This video is frustrating for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it’s absurd that anyone, regardless of sex or gender, has to put up with stuff like this. It’s also frustrating that the community for one of my favorite games has turned into this vitriolic mess.
I stopped playing Overwatch, and the way players behave in Competitive Play is a large reason why. I encountered people throwing matches to lose rank, people hell-bent on trolling and people that had become so sour that the game wasn’t even fun anymore.
I’m not even a woman. Here’s a video from Christal Raine that marks “A Day in the Life of a ‘Gamer Girl.’” Heads up, the language is rough.
The folks at Kotaku have been talking a lot about the toxicity of Overwatch lately. That’s where I saw the video above; it was embedded in an article by Cecilia D’Anastasio called, “If You Hear Someone Getting Harassed In An Online Game, Don’t Stay Silent.” It’s a compelling read that paints a crappy picture of gaming online for whole slices of people. It also calls upon those sitting silent to speak up. D’Anastasio writes:
Teammates who hear hatred are the first line of defense for harassed players. Permissiveness is tacit approval of this behavior. If there are no social repercussions for antisocial behavior, and especially misogynistic behavior toward female teammates, it will continue. So if you are one of these four silent teammates—who will suffer no real harm for shaming a harasser or supporting the harassed—you are complicit in these online games’ now-entrenched culture of toxicity.
Speak up. Tell that asshole to sit down. Show your teammate that they are welcome. Be an advocate for the most basic decency. That’s all it is.
I’ll confess: I typically remain silent during the harassment and madness. I suppose this is the wrong approach, but I almost think it would be just as insulting to stick up for a girl being harassed as harassing her. Like, does she need my help? Am I this stereotypical white knight on a crusade to save the victims of harassment in online gaming? I can picture it now. Some jerk is giving a player crap for their race, gender, whatever, so I speak up. “I can take care of myself, idiot.” That doesn’t sound too out of place, does it?
I understand what D’Anastasio is saying, though. To not speak up and object is to passively offer permission. It’s as if I must be okay with the harassment if I’m not saying anything.
For my part, I need to work on being a better ally. I think everyone can do that.