Actual Homophobe? Or Casual Insults?
"You fucking f----t camper", "You're using THAT ability? Man, how g-- are you?", "Come back when your balls drop, q---r." We've heard a slew of it in the gaming world haven't we? Most often when people lose their cool and fly off the handle. There is a lot of homophobic rhetoric out there, and the surprising thing is that quite often people don't actually mean what they say as a direct insult to the LGBT community. Though the LGBT still has major hurdles to jump, it's becoming more and more common place for people to support them overall.
But it doesn't always show, and for many out there it would appear at first glance that the gaming community has a club set aside for gay bashing. You know why people think that? It's because it has become all too common to throw around words as insults towards players we feel are playing cheaply, or who have irritated us in some form. Gay itself, is a harmless word. It's how it's used that can determine the offensiveness of it or not. However, faggot has long since abandoned its original term (bundle of sticks, who would've thought) and has been used as a derogatory term for quite some time now. When you use it, it is more than likely going to be taken offensively.
To be fair, a huge reason this runs so rampant in the online community is because of how rampant it runs in the real world as well. People have used these terms so often, and out of place, that they often don't consider how it makes someone from the LGBT community feel. Most people who use the terms, again, are more often than not actually nice people that just have a very misguided view of what is acceptable. Currently, there is almost zero accountability because people have the misguided notion that it's okay to use these words as long as they're not said with the intention of attacking someone for their sexuality; but consider how the other people must feel, even if it's not aimed at them.
A World Brought Together, A World Still Divided
We are in a world that should long have evolved passed hatred based on the color of one's skin. On one hand, at the very least we are much better off than we used to be. However, in the online world it's a very different story. Racial slurs are thrown around often in videogames, you have the most common ones, and then you have several different slurs from all over the world. The one I hear most often is the "N word", and I hear it thrown around very casually. Meant as insults, yet again, but not meant in a racist way most of the time. And yet, it doesn't make it any less racist now does it?
Now, take into consideration all the other slurs out there. Different cultures, different slang, all potentially hurtful depending on the ears they fall upon, and if not hurtful then potentially angering. I understand in the gaming world that people will always want to get under the skin of their opponents, it's the same approach as anything in life. You want to win, and if you're not careful you'll sacrifice your own moral principles to do so.
I know there will always be tensions between cultures and nations, especially depending on who meets who, but as gamers are we not all together? In the spectrum of the internet, we are without borders. We should try, as hard as we can, to live like one people. If it cannot be so in the real world, why not strive for it in the virtual one?
No Stones Cast
When I was younger, I was very much part of the problem of the online community in many ways, and my mouth would've gotten me into trouble a lot if half of what I said was ever said to someone in person. Believe me when I say that I understand how easy it is to slip into what is deemed acceptable in gaming, it's pack mentality. It's bandwagoning. Whatever word you want to put to it, it is so much easier to just go with the flow of a movement than against it.
But, as people, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other. We deserve better, and people around us deserve better from us. The only way that can be achieved is on a personal level, one by one you have to decide that enough is enough and as more like minded people come together, it will eventually dam the flow. If nothing else, that is a start and maybe people will think twice. By making a more positive atmosphere overall, with time, I do believe that things can change for the better.
An easy place to start, is if you can't shape up entirely all at once (because like any habit, good or bad, such things can be hard to break) limit harsh words and statements that can be taken offensively between a small group of friends where it will be okay. Use each other as support, just try not to let it leak over into where you may let it slip and insult complete strangers. Try to work with your friends if it's an issue, so that you can help each other.
As a whole, it will be very difficult to change the face of the gaming community to a more friendly one. But as I said, if we start on the personal level and work with our friends, then it will grow over time. The damage done to our hobby, our passion, is severe but not beyond repair. There are more problems out there than the three major ones I mentioned, but if we start with the big ones than the smaller ones will hopefully correct themselves overtime. Will you help be part of the solution? If nothing else, I do hope this article will make the reader think before they let remarks that could hurt someone else fly so easily.