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Interesting choice of gamertag...

The rise of the internet, and subsequently the rise of online gaming, have seemingly revealed to us the true nature of humanity.  If an outside observer, say an intelligent alien being from another world were to view our internet in a random fashion, he or she would most likely assume that humanity is filled with the most vile and deranged perverts, people who would rather have sex with balloons while dressed as Saturday morning cartoon characters than live a respectable life, but this is the price we pay for anonymity.

The same price is paid continually by those that play competitive video games online, as millions of foul speaking youths and ignorant adults have deemed the realm of online gaming their personal anonymous platform to perform a Don Rickles stand up routine on the world, but why?

What is it about playing an online game that seems to bring out the very worst in people?  No one has ever called me “faggot” while playing monopoly in the living room, and the same people that freely dispense the word “nigger” over microphone chat in Halo are likely to never be so shameless (or so foolish) to say it in front of living, breathing human being.  Is it simply the anonymity that opens the flood gates of their mind, allowing the obscenity and hatred to flow freely?  If this is the case, then why is it that only a few of us are screaming hate speech into microphones across the world, while the rest of us sit bewildered, desperately reaching for the mute button?

The plight of Sony’s online community project Home is a good social study for the state of the online gaming community as a whole.  Since it’s inception Home has been a mess, and Sony quickly discovered that the average gamer’s ethical sense was lacking at best.  Harassment and hate speech became such a problem that voice chat was dropped from the game entirely, and common words like “gay” and “Jew” had to be blocked as well.  One might assume that the ease of availability of Home lead to a large number of uninterested users simply “griefing” the service because it was free to download to any and all PS3 owners with an internet connection, but the same level of hate speech and vitriolic displays of negativity are prevalent of pay-to-play services such as Xbox live.

The Xbox live service has frequently been the poster child for displays of racism and hate in the internet gaming community, and not without good reason.  It is a rare occurrence to find a match in any of the popular Live capable games that won’t be housing various racists and hate-mongers, often the player finds him or herself entering a shouting match that has already begun, making enjoyment of the game impossible.  Thankfully Microsoft, while having one of the most intolerable online communities, also has some of the most effective and well implemented ways to rid yourself of players who continually use hateful communication, and while this effectively shields you from having to deal with the frustrating number of immature and ignorant users, it does nothing to actually solve the attitude problem of the community at whole, but what can be done?

Engaging someone who is yodeling obscenity and hate into your ear is by and large a waste of time, and there is little chance that the person won’t simply turn their ire towards you.  On top of that, it isn’t your job to teach these people how to be civilized beings, and the idea of sensitivity training held in the red base on Valhalla, or in the pre-match lobby of a Call of Duty 4 game is ridiculous at best.  The only viable solution is to simply ignore these people with various muting technology and hope that eventually they’ll either grow up or get bored and retire.  While some might see this as defeatist at heart, it is the only viable way to both protect the normal gamer from constant hate speech, and protect the first amendment rights of idiots and racists.

It could be hypothesized that our online games have become so realistic that they effectively dehumanize the participants, replacing the real image of a living person with that of a digital avatar, who it is much easier to speak to in a way that is hurtful or demeaning, but then the hate speech has only increased with the implementation of microphone chat during games, giving the inhuman representations the voices of real people, while the ignorant chat has grown more frequent and more fiery.

One can only look fearfully into the future and wonder where this sort of online behavior may lead as games become increasingly more realistic and more involved.  Who is to say that in the time of realistic virtual reality gamers won’t be terrorizing others in a frighteningly realistic simulation?  Who can really know what the effect of acting out aggressive behavior in a photo realistic virtual, and lawless reality will be on the human psyche.  It can be reasonably assumed that the anonymous and hate filled sections of the online gaming world are grooming a generation of people who are less empathetic, more aggressive, and more likely to do real world harm to someone than the people of a more simpler, less simulated life.  It is important to remember that regardless of moral, ethical, and religious beliefs, the rule of “do to others as you would have them do to you” should apply to all worlds, both true and created.

  1. avatar xino

    what happened to Microsoft’f real time voice censoring?

    • avatar Galina

      Potrebbe anche non essere afaftto male ma voglio aspettare qualche news in pi anche per la trama ed il game play. Comunque devo dire che mi sembra che qualcosa si stia muovendo.

  2. I have encountered some harrowing stuff on Xbox Live

  3. avatar ryan

    it’s true, the amount of trash on xbox live is embarrassing. . . but that blacpplhavHIV name is a little funny.

  4. avatar daddyknowsbest

    The first amendment rights have little to do with an online community whose trying to enjoy a service they pay for. You think comcast would allow tv shows that say these things or any other national cable provider? Sony and Microsoft needs to start banning these people IP addresses, hell they might lose money in the end but isn’t it worth it to lose customer’s who use your service to spew hate and try to find glitches to become a hinder to the online community.

  5. avatar nothing

    You sure? Perhaps some a-hole nerds but what about those general gangster or college/young adult D-Bag types who think they have it all? Because I get the feeling they are what make up the majority of Live. Would they most likely react the same way in real life? Don’t forget high school students too as they probably pull the same crap over there as online. (Of course, it’s MUCH easier over the mic but I don’t think their attitude tyranny only exist there).

    Personally, I think most of them also would exhibit such behavior in real life as well; I mean, majority of the personal enjoyment we do is generally around people we know; and of course, anybody who enjoys reading this in term of hating these scumbags are probably nice people in general, who most likely hang out with nice people (or don’t showcase such intoxicating behavior) . As crazy as it sounds, perhaps those bad people really live in their own bubble as we “nice” people live in our own. Perhaps this getting too off-topic but you don’t really see any a-holes on this site; sure in regular message boards like G4′s but I don’t really see frat boys and gangster wanna-bes hanging out on the internet out side social networks like MySpace.
    I think we need to look at the broader look to rather we have a idea what our bubbles are like. Would they just outright slander someone who looks “different” or “weak” to them? Sure they’re out there but what’s the accumulation of their numbers? I know I seem to be pointing out to XBL only but the crap that goes on in the web is rather contained compared to a public gaming service’s communications that is unified.

    Eh, I think I rambled too long about this; I get paranoid about stuff like this sometimes.

  6. avatar reader

    I was just called a “Chink” and kicked from a game because of my Japanese name on Valve’s Left 4 Dead just two days ago. Even though I am not Japanese or Chinese, but of half Asian decent, the comment and actions were still very hurtful. I went to the users’ pages of those who kicked me and they had KKK hooded images as their avatars. Their screen names were font art images of dollar bills, something like [ (1) ]. My recreation is not so good.
    As a victim of such racial harassment and a paying customer of Valve games and services, I think that there should be policies and technology in place, such as real time voice censoring (copied from above) and subsequent banning to insure gamers an audibly safe environment to game.
    What do you think?

    • avatar Sara

      ?? ???? ???? ???????? ???????..In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is set Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two. Chaucer prbbaoly meant 32 days after March, i.e. May 2, the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place in 1381. However, readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean “March 32,” i.e April 1. In Chaucer’s tale, the vain cock Chauntecler is tricked by a fox.In 1508, a French poet referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the holiday. In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1. In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference. On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed.” The name “April Fools” echoes that of the Feast of Fools, a Medieval holiday held on December 28.In the Middle Ages, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25 in most European towns. In some areas of France, New Year’s was a week-long holiday ending on April 1. So it is possible that April Fools originated because those who celebrated on January 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates. The use of January 1 as New Year’s Day was common in France by the mid-sixteenth century, and this date was adopted officially in 1564 by the Edict of Roussillon.In the eighteenth century the festival was often posited as going back to the time of Noah. According to an English newspaper article published in 1789, the day had its origin when Noah sent his dove off too early, before the waters had receded; he did this on the first day of the Hebrew month that corresponds with April.?? ???? ?????? ???????? ??? ?? ????? ??. ? ???? ?? ??? ?? ???? ?????.?? ????????? ??? ??????? ??? ???????? ??? ??. ? ???? ?? ???? ?????? ???????? ???????? ??. ????? ???? ???? ????? ????? ??????. ??????? ?????????? ???? ?? ?????? ???? ????? ?????. ?????? ??????? ???????? ??????? ?????? ??. ??? ??? ????? ??????? ???? ?????? ?????????? 1 ????? ????, ??????? ?? ?? ???? ????? ??? ???????? ?????? ?????? ???????? ?? ????. ??? ??????? ???? ???????? ??????? ??? ??. ??????? ???? ???? ????????. ?? ??? ?????? ???? ?? ????????.. ??????????, ???????? ???. ?? ????? ???????? ??. ????? ???? ?????. 0 likes

  7. avatar BORI

    XBOX LIVE = HATE FOR BORICUAS. WHY?

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  8. Real time voice censoring sounds like a good idea on paper, but the cost of implementing it, and the means to do so on a large scale aren’t really available right now. Hopefully as technology advances we can see a more feasible solution. I’m glad to have helped fuel interesting discussion on the subject though, there are some legitimately good ideas here in the comments.

  9. avatar brian

    the hate speech is so bad on xbox live i avoid playing online sometimes. when i do play i don’t use a mic unless i’m playing left 4 dead. almost every time i sign on i hear the word “nigger” or “faggot.” people don’t even care whether you’re really black or gay they just say it over and over. the fact that xbox live is suppose to be a premium service just makes things worse. sometimes i think to myself, “does microsoft really want me to pay $50 bucks/yr to get called a nigger every time i frag someone?” actually being black just makes it worse so unlike ryan i can’t laugh off names like blacpplhavHIV.

  10. avatar Jordash Talon

    Very interesting read, I hope online gaming can improve in all genres, it would be fun if more people could get involved without having to worry about all sorts of hate speech, vulgarity, profanity, etc.. which most certainly drives newcoming/casual gamers away from the online market.

    I like your take on this issue.

  11. It’s to be expected. Anonymity combined with an audience, specifically in a competitive venue, will always breed stupidity.

    If you remove one of these factors – namely anonymity – you’ll often uncover a much more enjoyable experience. Play with friends, or members of a community your participate in.

    Anyone for a bit of Gamerlimit Left 4 Dead?

    Lemme know. :D

  12. I find the feedback and complaint system on Xbox Live works really well in getting rid of those excessive idiots we all encounter

  13. avatar Matt Rowe

    Your gamertag should be your home phone number! In all seriousness, though, I believe it is the anonimity (like in the car when people cut you off) that makes people feel safe enough to say the things they do. This allows them to behave like cowards. Swearing is one thing, but the hateful name calling is a pain. Take away the anonimity.

  14. avatar Claude

    I really wish Playstation 3 would have some system where you could report this stuff as well. Get a clue Sony and follow Microsoft’s lead!

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