November 21, 2017
The world of video games is no longer exclusively for boys. According to data from the Spanish Association of Videogames, 47% of gamers are women. And yet a very high percentage of users report the toxic and macho environment of online games, which pushes many to remain silent about their gender to avoid becoming a target. Gamers have to put up with innuendo, jokes and harassment just because they are girls, attacks supported in many cases by the anonymity and impunity of the network.
Become aware of the problem
Reporting and forcing the industry to become aware of the problem is one of the basic steps in solving it. The Fat, Ugly or Slutty website, for example, is an archive of actual cases of harassment, directed against women who gamble online. The messages are filed into one of three categories, ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ or ‘slutty’ – the three recurring insults from macho men – and provide girls with a place to lean on and share experiences.
In many online spaces, the organizers offer a report button, but it is difficult for users to know if something really happens in those cases afterwards. Some games also have an algorithm that can immediately catch if derogatory terms are being used and can be banned, but they only catch direct and explicit insults. In this sense, online security specialists and psychologists have been claiming the need to achieve a cultural change to end the problem.
In this sense, the specialists also emphasize the importance of communicating any action of this type and reporting it. It is not just about putting an end to a certain situation, but about locating those responsible to prevent the problem from recurring in the future or from bothering other users. On many occasions, bullies and stalkers do not act against a single person, but have several objectives or types of objectives that they regularly harass. In this sense, the complaint can serve to help other girls who may find themselves in the same situation.
Harassment campaigns and event cancellations
One of the turning points in online harassment of women was the Gamergate. In the summer of 2014, user groups began a protest against various industry figures and their relationship with the specialized press, which subsequently degenerated into attacks of all kinds against women and the feminist movement. The harassment campaigns included doxing (posting of personal information) and threats on 4chan, Internet Relay Chat, Twitter or Reddit. Many Gamergate supporters opposed what they see as the growing and unfair influence of feminism in video game culture.
In this context, some Spanish players decided this year to form the Gaming Ladies forum and create events aimed solely at women to create safe spaces for gamers. The nature of the event again aroused criticism from some male sectors of the gaming community and the organizers had to endure weeks of insults and boycott threats, which ended up forcing the cancellation of the event. The promoters did not give up and finally Gaming Ladies was able to hold its first event at the end of July in Barcelona. In the past, other communities of girl gamers had suffered similar situations in other countries: as in the famous South By Southwest festival, in Austin, which had to cancel several talks aimed at women due to criticism and threats.
Source: Girl gamers and cyberbullying – Panda Security Mediacenter
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