Malicious internet behavior has been a thing for as long as I’ve been alive — approximately 21 years. It’s been in every social media, political talk, and video game I have ever seen or been on. It’s not shocking to see that, lately, it’s becoming controversial. People attribute the push back of trash talking to the fact that we, as a society, are becoming much more “sensitive”. And it may be so. However, things are becoming much too harsh to turn the other cheek.
We see in video games that it’s a trend to rage at your teammates for not executing moves properly and harassing non-male identifying people and/or people of color. We identify these internet harassers as “trolls”. One of the readings we had for Introduction to Digital Studies by Patt Morrison, “Privilege makes them do it — what a study of Internet trolls reveals” highlighted the idea that they attack and target others who display feminine behavior, anything regarded as “soft or emotional or sentimental.” Though Morrison’s work suggests that it’s mostly feminine behaviors that trolls target, people of color tend to be targeted just as much — even worse for those who may fall into both categories. Despite that, we see here in these examples how feminine behavior and people of color are harassed online:
The use of “cuckservative” to target “weak and effeminate” conservatives in political trolling memes (GQ)
Trolls in social media harassing a woman and her child (The Sun)
Black people targeted in video games. Specifically, the use of the word “nigger”. (YouTube Video)
It has been quite well known that feminine behaviors are constantly harassed The controversy surrounding the use of the word “nigger” in video games have become much more talked about since live-streaming has become popular. Lisa Nakamura’s work, “It’s a Nigger in Here! Kill the Nigger!” Nakamura’s work emphasizes the way video games have become a new medium for race and gender stereotypical slurs on the basis of a person’s voice or virtual gender identifying characteristics. Players are known to “trash talk” by using profanity and obscure language at enemies and teammates for the sake of hurting their feelings despite their insults having no relation to the gameplay. They do this because they lose or are in the process of losing and feel the need to blame someone or something. Some may even do it for the sake of “lulz” (Morrison, 2015). Nakamura mentions an interesting website that includes women recounting an experience of being targeted by players — a majority being males — on their malicious behavior: fatuglyorslutty.com.
A few stood out to me:
These messages target players who may have publicly identified their gender or may have just spoken through a microphone and have been assumed to be women. Users talk about how they do little to nothing and still receive harassment like these constantly. As a personal girl gamer, it becomes obvious that these things occur daily. The more you publicly announce your gender, the more likely you are to receive messages similar to the ones above.
Many, like I, have been afraid to express emotions freely because emotions become invalid due to the fact that you identify as a woman. It seems as though video games are much too masculine for women to be involved in and thus, memes like these hurt women attempting to enjoy a regular video game.
Take note that these pictures are not just one-time occurrences but, rather, they are used as representative images of how the gaming community has perceived women and people of color. With the amount of time that children have been spending playing games or using media in some form or another, they become a “communicative platform” that requires our attention and analysis to better understand how racial and sociopolitical aspects are influencing or is influenced by video games.