If you are wondering what happened to the next part of my look into a Trans Horror Game, well I have decided to actually make one, so I am holding off on it until a get a more focused image.
Anyway, onto today’s subject, where I will be looking at harassment, a recent “movement” focused on it, and the crazy defence of it. For those who don’t know, my title is in reference to one of the common defences of digital harassment. You see, people who harass others online are often referred to as Trolls. The common or garden Troll will often leap in randomly to conversation and offer either dissenting opinions or bring up random topics. Their aim is often to de-rail the conversation, for any number of reasons like boredom or wanting the winning side of a conversation to lose. They can be harmless morons, wasting what little time they have in this life, but they can also be dangerous and zealot like in their attacks.
In the latter case they cease being Trolls, and instead turn into Demons, the Demons of society. You want to see the issues still prevalent in society, look where anonymity is preserved. Right now that is the digital world. Across the internet and gaming worlds, open harassment happens on a daily basis to anyone who is unfortunate enough to not be “normal.” I know, as I have experienced it. Last year, I was really into Star Trek Online (no I am not a Trekkie, but I do love the Trek Universe, and the combination of tactical RPG style ground and space combat was really good in my opinion). At one point, while wandering round the social area that is the Space Station above Earth (forget its name) I was invited to join a Fleet, essentially a Clan for questing and so forth. It was the Star Fleet LGBT CORPS (or something similar). I decided to join as, hey, I am Trans and I had written a Trans backstory for my character (visible only to friends). What I wasn’t prepared for was the backlash for having my LGBT status visible online. I had to deal with a lot insults for walking around, raids could only be done with my fleet or I would face ridicule. I eventually left the fleet and the game, which I miss dearly as I felt that it was pretty cool.
This is the thing, harassment can quickly push people away, and now people have caught onto the idea and are using it. Just look at the GamerGate “movement,” if it can even be called that. Some claim that its originators where looking for ethics in video game journalism but I personally find that a little hard to swallow. The only people I have seen using that story are GamerGaters and apologists, mainly as ways of negating the horrible nature of the GamerGaters. And trust me, GamerGate is horrible, and if you truly believe in video game ethics, stay away. I have avoided talking about this for some time, as I fear the implications for my little indie blog. Though never encountering a GamerGate crowd, my post to the creators of Warface, which I recently saw, is as close as I ever got. It confirmed to me that I didn’t want to play that game, considering its fan base.
Anyway, this harassment is being used to push people away from games and discussing games. So far the GamerGaters have pushed three women to flee their homes for safety fears, and cancel talks to protect the public. It has nothing to do with ethics, even if it did “start” that way (as said, I’m not convinced). It is being used to silence those that challenge the status quo of games, which put the white cis het dudes on top. Sure advances are being made by some companies, Bioware has included a Trans Man in its most recent Dragon Aga game (which I just bought, so expect to see something on it in a while), but as long as Gamers still hold these ideas, and most games fail to challenge them, things are grim for me and many of my friends.
And here is the real kicker, apologists and defenders. Why the fuck would someone defend actions and words that have scared people to death? Forced them to run away and sleep on friends couches just in case someone decides to follow through on a threat? I mean what the actual fuck? Commen defences include “It’s just words,” “Don’t feed the Trolls,” and “Just turn it off and go away.” They generally fall into two categories, ignoring the harassment or implying the harassed person is the one with fault. Ignoring the harassment is probably the most common, and certainly done at a political scale. To this day the disproportionately high levels of violence against woman and LGBT people is ignored to the point we need to scream and shout to be heard. Indeed, when I have pointed out Transphobic language on Facebook, they ignore it (then they started blocking Trans peoples accounts for not using their birth names, so I wonder where their allegiances lie?). It is horrible and dehumanizing. Ignoring it is indeed a defence because it allows it to go on. For years people ignored the Anti-Semitism the Nazi party displayed, and what happened? Attempted genocide. Now I am not saying all those who have taken part in the GamerGate are new Hitlers and Himmlers, merely that they are beginning to climb the same ladders they did.
The other group of defenders are worse than the ignorers, because they twist it round to be the victims fault. It is unfortunately very prevalent in our society to blame victims, just look toward rape. “Why where you wearing that?” Why didn’t you come forward sooner?” “Why didn’t you fight back or scream?” These all cast doubt on the victim, and cause almost as much scaring as the incident itself. In games, it is thankfully not as bad, but still plagues us. We are often told we are too sensitive and need to grow thicker skins. Bullshit. It is easy to claim someone is oversensitive, but hard to look at why. You don’t know what has happened in their life that means that something upsets them. Let’s give an example, two in fact. I occasionally use the T word (don’t know what it is? Ask Ru-Paul) in a mocking sense on myself, but a couple of Trans friends mentioned really not liking the word. So I stopped. My Dad kept using the R word (annoyingly it is considered a medical term in America as far as I can gather) and I asked him to stop as my Head Mistress had called me it at school. So he stopped (one of his more decent moves, the Transphobic Bigot (he doesn’t let me wear what I want or call me Emily as well as apparently trying to get my Mother to Detransition me, so I can call him what I like here)). You need to accept that people get hurt by things, and change according to who is around you. On the internet of course anyone could be around you, so even greater care is needed. Merely telling them to switch of or go away for being offended does not improve them or yourselves. In fact it can drive people away from what they enjoy (look at me and Star Trek: Online). By shutting out the voices of others you loose the ability to learn. That is what GamerGate is all about, not ethics, shutting out the voices of others because they don’t want to learn just how horrible things are.
So yeah, I think this was one of my longer posts, but I have been holding this back a bit.