Tag Archives: Online Gaming

If You Hear Someone Getting Harassed In An Online Game, Don’t Stay Silent: How It Should’ve Been Written

(This article is in response to a Kotaku article written by Cecilia D’Anastasio. For more on this, you can refer to my initial response here.)

Harassment during online gaming. As gamers, we’ve all experienced it, one way or another, to varying levels. Some of us have been lucky enough to experience very few cases of it, some of us experience it on a regular basis. Some of us experience minor harassment, some of us…not so fortunate. In the end, it’s a problem that has gone on since the internet really began to take off, as bullying went beyond the schoolyards, the workplace, the outside world. Bullying was now even reaching us at home when we thought we were safe.

It’s frustrating. It’s not exactly an enjoyable experience to be called names, told you’re shit at a game you like enough to play online with other people, the majority of them people you don’t even know. It’s never fun and we all wish it would go away, no one is denying that, no one is saying that harassment online is or ever will be considered okay.

What’s just as frustrating, in some cases even more frustrating than the harassment itself, is that people who are also in the lobby or party as well, they sit back in silence, sometimes in fear, sometimes in pure ignorance, instead of doing the right thing: standing up to a bully.

In all honestly, should it not be an easy thing to do? After all, bullies online do what they do because they know they’re anonymous, no one knows their real name, where they live, they can say whatever they want and get away with it scot-free. So in my head, it makes sense that I can lash back at a bully, call him/her (because both genders can be bullies, folks, in case you forgot) out on their bullshit and defend someone who is being targeted for no reason whatsoever. Will it stop the bully right then and there? 99 times out of 100, of course it won’t, but will it give this asshole something to think about the next time he/she decides to take a shot at someone for no reason other than to make themselves feel better about their miserable lives? Yes, and the more it happens to them, the more they’ll not bother to do so, because if they think they’ll be given shit every time they do it, why would they bother? It’s just more work for them, it’s so much easier if they sit in a lobby, call a guy a faggot, or tell a girl to make him a sandwich and that person gets upset.

I fully understand that there are people who don’t want to get involved. You are under no obligation to do so, if you’re not directly involved in the situation, you have no reason to jump right in, it is your right to choose to stay out of a fight you’re not in. But remember that heroes who save people in car crashes, fires, medical emergencies or any other situation where someone’s life is in danger, they had zero obligation as well to get involved and yet they chose to, because in their mind it was the right thing to do.

Let’s go with the popular victim story in online harassment. In my opinion, if you are online in a public lobby and someone is really ripping into a female gamer, telling her she needs to leave so another man can join, that she should make him a sandwich, or even worse, suck his dick, while it is not your obligation to get involved, it is certainly the right thing to do by jumping in and calling the harasser out for being an asshole. You stand to lose nothing by doing so, you only seek to gain from this, even if the entire conversation ends up being the bully turning on you. Stand your ground, stay calm and let the idiot run his mouth until the game is over. Because by jumping in and taking the bullet, you’ve gained the respect and appreciation of a total stranger that never would’ve expected anyone to come to their aid. You might even have a new friend on your friends list after that and possibly someone you end up playing games with for quite some time, you never know.

There’s no question that online harassment in gaming is a problem, it has been for a long time and will continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future. But if we as a community of gamers don’t stand up more often, we allow this to go on longer and spread wider. If we stand up to people and help out those who can’t defend themselves, who are too afraid to defend themselves, we can give these assholes something to think about the next time they decide to get on somebody’s case, for whatever reason.

And come on, folks. If you hear a guy telling a female gamer to make him a sandwich and you don’t call him out for being the lamest fuckwad in the world for using an old 50s stereotype of women than turned into a shitty 90s joke, you’re just as bad as the bully. It’s such a dumb fucking thing to say, call these idiots out for that shit!

Why It’s Okay To Create Characters Of The Opposite Gender

Default male/female Shepards - Mass Effect series
Default male/female Shepards – Mass Effect series

So while chatting online with a bunch of online friends, the conversation suddenly changed when one person in the chat room started talking about how he/she (don’t know) doesn’t like how guys in real life will play as female characters in online games where you can create your own character. Some of the reasons why this dislike came to be has to do with things like lying to people in-game, being perverted and the weirdest comment that was made was “If you’re playing as a girl in a video game, there must be some desire to be one in real life.”. So there’s a lot to go through and while I got my piece out in that chat room last night, I thought it’d be a great article to write here as well.

Male and female Miqo'te - Final Fantasy XIV
Male and female Miqo’te – Final Fantasy XIV

The key thing to understand in this situation is really the most basic common sense you can employ: This is a fantasy game, in a fantasy world with fantasy characters. You are under ZERO obligation to play characters that not only are your real-life gender, but follow everything else in your daily real-world life. Your online game character does not have to look exactly like you, it doesn’t even have to look remotely like you. Let’s take me for example, I’m a skinny 5’11”, 155 lbs guy with a bit of belly fat, but not much. Now I’m currently working on correcting that and developing some muscle, so for me it makes a lot of sense that if I was to create a male character, I would make him slim but well-toned, abs and all. Why? Cause it’s a visual representation of my own personal goals and at this current point of time it is indeed a fantasy of mine to reach that point. Generally speaking there’s three ways you can go with a character that’s your own gender. You either go realistic, which is boring. You go ridiculous, which games like Saints Row do very well. Or you go with what you wish you looked like, whether it’s your body type, hairstyle, tattoos you’re afraid to get, all that jazz. A lot of the time it depends on the game too. If it’s a game like Saints Row, I’m going ridiculous, but if it’s a game like The Sims, I’ll do a hybrid version, where it looks as much like me as possible, but when I hit my personal fitness goals. So face-wise it looks a lot like me, he wears the same kind of clothes as me, but he’s got some muscle, especially some washboard abs.

from Elder Scrolls Online
from Elder Scrolls Online

But when we’re talking pure fantasy games like Mass Effect and really any MMORPG, should it be surprising at all that a lot of people will choose to play a different gender (and sometimes a completely different race if the option’s there) than what they are?

Merriam Webster has the following for one of their definitions of the word “fantasy”:

the power or process of creating especially unrealistic or improbable mental images in response to psychological need <an object of fantasy>; also :  a mental image or a series of mental images (as a daydream) so created <sexual fantasies>

Taking that in mind, if a fantasy is considered something unrealistic and improbable, what’s more fantasy in terms of creating a character than creating someone completely opposite to your real-life self in every way. I’m male, so I’d rather create a female character. I’m not that brave and have never gotten into a fight, my character kicks all kind of ass. And while I don’t have a serious problem with dealing with how I look, I love making characters that you’d consider to be on the top of the sexy totem pole.

from Destiny
Male Awoken CaC from Destiny

There shouldn’t be anything wrong with creating a character based on your own fantasies, regardless of the nature of it. Want to look badass? Awesome. Want to look super intelligent? Cool. Want to look sexier than all the Time magazine’s sexiest celebrities put together? Fuckin’ sweet! All to you, there shouldn’t be any reason for you to not go in whatever direction you want, it’s your character and you’re going to be playing this character for an extended period of time, it should be someone you’re willing to play as and stare at for a long time. For someone to tell you that whatever you chose to play as is wrong, they’re being just plain stupid.

from Black Desert Online
from Black Desert Online

So let’s go through the three arguments I listed that this person made.

Again, you’re under no obligation to tell people who you are in real life, so to say playing the opposite gender and playing as such is lying to other players about who you really are, who cares?! Why does that matter? It’s a fictional character and a lot of players roleplay when they play these games, if that’s too much for you, you probably shouldn’t be playing these sort of games. Go play single-player games where you don’t create a character then.

As for those playing opposite gender characters being perverted, grow the fuck up. I also noted in chat how it’s only ever specified that when men play female characters it’s perverted, but if a woman plays as a male character, there’s zero problems with that apparently. If you’re going to use the perverted excuse, play both sides, you can’t have it one way. But honestly, should it be surprising at all that a lot of gamers prefer playing opposite sex characters? For me it’s simple. I’m heterosexual, I am attracted to women. So if I’m going to play a game, especially if it’s a third-person game and over 20 hours in length and I’ll be staring at someone’s ass the entire time, would it not make sense to have an ass to look at of the gender I’m attracted to? I say it over and over again, but they’re not real! Who gives a shit?! Now if someone’s making their character to look like Miley Cyrus, that’s weird, but if it’s a non-existent person, who gives a flying fuck?!

And lastly, that really dumb line of “If you’re playing as a girl in a video game, there must be some desire to be one in real life.”. That really blew my mind that someone had not only the thought cross their mind, but the filter didn’t immediately throw it in the trash. What does that have to do with anything?! I know we live in a world now where sex changes are becoming more common place and accepted, but I don’t see the correlation between playing an opposite gender created character and wanting to be that opposite gender. At no point in my life have I been playing as a sexy blonde elf girl and thought “You know what? I want tits and a vagina.”. THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN WITH PROBABLY 99.9% OF ALL THESE CASES!!! Did it ever cross one’s mind that maybe, just maybe guys play as female characters and vice versa because that’s what they like? It has nothing to do with wanting to BE that opposite gender, it has everything to do with wanting to be WITH that opposite gender.

Fan art - World of Warcraft
Fan art – World of Warcraft

At the end of the day, what you choose to play as is purely up to you. Whether you want to play as yourself, or something completely opposite of you, that’s completely and 100% your decision. While it is a manifestation of your own fantasies, it’s not necessarily an accurate depiction of what you are. If you’re the type of person who has a problem with people playing something they’re not, there’s something serious wrong with you, there’s some clear insecurities going on there.

If I want to play as a sexy female catgirl if the option exists, you bet your ass I’m gonna do that. Without regret.