Gamers Hit the Headlines For the Wrong Reasons

Miranda Pakozdi and Aris Bakhtanians at the Capcom Cross Assault tournament

The Gaming community has hit the headlines this week, unfortunately though, for all the wrong reasons. Yup, it’s the sexism row again.

In a recent live stream of Capcom’s Cross Assault reality series, recognised Tekken player Aris Bakhtanians hurled a series of sexist remarks at female contestant Miranda Pakozdi, who many believe deliberately lost matches to avoid having to listen to anymore of Bakhtanians’ sexist insults. He has since apologised for his comments, but the whole online gaming community is talking about it, and it has featured in The Guardian and many other national news websites and publications.

This is not the only incident to make the news either, not too long ago BioWare writer Jennifer Helper was the victim of a twitter hate campaign and ended up deleting her account to escape the barrage of abuse. The people who targeted her were upset with the option of gay romances in Dragon Age II among other-game related decisions. A lot of the abuse was sexist, as well as being generally sickening and nasty.

Many Gamers are up in arms about it, they feel like the views of this one guy, and obviously a small number of select individuals has ruined the reputation of a community, known to be the place where people who are often targeted by society’s other bullies can feel at home and safe from constant abuse.

In an article in The Guardian about the issue, Keza MacDonald, UK Games Editor at IGN.Com said;

“The difficult thing about the issue of sexism in the games industry, for me, is that even talking about it is giving it more attention than these idiots deserve. Often it only fuels the fire, and it attracts the haters your way, which is something that any sane person would want to avoid. It’s impossible not to want to speak out against the people who give us a bad name and feed negative stereotypes, but the fear is that in doing so, you’ll both bring negative attention upon yourself and tarnish the gaming community as a whole. But keeping quiet isn’t an option either; we need to stand up for ourselves.

I’ve had abuse directed at me plenty of times by strangers online, a lot of it to do with my gender, but the idiots are always vastly outnumbered by intelligent and respectful people who are interested in actual discussion rather than insults and pointless cruelty. This is the gaming community, for me – the great people I’ve chatted, argued and played with online, the guys and girls I grew up playing split-screen multiplayer with, the readers who start thought-provoking discussions, the creative and interesting folks I work with every day in this industry. Not the twerps who call me names in comments threads.”

Freelance writer Becky Chambers, raised an interesting argument in her essay on themarysue.com, she argues that while we have a right to defend free speech, and that certain women might find certain sexist jokes funny, others won’t, it is all down to the subjectivity of humour. She argues however, that once you isolate someone for being in a minority and single them out for insults and abuse, you are no longer exercising your right to free speech, but rather just becoming a bully. She said:

“Humans are a social species, and I believe that means we have a responsibility to the well-being of the people around us. We can’t be nice to everyone. We won’t always (or ever) agree with everyone. We don’t always laugh at the same jokes as other people. But when a person tells you to stop doing whatever you are doing directly to them, you stop. Period. End of discussion. Groups can disagree with one another, and even publicly decry one another. That’s okay; that’s human nature. Picking on an individual because they don’t fit into your group, however, is wrong. It’s heartless, it’s childish, and there is nothing funny about it.

This is an issue that goes beyond sexism, or racism, or any other ism. It’s not limited to the gaming community, or the comics community, or even to the geek community. But since we’re all here, let’s talk about the geek community. We have always stereotypically been a refuge for the weirdos, the nerds, the freaks, the explorers, the free spirits, the others. Bullying, in my eyes, does not belong here. You know what sort of people stereotypically bully others for the amusement of their peers? Jocks. Lets not be jocks. Lets be geeks. We’re better than that.”

Having never been part of the gaming community before I can’t really pass judgment on them, but as a female football fan, I know what it’s like to get sexism hurled at you by some dimwit who can’t think of any other way to win a topical argument with you. I’ve been involved in several football debates, online, in the pub, at football grounds, and often what I have found, is if someone doesn’t agree with my argument, then they will come out with the boring, ‘what do you know about football anyway, your just a girl and they know nothing about our sport’ – or some nonsense to that accord anyway.

Throwing sexist remarks like that is just representative of someone being a sore loser in my eyes, I can’t ever remember anyone telling me women knew nothing about football when it turned out I agreed with what they were saying. It’s always supporters of other teams that I am talking football with that end up spouting this rubbish at me.

See if you are validating someone’s opinion, and agreeing on a subject then it is ok, if not however, many men losing an argument about football will resort to that sort of sexist crap. Sometimes I will try and argue my case, other times I will just walk away…there’s no point talking to small-minded bigots about football or anything else in my eyes!

About Sheniz Raif

I am, and think I have always been, a writer. I’ve been scribbling stories since I was old enough to hold a pen and thoroughly enjoy using my words to make people laugh or inspire them. I love going to gigs and am a professional groupie for a couple of awesome bands. I am an avid fan of socializing, football, film, and refusing to grow up! I’m also a proud member of the BODO UK team!