The Current Norms
When people go online, their behavior changes and doing things that would not be acceptable out in public, have become accepted by a large portion of the gaming community. That is not to say that all people are terrible, uncaring, etc. It's that there is a sort of 'pack mentality' where many people don't think about what they say. Everyone else is doing it, so it's okay for them to as well right? Wrong.
I am one of many who feel there are some things in the online world that need to change. Unless you're happy with the news outlets trying to scapegoat our hobby as a lair for all things wrong with humanity, or unless you actually - are - one of the things wrong with humanity, I think you too recognize that there is need for change.
The Evolution Of The Gamer, And Of The Gamer Stereotype
In the 1990's, both console gaming and PC gaming were on a steady incline. During this incline, videogames were mostly thought as 'just for kids'. And if you were a teen or adult who played? Well, congratulations, you just bought yourself a ticket to being ostracized for having a hobby you enjoy! For the most part, the stereotype was that the only people who played videogames were nerdy or geeky shut ins with no desire to play sports, or socially interact, and according to the stereotype had sealed themselves into eternal virginity. With the tragedy of Columbine the media added onto the stereotype by trying to make people fearful of the average gamer.
With the evolution of gaming came new stereotypes and ignorant thinking from people around the world during the 2000's. Times were changing, more people were starting to get into the world of gaming. You would think that bringing so many people together would be a great idea right? Of course it is! Humanity is competitive by nature. We have competitions for everything and now we had online gaming. LAN was still there, but true online gaming is when videogames really started to take off as a whole.
With the introduction of competition on a literally global scale thanks to the huge surge in online gaming, the stereotype stuck. Sadly enough, it's the actions of many that have actually earned some of these for us. The most common problems online that make people wary of gamers? Sexism, homophobic rhetoric, and racist remarks. I could generalize it as lack of common decency as a whole, but by splitting it into the three most pressing issues, hopefully some major strides can be made.
This is not to say that every single gamer is guilty of those. In fact, just the opposite. Just as society contributes to how we act day in and day out through social standards, gaming has its own social standards; and they need to change.
Those two words are something that the female gamer commonly has to put up with when the nature of their gender surfaces in pretty much any online game. I can't tell you how many times I've rolled my eyes hearing some of the things that men say to try to win the admiration of someone they've just met, and have zero clue about. What's worse is that more often than not, it's not just unwanted attention that they have to put up with, but also sexist remarks that many think is just harmless smack talk or joking. It's not. In my time as a gamer, I've made friends with several female gamers and the consensus is the same; they get treated differently in multiple ways just because they're females in what is considered a hobby dominated by males.
It's true, at one point video gaming was a male dominated hobby. However, as gaming has grown so has its diversity in audience. Did you know that as of 2013, almost half of the gaming community are female? 45% of the gaming community is female. So why is it that they're still getting a bum wrap? Well, it's a mix of things that are no fault of their own. As a guy, I still think it's awesome to run into female gamers, and as a single guy I'll admit I definitely want to meet a woman that is into the same things I'm into; HOWEVER, you will not see me barrage them with flirtatious remarks and unwanted advances. I do not know them, I literally just met them, why should I show an interest like that right from the start? Furthermore, why should I expect that interest to be well received? It's true, friendships and deeper relationships have the potential to blossom online, but I can guarantee you that most of them don't start by coming on too strongly to a woman you've just met.
And it gets worse. I've heard the words 'whore', 'slut', and 'bitch' thrown around often when a female gamer enters the lobby. Usually, aimed at a female who just knocked someone down a few pegs. I've heard women called fat right off the bat, why? Not because they actually know that to be a fact, but simply because they're playing games. How many times have you heard jokes relating to women in the kitchen? Probably a countless amount. People don't think about what they say before they say it, because behind the anonymity of the online world combined with the alarming aspects of bandwagoning, things become so common that people just stop questioning them. Those who -do- question them, are usually met with either attacks or overly defensive statements.