Trigger warning: mention of sexual assault.
If you ever want to lose all your faith in humanity, log into an online game or venture to the gaming side of twitter. The amount of slurs and r*pe jokes you’ll see in under 5 minutes is truly astonishing. I’ve been in the gaming community since December 2015, which is fairly new, and I’ve made so many amazing friends, but I’ve also seen the worst sides of others.
I’ve been called every slur in the book and much worse for simply winning a game.
Personally, I think it’s due to the fact that many of these adolescents take advantage of the online interaction because it’s not face to face, much like troll twitter and cyberbullies. But sometimes it can be so much worse. It’s not just about getting a rise out of someone like trolls do, they genuinely get so mad that all they can do is spew homophobic and racist slurs to make themselves feel better.
Also let’s not forget the misogynistic side of the gaming community. Ever since video games became popular, they’ve always been known as a “boys” thing. That narrative still runs pretty deep today, even though there has been some progress. Coupled with toxic masculinity, this misogynistic view causes the abuse to double against women in games.
These boys can’t possibly believe that they lost to a “girl”, because girls can’t be good at video games, right?
Furthermore, I’ve come to realize that no one hates feminism more than the gaming community, especially since it has become more mainstream. Gamers have always felt themselves as part of the counterculture. They’ve always been seen as some sort of outcast because of the negative connotation around gaming, so they push away anything positive that becomes relatively popular. At least I try to think of it that way instead of just deeming them all as homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic people.
Most gaming content creators don’t help this at all either. Their twitters and channels are filled with problematic jokes and slurs that further poison the minds of these impressionable kids, when they’re supposed to be role models.
The worst part is, after that, they have the audacity to complain about the toxicity of the community when they’re the ones feeding into it.
Of course, not every gaming youtuber and streamer is like this, I’ve found a couple that have great, loving communities that give me hope for the future. But most of them aren’t so safe.
How will we solve this? I don’t know. Maybe we can start by calling out the problematic role models, or strengthen the idea that girls can play video games too. I just know something needs to be done.