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September 30
2013

Off-Handed: A Story of How Hate Escalates in the Gaming Community

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[Update] The Eurogamer Expo Emcee featured in this story has since released an apology for any offense caused in the matter, and claims to have never referred to the journalist as an “it”. Any indirect pronouns heard were reportedly used during the hectic fervor of a convention event. Neither Microsoft nor the journalist subject of the below story have updated their statements at this time.

Original Article is as follows:

Here we are again.

The games industry looks to be collecting transphobia controversies these days, with another pungent example of mobilized hatred rearing its head just over two weeks after the GTAV review fiasco. What’s even more horrifying is that the situation has appeared to have escalated, more malicious and certainly more personal than when we last heard trolls bitching on this specific subject. Which makes writing about it all the more difficult, because we’re not exactly going to tell you what went down.

Now, we are fine name-dropping Carolyn Petit in the wake of the comments her Gamespot review received. While the language directed towards her frequently dipped into the obscene and personal, it was largely diverted into calling her credibility into account as a reviewer and demanding her dismissal. Yes, that’s a light offensive these days.

The basics this time around was that a Microsoft conference Emcee at this year’s Eurogamer Expo brought a transgender games journalist on stage during an Xbox One event. During that time, she was both misidentified and referred to as an “it”. Expressing her discomfort at the treatment, she was given the traditional PR reach-around known as the “We’re sorry you were offended” line, and not given the opportunity to speak to the Emcee directly. So far, so frustratingly expected.

While this is not the first time an insensitive remark found it’s way onto a Microsoft stage (recall how a female gamer faking an inability to play Killer Instinct was told to …just let it happen, it’ll be over soon.”), it was still an easily avoidable trip into coward’s humor. Hell, that aforementioned E3 dig was actually a callback to a phrase attributed to Mike Tyson while in the ring with his male boxing opponents. It’s still a metaphorical reference to rape, but you can see where the simple intentions went awry. Off-handed is still the most common way to deliver a slap to those stubborn non-White straight male “true” gamers that keep hanging around the place.

It’s hard to even blame our purposefully unnamed Eurogamer Expo emcee, being off the cuff at a corporate PR event is one of the most painful situations to stick any comedian in. He ventured into territory he couldn’t re-contextualize well enough, and sharted out a cheap laugh that went bad. Not everyone can be George Carlin. Can’t find a public apology made by him as of yet, but he has since been set upon by the Politically Correct Twitter Brigade. He’s on his way to receiving about 1/100th of the hate from 1/1,000th of people that the targeted journalist did.

Because the Kotaku Multiplier has since taken hold of the story. For those unaware of the term, don’t worry, I just made it up. The phrase herein refers to the exponential – and often negative – response a story of mistreatment within the games industry will receive once it is published on the Kotaku website. This is not an admonishment of Kotaku or its editors and writers, one can never judge a publication by its readers alone. This may unfortunately be just a natural occurrence when a publication is successful in getting enough gamers looking at the same byline. But there is a reason that anyone daring advocacy in this medium cringes whenever they see or hear of their name or work appearing under that heading.

That’s because, once identified, subjects of harassment stories are expected to receive messages on a scale of trolling to death threats. This comparatively minor instance of harassment – again, a pity we can quantify such a thing – bloated over the comments section into the personal Twitter account of the journalist in question. So unyielding and dark were the insults and threats received that the journalist spent most of the day demanding the story be removed. The article has since been altered and now includes a call for civility by Kotaku’s editor in chief, but the damage had long ago been done. The journalist has since refused to comment on the matter for any press outlet, hence our reticence to name any party involved.

And here is where the scary part comes in. The gamers so efficient at personally hunting down and attacking minorities of all creeds that dare question their status quo, they are in danger of winning. Even more frightening, they are not organized. This isn’t a unified group planning and executing complex media breaches, nor in this current social environment does it have to be. An amalgam of social wretches have proven themselves so effective at utilizing the intimacy of social media, aided by the anonymity of the internet, to harass victims of gamer community misdeeds that it is acting as a deterrent for potential new voices in the industry.

It’s common knowledge how quickly this vocal minority (hopefully) can attach itself to people or stories of advocacy, and potential transgender, women or minority voices are skeptical about having to deal with such derangement on a daily basis. Video games as an entity are young, and our trolls are even younger, with tools at their disposal that allow immediate, unfiltered expressions of thought and intent. It’s highly likely that as games keep evolving, these voices will be drowned out by these more diverse crowds. It’s just a matter of whether these blitzkriegs of gutter trash will quiet long enough to persuade them to get in the industry in the first place.

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About Gavin Greene

(Writer) GavinGreene.exe was installed in December of 1987, and has been gaming ever since his motor skills have allowed. In addition to making them pretty words here, he operates as Production Coordinator at Phoenix Online Studios, and News Editor at Elder Geek. You can follow his inane babbling over on Twitter (@GameDevGav).

3 Responses

  1. avatar Anthony says:

    Please make a correction – never, I mean NEVER, refer to a Trans* person as being “transgendered”

    If you are gay, you aren’t “homophied,” you are just gay. Same thing for folks who are simply transgender.

    It’s offensive and insensitive.

    <3

  2. avatar Daniel says:

    You guys should start reading the australian Kotaku articles, the american ones get reposted there but there is a significantly smaller proportion of trolls and alot of well considered comments.

  3. avatar lorewise says:

    “No offence was intended when I referred to _________ as ‘this person’ after I asked the audience to applaud her…

    …and I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any offence and hurt I may have caused.

    There will be no further comment or response regarding this matter.”

    That was his apology / non-apology. He’s also gone on record as to denying completely that he referred to her as “it”. Which itself has been contested by people that were there.

    Either way you’re spot on. Gaming (as a culture) has the same problems as the societies that support it, but for some reason it seems to be intensely magnified in the internet spaces.

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