Toxicity in Gaming... again

So I see this report on the BBC

Online gaming abuse: ‘Men like to guess what I’m wearing’ - BBC News

and I don’t know what to make of it. I guess it leaves me apathetically angry - for many different reasons.

Abuse against women and girls is obviously a serious issue and no one has to tolerate threats of rape. But the people doing this are the same people who threaten to kill me for “cheating” (lol), who wanted to rape multiple people’s mothers, who wished we had cancer, or AIDs, or both.

To some degree, you have to ignore it. Accept that there are not very nice people in the world.

We’ve had to tolerate nasty people who are beyond repute for decades. But now because it is aimed at women, it’s a problem? It’s a serious issue that MPs have to lobbied about?

Yet, in the shift of change that occurred in the late 2000s where gaming changed from a geeky niche past time to a mainstream platform, the powers that be in the market (publishers, advertisers etc) were quite happy to entertain the misogynistic, disrespectful and borderline illegal activities of the likes of KSI. It was all a bit of fun.

So I’m angry that there is a carpet of blame covering all men in a presumption that we sit playing games with our dick in our hands the second a women joins a server. I’m angry that it is presumed that the majority are trolls and toxic.

I’m also angry on the other side that publishers have allowed things to get like this. Angry that they promoted it. Angry as well that girl/women are crying wolf at unwanted comments when some (not all granted) have exploited their sexuality to gain popularity on platforms like Twitch.

I’m also angry that time and time again that no full investigation is done to highlight the age, location and occurrence of toxic incidents (Both in online gaming and social media - including Racist incidents). Because I strongly believe that the perpetrators are probably younger than you’d expect, and they’d be from countries all around the world where Policing of similar incidents are more slack.

I’m ‘apathetically’ angry because nothing will change. Not until proper questions are asked and data evaluated. Instead, it’ll just be another hashtag that some creates to raise awareness and achieves absolutely nothing.

Tech companies and Social Media could fix toxicity with filtering in a heartbeat. But they won’t.

Just my 2 cents.


I want to assume that it isn’t implemented because the sorts of people who would be muted and alienated by it are people who would likely put the most money in to a franchise. That or some other greed motivated reason like the additional dev or server costs (however small) - doing nothing is cheaper so long as it doesn’t end up as a big press scandal. The tech and talent are there, but the will is missing.

I dunno if that is a big assumption based on biased personal experience (probably) though. A lot of those voices on R6 either sounded young and stupid or older and ignorant to me, the sort of people who wouldn’t care about anything beyond their enjoyment - especially at the expense of a ‘killjoy’ who cares too much (read: at all) about social justice issues.

But let’s say I’m in the right ballpark: Why alienate a player who will buy in to the hype, preorder, go for special editions, buy season passes and DLC and/or put money in to cosmetics and play hours every week, even every night, when they can quietly ignore the problem?

If I take you as an example, Jes: You’re socially conscious, not a nobhead and don’t blindly buy in to absolutely anything a Dev who has your interest is selling unless you’re happy it is worth your time and money. That doesn’t make you a garunteed purchase or a reliable revenue stream. That makes you someone who would stop playing, stop buying and possibly be publicly critical of the Devs.

Now take an average R6 nobhead. Young and stupid or older and ignorant, always there rain sleet or snow, especially when new paid content drops, doesn’t take to social media to complain about social justice in any form, instead plays, buys and drives away the likes of you. Cha Ching.

Probably just assumptions based on coloured personal experience. Feels about right to me though given my experiences with MP games.

Edit: I don’t mean to sound like I’ve just accepted it. Kate plays games, my niece plays games, a lot of my female students play games - I want them to feel as comfortable as a might if they chose to play online.

I just feel like money talks louder than the concerns of the socially conscious and money fuels this media, so little of any significance will change any time soon I feel.


Now it’s aimed at a group of people who are often the victim of this kind of toxicity and real world crime. They’d do it to other groups as well, but I imagine it’s easier to hear someone is a woman than to hear if they’re gay, black and/or disabled.

I know the one time I forgot my microphone was on during Overwatch, the very first comment I got was “Wait, you’re a girl?”. No abuse, thankfully, but it sure showed that being a woman is not neutral. Problem with this imbalance is that you can’t just exist without people thinking they’re justified in making comments. I just want to exist, you know? And field regular comments like how I’m a shitty healer for not saving the DPS who ran into a mob all by themselves.

People are studying this toxicity and have found it’s a power balance and status thing. Male gamers who are losing are more likely to harass women. Male gamers who are winning tend to treat female gamers with the respect they’d have for anyone else.

Women aren’t immune to this behaviour. If the tables were turned and we had the default status men had, we’d probably be doing the exact same toxic thing. In women-dominated domains, I’m sure this is already happening. People are dicks, regardless of gender.

As my final two cents: people are free to use their appearance for popularity, and should not have to field rape threats or sexist comments. Much like professional fighters don’t have to put up with being randomly punched in the face in the street, or professional chefs don’t have to make every passer-by a truffle sandwich.


To your first point, that is kind of my point. They do it to women, homosexuals and people of any ethnic background. But they also do it people who are white and who are just an easy target. Because trolls are nasty, pathetic yet vindictive individuals in society that either gain psychopathic pleasure in creating misery of others or have a very dark background that they are fighting against. My point is that they have been doing this for years… decades even, and it shouldn’t be a bigger issue now just because the target is women.

Southpark sums up my feelings in this regard:

The more we pigeonhole groups, the more of a problem we create. Your point is absolutely spot on: People are Dicks (Actually I take offense at using male slang for a reproductive organ in a negative context – I joke I joke…)

But It’s how we deal with these people that is the problem to be solved, not who their intended victims are.

As for your last point regarding appearance for popularity. 100% agree, obviously, that no one should be threatened in such a way in the same way if you go out on a Friday night in a short skirt your asking for sex. But, I think the problem again lies with the game publishers themselves. When the gaming market was pretty much completely male orientated, then the objectification of women in games was horrendous - from Japanese manga through to Lara Croft… it’s created big tits and short skirts to be a teenage boys wet dream. They literally make the impression of “This is acceptable”, when clearly, it isn’t.

That’s been its marketing angle for ages, and one that has not done women any favours especially with those boys (who become men) that have trouble differentiating between the virtual and real world. Same apply to the growth of the porn market online.

So for women to be gamers on Twitch etc and mimic that same sexualised appearance doesn’t do anyone any good, in my humble opinion. Surely we meant to be breaking down walls in equality or respect, not just shifting the goal posts of control.

Thanks for taking the time to write a counter argument. My opinions are only the sum of my own experience.


I didn’t realise that you ARE female until you wrote this. Not that it matters to me, frankly!

Good points you raised - the last one I didn’t really consider at all, mainly because morons will be morons and will find something to call folk.

Angry people always look for an easy way out. Easy usually means placing blame elsewhere rather than looking at ourselves and our issues. It can also mean latching onto a simple concept like race, gender, appearance or even accent - find a way someone is different, then use that as a hammer to beat them with.

This a human trait because it also dictates how we try to problem-solve. Simple solutions are easier to sell. So tackling toxicity in general is a lot tougher to implement and justify to shareholders/players/the public than, for example, tackling sexism or racism (It’s also the reason why it’s easier to blame/disbelieve a rape victim than to try and find/stop the rapist.)

So yeah, I can’t speak for you, but I imagine if someone gets angry with you online, chances are they’ll shout abuse at you - as Jes, the individual. But chances are also that maybe something you said identified you more. And maybe they’ll latch onto your accent or political leanings and dismiss you that way. Then you’re not seen an individual anymore, you’ve been dehumanized and easier to yell at.

So that’s why toxicity in gaming is a hot topic when it comes to women. It’s a domain where we’ve consistently been assumed not to be a part of. We’re reduced to our tits (whether we have them or not), dehumanized and told to get lost. First, as you pointed out, by game design, then as a logical conclusion by gamers in general.

It’s not too surprising that some women picked up on that and started using it in their favour. In my opinion, while they perpetuate a stereotype, the problem doesn’t lie with them. It’s a whole culture that needs to shift - and is slowly shifting already. We certainly have better female protagonists who aren’t 90% boob pixels.