Polygon: Gaming's Toxic Men, Explained

Toadofsky

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User Warned: Vilifying Journalism
I'm not saying you can't be angry or upset about the issues, but if antagonistic is the default tone then expect war or silence. People are either gonna not participate in the discussion or they are going to be antagonistic back to you. In the age of the internet politics have become a fight instead of a discussion where you with for me or against me. This doesn't lead to discussion it doesn't lead to changing hearts and minds either. But that's just my opinion.

People like to shout "tone policing" when statements when people feel this way but the only thing constant aggression and name-calling helps is increasing the echo chamber. If anything we should be better than trolls. In my opinion.
At this point it just seems like neither side really wants any sort of conversation and just wants to keep arguments/fan the flames to feel vindicated for their side being correct on a matter.

And for video games, the most trivial thing in the grand scheme of things in the world to be running around screaming about.

Speaking for myself, being detached from all of this gaming/nerd culture and all the discussions on it’s importance such as gamez iz art guys!! Or how outraged you should be over the new She-Ra or Buffy’s reboot (that totally isn’t Whedon’s desperate attempt to get in people’s good graces again) has been a mental benefit. It’s not to say games can’t do better but Jesus has this conversation on culture been beaten to death. But I guess whatever makes the games press still feel relevant.
 

Jerykk

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Dec 26, 2017
1,184
The developers designed a level where you assassinate a target in a strip club with the added option of knocking out strippers with a minor penalty to the score, yes this is fundamentally the same mechanic for Mocs who aren't strippers, but the context is changed specifically when the background npcs are strippers because art doesn't exist in a vacuum. They also commissioned a trailer around the level where you brutally murder scantily clad nun assassins. In the same game, one of the final targets is the lover of the main villain, who strips in front of you before she tries to kill you. This is the same game which opens up with a voyeuristic view of a woman showering. Hitman Absolution was really garbage when it came into its portrayal of women.
No argument from me when it comes to the overall sexualization of women in Absolution. However, that's not what Sarkeesian was talking about in this example. She was talking about a specific interaction that wasn't inherently sexist in any way yet she tried to portray it as such. That's what makes her arguments so problematic. She could have easily focused on the nun assassins and made completely valid points. She didn't need to resort to flimsy and dishonest misrepresentations of gameplay.
 

Crossing Eden

Member
Oct 26, 2017
18,243
No argument from me when it comes to the overall sexualization of women in Absolution. However, that's not what Sarkeesian was talking about in this example. She was talking about a specific interaction that wasn't inherently sexist in any way yet she tried to portray it as such. That's what makes her arguments so problematic. She could have easily focused on the nun assassins and made completely valid points. She didn't need to resort to flimsy and dishonest misrepresentations of gameplay.
As I said the context changes depending on the imagery itself.
 
I guess I really don't find this article particularly illuminating when attempting to answer the question, "what is the unique makeup of the misogynistic male demographic inside the video game community (and perhaps nerd culture as a whole)". It makes a brief mention of the notion that men who don't fit the profile of traditional masculinity try to construct an alternate masculinity within video games, but that's a very broad stroke and doesn't really dig into the pathological nitty-gritty behind the phenomenon.
 

Pixieking

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Oct 25, 2017
4,202
And for video games, the most trivial thing in the grand scheme of things in the world to be running around screaming about.
The fact that the alt-right has used GamerGate tactics, and that GG was also born out of misogyny which is a staple of the alt-right, is illustrative of how the videogame industry - and comics, and SF/F with Puppies, and various fandoms like SW - is used both as a breeding ground for anti-diversity political indoctrination, and as an experimental laboratory for weaponising hate, ignorance and fear.

In this sense, toxicity in gaming is very much an important piece of our wider world.
 

Nimby

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Oct 27, 2017
1,878
This is a very insightful read, especially if you're coming into this article with little background on GamerGate and feminism in gaming.
 

Jerykk

Banned
Dec 26, 2017
1,184
As I said the context changes depending on the imagery itself.
No, it really doesn't. It doesn't matter if it's a stripper, a waiter, a janitor or any other NPC. You are discouraged from killing civilians in the Hitman games and Absolution did not reward or encourage the murder of strippers in any way. There's a level in Absolution that takes place in a court house. As such, there are police roaming around but that doesn't mean the game encourages cop killing.
 
Nov 3, 2017
1,957
I guess I really don't find this article particularly illuminating when attempting to answer the question, "what is the unique makeup of the misogynistic male demographic inside the video game community (and perhaps nerd culture as a whole)". It makes a brief mention of the notion that men who don't fit the profile of traditional masculinity try to construct an alternate masculinity within video games, but that's a very broad stroke and doesn't really dig into the pathological nitty-gritty behind the phenomenon.
My suspicion is that there is a lack of data to make a conclusive statement at the moment.

A few months ago, I attended a conference about anger in children and young people, specifically young males, and the panel was chaired by distinguish academics and professionals in the child wellbeing space, and when I raised a question about the growing anger online, especially in ‘nerdy’ spaces, and was met with largely blank faces.

Academically and professionally, the focus is understandly on areas such as juvenile justice and domestic violence. What we’ve learned in those spaces however is not particularly applicable here since children and young people in those circumstances tend to have very readily identifiable sources of anger. Those sources might be complex and difficult to address, but are nonetheless identifiable.

Toxic gamers however, tend to follow a different trend. They tend to be middle class, educated, young white males who you wouldn’t immediately recognise as being at risk. Similarly their sources of anger are more abstract, like feminism or SJWs as opposed to something like an abusive father
 

MattWilsonCSS

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
1,349
It's not about making a mistake. It's about intentionally misrepresenting the facts in order to achieve an agenda. Sarkeesian made it look like the goal of Hitman was to murder strippers and manipulate their corpses for sexual gratification. She knew this obviously wasn't true but went out of her way to misrepresent the game as such. She did the same with Dishonored and Deus Ex, taking neutral gameplay mechanics and systems and making them look like they were designed for misogynistic perverts.

It's a shame because Sarkeesian does make some valid points. However, the way she tries to argue those points is often dishonest and that undermines her position.
I can't believe how many people think the Hitman claims were wrong. Absolution was a vile, odious game that on top of being A MEDIOCRE HITMAN GAME, was cruel in its treatment of women. And the strippers depiction is of course bad, and then using a dead stripper to distract enemies is also pretty dehumanizing. I played the fuckin game, and I saw what Anita saw. There's a dead stripper on the rafters that you knock over to distract people.

I do not understand why people go to bat for a BAD hitman game. Not even the good 2016 game but the bad one, like, the worst one. It'd be like people going to bat for Deus Ex: The Fall.
 

CG Amor

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Oct 30, 2017
1,376
We're the ones discussing things. The people this article is writing about never want to have this discussion and go to disgusting lengths to avoid and crush that conversation. Calling it antagonistic because it goes over these very serious issues in a well written and in depth manner comes at it from the view of the toxic base.
I agree with you, but the persons original post also mentioned ERA's discussions too, as seen below and I agree, that some won't or can't participate in conversations here because of the attitudes of some members.

But more to my point, some threads on Era have increasing become hostile to anyone, that doesn't conform to increasingly liberal viewpoints and there is no room for moderate opinions on any social issue. I'm not talking about being moderate on what is racist or sexist there is little Grey area there, but if you don't vehemently disown, boycott, call out, and condemn anyone that the echo chamber decides needs to go you risk backlash. Honestly it can feel like people are more in a rush to tell someone how much of a piece of shit they are and anyone like them than actually discuss the issues challenging the industry today. It makes it scary to comment in any social/political thread.
 

The Woods

the way out is through
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Oct 25, 2017
3,728
This topic is not about Anita Sarkeesian's video on Hitman, but about systemic sexism in the gaming industry. Please drop the derail and let's get back on topic.
 

Jerykk

Banned
Dec 26, 2017
1,184
I can't believe how many people think the Hitman claims were wrong. Absolution was a vile, odious game that on top of being A MEDIOCRE HITMAN GAME, was cruel in its treatment of women. And the strippers depiction is of course bad, and then using a dead stripper to distract guards is also pretty dehumanizing. I played the fuckin game, and I saw what Anita saw.

I do not understand why people go to bat for a BAD hitman game. Not even the good 2016 game but the bad one, like, the worst one. It'd be like people going to bat for Deus Ex: The Fall.
It's called being objective. Absolution was certainly a bad Hitman game but Sarkeesian's example was an objectively dishonest misrepresentation of a core gameplay mechanic. You say that using a dead stripper to distract a guard is dehumanizing but that's true of using any corpse to that end. In Hitman, you can kill any NPC, drag their corpse around, stuff it in a closet or trash bin or use it to distract guards. That mechanic is gender-neutral and was not designed to promote the objectification of women but Sarkeesian makes that very claim.
 

MattWilsonCSS

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Oct 25, 2017
1,349
It's called being objective. Absolution was certainly a bad Hitman game but Sarkeesian's example was an objectively dishonest misrepresentation of a core gameplay mechanic. You say that using a dead stripper to distract a guard is dehumanizing but that's true of using any corpse to that end. In Hitman, you can kill any NPC, drag their corpse around, stuff it in a closet or trash bin or use it to distract guards. That mechanic is gender-neutral and was not designed to promote the objectification of women but Sarkeesian makes that very claim.
It's not gender neutral, because the context changes. Think about it like this. In comedies, especially cartoons, it's often a funny gag when a guy's pants fall down and you see his underwear. Now what if it's a woman's pants falling down? The reaction would be different, the context changes. Doesn't matter about writer's intent.

Also, what do you mean by "objective", because Tropes vs Women isn't an encyclopedia, it's a woman giving her opinion on problematic tropes in media.
 

MattWilsonCSS

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Oct 25, 2017
1,349
Jerykk MattWilsonCSS In case you missed the mod-post above.
Thanks for pointing that out.

Back on to the original topic. This is absolutely about gamers -- Steve Bannon rose to power through GamerGate. And as long as there are people who come into threads and say "not all men" "not all gamers" then we won't ever be able to get past the first gear of discussion. That's why I like the "why women criticize sexualized designs" thread, because it has fostered a community that has long since gotten beyond that phase and is on to actual discussion.

e: and "it's just video games" is an egregious dismissal of the problems women face IN THE INDUSTRY, let alone covering it or writing about it. It's not "just video games" to someone who is sent death threats and pictures of their house, it's not "just video games" to someone who gets all of their personal information doxxed.
 
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Nimby

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,878
Idolization of "alpha male" status among male gamers is the unfortunate consequence of a poor education and upbringing. In a real world setting, assuming most of the toxic male demographic was at one point marginalized, it makes sense these men would take to the internet in droves to be the person society taught them to be.

You also take a hobby promoted and sold to young white men for decades that only recently started trying to sell to minorities and women, the attitude these men exhibit is psychologically understandable. They don't view this situation as an opportunity to make games feel special to everyone, only everyone that's not them.
 

Crossing Eden

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Oct 26, 2017
18,243
The fact that the alt-right has used GamerGate tactics, and that GG was also born out of misogyny which is a staple of the alt-right, is illustrative of how the videogame industry - and comics, and SF/F with Puppies, and various fandoms like SW - is used both as a breeding ground for anti-diversity political indoctrination, and as an experimental laboratory for weaponising hate, ignorance and fear.

In this sense, toxicity in gaming is very much an important piece of our wider world.
Right on the mark.
 

PhazonBlonde

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May 18, 2018
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Somewhere deep in space
I guess I really don't find this article particularly illuminating when attempting to answer the question, "what is the unique makeup of the misogynistic male demographic inside the video game community (and perhaps nerd culture as a whole)". It makes a brief mention of the notion that men who don't fit the profile of traditional masculinity try to construct an alternate masculinity within video games, but that's a very broad stroke and doesn't really dig into the pathological nitty-gritty behind the phenomenon.
"
Hegemonic or traditional masculinity is often constructed in terms of physical strength, good looks, cognitive hardness, minimal emotion. This is the sort of masculinity that is often portrayed in the media: the strong and silent hero who rescues the girl.

Men who are seen as “nerdy” are often persecuted for not adhering to these norms. However, instead of rejecting this traditional masculine construct and pursuing alternative forms of masculinity, it seems that some nerdy men are doubling down on the one bit of traditional masculinity that is available to them, which is technological competence.

What I think is happening with this line of thinking is that if technology becomes the domain of women, that puts their masculinity at risk. This is why they are so intent on keeping technology as the purview of men. It’s where they see themselves as having dominance and control."

That answers your question. Gaming is the one place they see themselves having control and being able to display their masculinity.
 

CG Amor

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Oct 30, 2017
1,376
Toxic gamers however, tend to follow a different trend. They tend to be middle class, educated, young white males who you wouldn’t immediately recognise as being at risk. Similarly their sources of anger are more abstract, like feminism or SJWs as opposed to something like an abusive father
Where do you get this from?

The very same issues that you mentioned above in your original post can very much be reasons behind toxic behaviour. If anything, toxicity In gaming probably has more in common with the socioeconomic and family dynamics these academics discuss.

I've worked with youth of all ages that all come from a wide variety of backgrounds full of abuses among other horrible things. They tend to carry a lot of what they learned from their environment and parents into their day to day life such as violence, and sexism etc... if anything gaming is just another outlet for maladjusted people to use. Its not unique in any way.
 

Nav

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Oct 27, 2017
1,894
One thing I was surprised was not mentioned, at least explicitly, was the role anonymity plays in toxic gaming subcultures. It's a lot easier to adopt a heinous view or commit a vile act when there are no social checks on your behavior, in part because your actions may very well be anonymous.

Granted, relative fame and notoriety can be equal bedfellows to bad behavior, as with the YouTube alt-right stars the article mentions.
 

Maximo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,317
Thats a long article and it really hits the nail on the head. Gaming has been a nerds/boys thing for ages, and finally its starting to change into something everyone can enjoy, but men think that this will somehow make their experiences worse which is pretty dumb.
*Don't take away my sexy women!*
 

D i Z

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,171
Where X marks the spot.
At this point it just seems like neither side really wants any sort of conversation and just wants to keep arguments/fan the flames to feel vindicated for their side being correct on a matter.

And for video games, the most trivial thing in the grand scheme of things in the world to be running around screaming about.

Speaking for myself, being detached from all of this gaming/nerd culture and all the discussions on it’s importance such as gamez iz art guys!! Or how outraged you should be over the new She-Ra or Buffy’s reboot (that totally isn’t Whedon’s desperate attempt to get in people’s good graces again) has been a mental benefit. It’s not to say games can’t do better but Jesus has this conversation on culture been beaten to death. But I guess whatever makes the games press still feel relevant.
You don't sound detached at all. Quite the opposite actually.
 

BDubsLegend

Banned
Jan 24, 2018
1,027
The toxic fucks aren't going to have a conversation just because you're nice to them. They do not ever want to have that discussion otherwise they would have had it already. These people are out there to hurt others and you act like we should treat them better than they treat anyone else.
You're not talking to TOXIC FUCKS on Era are you? We should be able to disagree, or not all have the same exact opnion or a more nuanced opnion without being called TOXIC FUCKS. There's always this argument that if you're not agreeing with parts of the echo chamber you MUST be for the bad actors. It's not always true and its condescending sometime as well.

The "other side" is making threats, harassing, or fuck, engaging in mass shootings or mowing down protesters with their cars. I think that complaining we are uncivil sometimes lacks perspective on your part, yeah?
This "other side" shit is what I'm talking about. I 'm not in a political war on the internet that I have to fly a flag for every time I comment on a social issue. This view you take is the same as comparing people who disagree with you Hitler. I don't condone Violence and Alt right terrorism just because my views are not as liberal as yours. Just because the world is shit doesn't mean I have to be shit with it. Again this is Era not some political debate arena where enemies are clashing. I like to think outside the trolls that get quickly banned well all have some level of agreement on racism, sexism, and LBGTQ issues otherwise why come here?


I feel what your saying but how does a discussion happen? When everything mentioned in that article despite being true is met with pushback.

I'm not saying it's impossible. But if I hand a report of hey here are all the things you did. & you want to fold your arms and tune out how does the conversation start with those demographics?
Here on Era I doubt the key issue of bad actors spreading racism, sexism and homophobia would get much push back. Again it would be rightly banned anyway. I think the push back is lumping entire groups of people into one category, or people who don't feel as strongly about the issue as you (not you specifically) do. The name calling, wishing people would die, and condescending posts have really started to get out of hand recently in my opinion. People have taken being angry and frustrated to the next level. It feels like as long as I'm on the side of the liberal echo chamber, I can say whatever I want, how I want because I know I have the moral high ground. It makes for a hostile environment. Remember this is Era no some anybody forum where anybody can spout off whatever harmful political beliefs they want to post.
 

Rmagnus

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,923
You're not talking to TOXIC FUCKS on Era are you? We should be able to disagree, or not all have the same exact opnion or a more nuanced opnion without being called TOXIC FUCKS. There's always this argument that if you're not agreeing with parts of the echo chamber you MUST be for the bad actors. It's not always true and its condescending sometime as well.



This "other side" shit is what I'm talking about. I 'm not in a political war on the internet that I have to fly a flag for every time I comment on a social issue. This view you take is the same as comparing people who disagree with you Hitler. I don't condone Violence and Alt right terrorism just because my views are not as liberal as yours. Just because the world is shit doesn't mean I have to be shit with it. Again this is Era not some political debate arena where enemies are clashing. I like to think outside the trolls that get quickly banned well all have some level of agreement on racism, sexism, and LBGTQ issues otherwise why come here?




Here on Era I doubt the key issue of bad actors spreading racism, sexism and homophobia would get much push back. Again it would be rightly banned anyway. I think the push back is lumping entire groups of people into one category, or people who don't feel as strongly about the issue as you (not you specifically) do. The name calling, wishing people would die, and condescending posts have really started to get out of hand recently in my opinion. People have taken being angry and frustrated to the next level. It feels like as long as I'm on the side of the liberal echo chamber, I can say whatever I want, how I want because I know I have the moral high ground. It makes for a hostile environment. Remember this is Era no some anybody forum where anybody can spout off whatever harmful political beliefs they want to post.
Oh yes the mods are on 24/7, new accounts are never made,sorry boo
 
Nov 3, 2017
1,957
Where do you get this from?

The very same issues that you mentioned above in your original post can very much be reasons behind toxic behaviour. If anything, toxicity In gaming probably has more in common with the socioeconomic and family dynamics these academics discuss.

I've worked with youth of all ages that all come from a wide variety of backgrounds full of abuses among other horrible things. They tend to carry a lot of what they learned from their environment and parents into their day to day life such as violence, and sexism etc... if anything gaming is just another outlet for maladjusted people to use. Its not unique in any way.
We lack comprehensive census data, but there are early indications that gamers are more likely to be educated and middle income. Twitch commissioned a study that found gamers more educated than the general populace, and a large scale survey by Nesta found something similar. Obviously neither are definitive, especially given Twitch’s financial interest in flattering gamers, but given that gaming is a relatively expensive hobby, I think it’s a reasonable assumption that gamers as a whole come from more provileged sociaeconomic backgrounds than people with a history of abuse.

And yes, I agree with you that people from abuse backgrounds carry those wounds that later manifest as violence, racism and sexism. But extrapolating that onto all of gaming doesn’t account for how widespread gaming toxicity is.

Maladjusted people using gaming as an outlet wouldn’t be able to drive the culture of gaming unless the broader community was already primed and receptive towards that behaviour
 

BDubsLegend

Banned
Jan 24, 2018
1,027
One thing I was surprised was not mentioned, at least explicitly, was the role anonymity plays in toxic gaming subcultures. It's a lot easier to adopt a heinous view or commit a vile act when there are no social checks on your behavior, in part because your actions may very well be anonymous.

Granted, relative fame and notoriety can be equal bedfellows to bad behavior, as with the YouTube alt-right stars the article mentions.
Anonymity is the root of all Toxic internet behavior in my opinion. You don't know me, I don't have to get to know you. No responsibility for my actions or need to be civil. Anonymity is the downfall of decent discourse. I can be a monster behind a keyboard, but pretend to be civil in public.
 

deepFlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
13,393
At this point it just seems like neither side really wants any sort of conversation and just wants to keep arguments/fan the flames to feel vindicated for their side being correct on a matter.

And for video games, the most trivial thing in the grand scheme of things in the world to be running around screaming about.

Speaking for myself, being detached from all of this gaming/nerd culture and all the discussions on it’s importance such as gamez iz art guys!! Or how outraged you should be over the new She-Ra or Buffy’s reboot (that totally isn’t Whedon’s desperate attempt to get in people’s good graces again) has been a mental benefit. It’s not to say games can’t do better but Jesus has this conversation on culture been beaten to death. But I guess whatever makes the games press still feel relevant.
Are you really making this a “both sides” issue, where people being angry back at toxicity somehow want this to continue? Nobody dealing with this wants this, and effectively dismissing discussion of this as “beaten to death” is also pretty disgusting given what women and marginalized people still face in this industry, the entirety of what Gamergate is and has done, not to mention its influence on the alt-right as others have described. It’s not trivial when it impacts people’s lives on the daily.

Tell us more about how you feel about the “games press”, I guess.
 

foamdino

Member
Oct 28, 2017
41
I think it's a shame that the mainstream game dev companies, by going down the road of catering almost exclusively towards a white male demographic (which I am part of), that so much creativity was dumped.

Being inclusive and taking in ideas from all facets of society, games will naturally have more variety - which means as a gamer you're more likely to find something that you like.

Instead we had a wasteland - end of PS2 era into XBox360/PS3 era when the most visible/highly marketed games were all about guns/soldiers - Gears/Halo/Killzone/Cod etc - the 'brown military fps' era was also when multiplayer on consoles became a huge thing.

My thesis is that the toxic culture around gaming stems from the fact that most of the kids that grew up playing these competitive multiplayer military-style games - these types of games were their 'coming of age' in video games and a portion of these people went on to become part of the industry perpetuating the same toxic ideas.

Outside of gaming, as a non-USian, discussion around minorities etc here and at the old place, I don't feel that I live in the same world as the people who say we live in this dystopia. I rarely post anyway, and even more rarely will I dip into these threads as I don't feel I have much to add to the discussion, but this time I just wanted to highlight the fact that there is a US perspective that drives the discussions that people from other parts of the world may not be familiar with.
 

Machachan

Member
Mar 21, 2018
2,226
Like clockwork: A thread about toxicity in gaming has, of course, the usual suspects dissing Anita Sarkeesian.
It is incrediblly tiring, especially when the example she made about the game is... entirely correct, and about a game that is deeply misogynistic in general. The biggest issue with her Hitman review is only that she wasn't damning it enough.

Unrelated to that:
I 'm not in a political war on the internet that I have to fly a flag for every time I comment on a social issue
That is very lucky, and I envy you. The problem is that some of us are in a "political war" on the internet - just by virtue of having a job in the industry, not by choice. Not being a straight, white male is often seen as a political statement already in this industry.

I like to think outside the trolls that get quickly banned well all have some level of agreement on racism, sexism, and LBGTQ issues otherwise why come here?
Just go to any thread on gender/minority related issues, and you will see this is not quite the case. It's usually a lake of "Well, calling women FEEEMALES is fine because dictionary" and "well, Anita Sarkeesian is terrible" and "straight white guys are the truly oppressed ones ;_;" and "Well, these alt-righters aren't so bad". You can observe several of those in this very thread. Several major alt-right players have defense forces in this forum, that doesn't come from nowhere.

Resetera is not some sort of liberal paradise free of racist, sexist, transphobic and/or homophobic opinions. Not in the slightest. It's better than most gaming forums, but that's just a statement on how bad most of those are.
 

ShiftyHermit

Member
Oct 27, 2017
361
You cannot blame it on any one thing. However, the comment system online has been eroding consistently since its inception. Online anonymity is something that people tend to do terrible things with and a solution hasn't been found to deal with it yet. Paying people to moderate these spaces gets extremely expensive from a business perspective. If you eliminate it altogether, then you lose a potential valuable resource depending on the type. Or you eliminate anonymity completely and run into issues of persecution, revenge, targeted identity theft.

These people aren't men to me, they are boys. Boys who are insecure and never matured, albeit for a number of reasons. If you do your job well and have a great work ethic, you should not have anything to worry about. It baffles me that people feel threatened when women are starting to have a voice about feeling equal I'm the workforce. They should feel at home in any profession they choose and be compensated just as well as any other person in the building within their job title. It is literally the right thing to do, it's not hard.

The fact that people are making excuses for doing what is right instead of doing the right thing infuriates me.

I typically stay out of these threads because I don't want to say something I shouldn't. I have been extremely lucky to work in a place that values competence - not gender, sexual orientation or beliefs.

Every single one of us across the entire planet: eats, sleeps, laughs, loves, cries, gets angry, gets irrational, lonely, happy, and takes a shit. Not everyone gets along with everyone else and that's okay. Our personalities mesh with certain people. Find the ones you like, but be a good person and be fair.

/End Rant
 

D i Z

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,171
Where X marks the spot.
Cut to the chase and just say that these are children stunted. They never grew up, and were never socialized effectively or properly. Empathetic voids because they don't understand simple interactions until threatened. Yeah you.
 

BDubsLegend

Banned
Jan 24, 2018
1,027
Like clockwork: A thread about toxicity in gaming has, of course, the usual suspects dissing Anita Sarkeesian.
It is incrediblly tiring, especially when the example she made about the game is... entirely correct, and about a game that is deeply misogynistic in general. The biggest issue with her Hitman review is only that she wasn't damning it enough.

Unrelated to that:


That is very lucky, and I envy you. The problem is that some of us are in a "political war" on the internet - just by virtue of having a job in the industry, not by choice. Not being a straight, white male is often seen as a political statement already in this industry.



Just go to any thread on gender/minority related issues, and you will see this is not quite the case. It's usually a lake of "Well, calling women FEEEMALES is fine because dictionary" and "well, Anita Sarkeesian is terrible" and "straight white guys are the truly oppressed ones ;_;" and "Well, these alt-righters aren't so bad". You can observe several of those in this very thread. Several major alt-right players have defense forces in this forum, that doesn't come from nowhere.

Resetera is not some sort of liberal paradise free of racist, sexist, transphobic and/or homophobic opinions. Not in the slightest. It's better than most gaming forums, but that's just a statement on how bad most of those are.
I have never seen talk that this that was not immediately banned. I'm not saying this is a paradise, but this forum is the most liberal forum about video games I visit.

This thread isn't about her but sometimes Sarkeesian says and does things that are shit in my opinion. Doesn't mean everything she does is shit, doesn't mean she's never had excellent points and it damn sure doesn't mean I hate women or support the alt right. This is the kind of stuff that breeds pushback. I can not like Anita Sarkeesian and still want to support women in games. I personally don't have a problem with her. Just because gamergaters don't like her, it doesn't make me an alt right gamergater if I don't like her.
 

deepFlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
13,393
Anonymity is the root of all Toxic internet behavior in my opinion. You don't know me, I don't have to get to know you. No responsibility for my actions or need to be civil. Anonymity is the downfall of decent discourse. I can be a monster behind a keyboard, but pretend to be civil in public.
I feel like anonymity is easy to blame but it’s not everything.

Plenty of people spout abhorrent shit even with their name and face attached. It’s probably true that anonymity makes it even less likely that people will empathize with someone they’re behaving monstrously towards, sure, but there are lots of folks who are openly monstrous in the real world as well. And similarly though anonymity might make someone feel empowered to say a horrible thing they’d have filtered out before it left their mouth otherwise (even if they’re only saying it to cause trouble), it was still something they’d have considered regardless.
 

SapientWolf

Member
Nov 6, 2017
2,721
I mean, if most of us on this board can agree that sexist or misogynistic depictions of women in a game contribute to a greater problem of misogyny in the gaming community, then it should be clear that pornography, which on the whole is far more misogynistic and sexist than any video game, would also contribute to that same problem.

Watching porn doesnt turn you into a misogynist or force you to demean women, but it absolutely reinforces those mindsets in people who are already inclined that way, or subconsciously cultivates such mindsets, especially in the developing mind of a teenager. Most people can distinguish between fiction and reality, but at some level that consumption is still affecting you.

I want to make it clear that I'm not being holier than thou when saying this; I'm a recovering porn addict. Maybe that makes me biased, but I also know that for some people porn can be extremely damaging.
If we ascribe to the idea that media can subconsciously corrupt a person then we couldn't ethically consume violent media either. But actual studies tend to refute that concept.

I think the misogyny shown by young male gamers online is a reflection of the overly permissive internet culture at large rather than the result of consuming games, or even porn. A lot of this boils down to what people think they can get away with. Any person that takes the moral "lessons" of gaming literally would be criminally sociopathic beyond any hope of redemption.
 

Machachan

Member
Mar 21, 2018
2,226
I have never seen talk that this that was not immediately banned. I'm not saying this is a paradise, but this forum is the most liberal forum about video games I visit.
That probably has more to do with the places you visit than resetera. From an European perspective, it seems not particularly liberal and more, well, centrist in the original sense of the word. And I sure don't see those immediately banned.

This thread isn't about her but sometimes Sarkeesian says and does things that are shit in my opinion. Doesn't mean everything she does is shit, doesn't mean she's never had excellent points and it damn sure doesn't mean I hate women or support the alt right. This is the kind of stuff that breeds pushback. I can not like Anita Sarkeesian and still want to support women in games. I personally don't have a problem with her. Just because gamergaters don't like her, it doesn't make me an alt right gamergater if I don't like her.
Literally nobody said that "not liking her" makes one an alt-righter. Dissing her the way some did does make one as either one, or someone that is useful to them though.

Case in point:
I disagree with her on X - fine.
I lost all respect for her because (gamergate talking point to defend a deeply misogynist game) - pretty terrible.

Nuance doesn't just exist for your position, but also for other positions.
 
"
Hegemonic or traditional masculinity is often constructed in terms of physical strength, good looks, cognitive hardness, minimal emotion. This is the sort of masculinity that is often portrayed in the media: the strong and silent hero who rescues the girl.

Men who are seen as “nerdy” are often persecuted for not adhering to these norms. However, instead of rejecting this traditional masculine construct and pursuing alternative forms of masculinity, it seems that some nerdy men are doubling down on the one bit of traditional masculinity that is available to them, which is technological competence.

What I think is happening with this line of thinking is that if technology becomes the domain of women, that puts their masculinity at risk. This is why they are so intent on keeping technology as the purview of men. It’s where they see themselves as having dominance and control."

That answers your question. Gaming is the one place they see themselves having control and being able to display their masculinity.
This was the brief mention that I alluded to. I don't see this as a particularly comprehensive - or particularly original - take on the issue.

Now, the headspace that I am in at this point with respect to bigotry in any arena is one that wants to be informed and needs not to be persuaded. This article, I would assert, is much more persuasive than it is informative, and in that I find it unfortunately uninteresting. Problem gamers do not necessarily gather in droves around brutal, hypermasculine games (sometimes quite the contrary), and the article doesn't ever touch upon the idea of competition rather than content being the avenue by which toxic personality traits boil to the surface, the quickest peak into online multiplayer revealing bigotries of every flavor spewed on the slightest whim, nor the effects of anonymity on a person's character.

These are the kinds of things I'd like to read about concerning this matter. I don't really need to be told that misogyny exists. If this article is intended to be read by those that do, well I suppose I hope they find it.

My suspicion is that there is a lack of data to make a conclusive statement at the moment.

A few months ago, I attended a conference about anger in children and young people, specifically young males, and the panel was chaired by distinguish academics and professionals in the child wellbeing space, and when I raised a question about the growing anger online, especially in ‘nerdy’ spaces, and was met with largely blank faces.

Academically and professionally, the focus is understandly on areas such as juvenile justice and domestic violence. What we’ve learned in those spaces however is not particularly applicable here since children and young people in those circumstances tend to have very readily identifiable sources of anger. Those sources might be complex and difficult to address, but are nonetheless identifiable.

Toxic gamers however, tend to follow a different trend. They tend to be middle class, educated, young white males who you wouldn’t immediately recognise as being at risk. Similarly their sources of anger are more abstract, like feminism or SJWs as opposed to something like an abusive father
I would readily agree that the majority of toxic gamers likely do not have trauma to blame for their faults, but I don't know if I can accept that "feminism or SJWs" are the true source of their anger - if anger is even what they're feeling. I'm not so sure I'd walk away from the idea that these types of people are just overgrown children, the two-facedness of their behavior makes it far too appealing a thought.
 
Nov 3, 2017
1,957
I would readily agree that the majority of toxic gamers likely do not have trauma to blame for their faults, but I don't know if I can accept that "feminism or SJWs" are the true source of their anger - if anger is even what they're feeling. I'm not so sure I'd walk away from the idea that these types of people are just overgrown children, the two-facedness of their behavior makes it far too appealing a thought.
Sorry, I think my initial writing was unclear as I did not mean to argue that feminism or SJWs were the root cause of their anger.

What I meant is that traditionally for at risk children and young people, sources of anger are more readily identifiable from a social work and public policy perspective. It’s not hard for me to read reports that identify the risk factors in childrens’ lives that predict violent behaviour during their teenage years. In fact, that’s what I do as part of my day to day work

The contrast I was trying to draw with toxic gamers is for them, their risk factors generally do not appear in ways that make them readily identifiable to the services and people that can intercede and help them address the problem. A report can readily inform a social worker that a child is living with abusive parents and has developed antisocial tendencies. But that same report generally can’t tell us that someone is feeling really fucking lost in modern culture, and has identified feminists as the boogiemen that he can blame all his failings on
 
Sorry, I think my initial writing was unclear as I did not mean to argue that feminism or SJWs were the root cause of their anger.

What I meant is that traditionally for at risk children and young people, sources of anger are more readily identifiable from a social work and public policy perspective. It’s not hard for me to read reports that identify the risk factors in childrens’ lives that predict violent behaviour during their teenage years. In fact, that’s what I do as part of my day to day work

The contrast I was trying to draw with toxic gamers is for them, their risk factors generally do not appear in ways that make them readily identifiable to the services and people that can intercede and help them address the problem. A report can readily inform a social worker that a child is living with abusive parents and has developed antisocial tendencies. But that same report generally can’t tell us that someone is feeling really fucking lost in modern culture, and has identified feminists as the boogiemen that he can blame all his failings on
I really have to wonder though, is it a nurture problem or a nature problem? I don't want to get too deterministic about it, as it's not as though I hold the answers myself, but the lashing out at women (and other minorities) by these people almost seems hollow, like it's not real rage borne from true emotion. From the vantage point of someone who is certainly a psychological layman, these outbursts against women appear to be nothing more than vacuous tantrums, the very sort of situational fits that a toddler would throw and that are forgotten minutes later.
 

Hella

Member
Oct 27, 2017
12,153
What an awesome article. Like, truly awe-inspiring work, Polygon! I love the interplay between all of the contributors' viewpoints, plus the little definition blurbs on the sides.

A lot of great points were raised or illuminated, but the one about the, uh... issue being systemic was the most revelatory to me. I've never really thought about gaming culture's issues on that scale before, but it's so true. I really wasn't thinking big enough.
 
Nov 3, 2017
1,957
I really have to wonder though, is it a nurture problem or a nature problem? I don't want to get too deterministic about it, as it's not as though I hold the answers myself, but the lashing out at women (and other minorities) by these people almost seems hollow, like it's not real rage borne from true emotion. From the vantage point of someone who is certainly a psychological layman, these outbursts against women appear to be nothing more than vacuous tantrums, the very sort of situational fits that a toddler would throw and that are forgotten minutes later.
I don’t know if vacuous is the word I would use. If you’re trying to argue that their anger has little rational or preportionate underpinning, then yes, I agree with you. But as you said, a tantrum is forgotten shortly after. These people hold on to their grudges and anger for years. Prominent feminists in gaming have been targeted for sustained harassment for years. Five years from now I guarantee you we’ll still see people claiming Kathleen Kennedy is destroying Star Wars. The rationale for this anger is bereft of substance, but the anger itself is real and deeply felt

In regard to nature and nurture, the evidence and data we have suggests it’s both. Elements of nurture such as poor socioeconomic backgrounds and poor parenting are indicative of poor outcomes later in life, but so are elements entirely out of our control. For instance, data has informed us that the mental and physical health of your mother and even your grandmother can be determinative of your life outcomes. For instance, children whose mothers were pregnant during September 11 were shown to have disproportionately poor outcomes when compared to children of similar socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds
 
I don’t know if vacuous is the word I would use. If you’re trying to argue that their anger has little rational or preportionate underpinning, then yes, I agree with you. But as you said, a tantrum is forgotten shortly after. These people hold on to their grudges and anger for years. Prominent feminists in gaming have been targeted for sustained harassment for years. Five years from now I guarantee you we’ll still see people claiming Kathleen Kennedy is destroying Star Wars. The rationale for this anger is bereft of substance, but the anger itself is real and deeply felt
As a collective, I think you're right. As individuals, however, I can't help but see these people as nothing more than childish opportunists. If they see a chance to let out some juvenile frustration over...I don't know, not being a fully functioning adult and latently knowing it...they'll indulge in it, subsist off of it for a little while, then retreat back into their little burrow. What that type of person truly despises, more than anything in the world, is being held accountable for bad behavior - and that's exactly what the Ess-Jay-Dubbyas are trying to do.

In regard to nature and nurture, the evidence and data we have suggests it’s both. Elements of nurture such as poor socioeconomic backgrounds and poor parenting are indicative of poor outcomes later in life, but so are elements entirely out of our control. For instance, data has informed us that the mental and physical health of your mother and even your grandmother can be determinative of your life outcomes. For instance, children whose mothers were pregnant during September 11 were shown to have disproportionately poor outcomes when compared to children of similar socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds
Oh, there's no doubt that both nature and nurture are generally influential in a person's physical and mental development. With this particular problem, though, I tend to lean toward the former. Lack of respect for women is a conditioned behavior, to be sure, but the gratification of exerting a kind of power over another human being, that's some inborn shizz.
 

Mondy

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
2,456
This hostility towards diversity in gaming has always been mind boggling to me. How is having more women involved in the industry going to harm it? And since when have parties that are a complete sausage fest been good?
 

Mango Polo

Member
Nov 2, 2017
204
There's a ton to unpack here but I'm surprised there is zero mention of the proliferation of pornography and that intersecting with young men who also play games and shaping how they view women. It's not too much to assume there is a huge overlap. It's pretty apparent to me that the ease of access to porn has irreparably shaped society in a big way the last decade or so.
Kinda blew my mind that gaming Discords have channels specifically for porn. And that people think it's totally normal. And that they get pissed when Discord says "nah, pick between your porn and our benefits program".
 

LuckyLinus

Member
Jun 1, 2018
1,121
Theres the toxic men angry at women taking part in gaming. Theres also the less talked about men that fall in love and stalk every woman that enters the gaming space (I have seen it first hand so many times). Obviously these also turn into angry toxic men soon as they are rejected.
 

Lord of Ostia

Member
Oct 27, 2017
12,397
If we ascribe to the idea that media can subconsciously corrupt a person then we couldn't ethically consume violent media either. But actual studies tend to refute that concept.

I think the misogyny shown by young male gamers online is a reflection of the overly permissive internet culture at large rather than the result of consuming games, or even porn. A lot of this boils down to what people think they can get away with. Any person that takes the moral "lessons" of gaming literally would be criminally sociopathic beyond any hope of redemption.
The type of violence seen in games is usually incredibly fantastical and so utterly divorced from reality that it is incomparable to the types of violence most people will experience in modern life in a developed nation. Thus, it is easier to separate fiction from reality in regards to stylized fantasy violence usually seen in video games. In fact, when the violence gets more visceral, realistic and personal, there tends to be outcry from a significant portion of the audience (TLOU2 trailer, the torture scene in GTAV, the domestic violence in Detroit, just for some examples). Sex is something the vast majority of people will experience in their life; extreme violence isnt, and nobody is going to be shooting demons or chopping up orcs. At some level they aren't comparable, and they are not even remotely framed in the same way.

Furthermore, I'm not saying porn is turning people into degenerates, nor am I saying it needs to be banned. I'm saying it is reinforcing misogyny that our society already perpetuates, but in a way that is more insidious than most forms of media because porn isnt discussed, critiqued, or acknowledged the way other types of media are, and there is so much shame and surreptitiousness surrounding porn along with a lack of education and research. What research has been done suggests that repeated exposure to porn, especially more extreme forms of pornography, absolutely has an impact on the brain, especially in people whose brains are still developing. It can absolutely be dangerous, there are enough porn addicts out there who can attest to that fact.

Obviously I'm not saying porn is causing people to be gamergaters, but if we are accepting that sexism and misogyny present in games reinforces those ideas, then it should be obvious that porn does the same thing on a much larger and more pervasive scale.
 

Tekku

Member
Jan 10, 2018
2,288
Umeå, Sweden
I’m very fortunate to have the values that I have. I’m in no way part of this toxic community and I never have been. Tankfully my friends also share my sentiment.

But yeah, we all bear some responsibility to change this, even if we are not activiley taking part in it. Stand up for people, speak your mind, report, concider purchases etc. There’s much that can be done on a regular basis.