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


This is why the only group game my wife and I play is Pokémon Go. Requiring groups to be in the same physical location, where faces can be seen removes nearly all of the problem, as far as we can tell.

As for the rest, the only thing that is going to change the way game companies police themselves is either legislation or lawsuits.
posted by happyroach at 7:00 AM on January 29


I forced myself to watch the whole playlist and raged along with her throughout. Then I switched to her other videos and watched her beast like a pro, which sort of dulled the rage.
posted by Molesome at 7:20 AM on January 29


And besides, if the company makes a good connection with teenagers now, they'll be buying that company's games for the next couple of decades, as it's one of their favorite youth activities! -ErisLordFreedom

Christ. Thinking about how (cis male) geeks of the past grew up without social media: of course they often had a hard time coming out of their shells and relating to women. They'd been used to media that often objectified women as ornaments, trophies, or worse. But...

They didn't grow up weirdly SEMI-isolated/SEMI-connected to real interaction with women. Male geeks of today will have all their nostalgia tied up in those wonderful nights they just happened to actually harassed women and girls.

Lots of stuff male geeks (I'm self-identifying, here) are nostalgic for today are at least being reassessed. Trying to take the good and leave the bad, coming to terms with the voices and legitimate criticisms of female and/or queer geeks. It's a messy process involving a lot of grown-man tantrums. What the hell is that going to look like in 5-10-20 years when these young men and boys try to square that circle?
posted by es_de_bah at 8:26 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


> What the hell is that going to look like in 5-10-20 years when these young men and boys try to square that circle?

An entire generation of disaffected, socially inept males, just in time for the climate change wars? I can't imagine what that will look like!
posted by I-Write-Essays at 9:01 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]


Overall it's been clear to me that the gaming industry has been putting zero effort into attracting grownups (20s+), people who have a LOT of disposable money as a group, and don't want to sit down after work and team up with obnoxious 12-year olds.

I think that this is too optimistically chaining the idea of "20+" to "not part of the problem". As a gaming dude approaching 40 who does definitely wish that more games were targeted towards older players, I nonetheless have no illusions that kids are more likely to be shitty in this way than adults. Kids have more free time and thus probably amount to a larger percentage of the bad behavior just by dint of spending more hours playing, but there's plenty of 20+, 30+, heck, 60+ assholes in online gaming that will treat girls and women completely terribly.

The idea that if we just got the kids out of online games things would be meaningfully better doesn't match the reality I've personally witnessed.
posted by tocts at 9:57 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


“Still Logged In: What AR and VR Can Learn from MMOs”—Ralph Koster, Game Developers Conference 2017

Via “Games and other online communities are societies, owed a duty of care by their owners,” Cory Doctrow, BoingBoing, 14 March 2017
posted by ob1quixote at 10:49 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


I'll play some games with randos, but I generally try and interact with the chat as little as possible.

And I will *never* get on voice chat unless I know every person in that voice chatroom personally.

There are characters I don't play much in the MOBAs anymore because of how some dudes have talked lecherously about a skin.
posted by anem0ne at 11:05 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


I do feel the need to say that as much of a cesspool as the Internet, and especially gaming, feels like to be involved in, we did recently find a private WoW server where the usual behavior is completely not tolerated. Of course, it’s hosted and run by Europeans and the population remains small, but it has been, by far, one of the more pleasant online gaming experiences we’ve had in years. So, if you’re interested in some old-school (MoP) PvE action without the horrible manbabies, check out Tauri-Evermoon.
posted by Revvy at 11:07 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Good effort on the dev's part.

i mean it's good and all but it took them 2 years to even acknowledge there was a problem. and they still don't sanction pro teams for employing some of the community's worst and most disgusting repeat abusers, which absolutely empowers asshole average players to be the worst they can be, since the pros are just like them.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:10 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


For a iittle while, when Xbox live was new, it was a really good experience, being able to hear and talk to other gamers, other girls was really cool. I was once part of an all female Mech Assault Battalion, which was a blast.

and then it wasn't good anymore, even with voice filters, hearing 12 year olds scream obscenities at me got old, really fast. For a while I continued playing, but only had voice on for my friend group, but as more games appeared, our groups split off to play different things.

I rarely use voice in games now, occasionally hopping on a vent or discord channel to coordinate something and only with guilds I know or people I know IRL. Even then, it's not as relaxing, being careful with what I say, and keeping a defensive ear monitoring.

For whatever reason, I grew up, but 12 year olds are still screaming obscenities and sexist/racist junk. Sure, a reporting system is helpful-ish, but it pushes all the effort onto those who are being abused, which is exhausting.

I usually don't even turn the voice channels on much to even listen these days.
posted by dreamling at 2:42 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Here's an illuminating and infuriating Twitter thread on how the game industry treats presenting males vs. females from someone who transitioned from the former to the later.

Delaney King (@delaneykingrox): "Having over 20+ yrs experience & several games of the year under my belt, Transitioning from presenting male to female goes like this..."
posted by homunculus at 5:04 PM on January 29 [13 favorites]


I forget who said it and I hate misquoting, especially, MLK and other better people than I will ever be, but I think it's a truism that (and I don't say this with the intent to be mean) we are all, as go about daily life, meaner, more callous, and uncaring to strangers than we think we are.

It shows on how most of us do not give change or help of other kinds to panhandlers. To how we, for whatever reason including the survival instincts we have not to go broke helping all the needful in the world, don't stop everything to help whenever we see a stranger in distress. It's why there are so many religions and societies that intentionally stress and emphasize the need to intentionally set aside time, or wealth, among members, congregants, and congregations to help the needy. It's why there are sometimes charity responsibilities and expectations to belonging to a religion, an organization, a society.

So I personally think that in general, especially in capitalism, we are just not as nice as we envision ourselves to be.

And I think that in multiplayer gaming, which partly has this competitive streak, where harassment is often seen as a tactical thing, to get the psychological edge on your opponent, and partly suffers from the tendency to treat anonymous or semi anonymous strangers less compassionately, is a perfect crucible in which many people hone their skills of being mean to each other.

I just think we shouldn't discount that we are all enculturated to be varying degrees of self protective and that that often translates to meanness or callousness. I think at root, that's part of the problem expressed here in multiplayer gaming, making the already marginalized further marginalized and abused.

It just seems odd to be shocked by this reality. To me anyhow.
posted by kalessin at 10:25 AM on January 30


It just seems odd to be shocked by this reality. To me anyhow.

I don’t know if I’d say it was shocking, but what you’re describing is not what I experience. While a callousness to unknown strangers is part of life, when a person morphs into something real — someone with a voice and personality — a whole different dynamic kicks in.

Many people appear to have a real drive for kindness to people they don’t know. In my current situation I regularly ask for and receive help from complete strangers, but even when people have been unable or unwilling to help they have not made vulgar comments about my mother.

My experience leads me to believe that if you put five random strangers into a voice chat that they would start talking about the weather, their kids, places they’ve traveled, movies they’ve liked, etc. It would be abnormal for the group to degenerate into name-calling and other types of verbal abuse.

So as I say, it’s not necessarily shocking but it is interesting that the gaming world is so very different than my regular experience.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:39 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Yes? I get what you're saying here, but I guess the thing about a group chat is it can just be "us". But in a competitive contest game situation, it's almost inevitably "us vs them" and I think in the context of even light, stakeless competition, that easily degraded into the callousness I see. I mean after all, reality shows are a whole genre of competition oriented tv shows and the only one I can think of where contestants tend to be gracious to one another is The Great British Baking Show.
posted by kalessin at 11:16 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]


Which, to further emphasise the point, only got that way because the presenters were extremely dedicated to fostering that kind of environment, to the point of body-blocking the cameras and shouting obscenities to prevent unflattering footage from getting on the air.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:04 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


I’m not sure reality TV shows are a good example here as they are rather notorious for trying to provoke drama between contestants and editing it in if they can’t get any. The fact that The Great British Baking Show runs it the other way just emphasizes for me how artificial all of reality TV is.

Still, the point about games being a competitive environment is well taken. That does bring out the worst in some people.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:09 AM on February 2


> But in a competitive contest game situation, it's almost inevitably "us vs them"

All of the clips in the linked videos are people on her team.
posted by lucidium at 8:23 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


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