Once again, it is not limited to certain websites (that was the point of the post that you are replying to). Consider Anita Sarkeesian, the person who created a Kickstarter for a video series called “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games”. She was harassed on YouTube and on Wikipedia. Someone even created a game where each click on a picture of Sarkeesian’s face was a “punch” that resulted in her face getting bloody and bruised. When another woman tweeted against the game and its creator, she also received rape and death threats. These women were not on “kotaku or wherever”. So please stop suggesting that a female game reviewer will not be harassed if she just finds the right website.
Do you actually have any evidence that this is limited to teenage boys? Other people seem to think differently:
Like Ms. Sarkeesian, many women gamers are documenting their experiences on blogs like “Fat, Ugly or Slutty” (whose name comes from the typical insults women receive while playing against others online). It cheekily catalogs the slurs, threats and come-ons women receive while playing games like Resident Evil or Gears of War 3.
The blog publishes screenshots and voice recordings that serve as a kind of universal citation in each new controversy, called upon to settle debates or explode myths. For instance, many of the site’s recordings feature deep voices captured from the chat features of online games, debunking the widely held belief that bad behavior begins and ends with 13-year-old boys.
In fall 2011, I had the honor of being in the Xbox Gamer Spotlight, a weekly feature where a different gamer’s profile is put up for view in the Xbox Live dashboard or on the Xbox Live website. My profile and avatar (which I fashioned to resemble me as closely as possible) was on display for anyone and everyone with an Xbox Live account to see—and that’s a lot of people (more than 12 million Gold subscribers as of last fall). In the resulting week, I received over 1,000 messages in my inbox. Because I am getting my Ph.D. in sociology, I like to record everything for study, so I decided to catalog the messages. The majority were congratulatory. The next most frequent type of message I eventually categorized as “Come-Ons or Denigration,” including slurs, rape fantasies, and two pictures of male genitalia. Adult male genitalia, for anyone who might be tempted to dismiss such harassment as the work of a group of immature 12-year-old boys.
This is something I’ve heard plenty: Oh, these are just misguided kids. But according to the Entertainment Software Association, the average gamer is more than 30 years old, and 68 percent of gamers are over the age of 18. So to chalk all of this ugliness up to immature boys who just need to “grow up” does nothing but turn a blind eye to the very real problem—a problem that leads some young women to avoid voice communications, hide their gender in their profiles, or give up on online gaming altogether.
Acting like this is limited to teenagers seems like a poor attempt to downplay the seriousness of the harassment that these women receive. I also disagree that this sort of behavior is merely “trolling” that women should just expect and accept:
When Miranda Pakozdi entered the Cross Assault video game tournament this year, she knew she had a slim chance of winning the $25,000 prize. But she was ready to compete, and promised fans watching online that she would train just as hard as, if not harder than, anyone else.
Over six days of competition, though, her team’s coach, Aris Bakhtanians, interrogated her on camera about her bra size, said “take off your shirt” and focused the team’s webcam on her chest, feet and legs. He leaned in over her shoulder and smelled her.
Ms. Pakozdi, 25, an experienced gamer, has said she always expects a certain amount of trash talk. But as the only woman on the team, this was too much, especially from her coach, she said. It was after she overheard Mr. Bakhtanians defending sexual harassment as part of “the fighting game community” that she forfeited the game.
The guy also defended the use of the word “rape” and phrases like “rape that bitch”.
At some point, it may get better for female gamers. I, however, accept the fact that many women do not want to be “trolled”. They do not want to receive rape and death threats. They do not want to have their websites and email accounts hacked. They do not want their home addresses posted online. So I am not going to tell another woman that she should put herself in such a position. I am not going to pretend that there is some way to magically prevent a woman from being harassed.