Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hostile Gamer Environment: Gamer Survey, Part III

(Links to Part One and Part Two and the whole thing mashed together.)

And so we begin to wind down the Gamer Survey results. But not before everyone gets all riled up about the caustic environment that can be in-game chat and VOIP, other people questioning everything from your ability to play the game, to your gender and sexuality. Give me Barrens Chat any day with its endless Chuck Norris Facts and people asking where to find Mankrik's wife (although I'm sure it deteriorated into nastiness at times. General chat is filled with such inanities that I usually just turn it off, making a custom channel with just Guild, Party, and maybe Say, so I can interact with players in my immediate vicinity. But what happens when the party you're in is the source of the insults?

(One more time, remarks from respondents are in quote blocks and Helvetica font. All remarks used were edited for uniformity of spelling and grammar, and to maintain anonymity.)

Online Insults
In June, I wrote a post about insults and epithets, words people use to lump other people into groups that may or may not be accurate, and almost certainly are derogatory. It's something I personally feel strongly about, since as a child I was bullied and picked on until I grew big enough to ball up a fist and break a nose or two. To this day, I am particularly sensitive about being made fun of, and have an oversize sense of justice.

We'll look at these questions together, because they two sides of the same coin. My intent in asking was whether the respondent interpreted or intended remarks as insults. Gentle or friendly ribbing as to someone's abilities may not be insulting; but they can cross the line if we're not careful. Also, I intended for the second answer (irrelevent characteristic) to include inaccurate statements (i.e., calling someone a "fag" even if they are heterosexual.)

First, the responses from female gamers:
I just wanted to add a note that although I said earlier that I had not been a victim of insults in a game, there have been times when I had been a victim but not due to the circumstances listed in the other two choices. The only times I've been a victim when I was playing male characters and the people who were tossing the insults either had no idea I was female or it didn't matter at all to the situation. The first series of events was in Ultima Online where people harassed *anyone* they could because there was no behavior moderation at all in that game. It was completely anything goes and people there acted like they were in Lord of the Flies. The other times was related to guild leaders who went crazy and screamed insults at members when they stopped doing everything the guild leader wanted.

Even when I play my female characters, I seem to repel the typical sexist, etc. type of behavior from others, but I have seen it happen time and time again to friends who seem to attract the weirdos in every game.
I usually play female characters, but not always. As I have mentioned before, my nom-de-blog is actually taken from my Main in WoW: Rowanblaze, a human female priest. I am pretty sure on at least a few occasions other players assumed I was a female player, but usually that's not the case for me.
I tend to keep my gender on the downlow, so as not to provoke unwanted insults/advances.
I don't blame you.

Although I've never directly been negatively called for because I'm a woman, I do remember the days (this sounds old, but it actually was only 5 years ago) that people would be surprised to learn I was one. This mostly was through using Vent after we'd been clearing some cave for a while already. Perhaps I'm lucky (your survey will tell!), but people have always been inviting me to come help out with their raid and were happy if I could come. If anything, I'd almost feel more positively discriminated than the other way around. Perhaps this really depends on which game you play as well: I've always thought the LOTRO community was very friendly.

I used to be annoyed when people would refer to me as "he", even though they could see I was playing a female character. Those people who assumed that everyone around them was male were *always* male themselves.
I almost always take a character's gender at face value. It's simply easier to think of them as being male or female based on what I see, not what gender I think the player may be. On the other hand . . . (in German!)
As a female gamer who is not feminine in the slightest, it's always fascinating to me to see different viewpoints on how people feel they're treated. I have only ever personally been targeted due to my gender once, and that was an extreme circumstance (guild drama). I have no doubts whatsoever that people make sexist remarks all the time and that some even erroneously believe that women are not as good at gaming as men, but I myself have so rarely been a target of it that it's a foreign concept to me in some ways.
It sounds like you've been lucky, given some of the other responses. :) Guild drama is never a good thing, and I try to avoid it myself. We had several players in my WoW raiding guild, Mutiny (Uldum), that were gender-bending their avatars (including my own Rowanblaze). I'll always remember the guy we called "Joan." All of his characters had "Joan" in their name, starting with his paladin, Joanofarc. I very quickly got used to hearing Joan's masculine voice over Ventrilo, and thought nothing of it. We also had female players playing male characters. Now, were there occasional jokes made about gender and stereotypes? Yes, but I think happens in almost every casual group of friends, with rare hard feelings. I was lucky to be in a raid group with very patient leaders, and we didn't have any guild drama that I can recall.
I personally haven't been a "victim" of insults regarding my gender, but my gender has been victimized. In male-heavy guilds I've seen a lot of, "so-and-so sucks because she's a girl" followed by a hasty, "but that doesn't apply to you" when they remember I'm in that gender camp. Or, "I don't believe you're a woman, you play too well." I have been accused of being male and using a voice modulator in Vent. But, I've also had people apologize for suggesting I suck off an officer to get favors—after they realized I'm a woman. Apparently the suggestion would have stood had I been male. =)
One's gender or orientation has no bearing on his or her ability to play a game. At least they realized how inappropriate the suggestion that you were giving out blow jobs for favors was considering you are female. It's a shame they didn't realize it's insulting to anyone to suggest they are exchanging sex for status.

How male gamers answered the questions:
(Not every remark below was necessarily made by a male gamer, I'm just breaking up the post a bit.)
~I once was invited to a group in City Of Heroes and as I was Kinetics they expected we to have the mandatory Speed Boost skill. After that back they all ran off in separate directions but all wanted healing, with the expected abuse for not being able to do so. I exited the mission, quit the group and left them all to die.

I intentionally didn't pick speed boost until level 49 just to spite players that thought they knew how I should be playing/building my character.
Playing the healer more often than not, I have often left a group in the lurch because of the poor behavior other players. I was once laughed at for using a sub-optimal spell (Frostfire, when I was specced Arcane). I was in a PUG where frankly it didn't matter, and I simply thought it looked cool, nothing more. Unfortunately, the other player took it up on himself to tell me I was "doing it wrong" and boast of his own expertise as a Mage (he was not playing one at the time). It would have been, far better if he had whispered something like, "Hey, Frostfire is really meant for Frost and Fire Mages. You're not getting the best DPS by including in your Arcane rotation." Instead, he tried to humiliate me in front of the rest of the party. We'd barely started the PUG. I /ignored him and dropped group, leaving them to their own devices. Maybe it wasn't the most most mature reaction on my part, but I don't play any game to get berated by punks who think they are Überl33t.
I had to think long and hard about whether or not I have ever insulted another gamer. I don't think I have ever explicitly said "l2p", but I am pretty sure that there have been times where I have been critical of other gamers’ performance. I have also been guilty of telling 3rd parties that "person x needs to l2p."
I have been guilty of whispering to another player about the abilities of another, but I don't think I have ever directly criticized a player without offering a constructive solution. I become more incensed about the the behavior of players than their gameplay. The quickest solution to lowering my own blood pressure is simply to drop group. I have better things to do with my gaming time than get worked up about another player.
While I have not been the target of harassment, I have witnessed horrific harassment of women and minorities in games and on game forums.
Unfortunately, so have I. Even the implication that someone is a member of  a particular group and therefore inferior, whether they actually part of that group or not, is repugnant.
I don't expect to be treated any differently than anyone else in a game and I don't think I get treated differently either. I will play a game on a more casual mode as long as it is still fun. I don't play competitive games.
I rarely play competitively, sPvP in GW2 is a lot of fun though.I certainly have never done any tournaments, like WoW Arenas and such. I am not sure whether it because I am not competitive or because I am too competitive.

A couple respondents offered solutions to rudeness:
I may have been insulted, but I'm pretty laid back and don't stress about that stuff. I /ignore the person and get back to playing. So I don't remember any instances, but it may have happened.
I avoid game forums for similar reasons as /ignoring people. It's not worth reading the dreck in order to find a few gems of information.
On rare occasions within LOTRO, there are people who are rude, obnoxious, degrading, and demeaning. Three good options exist to deal with those people: report it as Harassment with in-game tools, put them on Ignore where I never have to see them, and tell my friends who can "close ranks" and keep those bad eggs at bay. Be good, and others will be good to you.
That last bit is ultimately all we can do. The Golden Rule is in full effect. I wish there were more I could do as an individual to stem the tide of nastiness, but I can only control own little corner of the Internet.

Percentage Totals (out of 104):
Thirty-two (31%) lucky respondents have never been insulted in online games. The other 69% of us (72 respondents) have had to deal with rudeness and even bigotry. On the other hand, 86 (83%) of us are gentle folk who have never insulted anyone online, with 18 (17%) rapscallions running rampant through the survey.
Thank you to everyone for your enthusiasm and encouragement. Once again, I apologize for my procrastination. I was hoping for a few shortcuts, when it would have been faster if I'd just done my homework in the first place. I'll leave you with two final, hopeful remarks from respondents.
Nowadays, I feel being a woman in gaming is 'normal,' and I think this is simply because there are so many more of us. I never get any surprised responses when people get to know I'm a woman. And that's how it should be. :) (Then again, this might also be because I pug less, and because I often play together with my "significant other", which places me in a category.)
You're right, it is how it should be. I often play with my S.O., as well.
Female gamers are coming into their own. No longer are we in the shadows!
I sincerely hope that's the case going forward—in every aspect of life, not just gaming.

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