I’ve long believed the most depressing portions of humanity hung out in the comments of YouTube videos and newspaper articles. I’m starting to think even they might be ceding ground to the a subsection of the gaming community.
Gamergate and its ilk have been well-covered elsewhere, and many others (women, mostly) have suffered an enormous amount of hate and vitriol. I’ve not been subject to any of that, and was lucky enough to simply withdraw when faced with shitty behaviour. I barely played any games anyway. I developed a bit of an obsessive gaming personality when I was younger, and so I stay away from them now lest I forget to go to work in the morning. Or bathe.
Really, all I played was the Call Of Duty series. I started playing a few years ago, and really got into it when my brother and nephew introduced me to deathmatches. I played a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I’d use it to burn stress after work, but then I started obsessing about getting better. And I did. But I was never one of the elite players.
Sometimes you’d see those elite players in the deathmatches, and sometimes — rarely — you’d see their custom white power logos. Sieg Heils, white fists, etc. I’d leave those games. And I never listened to the other players; I’d mute everyone. Mostly people were annoying, but they were also assholes sometimes.
Anyway, this one match I was getting destroyed. This one guy, obviously an elite player, was racking up kills, and seemed to take special pleasure in wiping me out. He jumped into the game partway through and I hadn’t bothered to mute him, so he kept taunting me. Seriously, he’d killed me ten times…and I was generally a >1 ratio player. He was on another level, and kept letting me know it. But as many times as he killed me, my team kept us in it. It was tied 74 kills to 74 (first team to 75 wins, for those who don’t know) and, through a bit of luck, I got the last kill. My team won the match. The guy I killed? That elite dude who’d killed me nearly a dozen times. As I nailed him and the game ended, he yelled into his mic, “Fuck you, you nigger FAGGOT!!”
I looked at his profile, and saw the Swastika. I guess he never got around to creating a graphic to symbolize his homophobia — so lazy. I suddenly wondered what I was doing interacting with shitheads like this. No game was worth being around that kind of poison. I signed out, and haven’t played since. Haven’t even turned on the XBox. Real gamers are probably laughing right now, since I expect they’ve experienced this sort of antisocial behaviour a hundred times over. And it doesn’t even register when you look at what people like Zoe Quinn or Anita Sarkeesian go through every day.
So: I’ll just withdraw from this toxic little pool, because it never meant that much to me anyway. Too bad so many people who want to be part of it, and clean it up, get criticized and threatened.
Cover photo by BagoGames, used under Creative Commons license