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Some online gamers, like myself, pretend to be male to protect themselves from online harassment. If you are a female professional gamer, the harassment becomes far worse thanks to Internet trolls with backward views on society. Unfortunately, the instant it is discovered there is a female in the midst, sexist remarks such as, “Go back to the kitchen!”, will become rampant and the female gamer will have no other choice but to leave to escape the rape threats and sexist remarks from her online “friends.”
Interestingly, some Twitch users like Tyler Belvins, known as Ninja, outwardly refuse to stream Twitch games online with female players to protect his own gaming channel from potential rumors of women dating Belvins. There has been backlash for his refusal to game with women, as it means he will not stand up for women and support them against the sexist backdrop of online gaming.
Abuse towards female gamers has become such a problem, women have had to hide their gender purely so they can enjoy a game online. This may be a major contributing factor as to why the online gaming world like there is a predominantly male-dominated industry. According to a Washington Post article, there are more women who are gamers than teenage boys.
The Internet is already considered a scary place for everyone with bullies, trolls, and scammers. Where did all of these backward thinking 14-year-old boys come from? Why must women hide to protect themselves from sexual harassment? Is this a case of severe social decay? Is it poor parenting? Watching too much pornography? I can only imagine how terrifying it would be to ever bump into these people in real life. Thankfully, they’re locked away in their rooms playing Fortnight.
Felicia Day, a high profile gamer, geek icon, and actress, suffered abuse from the online hashtag Gamergate centered around harassment of female gamers. Day was one of many victims of Gamergate’s abuse and had expressed fears of being targeted if she dared to raise awareness about this movement. Day had voiced her concerns about being involved in the gaming community and because of the abusive Gamergate group. Immediately, she gets attacked by said movement by getting doxxed where her private information and home address was posted to the site (now deleted).
“Gamergate — the predominately male-led harassment campaign against female game developers and critics — has broken the hearts of female gamers and developers everywhere, showing us that a horrifyingly large and vocal portion of people who also enjoy video games don’t want us anywhere near them. They don’t want us playing them, making them, or writing about them, and they’re willing to resort to any level of intimidation necessary to make sure we stay out of their territory”, said Suzanne Samin, an online blogger who perfectly summarises what the Gamergate movement is in her blog post. The post, that you should DEFINITELY read, describes her experiences of harassment from men online.
With significant advancements in women’s rights and the development of equality between genders in general society, it is a bit jarring that people with this abhorrent behavior still exist. I suspect that the reason may be to do with how new the online gaming world is, compared to other cultures in the world. In the 1960s, racism was a major part of life that has slowly dwindled over time. I suspect, and hope, that over a period of time this intolerant behavior will decline as people learn just how repulsive their behavior is. Thankfully, with the increase in female gamers, the idea of a Girl Gamer is no longer considered a novelty, but the abusive behavior is still prevalent and we can only hope it will fizzle out as a trend.
If you feel you have been sexually harassed or bullied online, there are a number of resources that you can utilize for your benefit. Remember, you are not alone and there is help out there. It is your responsibility to take action against these animals (yes, animals) and protect yourself and future unsuspecting online gamers. Sexual harassment is illegal regardless if it is online or offline, and is a perfectly LEGITIMATE reason to notify the police by calling 911 (USA) or 000 (Australia).
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