Why am I inclined to believe the worst about #Gamergate? Because I am a gamer, primarily playing MMOs. Maybe this is unfair of me, and there is no doubt whatsoever that I am predisposed to think the worst of them because of my own experience online.
Play a few games of World of Tanks and keep an eye on the chat. You will see the most appalling language, sexism and homophobia. ‘Gay’ is frequently used as an insult meaning ‘weak and pathetic’ (from context.) Rape is frequently used as a threat, or in phrases like “I hope your dad rapes you until you die.” This is an actual quote. Threats of rape in an online war-game aren’t serious from the perspective that there is any danger of the person actually tracking you down and raping you. But the way that the use of these insults and threats is tolerated is shocking.
It’s easy to see why someone looking at ‘gamer culture’ from the outside would form a negative opinion about gamers in general. At a glance we appear to be a bunch of foul-mouthed, racist, mysogynist homophobes.
The thing is that those people fouling the waters are only a tiny percentage of the people actually playing these games. Most gamers, like me, just want to play and have fun. We find all the BS that people spew offensive, and report it. I don’t have any way of knowing how many people are reporting bad behavior, but of the thousands of people on my home server there are probably less than a dozen being dicks in Trade Chat at any given time.
The simple fact is that most ‘gamers’ are just people, most of whom have lives and game like they watch television- as a diversion; a casual entertainment that they use to unwind and have fun. THAT’s the real ‘Gamer culture.’ People like everyone else enjoying a hobby. Many gamers deride us as ‘casuals,’ but in fact the hard-core gamer that lives to excel and compete at games are the outliers. So are the hate-spewing, misogynistic homophobes, but too often these are the people that outsiders use as examples that define us. Why? Simply put it’s because scum floats. Just remember that pond scum is just the surface of something much larger and deeper, and very different than what you see at a glance.
I have to remind myself of this frequently…