Hags of Lag – Racism, Riot and the Gaming Community

These are one of the least viewed threads. I know because a lot of atheists don’t play games.

I do. But one of the problems in “games” is pretending to be white.

You pretend to be white, male and straight online. Because Pacman help you if they find out.

A woman? You are fat, ugly or slutty. Black? Nigger! Jew? Every single anti-semitic term possible as if it was Black (armband?) Friday at the Nazi store.

But Riot Games has done one thing. You see they have a system where you can report racism and other abuses. You want to know something? Their League of Legends Tribunal system actually gets the community to judge people

I sadly found out it doesn’t work. I found out by the admission of the people who were perpetrating this, that either no one was reporting them or that no actions took place with them.

So I am torn. See, we actually have a problem in gaming. We do have a lot of people who think that behaviour online does not need to match behaviour offline.

That it’s okay to call someone a racist, sexist or homophobic terms because “it’s okay! They are far away and there is no backlash!”. Of course I won’t use it IRL! Are you mad! They will do x, y or z to me!

If the only reason you aren’t a public racist is because you fear x,y and z then you are not a good person. You  are someone who harbours the racist thoughts but cannot act on them because you fear the “persecution for your deeply held beliefs”. You don’t listen to those fascist thought police!

A little background for those who aren’t gamers who are reading this. League of Legends is a MOBA style game. Basically you got two teams of a variety of colourful champions who do different sorts of things from the traditional “Tank” to “Burst” to “DPS” to “Buff” to “crowd control”. Basically it’s a team game. It values both individual skill and the skill of coordination. Your attack damage champion may be incredibly powerful over a prolonged fight but my burst champion can quickly blow him up then run away, so you need your tank to keep me from doing that and get me out of the way before you focus on others. It’s all about position, mobility and working as a team.

It’s quite a popular game. Another famous “atheist” (Okay a famous atheist plays it with me sometimes)often plays and we like doing so because “it’s fun”. JT’s a lot better than me (it’s a quick response game and his net’s just so much better!) but we do have fun and we do like playing together because we laugh at each other’s mistakes, are less competitive and because it’s fun to play within the atheist community.

And it’s an easy game to rage because of the toxic play environment that crops up due to competition so it’s nice to step away from all that with JT. I know I find myself getting angry at people who insist you can take one champion and do something not only outside their design but something out of their design that they are simply not that good at.

I am not Black, I am Asian, but I know the power of the word. My people were indebtured labourers. Which is like a slave but only because you are poor and so now how to work off your debts like a slave. I have black friends and I grew up with the black kids in my region because in the early 90s when racism was a little bit more overt especially in Scotland where people still lock horns over Cathoics and Protestants, the black community was more supportive. It was a real multicultural group, the Non aligned from all the sectarianism. The “others”. The secularists who didn’t want their kids fighting over one stupid thesis nailed to a door in Central Europe and the non-white kids. I understand that Asians don’t have such a word. The screams of Paki mean little when you are upper middle class getting yelled at by a man in a shell suit and who’s idea of fashion is Burberry.

You are “The Man” and he is raging against the machine that he perceives to be the cause of all of his ills. He is wrong but for the most part racism against the Asian community is a lot less than the stuff that Black people have gone through. The Machine may not exist but damn if he isn’t going to rage. The power structure in the UK is changing in a more positive way towards being more equal and has been at it for a lot longer.

For Black Americans this was the other way around. The Machine was the one screaming Nigger at them. The entire established power structure was both institutionally and actually racist for a long period of time and there are still people alive today who remember that. I remember Rodney King and that was in my life time. I understand the word “Nigger” and it’s horrific association with slavery and the pain and suffering of thousands of African Americans under the apartheid and the painful struggle that goes on to this day against racism.

We atheists are doing better these days. We are trying to get diverse. We are trying to give a voice to a variety of speakers and get atheists of colour out there. Some say this is tokenism but you know what? This tokenism gets voices out there till people stop being the token person.

But there are games. I like Tauriq on here and JT love games. I grew up with them, I still unwind after a long day with something old school and maybe League of Legends if my Internet holds up.

But I do have to pretend to not be white although I am doing it less and less these days. And I know a lot of young gamers who aren’t white are doing so too. You are “colourless” online. And genderless too. This doesn’t mean that there is no race or no gender or no sexuality, it just means everyone assumes you are a white, male and heterosexual (Let’s not even go into the Transexual People. I think if people found out you were openly trans on a game the haterade would reach critical mass)

Obviously what irritates me the most out of the bigots are the racists because it’s a double whammy of being a bigot and being a bigot against me. The sexists and the homophobes are bad but you know what? Their hate doesn’t affect me in a personal way as much as it would if I were a woman or gay. I am sure I would be a lot more angrier about them.

See its hard to play as a minority when a racist is around because you have two options.

Shut up and not confront them and have to listen to them slur away throughout the entire match in silence and pretend to be “white, heteroxsexual and male” (I add all three here because it’s the same if you are Gay or a Woman).

Or make a stand.

And the problem is if the racist is on your own team. You are effectively crippling your team play to call out a bigot.

Today I made a stand.

“Have a good game niggers!”

Is what started it off. It’s polite to wish someone good luck prior to the start off the game, it’s polite to say “have fun”. It’s not polite to drop one of the most vile and hated words in the English language on someone. Even the black community  who often utilise the word to refer to each other, to remove the power the word had would not use it on a random group of unknown people because it may cause offence.

So I made a stand, I stated that I don’t like racists, I don’t want to play with them, I don’t think it’s acceptable, I don’t think it’s something that’s part of the community.

What followed was a tirade. Often censored by Riot’s in-game filter that I don’t turn off. But they broke through the filter a couple of times due to mispellings and variations. Nigger, Nig Nig, Nig Nog. Half of me wants to laugh, seriously white racists? You don’t have the stones to say Nigger but want to make up new words to get through filters? Do you realise how stupid you sound saying Nig Nog? I feel brain cells commit suicide while simply writing it.

When I stood up for myself and indeed stated that I do not like racists and they should have no part of the wider gaming community and that they are poisoning the game for anyone not white, I was told that I was so butthurt (because not only am I not white but also because I am gay).

There is nothing wrong with being gay, there is plenty of things wrong with being a homophobe. Cue more racist tirades about my nigger mother. Then they wondered if I had stolen my computer.

All in all a charming person.

But this would have been fine with support right? Wrong.

His friend? Supported him. It was amusing to him. The other people? One other person’s response was “I don’t want to get involved in this”. Which is fine. It’s his choice. When asked why? Because he wanted to win the game and that the argument was affecting the chances to win.

The last person wanted me to stop fighting and just get along with the racist. Because the game became more important than the principle of equality I suppose. And this got me to realising something.

I am at Level 30. It took me months and months to get to level 30. I am sure the more time blessed people would take a lot less time but it’s a lot of work to get there.

They had gotten to Level 30 without anyone calling them out. Without any single person saying “this is wrong”. Not one person has reported them. Or worse, they were reported and no one did anything. That they have played as out and out racists who rant and call people niggers for fun (I assume they are trolls) solely to make everyone who is bothered by racism’s experience in the game worse.

I know why I had to deal with it. See winning the game is more important. You are stuck with your team mates and the problem was not one racist versus two people who don’t think racism is acceptable. It’s two racists versus one who didn’t think so. And it’s better to have two happy racists to win than one unhappy anti-racist.

Let’s assume they aren’t racists. Let us assume they are just trolls who troll and scream things out in the name of free speech and because it’s amusing. Do you think that makes the experience fun for those who are the victims of their hate speech?

I get along with a variety of people. Just not bigots because it means accepting their bigotry and hatred for people who have done no crimes. It is not genuine criticism. It is not productive. It’s basically yelling hurtful things.

Because it’s fun. Because no one’s stopped them.

Call it a problem with being a darkie but I frankly dislike people who discriminate based on the colour of one’s skin. I adjust with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as me. I adjust with people who have a disability which requires me to have some consideration. I adjust with people who are having a temporary difficulty that requires some help.

Adjusting means giving up your seat to the elderly or the pregnant. Adjusting means giving up a little privilege to make life easier for those who temporarily or permanently have theirs reduced.

Adjusting does not mean keeping quite while someone yells a racist word in a predominantly unaffected audience and watching the silent or even sometimes open approval.

And if someone not white gets irritated (because clearly a man who calls others the N word is not exactly a model citizen of progressive thoughts vis a vis melanin content of skin) well poor them. Where are the non-white friends who can help them?

See I am loathe to say it’s some pissant kid with no brains and a stupid mouth, but I know it’s just as likely to be someone my age who’s racism cannot be cured with a grounding and maybe rinsing their mouth out with soap.

And here is the thing. Speaking out against sexism or racism as a gamer will make you a target for harassment. Because racist trolls got to stick together!

I didn’t screenshot the game because it’s hard to screenshot when you are dodging about. But I did screenshot the post-match screens.

The racism is “less” but they still use the word. I unfortunately had the filter on but if Riot checks the chat logs the actual words will be there. And yes I have used Riot’s in system method to complain but judging by the confidence the perpetrators have of dodging the system and the fact they got to level 30 like this? I am loathe to place faith in it.

But this is what’s poisoning gaming, and this is what’s demonising us. And this is why no one takes us remotely seriously when we say that games are progressive and can mean something important to us and are an art form as valid as movies. It’s also why so few people of colour play openly.

I don’t think it’s Riot’s fault. They have a system that they claim works and the stats show it. But it is a problem in the gaming community.

That we would rather win at the game than actually be humane and egalitarian. This is a new thing to games. There was never a culture of such when growing up. If you were racist you had to say it to the face of another human being, and that’s a lot lot harder in an arcade or at your friend’s house during a sleep over.

We grew up like that. Why didn’t we inculcate this into our future generations? And the worst bit is? The lack of this common courtesy in the younger generation who make up the bulk of gamers makes the older gamers want to fit in by being the same. So we often end up with adults who should know better behaving like kids who do not.

It doesn’t make me a happy gamer. It doesn’t make me proud that I play.

Racism1 Racism2 Racism3 Racism4 Racism5 Racism6


  1. Jackie: ruining feminism one fabulous accessory at a time says

    Good for you for standing up. You shouldn’t have to go along to get along with people who refuse to behave decently. It’s too bad that some people can’t just have fun and allow others to have fun too.

  2. says

    This is why I want to get some people to help me set up an online gaming club for progressives/feminists/PoC, so we can arrange games that will only have people who are willing to behave respectfully rather than bigotfully.

  3. Holms says

    I remember having a similar debate with sexists in games; the usual response is to be called a white knight. Only on the internet could a term meaning ‘treats women decently’ be used as an insult.

    Avicenna, which server do you play on? Probably not Oceania =\

  4. Schlumbumbi says

    Brought it on yourself.

    If you fake loyalty to a group and then start demanding to outcast members of the group right before a match, at a time where every attendee is important for the group’s success, and when noone can reasonably be expected to engange in meaningful non-battle convo, you’ll be seen as the person who will risk the group’s well-being in favor of his own caprice.

    If you try to blackmail a group with that kind of behaviour, get ready for the backlash.

    If you don’t like the 1st paragraph, try to see it from this perspective:

    If it were true, that people in these group are infact racists, is it not remarkable that they’re willing to work with you nonetheless ? Is it not the case that they don’t demand you being thrown out, as soon as they get a glimpse of your none-cis-non-male-non-whiteness ? How come ? Either they aren’t really all that racist, or they’ll accept you as a member of the group because they deem the group’s success to be more important than their own racist attitude.

    Whatever it is, the same thing can’t be said about you. That’s why you’ll get an arse kicking, and they won’t.

    Now, claim moral superiority all you like – you can’t bend reality according to your wishes. A group will always chose to protect itself, even at the potential cost of single members. Survival reigns supreme. If you really want to make a change, you’ll have demonstrate that the group would actually benefit from your proposals.

    Can you do that ?

  5. says

    Yes. The entire group of gamers out there WOULD benefit from simply banning these tools from the game. By removing them from environment they will create a space for non-white gamers and indeed GLBT and women to play games without harassment.

    These means way more income. A friendlier game and better public relationships. In short? It’s profitable to kick out the handful of racists and homophobes and sexists in order to attract the potential 50% of mankind that doesn’t play games.

    And no. The games are set up randomly. They had no more choice in dealing with me than I with them and frankly I don’t give a damn about the feelings of racists having had to play a game where every assist was accompanied with “good nigger”.

  6. says

    Also? I may have brought it on myself by speaking up but you want to know something?

    Speaking up against injustice and being willing to fight it is better than simply sitting and shaking your head.

  7. says

    I’m definitely an atheist gamer. Though there’s always too many things to do…
    Anyway, I don’t play League of Legends. I haven’t played much in the way of multiplayer at all. A few shooter things, dropping in a bit. And I joined the atheist guild for Guild Wars 2, though I haven’t gotten around to playing that in a while.

    Even then, just dropping in to a little Counter Strike recently I caught some of the nastiness. I’m a straight white guy, and I still find it offputting. I’m definitely in favor of cleaning that up. I see no value in driving people away with bigoted crap. And if I can get my mic to get recognized, maybe I’ll be able to call out some of it myself.

  8. Holms says

    I don’t like your first paragraph (nor the others, for that matter), on the grounds that every single sentence contains idiocy of some form.

    “If you fake loyalty to a group…”
    correction: he was randomly assigned up to four teammates by the game client.

    “…and then start demanding to outcast members of the group…”
    I see nothing unreasonable in expecting people to call out bad behaviour, to disapprove of it, and to shun those that insist on being pieces of shit.

    “…right before a match…”
    correction: the match was over. Avicenna clearly identified those screengrabs as post match chat. Another clue to that effect, even if you missed Avicenna pointing it out, is that the pics clearly have the word DEFEAT at the top, hardly something you would see if the match has not begun.

    “…at a time where every attendee is important for the group’s success…”
    Again, the match is already over. Although, it doesn’t really make much difference either way. Pre- or post-match, the fact remains that they aren’t currently in the midst of gameplay and thus can talk in a relatively unhurried manner.

    “…and when noone can reasonably be expected to engange in meaningful non-battle convo…”
    You actually almost make a good point here, in an ‘own goal’ sort of way. It’s true that conversation in the middle of a game tends to be terse, and the subject of that chatter is almost always related to developments in the game being played. You say this in an effort to disparage the idea of the team discussing the racism currently taking place in the game, but you leave out the fact that the racism shouldn’t be in the game in the first fucking place. If time spent on non-game conversation is so unreasonable, why are they spending it on calling each other niggers? That doesn’t seem very ‘battle convo’ to me, but they take the time to do it anyway.

    “…you’ll be seen as the person who will risk the group’s well-being in favor of his own caprice.”
    You say caprice as a way of disparaging Avicenna’s stance, as if objecting to racism is just some flighty whim with no real relevance to much at all. Ergo, You are disparaging anti-racism. Ergo, you are a racist.

    “If you try to blackmail a group with that kind of behaviour, get ready for the backlash.”
    There was no blackmail that I can see, only peeved lecturing. There is no threat of future non-cooperation, because the game is already over, and with LoL’s gargantuan player base coupled with randomised groupings, they are unlikely to ever see each other again.

    So, you’re damn right I didn’t like that first paragraph. Weighing in at seven fuckups by my count, it was a doozy. I wonder if the second improves…

    “If it were true, that people in these group are infact racists, is it not remarkable that they’re willing to work with you nonetheless ?”
    I don’t see any willingness to work with Avicenna evident in those screengrabs, so I don’t know what you are talking about. Oh wait, you’re thinking that that is pre-match chat, and you’re then assuming that they went into the match and cooperated, on the basis of… well, you simply assume that they cooperated for some reason. Speaking from experience, teams that argue and abuse each other do not cooperate. No need to take my anecdata on faith – Riot have demonstrated this themselves, and post the statistic (I forget the specific percentage) as one of their random loading screen tips.

    Is it not the case that they don’t demand you being thrown out, as soon as they get a glimpse of your none-cis-non-male-non-whiteness ?”
    How the fuck would they glimpse any of that in the middle of a game? If anything, they appeared to make a mistake that bigots commonly make: they thought that the only people that object to slurs are people that belong to the demographic the slur refers to. Meaning, they assumed he was black because ‘only black people dislike anti-black slurs’.

    Additionally, the idea that they would demand him to be thrown out of the game is ludicrous based on the fact that the game does not have a way of removing anyone from a game in progress. Your question is therefore quite the non-starter.

    Lastly, even if I generously interpret ‘demand you being thrown out’ to actually mean ‘lodge a complaint against a player for bad behaviour using the post-match reporting system’, abusive arseholes frequently report reasonable team mates purely out of spite for being called out. So, there is a decent chance, even with that interpretation, that they did ‘demand [Avicenna] be thrown out’.

    “How come ?”
    How? Mainly because of your multiple misunderstandings, plus a side order of blatant misrepresentations.

    “Either they aren’t really all that racist…”
    Did you read the conversation in those screengrabs? They are definitely racist. The only person that could possibly not notice it / pretend to not notice it… is a racist.

    “…or they’ll accept you as a member of the group because they deem the group’s success to be more important than their own racist attitude.”
    Say rather that they deem maintaining their racism to be more important than setting it aside even temporarily, even if only to humour some guy. I’ll reiterate a point I made earlier: seeing their abusiveness, it is actually more likely that they did not cooperate. It is very common for the person being called out to not inly increase the abuse (meaning they perform worse because they are spending increasing amounts of time to typing rather than playing), and also quite common for them to flatly refuse to participate in team play. Sometimes, they even leave the game in a huff, afk at the spawn point, or actively sabotage their own team.

    “Whatever it is, the same thing can’t be said about you.”
    This is actually true! Unintentionally, but still true! Those shitheads were clearly racists, which is something that can’t (to my knowledge) be said about Avicenna! Congratulations on your first correct statement in this post!

    “That’s why you’ll get an arse kicking, and they won’t.”
    I have direct experience in using LoL’s player driven report analysis system – the tribunal. I know for a goddamn fact that speaking against a racial, sexual or gendered slur is not going to be punished. You, on the other hand, clearly have no familiarity with the game or its report system and are quite clearly engaging in plain old racist apologetics.

    “Now, claim moral superiority all you like – you can’t bend reality according to your wishes.”
    He clearly is more moral than those shits in the game, and more moral than you it seems. You went about this post disingenuously, made multiple misrepresentations of the situation, purely to spite someone you dislike.

    “A group will always chose to protect itself, even at the potential cost of single members. Survival reigns supreme.”
    What the fuck are you even talking about? This is a computer game post-match chat lobby, not a fucking war zone.

    “If you really want to make a change, you’ll have demonstrate that the group would actually benefit from your proposals.

    Can you do that ?”
    Is there a need for their shitty behaviour in the first place? Maybe they have a medical condition that requires them to spout slurs periodically, or else they die? Lacking any actual need to continue being bigots, the benefit of reduced bigotry is that there is less bigotry. Pretty straightforward.


    It’s simply amazing quickly you abandon any honesty in your attempts to rubbish someone you dislike. I’m thinking that if you drop your principles easily, then you were unprincipled all along.

  9. Philip R. says


    “If you don’t like the 1st paragraph…”

    It’s not a question of like or dislike; it’s a question of reason and logic.

    You say;

    “Brought it on yourself.
    If you fake loyalty to a group…”

    Please present evidence that the poster (Avicenna) has “faked loyalty to a group.” I went over the blog post a second time and I saw nothing to suggest that this was the case. Certainly there was no outright declaration to give substance to your claim.

    Given that the site in question does have a clear cut TOS that you sign upon joining then the group is bound by that TOS. Part of membership in the group is the understanding that you will in fact obey the site rules.

    So it seems to me that the group agrees to that TOS and those who break that TOS thus endangering the ability of the group to perform and succeed; they are the ones who are showing disloyalty to the group.

    Unless you can show me that the TOS isn’t the standard boiler plate that sites have to protect themselves from lawsuit?

    Now if there’s a tacit understanding between these groups that they will in fact break the rules of the site because the site turns out to not take any substantive action, then that’s another matter.

    In this case, the person who joins the group has done so in good faith with the contract signed upon joining the site in the forefront of their mind (a contract all members of the group have signed). It would take a period of time for behavior that is counter to that allowed according to said contract (the TOS) to make itself known, not to mention the time needed to come to the realization that the owners of the site, despite claims laid out in the TOS don’t actually take action.

    Then that person is in a quandary over having wasted a great deal of time on a group that has effectively misrepresented itself. If this is all the case, then it is the racist members of the group who have shown disloyalty to the group in question by not declaring to all people who join the group;

    “Hi! You should know that I’m a bigoted, low IQ asshat who says stupid things that are in violation of the TOS of this site! So be aware of that before you put time and effort into being a member of our group!”

    They’re the ones who are creating the situation, not the person objecting to the inappropriate behavior.

    So it’s the racists who are disloyal. Not those upholding the agreed upon contract.


  10. says

    Been there. I used to play WoW now and then, but it was becoming increasingly miserable. I refused to play in pick-up groups that made sexist, racist, or homophobic remarks…and since I was based on a server that was well known for having a strong gay community, and people would see that I was from Proudmoore, instantly marking me as obviously gay, the “fag” remarks came pouring out quite frequently.

    I finally just gave it up altogether. Waiting in a queue for half an hour and then having to drop the game as soon as I got on because everyone else was casually anti-gay made it not at all worth doing anymore. Well, that and the grind was kinda tedious.

  11. O'Neill says

    Sorry to comment on an old post, but would it be all right to add you? I’m less than good at League and haven’t been playing at all lately–just one bot game a day for FW, usually. The toxicity got exhausting. Still, would be nice to catch a normal with you sometime, being a longtime FTB lurker. I would also know for sure that at least one other person isn’t a sexist, racist homophobe.

    The Tribunal is far from perfect or sufficient at this point (at least partly because the toxic players seem to have plenty of time on their hands to create new accounts), but it’s at least a step in the right direction. Better than some other games that don’t even try.

  12. says

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