A Call to Arms for Decent Men


by Ernest W. Adams

This piece was originally written as part of the Designer’s Notebook series on the game developers’ web site Gamasutra. However, they declined to publish it in its current form, and I refused to rewrite it. My thanks for permission to reprint it here. Please feel free to share or republish it with attribution. Contains strong language. 

Normally I write for everybody, but this month’s column is a call to arms, addressed to the reasonable, decent, but much too silent majority of male gamers and developers.

Guys, we have a problem. We are letting way too many boys get into adulthood without actually becoming men. We’re seeing more and more adult males around who are not men. They’re as old as men, but they have the mentality of nine-year-old boys. They’re causing a lot of trouble, both in general and for the game industry specifically. We need to deal with this.

Why us? Because it’s our job to see to it that a boy becomes a man, and we are failing.

When we were little boys we all went through a stage when we said we hated girls. Girls had “cooties.” They were silly and frilly and everything that a boy isn’t supposed to be. We got into this stage at about age seven, and we left it again at maybe 10 or 11.

Then puberty hit and, if we were straight, we actively wanted the company of girls. We wanted to “go with” them, date them, and eventually we wanted to fall in love and live with one, maybe for the rest of our lives. That’s the way heterosexual boys are supposed to mature, unless they become monks.

My point is, you’re supposed to leave that phase of hating girls behind. Straight or gay, you’re supposed to grow the hell up.

What might be temporarily tolerable in a boy when he’s nine is pretty damned ugly when he’s fifteen and it’s downright psychopathic when he’s twenty. Instead of maturing into a man’s role and a man’s responsibilities, a lot of boys are stuck at the phase of hating girls and women. The boys continue to treat them like diseased subhumans right through adolescence and into adulthood.

Men are more powerful than women: financially, politically, and physically. What distinguishes a real man from a boy is that a man takes responsibility for his actions and does not abuse this power. If you don’t treat women with courtesy and respect – if you’re still stuck in that “I hate girls” phase – then no matter what age you are, you are a boy and not entitled to the privileges of adulthood.

  • If you want to have some private little club for males only – like keeping women out of your favorite shooter games – you’re not a man, you’re an insecure little boy. A grown-up man has no problem being in the company of women. He knows he’s a man.
  • If you freak out when a girl or a woman beats you in a game, you’re not a man, you’re a nine-year-old boy. A man doesn’t need to beat a woman to know he’s a man. A man is strong enough to take defeat in a fair game from anybody and move on.
  • If your masculinity depends on some imaginary superiority over women, then you don’t actually have any. Manliness comes from within, and not at the expense of others.
  • And if you threaten or abuse women, verbally or physically, you are not a man. You’re a particularly nasty specimen of boy.

When this puerile mentality is combined with the physical strength and sexual aggressiveness of an older boy or an adult male, it goes beyond bad manners. It’s threatening and anti-social, and if those boys are permitted to congregate together and support each other, it becomes actively dangerous. Yes, even online.

Of course, I don’t mean all boys are like this. Most of them get out of the cootie phase quickly and grow up just fine. But far too many don’t. If we don’t do something about these permanent nine-year-olds pretty soon, they’re going to start having boys of their own who will be just as bad if not worse, and life will not be worth living. Life is already not worth living on Xbox Live Chat.

In addition to the harm they do to women – our mothers, our sisters, our daughters – these full-grown juveniles harm ustoo. A boy who refuses to grow up has lousy social skills, a short attention span, and a poor attitude to work. Furthermore, all men – that’s you and me, bro – get the blame for theirbad behavior. And we deserve it, because we’ve been sitting on our butts for too long. We let them be bullies online and get away with it.

Some of you might think it’s sexist that I’m dumping this problem on us men. It isn’t; it’s just pragmatic.Women can not solve this problem. A boy who hates girls and women simply isn’t going to pay attention to a woman’s opinion. The only people who can ensure that boys are taught, or if necessary forced, to grow up into men are other men.

Let’s be clear about something else. This is not a political issue. This is not a subject for debate, any more than whether your son is allowed to swear at his mother or molest his sister is a subject for debate. There is no “other point of view.” The real-world analogy is not to social issues but to violent crime. Muggers don’t get to have a point of view.

So how do we change things?

First, we need to serve as positive examples. With the very little boys, we need to guide them gently but firmly out of the cootie phase. To the impressionable teenagers, we must demonstrate how a man behaves and how he doesn’t. Be the change you want to see. Use your real name and your real picture online, to show that you are a man who stands behind his words. Of course, you can’t prove your name is real, but it doesn’t matter. If you consistently behave with integrity online, the message will get across.

Secondly, we men need to stand up for courtesy and decency online. We can’t just treat this as a problem for women (or blacks, or gays, or anybody else the juvenile bullies have in their sights). Tell them and their friends that their behavior is not acceptable, that real men don’t agree with them, that they are in the minority. Say these words into your headset: “I’m disappointed in you. I thought you were a man, not a whiny, insecure little boy.” Don’t argue or engage with them. Never answer their questions or remarks, just repeat your disgust and disapproval. Assume the absolute moral superiority to which you are entitled over a bully or a criminal.

Finally, we need to put a stop to this behavior. It’s time for us to force the permanent nine-year-olds to grow up or get out of our games and forums. It’s not enough just to mute them. We need to build the infrastructure that precludes this kind of behavior entirely – Club Penguin has already done it for children – or failing that, we have to make the bullies pay a price for their behavior.Appealing to their better nature won’t work; bullies have none. We do not request, we do not debate,we demand and we punish.

I have some specific suggestions, from the least to the most extreme.

  1. Mockery. In 1993 50 Ku Klux Klansmen marched through Austin, Texas. Five thousand anti-Klan protestors turned up to jeer at them. Best of all, several hundred lined the parade route and mooned the Klan in waves. The media ate it up, and the Klan looked ridiculous. The hurt that they wanted to cause was met not with anger but with derision. The juvenile delinquents are just like the Klan: anonymous in their high-tech bedsheets, and threatening, but in fact, a minority. Let’s use our superior numbers and metaphorically moon the boys who can’t behave. They’re social inadequates, immature losers. Let’s tell them so, loud and clear, in front of their friends.
  2. Shut them up. The right to speak in a public forum should be limited to those who don’t abuse it. James Portnow suggested this one in his Extra Credits video on harassment. Anyone who persistently abuses others gets automatically muted to all players. The only players who can hear them are those who choose to unmute them. Or another of James’ suggestions: New users don’t even get the right to talk. They have to earn it, and they keep it only so long as they behave themselves. This means a player can’t just create a new account to start spewing filth again if they’ve been auto-muted. Build these features into your games.
  3. Take away their means. If you’re the father of a boy who behaves like this online, make it abundantly clear to him that it is unmanly and unacceptable, then deny him the opportunity to do it further. We don’t let nine-year-olds misuse tools to hurt other people. Take away his cell phone, his console and his computer. He can learn to behave like a man, or he can turn in his homework in longhand like a child.
  4. Anonymity is a privilege, not a right. Anonymity is a double-edged sword. A limited number of people need it in certain circumstances: children, crime victims, whistleblowers, people discussing their medical conditions, political dissidents in repressive regimes. But those people normally don’t misuse their anonymity to abuse others; they’re protecting themselvesfrom abuse. I think the default setting in all online forums that are not intended for people at risk should require real names. After a user has demonstrated that they are a grown-up, thenoffer them the privilege of using a pseudonym. And take it away forever if they misuse it. I haven’t used a nickname for years except in one place where all the readers know who I am anyway. Has it made me more careful about what I say? You bet. Is that a good thing? Damn right it is.
  5. Impose punishments that are genuinely painful. This suggestion is extreme, but I feel it’s both viable and effective. To play subscription-based or pay-as-you-go (“free-to-play-but-not-really”) games, most players need to register a credit card with the game’s provider. Include a condition in the terms of service that entitles the provider to levy extra charges for bad behavior. Charge $5 for the first infraction and double it for each subsequent one. This isn’t all that unusual; if you smoke in a non-smoking hotel room, you are typically subject to a whopping extra charge for being a jerk.

Now I’m going to address some objections from the very juvenile delinquents I’ve been talking about – if any of them have read this far.

  • What’s the big deal? It’s harmless banter. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the game.” To start with, it’s our game, not yours, and we get to decide what’s acceptable behavior. You meet our standards or you get out. Apart from that, nothing that is done with intent to cause hurt is harmless. The online abuse I have seen goes way beyond banter. Threats are not harmless, they are criminal acts.
  • But this is part of gamer culture! It’s always been like this!” No, it is not. I’ve been gaming for over 40 years, and it has not always been like this. Yours is a nasty little subculture that arrived with anonymous online gaming, and we’re going to wipe it out.
  • This is just political correctness.” Invoking “political correctness” is nothing but code for “I wanna be an asshole and get away with it.” I’ll give you a politically-incorrect response, if you like: fuck that. It’s time to man up. You don’t get to be an asshole and get away with it.
  • You’re just being a White Knight and trying to suck up to women.” I don’t need to suck up to women, thanks; unlike you, I don’t have a problem with them, because I’m a grown man.
  • Women are always getting special privileges.” Freedom from bullying is a right, not a privilege, and anyway, that’s bullshit. Males are the dominant sex in almost every single activity on the planet. The only areas that we do not rule are dirty, underpaid jobs like nursing and teaching. Do you want to swap? I didn’t think so.
  • It’s hypocrisy. How come they get women-only clubs and we don’t get men-only clubs?” Because they’re set up for different reasons, that’s why. Male-only spaces are about excluding women from power, and making little boys whose balls evidently haven’t dropped feel special. Female-only spaces are about creating a place where they are safe from vermin.
  • But there’s misandry too!” Oh, and that entitles you to be a running sore on the ass of the game community? Two wrongs don’t make a right.. I’ll worry about misandry when large numbers of male players are being hounded out of games with abuse and threats of violence. If a few women are bigoted against men, you only have to look in the mirror to find out why.
  • Free speech!” The oldest and worst excuse for being a jerk there is. First, you have no right to free speech in privately-owned spaces. Zero. Our house, our rules. Second, with freedom comes the responsibility not to abuse it. People who won’t use their freedoms responsibly get them taken away. And if you don’t clean up your act, that will be you.

OK, back to the real men for a few final words.

This is not about “protecting women.” It’s about cleaning out the sewers that our games have become. This will not be easy and it will not be fun. Standing up to these little jerks will require the same courage from us that women like Anita Sarkeesian have already shown. We will become objects of hatred, ridicule, and contempt. Our manhood will be questioned. But if we remember who we are and stand strong together, we can beat them. In any case we won’t be threatened with sexual violence the way women are. We have it easier than they do.

It’s time to stand up. If you’re a writer, blogger, or forum moderator, please write your own piece spreading the message, or at least link to this one. I also encourage you to visit Gamers Against Bigotry (http://gamersagainstbigotry.org), sign the pledge, are share it.

Use your heavy man’s hand in the online spaces where you go – and especially the ones you control – to demand courtesy and punish abuse. Don’t just mute them. Report them, block them, ban them, use every weapon you have. (They may try to report us in return. That won’t work. If you always behave with integrity, it will be clear who’s in the right.)

Let’s stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women we love, and work with, and game with, and say, “We’re with you. And we’re going to win.”

 

The author is a game design consultant, writer, and “freelance professor.” His professional web site is at www.designersnotebook.com.

 

Comments

  1. says

    It’s fascinating how much overlap there is with what we’ve been wrestling with for the past year.

    Furthermore, all men – that’s you and me, bro – get the blame for their bad behavior. And we deserve it, because we’ve been sitting on our butts for too long. We let them be bullies online and get away with it.

    Well you haven’t. Note to readers: Ernest has written about this for Gamasutra before.

  2. Onamission5 says

    *applause*

    I am very much having my spouse and my elder son read this, as they are both avid on line gamers of the male variety. I know they already agree with the points made but it’s always helpful to have external support when doing what one knows is right.

    Thanks for posting this, and thanks to the author for writing it.

  3. says

    Ernest, thank you! I can see exactly why you didn’t want to edit it.
    I’m going to point this out to my teenage son (who certainly isn’t a whiny little boy, but he is occasionally thoughtless.)

  4. says

    •“But this is part of gamer culture! It’s always been like this!” No, it is not. I’ve been gaming for over 40 years, and it has not always been like this. Yours is a nasty little subculture that arrived with anonymous online gaming, and we’re going to wipe it out.

    I have not been involved in gaming, on or offline (except for some driving games) but in fact this has always been a problem, according to a study and thesis I read and talked with the author about 25 or so years ago. She did this at UCSC in the early 1980s, about role-playing games and basically, while many female participants she interviewed had many good experiences while gaming, quite often they would face extreme sexism, where their characters were singled out for rape, for instance.

    If he wanted to argue that the problem has increased with the advent of online gaming, or modern gaming, maybe there’s a valid argument that that is true, but it is not true that it is a new thing.

  5. Sastra says

    Good for Mr. Adams! I’m not a gamer (unless you count computer Scrabble), but I’ve heard about the problems with sexism in the online gaming community. This was impressive, on many levels. It will be interesting to see (or hear about) the response.

  6. says

    There is a broader role for anonymity than this acknowledges. Just ask the women who hide their identities while playing. But that is a quibble with what is a manifesto rather than working procedures.

    Can you imagine the reaction if you or I or Rebecca had written this, Ophelia?

  7. Pteryxx says

    excellent post.

    A nitpick to Ernest Adams re pseudonymity:

    I think the default setting in all online forums that are not intended for people at risk should require real names. After a user has demonstrated that they are a grown-up, thenoffer them the privilege of using a pseudonym.

    That just means those of us at risk, such as women or those avoiding stalkers and abusers, *cannot ever* participate in mainstream online communities. Real names can’t be un-revealed and aren’t restricted to just one online setting.

    I suggest instead, default settings should include a ‘noob’ or ‘lurker’ signifier, perhaps a temporary name designation, that the user can only change to a pseudonym of their choosing after they have gained the respect of the community. (In gaming, that might mean requesting a nym that’s then reserved for you as a perk that you earn.)

  8. says

    I wrote about this a few days ago. (yes blowing my own trumpet! http://goo.gl/qtg4L – If there are any gamers out there who wish to form a guild called the Hags of Lag I will join on the one condition that we create a guild that is truly unbiased or atleast try to) I wrote in response to a MRA article on why women suck at videogames and which espoused the idea of competitive gaming as a place where women cannot stand the heat…

    The treatment of women in videogames is horrific. If people play with me then I say this. Yes when you play at a high level anger does run high. Calling someone dumb, idiot or stupid is inevitable. Noob too… It’s a common insult and a lot of gamers are guilty of it. However throw a woman/GLBT/Ethnic Minority? Then the horrible insults come out…

    I am unfortunately cursed with a very female sounding name. When I was younger I played under my real name. And the insults were phenomenal. People would do one of three things if you played well.

    1. Ask to see your tits.
    2. Try and befriend you, then ask to see your tits
    3. Insult you (Slut, Bitch, Whore among others are bandied about more than gold coin drops in Diablo.)

    But what really irritated me was that there are places out there that will kick you out if you are a girl. There are servers that ban women players. Hell, Capcom had a event (linked on my post) where a player harassed a woman during a live tournament. At no point did anyone try and stop it. In fact this was going on for days.

    I argue a fair bit with anti-vax. When one of them made the implication that “my ancestors were swinging through the trees when theirs were studying philosophy”, I quit. I didn’t want to deal with someone who could say such a horrid thing. This young woman dealt with jerks who said horrid things till she couldn’t take it anymore and forfeited. At no point did anyone say “Wow! You are such a wanker! Ban Him”. They actively defended it as “Smack talk” and part of the game.

    I would want any future hypothetical daughter of mine to share in my love of videogames. I would not want her to play online though, not until we change the way players and indeed the games themselves treate women.

  9. says

    I liked much if this a lot. I think there are parallels not just to the discussions in the Freethought community regarding the treatment of women but also discussion about appropriate behavior online. I like the idea that people who use their anonymity to abuse others should be silenced. I don’t enable chat on online games much anymore due to the extent of homophobic, racist and sexist abuse that is flung around. I agree I don’t remembering it being remotely as bad.

    I’m uncomfortable with the extensive ageism in the article, though. The use of “boy” and “man” dichotomously, with “boy” almost always being used as a pejorative, plays into dangerous and demeaning stereotypes about children.

    But in general, a powerful message, and timely.

  10. says

    Guys, we have a problem.

    Uh-oh! Most certainly a shadow of “Guys, don’t do that!”

    [Sets timer to influx of slimy haters/assorted misogynists]

    Otherwise,

    BRAVO, Ernest Adams, for saying what needed to be said.

  11. says

    The juvenile delinquents are just like the Klan

    *Sigh*. No they aren’t. The Klan fucking lynched black men, raped black women, destroyed houses of black settlers, and had major behind-the-scenes influence in political, legal, and financial circles that systematically tried to undermine a group based on their own white supremacist doctrine.

    Don’t get me wrong, the folks online are horrible assholes, but the Klan wasn’t bad because they were big meanie heads. This is an incredibly lazy and dismissive analogy.

    I think the default setting in all online forums that are not intended for people at risk should require real names.

    This policy is as likely as not to backfire and make games LESS welcoming for women. A persistent theme that emerges from these discussions is the disgusting but not-technically-“real” abuse that female gamers get, as a result of which many of them use gender-neutral or male ‘nyms. Forcing everyone to use their real names also robs people who need anonymity to protect themselves from the very misogyny that this policy is supposed to reduce.

    This piece is also missing what I think is a very powerful and useful tool for moderating these kinds of behaviours: challenge them. Oftentimes people see abuse happen but do not intervene because they feel like it’s none of their business or because they have an aversion to conflict. This often has the effect of leaving abused minority members feeling as though they’re on their own, and gives abusers the illusion that only “butthurt whiners” find that kind of behaviour unwelcome.

    And I think as long as we keep leaping up and down on this “misogyny means you have a conscious hatred for women” meme (or at least fail to explain what misogyny is and how it operates), the longer this conversation is going to need to keep happening. Many of the worst offenders staunchly proclaim that they looooove women, they just hate uppity feminist women who can’t take a joke. Just as identifying racism as an active, open hatred for people of colour is a gross oversimplification that allows folks to weasel out of anything but ridiculous, over-the-top acts (and even then sometimes they try), identifying misogynistic acts the products of a mind that “hates women” is missing the mark by a wide margin.

  12. says

    Speaking as a game developer working on online FPS titles, where some of the worst offenders live, there is much to admire here.

    I may have some differences on certain specifics, however.

    * On anonymity, his proposals are problematic. Even in game spaces people have genuine reasons to remain anonymous. This may be for reasons similar to those in social spaces. (Indeed the line between social and game spaces is likely to only become more blurred in future.) Also it introduces a fiddlesome element of account management into the equation. For online account management we are increasingly trying to make this as streamlined and fiddle-free as possible.

    * Mechanisms where people have to earn rights to things they currently take for granted, such as team chat, are unlikely to happen. If only because it is profoundly alienating for all users, not just offenders. This is the marketing kiss of death and no publisher will sign off on features that make their games less accessible.

    That said, mechanisms where rights can be taken away for infringement, such as removing chat options for account abusers, are perfectly possible to provide for Community Development teams and are definitely a direction for the future.

    I shall certainly chat to my fellow leads about some of these ideas when I return to work from vacation. Though it may be late to implement them on my current project we might think about them for future projects.

  13. karmakin says

    Very good article, except for the anonymity thing. Being nice and free with the banhammer and setting up your game in such a way where being banned actually has significant negative impact is the way to go in this way, I think.

    But here are my experiences as a gamer:

    #1. The WORST right now is streaming chats. What I mean by that is the chat windows on Game Streaming services (you can watch other people play) such as TwitchTV. By a long shot. Holy fuck these are horrible, filled with outright sexism and slurs and other horrific stuff. Now, the good news is that generally there’s quite a few people calling this stuff out as well, as well as good channels will ban people who do this. But still. In a lot of places it’s horrible.

    Why here? Those who can, play. Those who wanna-be watch those who can play, and tear down as many people as they can, and this includes women.

    #2. XBox Live is horrible as well. But we all knew this.

    #3. In-game is actually getting better and improving. The best example I would give is League of Legends by Riot Games. By instituting a Tribunal system that encouraged reports and putting them in the hands of other users to be viewed and voted upon, it has improved the community by leaps and bounds. WoW’s General and Trade chats are still horrible…but everybody turns them off.

    Personally I think the haven is going to be Guild Wars 2 (ProTip: Check out the guild JT is getting together, if you’re interested), just because of the way the game is designed, it promotes a strong community. At least that’s my feeling.

    In fact, I’d argue that is the most important message. We are moving in the direction of the good. Get on board or be left behind. And the unfortunate reality this will mean that the people who want to get left behind will become more vocal, and more disgusting.

    And that’s why we have the trusty banhammer.

  14. ian says

    The most horrific thing about this post is the fact that Gamasutra refused to publish it. That alone should be a scandal and permanent black mark against them.

    The all pervading denialism that this is a huge problem is truly obnoxious, and I think companies or groups like Gamasutra who aren’t willing to be part of the solution, should be shamed as part of the problem.

  15. ernestongaming says

    Crommunist has evidently not read the article very carefully if he or she thinks the piece is missing the idea of challenging the bullies. I recommend it explicitly in more than one place. I even suggest something to say.

    I was talking about the Klan in 1993, not 1923. In 1993 they were nothing but a bunch of losers. Noisy, hateful, and frightening losers, but still losers.

    If there’s one thing a boy wants, it is to be regarded as a man. If it is made clear to a boy that bullying is unmanly and excludes him from the privileges of manhood, he may stop. If that is demeaning and stereotypical to boys, so be it.

    Requiring people to use their real names has no downside when active measures are in place to preclude abusive behavior in the first place. The problem is that the game companies don’t want to make the effort.

  16. shouldbeworking says

    I am a white, male, straight nongamer, but I agree with everything you wrote, it’s super! The only question I have is why wouldn’t they publish it?

  17. JanaTheVeganPiranha says

    I very much appreciated this article. While I am not a gamer, I have been a member of many chat groups where women have to be pretty tough to participate- this means wee accept large helpings of misogyny. If we make it through, we gain a *little* respect, but that is quickly withdrawn by every new member who joins, as they must be coddled through the idea that “this one is okay”.

    This is vulgar and gross. I also spend a great deal of time talking to small groups and individuals about rape, paedophilia, entitlement, child slavery and various other less-than-fun topics. I have YET to find a group of men anywhere, of any size, willing to address these things without shrieking at the top of their lungs “GO FUCK YOURSELF BITCH!!”. Rape threats are normal, death threats, massive gang bullying and general mayhem ensue- every time. How DARE a WOMAN correct a MAN!!

    We’re tired of BEING rape victims, then told we’re not allowed to talk about it! We’re tired of keeping your fucking secrets about how disgusting so many of you are, when you’re pretty sure no one will find out. How dare YOU!

    It high time to shine a bright light into this dark corner, in EVERY aspects of our lives. Women are NOT here “for sex”, “for the USE of men” we aren’t lesser beings, created second by God! Go fuck yourselves, seriously!

    Yes, fatherhood has been lacking. So has personal responsibility. You can’t tell me a boy or young man HONESTLY doesn’t know when he’s being a vulture! Sure he does, he just LIKES being a vulture. That is not a right.

  18. ernestongaming says

    I should add that Gamasutra’s objections were to the tone and the absence of supporting evidence rather than to the subject matter. They have already addressed the issue more than once, but in much more measured language (and so did I, in a column for them in 1997). But I felt that this was a call to arms, not a sociology essay; citing studies would just weaken the message. I had the opportunity to rewrite it and refused.

  19. says

    Requiring people to use their real names has no downside when active measures are in place to preclude abusive behavior in the first place. The problem is that the game companies don’t want to make the effort.

    Except that’s wrong. Maybe you don’t want to see the downside, but it exists. People have their online behavior tracked and used against them in all sorts of situations even WITH anonymity. You can make all the rules you want against abusive behavior online, but when you hand out people’s real names you’re also handing out targets for real-world abuse.

    Look… what you’re going to have to accept is that we agree with you in general but some of us have experiences that you don’t, and that we’re making good-faith objections to specific points rather than dismissing you outright.

  20. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I should add that Gamasutra’s objections were to the tone and the absence of supporting evidence rather than to the subject matter.

    Which is exhibit number 1,666,000,347 of the problem itself. Shit or get off the pot, Gamasutra. Hyper-skepticism and “tone” concerns for the lose.

    Thank you, Ernest, for a full-throated throw-down.

  21. ian says

    @Jana

    “You can’t tell me a boy or young man HONESTLY doesn’t know when he’s being a vulture! Sure he does, he just LIKES being a vulture.”

    This.

    The responses by these folks that they want a space where they don’t have to be ‘politically correct’ is testimony to this. This is definitely not a failing of ignorance. It is a failing of authority, a failure to punish people who delight in causing others pain.

  22. ian says

    @Jana

    “Which is exhibit number 1,666,000,347 of the problem itself. Shit or get off the pot, Gamasutra. Hyper-skepticism and “tone” concerns for the lose.”

    This. Again. !

  23. says

    While this is a mostly great post (aside from the ill-advised bit about anonymity), I am not comfortable with the “boys and not men” phrasing. To me, that smacks too much of how some men other rapists: “He’s not a real man,” and the ahistorical pretense that masculinity has ever been constructed on a widespread basis as giving a shit about women.

    Sorry, no. It’s not primarily boys who rape and harass women. It’s men.

  24. Mike says

    Anonymity is a privilege, not a right. Anonymity is a double-edged sword. A limited number of people need it in certain circumstances: children, crime victims, whistleblowers, people discussing their medical conditions, political dissidents in repressive regimes. But those people normally don’t misuse their anonymity to abuse others; they’re protecting themselvesfrom abuse. I think the default setting in all online forums that are not intended for people at risk should require real names. After a user has demonstrated that they are a grown-up, thenoffer them the privilege of using a pseudonym. And take it away forever if they misuse it. I haven’t used a nickname for years except in one place where all the readers know who I am anyway. Has it made me more careful about what I say? You bet. Is that a good thing? Damn right it is.

    This is highly problamatic, as several people have pointed out. First, if someone’s legal name and gender does not match hir actual name and gender, ze will be forced to be recognized online as someone ze has spent a good amount of time, effort, and money not to be perceived as anymore. Second, many trans* people’s first experience of trying on a different gender than the one they were assigned is in online spaces and gaming where you can be anybody without the judgement of the people around you. Third, How does an independent third party know who is at risk? Say you are in an atheist forum, like this one. Many people can’t be open about their atheism, and real names would effectively silence them. GSRM people rely on the anonymity of the internet to be able to talk about their experiences, and not necessarily in only safe spaces. Fourth, as other people have already said, it forces women and minorities who would rather hide their status to be open and face all the hatred thrown their way.
    So if your goal is to exclude more people, go ahead, end anonymity.

  25. says

    Crommunist, I agree that the article is ill-phrased, but I don’t think he meant to imply that online misogynists are equivalent to the Klan in their prime.

  26. ernestongaming says

    Not all adult males are men.

    I would like to learn: How does using my real name in a forum without providing any other identifying information put me at risk? How can I be tracked down when my physical location is never revealed? I have used by real name for many years and have been fortunate enough not to be stalked; but if I were, I’m not quite sure how I *could* be stalked. I would like to know the mechanism by which this works.

  27. FelixBC says

    Forcing everyone to use their real names also robs people who need anonymity to protect themselves from the very misogyny that this policy is supposed to reduce.

    This.

    There have been a few calls for people to use their real names online lately, as if it would somehow guarantee greater civility and responsibility. I can see why people might think that, but no.

    Names often reveal gender, ethnicity, even age-range. If your name is unique, it can be basically a self-doxing. Type my real name into Google, and you get my entire identity, down to address and employment history. Out of 3/4 billion users on Facebook, I’m the only person with my first and last name combination, even though they’re fairly standard names by themselves.

    I am NOT going to reveal that to all and sundry every time I comment online. It’s right up there with “don’t wander around in a crime-ridden area at night by yourself” for basic safety advice, especially for women.

  28. FelixBC says

    Ernest, are you from this planet? Or just clueless?

    I have used by real name for many years and have been fortunate enough not to be stalked; but if I were, I’m not quite sure how I *could* be stalked.

  29. says

    I would like to learn: How does using my real name in a forum without providing any other identifying information put me at risk?

    I’m sure others can point you at relevant links, but for people being stalked, even a real name with no other context is too much information.

  30. says

    Not all adult males are men.

    Uh, yes, they are, biologically. The people who run the world are, by and large, men. Calling them “boys” trivializes their power.

    Also, as a straight white cis man, you really have no fucking clue of the dangers of putting your real name out there.

  31. says

    Ernest, you provide a list of good reasons for anonymity, but I don’t think reality is that simple. Off the top of my head, I can think of:

    * Victims of offline bullying who don’t want their online persona to be targeted.
    * Closeted atheists or religious converts, who want to discuss their beliefs.
    * Closeted gay or trans people, who want to discuss these matters
    * People who want to discuss matters that with identification could leave them vulnerable to crime (e.g. “what has gone wrong with my burglar alarm?”.

    Given time, I could think of lots more. These aren’t intended as additions to the list, but as examples to illustrate the fact that any attempt to define good anonymity and bad anonymity won’t work in practice.

  32. Bruce Gorton says

    One of the things I think may nake things easier in future is the move towards Steam based gaming experience – where your ability to play your games is linked to a single account.

    Maybe a new addition to the EULA, saying “If you act like a douchebag, the company that hosts the game reserves the right to cancel your copy of it”.

  33. says

    I know people who have been blackmailed based on online information, because at some point 3-4 stages away from their anonymous posting they used their real name and somewhere else they used a credit card, and someone was able to use the various information to find everything they had posted to multiple message boards and dating sites. Then the threats of sending the whole package of information to employers, friends, and family came out. Imagine how much easier if you force people to give their names right off the bat?

  34. FelixBC says

    Ernest, you’re the author of this piece? Argh. I love what you’ve written. But seriously, part of being a woman online is drawing fire. For disagreeing, or just being a woman, period. You know this, obviously. But being required to use a real name would be a very high price to pay to participate, and not equally high across the board.

    When I was a teenager a woman in my town was shot by her stalker, in broad daylight, at a bus stop on her way home from work. Lesson to women that I learned? Do not attract stalkers. Minimum action: don’t put your real name or info online.

    You may not even know how people can be stalked, and how easily, and you’re very fortunate not to have needed to learn that. The rest of us, not so lucky.

  35. says

    FTB colleague Russell Glasser says on Facebook, sharing this post –

    It’s a guest blog by Ernest Adams, whose “Designer Notebook” column in Gamasutra has been enlightening and entertaining me for years.

  36. says

    I recall the brouhaha when Google asked users to use real names, for example in Google+. A lot of stuff came out, mainly from women, about the ways in which this information could be employed by enemies, exes, stalkers et al.

    I think we have to accept that in the online space, ANY online space, anonymity is a basic right.

  37. ian says

    So now the conversation is about anonymity. How convenient. Let’s stop worrying about asshole gamers and argue about anonymity for a bit, shall we?

    Earnest – it is almost impossible to distinguish online between someone who is genuinely asking for help and someone who is determined to be right and is playing the ‘burden of proof’ card. If you’re not at all invested in “being right” on the anonymity issue, then the grown-up thing to do is to say so. “Real names seemed like a good idea to me at the time, but I can be naive, because I don’t have to worry about this stuff.” maybe post a rejoinder to say “I’ve been asked to reconsider the anonymity bit, which I’ll happily do, please focus on the rest.” As a naturally curious, overly privileged cis white middle-class guy, I’ve fallen foul of this. Wanting to discuss and get to the bottom of my pet part of an issue, rather than acknowledging that it is time to let others be right, and to find education and enlightenment in a venue where who I am isn’t shouting “look at me” so loud it is drowning out the real conversation. If you really want to know why real names harm people, go find out in a venue where you are able to learn in humility. It is hard when you are 100% sure you’re not part of the problem, to understand that sometimes you just are, accidentally. Takes a man to face up to that, I think…

  38. Pteryxx says

    Thanks for replying, Ernest.

    Yes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_W._Adams is me. I expect it to be vandalized at any moment.

    …Isn’t it a bit ironic that you’d expect that, but haven’t given much thought to stalking? (It wouldn’t be me, if that’s what you mean. I don’t wiki.)

    One method stalkers use is to go to events their targets may be at. For gamers, often, that means conventions. You’re a speaker; most gamers will mention their favorite speakers or topics, so it’s possible to know where in a given convention they’ll be. Livetweeting or liveblogging raises the exposure.

    Another tactic is to befriend people who are friends of the target. Often they can ask ‘will so-and-so be hanging out with you?’ and the mutual friend will lay out their plans, and sometimes even give out the target’s schedule or room number.

    People who make social contact online just don’t hermetically seal those contacts from everything they do in meatspace. It doesn’t work that way. Even if the target doesn’t reveal their real name or location, *but a mutual friend does*, then wherever the friend is, the target’s likely nearby.

    That’s just a start. Seconding leebrimmicombe-wood up there – read some of the objections to Google+. Here’s a start:

    http://skepchick.org/2011/07/sunday-ai-does-google-hate-women/

    http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2011/08/04/real-names.html

  39. Pteryxx says

    Ophelia:

    I disagree that we have to accept that online anonymity is a basic right when people use the anonymity to harm other people.

    It’s a basic right in the way free speech is a basic right. The proportionate response to its abuse isn’t to deny it to everyone by default. Discussing removing anonymity *as a penalty* is very different than requiring real names from everyone up front.

  40. ernestongaming says

    @Ian, I can’t understand your post. You seem to be telling me to shut up and go away because I’m too ignorant to be here. That may be true, but it seems peculiar in this forum.

  41. says

    No, not just as a penalty; much more as a preventive. There are things a lot of people won’t say if they know their friends, bosses, spouses, children, parents, colleagues can see them under their own names.

  42. Pteryxx says

    There are things a lot of people won’t say if they know their friends, bosses, spouses, children, parents, colleagues can see them under their own names.

    Well, yes. Including “I’m gay” or “I’m so looking forward to meeting you at this conference”.

  43. mythbri says

    Anonymity is a means of equalization. No one has to be “out” about their gender if they choose not to be. The flip side to that, of course, is that they will be assumed to be male. So there’s still plenty of hateful things being said – they’re just not specifically directed at you.

    Anonymity means having to take someone at their word, because the words are all you have. I don’t have to pretend that the misogynistic asshole is really a nice guy – all I see is the misogynistic asshole-ism. The ideas and words are at the forefront, and ideas about identity attributes are secondary. I like this, and as others have said, it’s an advantage to protecting oneself.

  44. says

    There are new people commenting, probably via Reddit. This will probably mean extra rudeness. Apologies in advance (and retrospect, so that should cover it).

  45. ian says

    @Earnest – not at all. Just that the desire to be right can be distracting from your point. Which is why now a sizeable majority of the comments on this post are about something which, presumably, isn’t the actual problem you want to discuss. This happens a lot. We all want to be right, it is frustrating to be wrong. But working out your misunderstandings when you’re up front on the dais means the session is about you, no longer about your message. The big boy thing at that point is to either step down, or concede and revisit that particular topic later. My suggestion is that you are being sucked into this issue strongly and consistently enough that you cut it loose from your central thesis as quickly as possible, so it can’t threaten to overwhelm the boat. By responding in turn, I’m just as much of the problem, and need to shut up just as much!

  46. Pteryxx says

    My reply to Ernest is out of moderation (thanks, Ophelia) and I linked to a couple of articles from the Google+ kerfuffle about the importance of online anonymity specifically in protecting women and other marginalized users. That’s really about all I have to contribute on the topic.

    I still want to thank you, Ernest, for calling on men to not let this crap slide, and especially for calling on game designers to address the problem.

  47. 'Tis Himself says

    I have legitimate reasons to keep my name anonymous. No, I am not going to say what those reasons are, they could be used to identify me. If I was required to give a name, then meet August Q. Pickleheimer-Buttmunch. If necessary I’d get a credit card for that name.

  48. says

    There’s a lot that I like about this. I’ll note a couple of criticisms, and you can just assume that I agree with and appreciate almost everything else (but for the pseudonymity question – I agree with the disagreements expressed here).

    I think my main problem relates to this:

    If there’s one thing a boy wants, it is to be regarded as a man.

    That’s true, but the way to address anxious masculinity is to challenge and not to feed it. You use some phrases here that are troubling – for example, the repeated references to being a “real man” and others with similar assumptions (e.g., “Instead of maturing into a man’s role and a man’s responsibilities,…”). I don’t think people anxious about their masculinity should be encouraged simply to accept another definition of this troublesome concept, perpetuating the notion that manliness is defined against woman. The idea of a “man’s role” itself needs to be taken on. Instead of offering alternative definitions for “real manhood,” we should be deconstructing the idea.

    You write:

    Men are more powerful than women: financially, politically, and physically. What distinguishes a real man from a boy is that a man takes responsibility for his actions and does not abuse this power. If you don’t treat women with courtesy and respect…

    Boys and girls should aspire to being decent human beings. What distinguishes a decent adult from one’s opposite isn’t accepting a system of economic and political stratification and one’s own privileged position within it “responsibly,” whatever that might mean, but challenging it head on. Real adults recognize that social inequalities are human creations and fight for social justice.

  49. smhll says

    And I think as long as we keep leaping up and down on this “misogyny means you have a conscious hatred for women” meme (or at least fail to explain what misogyny is and how it operates), the longer this conversation is going to need to keep happening.

    I’d like to pursue this piece of this conversation, but maybe I should let you go first?

    (From my female POV, calling any woman a c-nt IS misogynistic and has a painful negative effect on all women who read or hear it. The effect of the word “bitch” is a lot more watered down. I don’t personally need to take a stand on that hill.)

    (I may be defining and using the adjective “misogynistic” fairly loosely. For me, exhibiting contempt for women would count as misogyny. Long ago, we called slurs and shitty attitudes and microaggressions “sexism”. I’m not sure when common usage switched over and the word “misogyny” stated getting a lot more play.)

  50. says

    I concur about anonymity – I don’t want certain people in my RL (say potential clients) to know everything about my personal life, politics, what books and blogs I read, etc. Plus, I don’t want to make it that much easier for the ex-friend who threatened to rape me to find out where I am or what I’m doing.

    I also agree with the problem of calling these assholes “boys”. Not only because it gives them the ready-made trite excuse that “boys will be boys” so quit giving them a hard time, not only because it’s not a shameful thing to be a boy, not only because it kind of lets them off the hook of responsibility, but because it condones misogyny *in boys*.

    Is it really okay for us to accept misogyny at any level at any age? I don’t think so. Is there a “phase” when we should allow kids to be racists? or ableists? or homophobes? No. But it’s socially acceptable for boys to spend 3 or 4 years hating girls? Fuck that. I don’t buy for a minute the notion that such a phase is natural and that Real Men just grow out of it. It’s not acceptable to encourage the idea of “girl cooties” any more than it is to encourage the idea of women as sex objects or incubators.

  51. Joe says

    This whole article is female chauvinist. Seems like it was written by a little girl, advocating gender double standard. Its exactly why there are so many problems in today’s society. The rules are (or should be) the same for everybody.
    BTW, nursing is not underpaid.

  52. Sastra says

    Just for the sake of argument, would the objections to using/not using one’s real name in a gaming forum become moot if one was allowed to use first name initials? “O. Benson” would be pretty hard to trace, and doesn’t give away any clues as to gender. You’d still have some problems (L. Zhang potentially indicates race; A. Pickleheimer-Buttmunch could probably be found anyway), but the problems others mention seem to be reduced. If going by one’s own name is a check on behavior, E. Adams or E.W. Adams feels personal enough, I’d think.

    Men are more powerful than women: financially, politically, and physically. What distinguishes a real man from a boy is that a man takes responsibility for his actions and does not abuse this power. If you don’t treat women with courtesy and respect…

    Yeah, intentions might be good here, but I think this passage triggers images of the Gentleman tipping his hat and holding the door open for the little lady, she of the weaker sex. Better than slamming it in her face, of course. And holding it closed.

  53. karmakin says

    @Sastra: That would be fine, for some genres (say like FPS military shooters), but I wouldn’t really like a name like that in a fantasy game.

    Speaking for myself I use my ‘nym EVERYWHERE, to the point where people recognize me in entirely different games. Personally I have more link to this than I do if I were to use my last name on it.

    Besides, with how much shit I see spouted off on Facebook, I don’t think it would fix very much at all. The solution is a very big nasty looking banhammer.

  54. karmakin says

    BTW Joe that’s absolutely ADORABLE that you see this article as being “female chauvinistic”…so inexperienced and so impressionable.

    I’ve seen that sort of thing. And this is nowhere close to that, even if I disagree with some of the suggestions.

  55. says

    Ernest, stalkers and malcontents use many different methods to track somebody. A name and a context is often enough to uniquely identify you, even if you don’t realize it. For example, many people share my real name. How many of those people post at FTB? How many of them have Starcraft 2 accounts? How many of them use this pseudonym, and registered the domain kagerato.net ?

    That last point brings up one source of information that’s commonly used: public documents. You probably do not understand exactly how much information about you is public knowledge if you haven’t researched it. For many kinds of property, if you own it your name is often listed for it somewhere accessible. Likewise, files such as marriage and divorce records are typically public. Most crimes and any civil court proceedings you’ve been involved in will leave some form of trace.

    There are also side-channels someone can use to obtain “private” knowledge. School records, for instance, can sometimes be obtained as long as someone can convincingly lie about their relationship as well as pay any relevant fees. Businesses may leak information, either through insiders or through third-party “affiliates” that process and transfer it. Friends and acquaintances may accidentally give up information to strangers (directly or indirectly). There’s also tricks like sorting through garbage for bills and statements, stealing wallets/purses/briefcases, and so forth.

    Many of the tactics used are pretty similar or identical to those employed in identity theft, so I’d recommend some research on that if you still don’t understand how you get from a name to a person.

  56. Nathair says

    I went by my real name online, way back in the day. I was only stalked once. I only had to call the police because that stalker had traveled from another country and was standing on my front porch banging on my door once. I have a family, I have a child. Once was enough.

    Other than the “Real Men don’t need anonymity” bit, an excellent article.

  57. Mike says

    @61

    Joe says:
    July 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm
    This whole article is female chauvinist. Seems like it was written by a little girl, advocating gender double standard. Its exactly why there are so many problems in today’s society. The rules are (or should be) the same for everybody.
    BTW, nursing is not underpaid.

    How very cute. female chauvinist, lol. Good one. Almost didn’t realize this was an MRA parody. but seriously, if it isn’t educate yourself before you start spewing off crap that makes it look like you have never even stepped outside your front door. Have you seen the shit that Ophelia, Stephanie, Rebecca, and many others have been getting? Here’s a timeline just about sexual harassment policies. http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/06/15/harassment-policies-campaign-timeline-of-major-events/
    Not to mention all the recent rape threats. http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/07/23/would-it-be-immoral-to-rape-my-friends/
    Now take your little insignificant troll self back under the bridge you came out from under.

  58. Shplane says

    Yeah, gotta say I don’t really like this post at all. How is making people use their real names going to help anyone at all? A name is about as useful for identifying an individual in our world of 6 billion people as is a shoe size. It’s why we use social security numbers and the like. The only people who will benefit from this are stalkers, who have the time and are willing to put in the effort to follow every single post a person makes to see if they slip up, or are willing to comb through however many Facebook profiles exist with the same name to find the one they’re stalking. This will only harm women, not help them.

    Likewise, the ageist bullshit is bullshit. Yes, children are statistically more likely to think silly things, but that doesn’t mean it’s right to use them as a term of derision. I mean, why does this even need to be said, anymore? Statistically, most men are stronger than most women. Does this make it ok to call men who aren’t strong “ladies”?

    Most of your other points are pretty good, but these two are just too glaringly bad.

  59. jackiepaper says

    If you don’t think online anonymity is important, you must not live in a place where you can expect to deal with some very real negative effects if people find out you’re atheist, or GLBTQ friendly. I cannot use my name on Facebook, Atheist Nexus, or Twitter, unless I am willing to lie or be silent about many of the issues I care about. I could lose the tiny social network I have (and desperately need), my means of supporting my family and I can lose my kids. Yeah, I’ve had to answer to charges of being an atheist and therefore, an unfit parent in court. (The court decided one did not equal the other, so long as I did nothing to “counter-educate” what religious indoctrination my kids have received. Yea progress!) Yet I mostly only have contacts in this community online. I won’t post videos to Youtube or allow my teenage daughter to because I’m afraid of us being stalked and killed. I’ve been stalked. It isn’t fun.

    Other than that: great article.

  60. Shplane says

    I also dislike the “new user can’t talk” thing. The loss of game progress and achievements/trophies/whatever Steam has should already serve as sufficient deterrent for banned people (And honestly more of a deterrent to gamers), no need to punish people who haven’t yet done anything.

    We do need to actually use the tools we already have, of course. But I don’t see the need for this draconian sort of action.

  61. says

    I hear the points are making about the Man/Boy rhetoric. Also the dangers of using shaming language. But is it wise to abandon such potent language? Are there any other rhetorical devices that would be more effective?

  62. crowepps says

    The option of anonymity is absolutely necessary for women:

    “Gibbons, 27, has been rowing 1,500 miles around the border of Lake Michigan by herself since early June to raise money and awareness for her cancer survivor charity, Recovery on Water.

    On Sunday, however, as Gibbons prepared to begin rowing in the early morning hours toward Beaver Island near Michigan’s Northern Peninsula, a man attacked her and sexually assaulted her, according to her website, Row 4 Row.

    Gibbons told the Chicago Tribune the man came aboard her rowboat and entered the cabin where she was.

    Michigan State Police told ABC News that the man may have traveled “significant distance” to commit the assault. The man may have followed the blog Gibbons was keeping to update readers on her journey.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/woman-rowing-perimeter-lake-michigan-sexually-assaulted-180223465–abc-news-topstories.html

  63. Sally Hansen says

    While I am not a gamer, and have therefore never experienced this kind of bigotry in the gaming world, I can definitely see how it overlaps into the real world. I can say with absolute certainty that every single guy who has harassed me online, whether it be in a forum or in a blog or on YouTube, etc (some of them harassed me for years on end) has been a gamer. I have dated a few gamers, and even though they themselves were not sexist, their entire group of gamer friends behaved this way toward women in any given setting. I’m frankly tired of it, and as a result one of my prerequisites for dating a man is that he cannot be a gamer (I know, a rare thing indeed), nor can the majority of his friends whom he associates with be gamers. And honestly, I do not think this “subculture” is in the minority of gamers, but that’s my personal experience. In my opinion, its the vast majority of men who are gamers who act this way. You can disagree, and obviously I don’t have any statistics to back up my claim, but in my personal experience this is just how its been for me over the years. My life was made a living hell in high school, not by the jocks or popular girls, but by the gamers. Gamers are the new bully in my opinion. Its really quite ridiculous.

  64. jmrooker says

    “I have used by real name for many years and have been fortunate enough not to be stalked”

    Good for you. Many of us are not so fortunate. Try to understand that your privilege as a guy who’s never been stalked is preventing you from listening to people who don’t share that privilege and are telling you that you are wrong.

    When you exclude people who can’t use their real names safely, you just make their situation worse and give more power to the people who oppress them. The myth that real names make a conversation more civil has been debunked repeatedly over the last year, just as the fact that forcing real name usage puts many people at great risk has been proven repeatedly. If you have somehow missed the existence of the nymwars, that only shows how deep your privilege runs.

  65. markbrown says

    A while back (2010) Blizzard proposed changing their Battle.net game forums to use real names and there was a massive outcry from the community:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle.net#Privacy_and_Real_ID

    I really can’t see what advantage using real names would have over using a persistent pseudonym, unless you actually do want to track the person down. As long as the ‘nym is tied to account information or whatever, bad behavior can be noted and addressed if required, and thus the same disincentive to misbehave is achieved without the potential stalking issues. It’d just need to be difficult to create new ‘nyms… so tie it to game copies, or use a system like Steam or Battle.net.

    As for how much danger a name presents… I have a female gamer friend with a totally unique name. A google search of her name would instantly bring up electoral roll information.

  66. Sally Hansen says

    “I would like to learn: How does using my real name in a forum without providing any other identifying information put me at risk? How can I be tracked down when my physical location is never revealed? I have used by real name for many years and have been fortunate enough not to be stalked; but if I were, I’m not quite sure how I *could* be stalked. I would like to know the mechanism by which this works.”

    I haven’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if anyone pointed this out yet, but right now I am using a pseudonym. This is because my real name is not very common. In fact, there is only one person in the U.S. with my name… me! Its not hard to google someone and find out nearly all of their personal information through websites like spokeo and mylife.net. I went to great pains to erase a lot of my data that I found through google. Sometimes I still have to google myself to see if anything new has popped up that might be personally incriminating because companies sell user data all the time. There are a couple of results left, but I intentionally left them up because they didn’t reveal too detailed of personal information or they revealed something positive about myself that a potential employer might like to see (for instance that I made the Dean’s list when I was in college). So Sally Hansen is not my real name. I do not use my real name to post comments in forums or blogs or anything because I know it WILL cause problems for me in real life, if not from stalkers/bullies, then certainly from my family who do not yet know that I am an atheist and a socialist and bisexual and any other number of given things they may find morally reprehensible. Posting my real name anywhere online is simply not an option for me, and I can definitely see how it wouldn’t be an option for some people in the gaming world.

  67. says

    by Ernest W. Adams

    A boy who hates girls and women simply isn’t going to pay attention to a woman’s opinion. The only people who can ensure that boys are taught, or if necessary forced, to grow up into men are other men.

    Although I agree with the above pull quote, several problems arise. Our language and culture is inherently sexist, so when we use stereotypes for communicating ideas efficiently we are also reinforcing the stereotype. Every time we read a sexist word, no matter how many quotes are around it (or meta ironic joke caveats are provided), a neuron gets excited and reminds other neurons about it. Just seeing the phrase “Trigger Warning” upsets me, even when I don’t know the topic being discussed.

    Here is my attempt to be super politically correct:

    Socially immature persons who disrespect certain groups simply cannot learn mature social boundaries from those same groups. The only people who can instill these values, sometimes requiring force, to have them become socially mature are respected members of the group to which they desire membership in.

  68. says

    I think one thing we need to do is discard this un-quantifiable concept called “the real man.” It is too loaded a concept, like capital “G” “God.” Would we go around saying that we need to raise “real women” and think we actually have a good definition of what that means that everyone agrees upon?

  69. ernestongaming says

    Well, thank you all. As it is close to midnight, I’m going to bed soon.

    A few final notes.

    This is a call to arms, directed to genuine men, whom I define as responsible, courteous, well-socialized adult male individuals who do not abuse the inherent physical, financial, and political advantages which they inherit, but use these powers for good purposes, which includes standing in solidarity with others who lack those advantages.

    It is written in a blunt and direct style which is quite unlike my normal tone. (You may read more of my articles at http://www.designersnotebook.com/Columns for comparison.) I do not apologize for this. The things that needed to be said cannot be said clearly when hedged about with provisos and qualifications. It is not a sociology thesis.

    Children are by definition unsocialized human beings, and we bring them into the company of grown men and women through guidance, example, and — when necessary — sanction. I only ask that we begin to exercise our rightful authority as game developers over the areas that we establish for people to play in, rather than allowing children and immature adults to run riot and spoil other people’s fun (or worse). Disneyland does not permit such behavior, and neither should we.

    I have provided a number of suggestions that I believe are valuable, and I am certain that with some imagination the game development community can think of more. I do not ask you to agree with all of them. What I do ask you to do not to allow yourself to be sidetracked by your areas of disagreement when our common cause is so vastly more important.

    Will you stand with me, and with all other decent men and women, and battle this scourge together? Or will you allow fear and division in our ranks to permit the abuse to continue unopposed?

  70. ernestongaming says

    Postcript: I shouldn’t have said “inherent” advantages. The financial and political advantages are not inherent but phenomena of culture, and the physical advantages are of course limited to certain dimensions (longevity not being one of them) and not the product of any merit of their own.

    There are a few qualifications for you.

  71. says

    Will you stand with me, and with all other decent men and women, and battle this scourge together? Or will you allow fear and division in our ranks to permit the abuse to continue unopposed?

    Door number one!

    Thank you for writing this, Ernest.

  72. ian says

    “Will you stand with me, and with all other decent men and women, and battle this scourge together? ”

    Without hesitation.

    “Thank you for writing this, Ernest.”

    Amen.

  73. says

    I’m surprised nobody has linked directly to the episode of Extra Credits. (There are several other episodes dealing with similar subjects, too. I highly recommend their review of Call of Juarez: the Cartel.)

    Shplane: The way I interpreted it, the EC team were throwing the idea of ‘earning’ communication privileges out as an aside (“hey, this could help too”), instead of their primary suggestion.

  74. Ken Pidcock says

    I’ve no doubt that this is a useful discussion (I’m not a gamer), but I was a bit put off by the characterization of offenders as having failed to grow up. It seems to me that this makes them appear less dangerous than their targets justifiably take them to be. The problem isn’t figurative boys. It’s real men, with real capacity for violence.

    On the anonymity issue, I understand how important it is for many people to protect themselves. But there are also many people, myself included, whose privileged status should lead them to identify themselves so as to acknowledge their willingness to stand by what they say.

  75. says

    I strongly agree with Salty Current and the other commenters writing on the “man” “boy” language issue. Glad to see that’s being raised.

  76. says

    You know, Ernest, an actual ally listens to the people ze’s purporting to stand up for. Ze doesn’t hand-wave the concerns they bring up as unimportant and getting in the way of zir grand plan.”

    You don’t want to listen. You want to preach. I don’t have any use for an egotistical white knight who dismisses any valid criticisms of his proposals as “vastly less important” and promoting “fear and division.”

    Here’s a clue, dude: This isn’t about you.

    Lee: I don’t care how “effective” a trope is if it has long-term negative consequences.

  77. Gar Lipow says

    Two comments

    1) I agree with your general point, and others are doing nicely on problems with the rhetoric.

    2) My name is Gar Lipow. I’m definitely the only person with that combination of first and last name in North America and probably in the world. I’m fortunate enough not to have a stalker, but if I did have a stalker, the use of the name alone would be enough to identity me uniquely. Yes anonymity can enable the bullies, but it is also an essential tool for not being a victim of those same bullies. You have mentioned plenty of other tools for controlling bullying, don’t take away one of the key protections their targets need. If I ever became a target, getting myself an pseud would be an essential survival too.

  78. Josh Slocum says

    1. As I said above, I very much appreciate Ernest’s no-bullshit direct challenge. Thank you.

    2. That said, people are right to urge you to reconsider your glib dismissal of anonymity. That you are having such a hard time understanding this should indicate to you that you’re in a very privileged position. Many people have legitimate, significant worries about identifying themselves by their real names. You should listen to them. Really.

    3. Ophelia, you know I love you, but I think your personal experience of having anonymity used against you is blinding you to the legitimate uses of it. You have been abused by people who hide behind anonymity as a cowardly expedient. They’ve lost all legitimate right to anonymity. But that does not make everyone else’s use of anonymity suspect or illegitimate.

    Anonymity is a double-edged sword. It’s a status that should be questioned and taken away when it’s used to terrorize and victimize others. But failing to recognize the valid reasons that vulnerable people have for using a pseudonym is not cool either.

  79. says

    Geiger, why is a serial sexual harasser like you who’s no longer tolerated on Pharyngula commenting on this thread?

    1. You’d better lay off the false accusations.

    2. I’m commenting on the thread because I have something relevant to say.

    3. I see you’re still hoggling over me. Pathetic. “Not tolerated” is apparently the same as “being constantly hassled by the same three or four people”.

  80. Josh Slocum says

    Geiger, there were reasons you became unwelcome at other parts FtB. Creepy misogyny and PUA tactics are among them.

  81. Shplane says

    Children are by definition unsocialized human beings

    This is irrelevant. The mentally handicapped are, by definition, people who are not as biologically capable of mental activity as everyone else. That doesn’t mean it’s ok to throw around “retard” as a slur.

    I also don’t think it’s strictly true. A child is a biologically juvenile human. Some of them are quite a bit better socialized than you or the majority of society is willing to give them credit for.

    Will you stand with me, and with all other decent men and women, and battle this scourge together? Or will you allow fear and division in our ranks to permit the abuse to continue unopposed?

    I highly doubt that anyone here is going to stop working for equality just because they think your article is bad. Especially since a lot of the complaints are “You’re not treating certain groups equally here”.

  82. Happiestsadist says

    Hey Geiger, you know full well what you did. Repeatedly. Your denials are feeble, to say the least, you fucking creep.

  83. says

    Hey Geiger, you know full well what you did.

    Hey sadist, no, I don’t.

    Your denials are feeble, to say the least, you fucking creep.

    If you’ve appointed yourself judge, jury, and executioner, then nothing I say will matter.

    But why are we discussing it here? I sure as hell didn’t start it.

  84. Happiestsadist says

    Aww, are you going to pull more creepy shit like you did with TET folks? maybe sexually harass women until they leave again? Or defend PUAs some more? Or deliberately trigger rape survivors? Like you did to me?

    We’re discussing this because you are a vile, revolting, pathetic excuse for a human being, and you think nobody will remember what you did. You don’t get to waltz in and pretend you’re totes enlightened about sexism, when all you are is a perpetrator.

  85. mildlymagnificent says

    Speaking as someone who (many years ago, long before there was any such thing as a refuge) was a domestic violence survivor avoiding my not-yet-ex-husband I just count myself lucky I had no children at the time.

    Now when we look at stripping gamers of possible anonymity, how does a parent with teenage kids tell them they have to give up their on-line activities. They’ve already had to change schools, abandon their friends, take special precautions when they do go out of their safe haven – and now we’re saying they can’t stay home and game anonymously for fear of allowing contact by an obsessive, abusive or violent ex.

  86. Happiestsadist says

    mildlymagnificent @ #98: I definitely understand where you’re coming from there. A loss of anonymity would be extremely dangerous to me thanks to an ex of mine as well.

  87. says

    Or deliberately trigger rape survivors? Like you did to me?

    I find it interesting that you talk about how I “deliberately triggered” you. Even if it were true (and it’s not), the point that you ‘accidentally’ leave out is how I was suicidal and you were trying to convince me to do it.

  88. Ysanne says

    #86 Daisy Cutter,
    you do realise that listening to advice is different from taking said advice, right?

    You’re more than welcome to write your own piece how it’s more desirable to be a “responsible and mature person with well-developed social skills and empathy” instead of an “irresponsible selfish person who makes up in feeling of entitlement what he lacks in social competence”, or however you choose to put “be decent, tell the bullies to fuck off”. I’m sure that it will have a huge success with a readership of progressive atheist feminist activists who are well versed in the deconstruction of gender roles and critique of social conventions, eager to read an exhaustive sociology essay.

    Ernest’s piece, however, is targeted at male gamers as a call to stand up to the bullies and assholes in their community, and aims to appeal to their ideals and remind them that immature bullying is not acceptable.

    It’s way better and more helpful than complaining about how Ernest’s essay is not done the way you would have liked it, and accusing him of being selfish when he doesn’t completely agree with your criticism.

  89. Happiestsadist says

    You’re lying, Geiger. As usual, when your long, long history of revolting behaviour is pointed out. I also note that you don’t deny the rest. Wanna defend upskirt photos some more?

  90. says

    You’re lying, Geiger. As usual, when your long, long history of revolting behaviour is pointed out.

    Oh, the irony. You accusing me of lying.

    I also note that you don’t deny the rest.

    The rest weren’t even worth discussing.

    Wanna defend upskirt photos some more?

    “Some more” would imply I defended them previously.

  91. Rob Curry says

    Or maybe some will choose to squabble like children. Looks like poor behavior is not confined to gaming.

  92. Happiestsadist says

    The important thing is that you’ve found a way to feel superior to everyone, Rob Curry. Good for you, champ!

    Geiger, you’re a lying, sexist, serial sexual harasser.

  93. Rob Curry says

    The author makes some excellent suggestions. “First,” he writes, “we need to serve as positive examples.”

    Easier said than done. But not impossible!

    The second suggestion, as spelled out, involves recognizing when it is unproductive to treat certain antagonists as if they are ready to have a mature, reasonable conversation. “Don’t argue or engage with them,” is his recommendation. This is wiser than it may appear at first glance.

    “Finally,” and I could not agree more, “we need to put a stop to this behavior.” I’m not sure that it will be as easy as one might hope. But a task need not be easy to be worth pursuing with enthusiasm and determination.

    I appreciate seeing this topic raised, and I look forward to seeing others take it seriously.

  94. Rob Curry says

    I see there has been some excellent discussion on the issue of anonymity. There is surely a strong case to be made for the ability to maintain anonymity to serve positive social goals, despite the demonstrated potential for abuse.

    Happily enough, this is not an absolute dichotomy, where the only options are either real (“legal”) names only to be displayed publicly for everyone, or else no possible way to avoid complete anonymity for whoever wants it.

    It may be helpful to start experimenting with creative solutions between those extremes, to see from experience which turn out to be most effective under various circumstances.

  95. Mike says

    You know, Ernest, an actual ally listens to the people ze’s purporting to stand up for. Ze doesn’t hand-wave the concerns they bring up as unimportant and getting in the way of zir grand plan.”

    86 Ms. Daisy Cutter, Vile Human Being
    This.
    Said better than I ever could have.

  96. Rob Curry says

    A good friend or neighbor also listens to others (whether in the process of standing up for those others or not). Still, reasonable people may disagree without being disagreeable–and this can often happen without one side being “right” and the other “wrong.”

    If we are to embrace diversity, then intellectual differences are a necessary part of that package deal.

  97. bastionofsass says

    I also support the right to stay anonymous online.

    Here’s my story:

    In the ’90s, many people naively used their real names on usenet. I was one of them.

    Although my name isn’t unique, only a small number of people share it.

    Another usenet poster who was, well, unhinged, decided that I, as well as a number of other group regulars, were abusing her when we disagreed with information in one of her posts. (Us and the CIA, the Illuminati, Jews, Jesuits, and a host of other named people and groups–just so you know the level of unhingedness we were dealing with.)

    So, she started trying to find personal information on us which she would twist into disgusting rants that she didn’t limit to usenet. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find details of your personal life online if you have a name that isn’t shared by hundreds of other people, especially if the stalker has a bit of information about your interests, profession, your hometown, etc.

    She found out my employer, a small business with a unique name, catering to parents of young children. She started attacking my employer saying my employer and I were involved in horrific child sexual abuse. And I wasn’t the only poster whose employer became ensnared, harassed and harmed, in the drama.

    When I started my own business, the allegations followed me. I don’t know how many potential clients I might have lost.

    Photos of some others in the group, sometimes with partners or children, were discovered and posted with disturbing comments. These were then picked up by other vile, abusive people and republished. For all I know, the photos are still online somewhere given how virtually impossible it is to remove information once it’s online.

    The abuse spread to our family members. Vile, disgusting things were written about spouses and their employers, children and their schools. I was so afraid that the cyberstalker would attack my children and/or the school they attended, I insisted that my full name not be published in their school’s online directory or online PTSA minutes.

    I was never afraid that the stalker would show up on my doorstep or my children’s school, but she did a lot of damage to people’s reputations and caused a great deal of pain and stress to the people she harassed.

    If you google the real names of the people she abused and slandered, you can still find some of the defamatory posts about us, almost 15 years after they were written.

    Another example of why real life names shouldn’t be required:

    A friend who is the only person in the US with his name found a letter bomb in his mailbox after a heated political discussion with some other posters on a site on which he used his real name. He doesn’t use it anymore.

  98. Rob Curry says

    Perhaps there are ways that real life names could be required in a limited capacity without being publicized (like having an “unlisted” phone number).

  99. Josh Slocum says

    The author makes some excellent suggestions. “First,” he writes, “we need to serve as positive examples.”

    Shove your schoolmarm bullshit up your ass, Rob Curry. And fuck off.

  100. Dave says

    Well done, folks. First, you split the hair four ways, then you write “Poo, bum, willy, fart” on it.

  101. callistacat says

    Great article. Calling out this behavior is long overdue. I understand people’s concerns with anonymity, though. I don’t think it’s worth it to require people to use real names when it can so easily be used to put people in danger.

    Quite a bit of the abuse online isn’t a matter of adult vs. immature, childish behavior, it’s more like decent human being vs. sociopathic behavior.

    Not to split hairs or anything. ;)

  102. says

    Cracking post, and well worth repeating. I do have a few nit-picks with some of the assertions – and notice that many of them have already been raised in the comments. But I do thing that focussing on the disagreements is to miss the point somewhat.

    To me, the post reads as a call to arms for those of us that are decent human beings to not allow a loud, obnoxious minority to either define us or to force other decent human beings out of our communities.

    And with that, I wholeheartedly agree.

  103. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    Geiger, why is a serial sexual harasser like you who’s no longer tolerated on Pharyngula commenting on this thread?

    1. You’d better lay off the false accusations.

    2. I’m commenting on the thread because I have something relevant to say.

    3. I see you’re still hoggling over me. Pathetic. “Not tolerated” is apparently the same as “being constantly hassled by the same three or four people”.

    1: false accusations my ass. I admit, I wasn’t there for all your creepster activity, but I saw enough on pharyngula. I especially remember the charming bit where you defend PUA tactics because you so badly want to dip your wick.

    The problem with you is, deep down, you think your difficulties getting laid are more important than people’s safety. Time and again I’ve seen you derail discussions of sexism or just ordinary friendly and enjoyable group discussions to make them all about yourself and fish for pity.

    2: No. You don’t.

    3: Hoggling. You keep using that word but I don’t think you know what it means. And there are far more than ‘three or four people’ who are fed up with your triggering and creepster behavior.

  104. Rob Curry says

    @116: “Quite a bit of the abuse online isn’t a matter of adult vs. immature, childish behavior, it’s more like decent human being vs. sociopathic behavior.”

    There is that, too.

    And then there is also the commonly seen attitude of responding to others online by relying on miscommunication, falling prey to false perceptions, and leaping to judgment based on a very limited channel of interaction where prejudice and projection can exert more influence than usual over those who would be far more decent in person.

    In other words, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

  105. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    Excellent post overall, though the anonymity thing is non-negotiable here. Like many other women, I have to be careful with my name since it’s really unique and there’s someone who is a threat to my children who would do anything, anything at all, to get their hands on info regarding where we are. And is trained in security.

    The problem with “unlisted” real names is on the net, that shit is never, ever safe. Not safe enough for me, at least, to gamble my kids being kidnapped on it.

  106. Danol says

    The problem runs deeper than just gaming. There has been a surge of gender crimes on the whole planet and that gets reflected on the gaming community. And there’s no easy solution for that…

  107. says

    Rob Curry:

    An interesting topic, well worth discussing like adults.

    Which is what has been happening in this thread. I’m sorry that you’re too much of a sniffy tone troll to understand the difference between “criticism of a privileged viewpoint” and “squabbling like children.” Or the difference between “calling a known sexual harasser out” and “squabbling like children.”

    Apparently your distaste for rough-and-tumble conflict is the most important thing here, and you get to decide who is “reasonable” and who isn’t. What a surprise that the straight white man who isn’t bothering to listen to the people he purports to defend — the people with the most intimate knowledge about this issue — is the one you deem “wise,” and the rest of us are just “squabbling children.”

    Your disingenuous call for “intellectual diversity” ignores the fact that straight white cis men have dominated these discussions historically and, for the most part, continue to do so. It reminds me of the American right-wing dogwhistle “diversity of opinion,” meaning that academe doesn’t employ enough birthers and teabaggers.

    Your passive-aggressive remarks at #119 are noted as well. Perhaps if you’d actually been fighting online against misogynists and creepsters, as some of us have been doing for at least the past year and in some cases for years on end, you’d realize that we pick up a lot more “tells” than you, as an “objective” (read: privileged and disengaged) observer, do about who argues in bad faith and who does not.

    Finally, you might want to stop digging that hole about diluting internet anonymity, too. It’s great that you feel comfortable enough to use your own name. It’s probably because you’re not in any demographics that are vulnerable to harassment.

    Ysanne, “If you don’t like it, go make your own X” is such an inane criticism. I have every right to say what I think about the OP. And, as I said to Lee, promoting harmful ideas for short-term success will come back to bite us in the long term.

    Also, I note you’re silent about the anonymity issue, perhaps because you realize he’s wrong.

    Dave, “splitting the hair” apparently means “discussing problems with the proposal that I don’t see, because I don’t have to.”

  108. says

    Good post. I have disagreements with some things (man/boy dichotomy, anonymity) but overall the message is clear. The gaming community cannot tolerate people who use the medium to spout abuse and hate at someone else. Unless we want it to be a space that’s completely unwelcoming to other people.

    I moderate (I think three, maybe four) online streaming chat channels for Starcraft 2 games. I have a zero-tolerance policy regarding misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and racism. I will ban right out for that language. People in the chat channel who are regulars know I’ll do it, and if I’m even slightly slow at doing it, will shout for me (or one of the other mods) to ban the person. It’s so simple to change the nature of the channel, and it should be the same elsewhere.

    Zero-tolerance perma-bans may be a touch harsh, but zero-tolerance time-outs, mutes, or temp-bans are not as bad and offer to serve up a penalty for saying something abusive. A pyramid of penalties, like Blizzard has for WoW and Battle.net is a great starting point. But at the same time there needs to be active participation by developers rather than just relying on the community to police itself entirely. That’s the issue with Blizzard’s games. The community is required to police its miscreants, but the majority of the community is unconcerned with it.

    As to anonymity – my name is Katherine Lorraine, my pseudonym is DCKitty (or a variant), but my legal name is neither of these, is not a name I want to be called, and is something that I’m (somewhat less than) actively trying to adjust.

  109. says

    Ophelia

    I disagree that we have to accept that online anonymity is a basic right when people use the anonymity to harm other people.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
    I think I’m the only person with my name on planet earth, given that my last name means “somebody from a fucking small village 10 miles away” which also got misspelled somewhere along my family tree so that there are probably less than 200 people with that name anyway. Add my first name, put it to google.
    What you get is my employer and the course programs where I’m teaching which gives you my location. With that, the rest is easy. Somebody who tells me online “I know where you live” or, worse “I know where your kids go to school” would make me STFU in a hurry. It would probably deter me so much that I wouldn’t even start.

    There are things a lot of people won’t say if they know their friends, bosses, spouses, children, parents, colleagues can see them under their own names.

    I’m gay, I’m an atheist, I was raped?
    That’s works both ways…

    ++++

    Men are more powerful than women: financially, politically, and physically. What distinguishes a real man from a boy is that a man takes responsibility for his actions and does not abuse this power. If you don’t treat women with courtesy and respect…

    No, what makes men decent human beings is that they acknowledge those issues and work on diminishing the differences (can’t do much about physical strength, though.
    It’s not about using or abusing your power. I understand that you don’t mean that, but sentences like that run shivers down my spine, because they always send a threat with them: we can do different.
    And I really dislike the men-boy language.
    First, it promotes masculinity as an independent set of characteristics exclusive to men.
    Second, it disses kids. There’s a reason why kids don’t behave like adults, they have to grow up and mature. To compare the behaviour of a 5yo who is throwing a tantrum because he just feels powerless and hurt and angry with the calculated cruelty of misogynists just isn’t OK
    Third, almost the same as two: it diminishes their actions. They don’t throw their sippy-cup onto the floor, they throw a fist into your face

  110. Lyanna says

    Hmmmm. While I theoretically see Ms. Daisy Cutter’s about the man/boy distinction, from a more pragmatic standpoint I think it works just fine.

    I don’t think it actually harms or patronizes women if we hold ideal “manhood” up as meaning Ernest’s definition. I think that rhetoric is actually really powerful and works to encourage genuine respect for women as human beings (not fragile flowers who need protection or something). Theoretically we may predict that a man/boy distinction should lead to a patronizing view of women (because it seems to essentialize responsible use of power as masculine). But I’ve seen it have the exact opposite effect on little boys and teenagers and grown men. I’m not a professional educator or psychologist, but I’ve volunteered in DV shelters and programs attached thereto, and one very effective way of combating proto-abusive behaviors in boys whose fathers or stepfathers have been abusive is to tell them and show them that “real men don’t do that.”

    Maybe it would be better to say “a gentleman doesn’t do that,” to avoid the issues with “real man” and to suggest that it has more to do with manners than masculinity. But “gentleman” has its own baggage and isn’t, IMO, as rhetorically powerful with the geeky male crowd.

  111. says

    BTW, Ernest, you have a pretty bad idea about children, I must say.
    But nevertheless let me heap to the pile of praise for the rest of it.

    Could we please distinguish between anonymity and pseudonymity? People like me identify strongly with their pseudonyms, my identity and standing in a community I care about is based on this. Call me Giliell on the street and I’ll turn my head.

    Benjamin Geiger

    Repeating it doesn’t make it true.

    I guess the bitches were lying, then. Like those women who told about your harassment.
    Oh, add your constant suicide threats if we’re not nice enough. Looks like you weren’t that desperate after all.

  112. ernestongaming says

    Goodness, the behavior in this forum is significantly less civil than that in the game developer forums, which is counter to my expectations.

    I am not interested in promoting understanding or reforming the world. I am not even interested in changing minds. I am only interested in one thing: policing conduct.

    You either help Kitty Genovese or you don’t. Yes, that is black and white. It’s not a difficult question to answer.

    Debating the root causes of her murder doesn’t do her much good while the knife is going into her body.

  113. says

    Goodness, the behavior in this forum is significantly less civil than that in the game developer forums, which is counter to my expectations.

    Oh dear, and this is Butterflies and Wheels.
    I’m currently wondering how civil we must be to be taken serious?

    ++++
    BTW, I think the evidence doesn’t support the “they wouldn’t say that if their family and friends knew”
    Pappa on Rationalia made his rape threat “joke” amongst his friends, people who had been to his wedding and his wife
    Emery Emery is out and proud. DJ Grothe used his standing and his power to demonize women and even folks like Justicar have close relations with other people in the “community”. And let’s not even get started on Abbie Smith and Paula Kirby.
    The problem is that the things they say are the things that people say offline. Men make the rape jokes and tell women “show me your titties” in public. The real problem is that this is still acceptable in large parts of society and is being defended.

  114. says

    I am not interested in promoting understanding or reforming the world. I am not even interested in changing minds. I am only interested in one thing: feeling superior to everyone else.

    FTFY

  115. says

    Well, Ernest, I would say that pointing out, as I was planning to, that I don’t buy the assumption that it’s natural and expected for young boys to go through a “phase” of hating women and girls because they are women and girls IS helping Kitty Genovese, it IS part of policing behavior. It’s just a few steps removed from the immediate problem.

    I totally agree that we shouldn’t give the bogus “opposing point of view” any airtime, we should demand good behavior and punish it when it isn’t forthcoming, shame and ostracize those who can’t behave like decent human beings, etc.

    It’s just that I don’t think it’s any more “natural” for a child to go through a phase of hating an entire gender than it is for a child to go through a phase of hating an entire racial group. I think if we were to say that white kids just naturally hate blacks for a few years, but it’s okay because they grow out of it, we’d recognize that this “natural phase” is really a result of entrenched racism in our society, and accepting it without challenging it is counterproductive to raising kids who grow into non-racist adults. Similarly, this girl-hating phase that boys allegedly go through “normally” is a result of entrenched sexism, and if you want non-misogynist men then you must accept that this is something worth challenging.

    I appreciate that you’re focusing on dealing with the here and now, but it behooves you to realize that you shouldn’t actively promote ideas and cultural norms that directly contradict and undermine the worthy and important work you’re trying to do right now.

    There, was that civil enough for you? Sheesh.

    Oh yeah, and I am literally the only person in the USA with my particular name. I am NOT going to put it out there for any stalker or employer to google my every random thought, political meeting, protest I’ve attended, etc., etc. I’ve already had my share of rape threats and stalkery stuff from inadvertently letting my real name be associated with my feminist activism. No thanks.

  116. Mike says

    @128 ernestongaming

    Goodness, the behavior in this forum is significantly less civil than that in the game developer forums, which is counter to my expectations.

    Complaining about the relatively mild tone does not address the legitimate arguments against some of your positions.

    I am not interested in promoting understanding or reforming the world. I am not even interested in changing minds. I am only interested in one thing: policing conduct.

    Good to know that you don’t care about the things that affect women and GSRM folks. Good to know that you don’t care if we have a presence online or in gaming. Good to know that you have the privilege of not having to deal with discrimination.

    You either help Kitty Genovese or you don’t. Yes, that is black and white. It’s not a difficult question to answer.
    Debating the root causes of her murder doesn’t do her much good while the knife is going into her body.

    You call us out on tone then use Kitty Genovese as an example?! Ok lets go with that. People are telling you that you are using an automatic weapon to defend Kitty Genovese and shooting hundreds of innocent people. Not to mention that some of the people you are shooting are also defending her. Not to mention that you might actually put a bullet in her yourself. See, I can use outrageous metaphors too.

    People have legitimate complaints. We want to stop the problem as well. We don’t want to cause harm to the people who are being harmed, in order to correct obvious behavior. Some of your suggestions and language further the harm to the people you are trying to protect, and we are telling you how it harms us. Instead of listening to us, addressing our concerns, debating your points on the merits, you call us out on tone, tell us you aren’t interested, and use tragedies like Kitty Genovese to distract and put yourself above criticism. Not to mention exploiting Kitty Genovese to get all the women and minorities to shut up. Fuck you, dude. How’s that for civil.

  117. Mike says

    @135
    I apologize for my impoliteness. My points stand on their own without the language.

  118. jemand says

    Limited AI has come a long way for computerized opponents in game, etc. Could not a more nuanced and smart filter be built at least for text chat that could pick up on at least some common sexist tropes by content, and shut that down? The whole “ban words” thing is obviously way too primitive, but can’t we do better with autonomous screening at least with text behavior?

  119. says

    Ernest, #128: Thank you for showing your true colors: inability to take criticism, disregard of how your plan for achieving one short-term end might hamper our long-term goals (you know, the people you think you’re helping?), and willingness to resort to grossly offensive metaphors to get your way. I hope everyone else takes these things into consideration when evaluating your ideas.

    If you honestly don’t think people would say certain things under their real names, it’s because you don’t pay attention. Or, perhaps, because those certain things aren’t aimed at you. I’d suggest reading, just for starters, entries tagged “racism” on the Failbook blog. The names are censored, but the majority of FB users are there under their legal names.

    On a side note, what you think you know about the Kitty Genovese case is wrong.

    Lyanna, we’ll have to agree to disagree on “boys” vs. “men.” I do agree that “gentlemen” would be a lot worse, however, because the counter-expectation would be that women act like “ladies.” If we don’t, the “gentleman” is entirely “justified” in shitting on us.

    I have never met a man who called himself a “gentleman” who didn’t think he deserved cookies for being a decent human being to women, and I’m using only certain values of “decent human being” here.

    Giliell:

    Second, it disses kids. There’s a reason why kids don’t behave like adults, they have to grow up and mature.

    “Childism” is not a real social-justice issue. Of course, I’m one of those mean ol’ throwbacks who would say to a tantrumming child, “Get up off the floor and act like a big boy/girl, please,” rather than use the incredibly irritating excuse “But s/he’s just a child!!” to defend such behavior.

  120. smhll says

    … you’d realize that we pick up a lot more “tells” than you, as an “objective” (read: privileged and disengaged) observer, do about who argues in bad faith and who does not.

    I hear Kevin Costner in Bull Durham saying “you need to know your cliches.”

    I’m newish, so I’m not great at troll-spotting, but I can smell a cliched and deeply shallow argument (say about sexism) from a long way away.

    /offtopicish

  121. jemand says

    Furthermore, even for voice chat, do we have the technology to, at least with a reasonable amount of statistical accuracy, recognize individual voices and class them according to gender similarly to the way a human would? If so, statistics could be kept on any male users who consistently and constantly speak over female voices but do not do so for male voices, and automatically limit their voice privileges accordingly. Etc. There should be ways we can leverage increased technological abilities to automate some level of bully-fighting, if it’s something we want to take seriously.

    Also– that in particular would be interesting because then we would actually get *statistics* for how long the average female sounding voice is allowed to speak without interruption vs. male sounding voice, something that we as humans don’t typically tune in to.

  122. punchdrunk says

    Ernest – I think this is a good and necessary article. Thank you for writing it.

    This is a tough crowd. Try not to take it personally. Constructive criticisms, yeah? :)

  123. John the Drunkard says

    Oh well. It is probably too late to catch up on the verbiage here, or hope to be read but here is a comment on the original post:

    I don’t know the gaming world, I do have experience with web trolls: sock-puppets, campaigns of abuse, fake web pages set up in my name etc. This as revenge for my objections to woo and quackery.

    My experience was without gender content. I was trolled by women and men, although one woman did use a male sock-puppet.

    Misogynistic trolling is not adequateley explained as stalled development. ‘Eww cooties’ is surely a part of the problem. But the vile hatred and violence that has been boiling up against women since elevatorgate has a more ‘mature’ and pathological tone. These are not just ‘immature’ yobs, they appear to be genuinely obsessive in their hatred, and genuine sexual perverts.

    Mabe the game world has a heavier load of pre-adolescent boys in adult bodies. The suggested tactics are all terrific, but at least some of the creeps out there are more Ted Bundy than Peter Pan.

  124. A. Noyd says

    jemand (#138)

    Could not a more nuanced and smart filter be built at least for text chat that could pick up on at least some common sexist tropes by content, and shut that down? The whole “ban words” thing is obviously way too primitive, but can’t we do better with autonomous screening at least with text behavior?

    Yes. It was done really well to almost completely shut down the spamming of game currency sellers in Everquest 2, even though they used all the tricks they could to get around the filters.

  125. watry says

    Without pseduonymity, I wouldn’t be commenting here. This isn’t even the pseudonym I use everywhere else, because I’m not an out atheist among everyone who knows that pseudonym.

    Even barring the obvious violence angle, given the trend for potential employers to Google their candidates’ names, I wouldn’t want to use my real name. “Oh, they play WoW? They must be a basement-dwelling fattie. Not hired.” No thank you.

  126. says

    Ms. Daisy Cutter
    Sorry for the derail here, but this is important

    “Childism” is not a real social-justice issue. Of course, I’m one of those mean ol’ throwbacks who would say to a tantrumming child, “Get up off the floor and act like a big boy/girl, please,” rather than use the incredibly irritating excuse “But s/he’s just a child!!” to defend such behavior.

    Both of this is wrong.
    A) It bothers me if people constantly use children as comparison with some of the vilest shit out there. My kids can drive me nuts, but they are not Frank Hoggle
    B) “Get off the floor and act like a big girl” is a silencing technique. Remember all those discussions about why “you’re angry and therefore wrong” is bullshit? It starts there. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.
    C) “They’re just kids” is wrong if it’s used as an excuse. It is the starting point for understanding why a kid behaves like that, why they are angry and what coping techniqes they’re lacking.
    I think it is a problem that we live in a world in which one half of the populations sees kids as everlasting innocence and incapable of maturing and learning while the other half sees them as miniature adults who have to fucking behave.

  127. Enkidum says

    Late to this party, but at any rate I’m a gamer, a man, a parent, and like many of the others in this thread I appreciate the general intention and thrust of your article, but disagree with some of the specifics.

    And the specifics are important. Look, every regular non-troll reader of this site (and indeed, most of FTB as a whole) is going to agree with the basic point of your article. “Let’s stop gamer culture being a misogynistic pit of hate” is hardly controversial here. So just take it as given that effectively everyone here (aside from a few trolls) is “on your side” in the broad sense. This is not gamersutra or anything like that.

    But your recent insistence that “you’re either with me or against me” is, frankly, bullshit. You make a number of independent assertions in this article, some of which are good, some of which are not. As your allies (and again, most everyone here is your ally), we are obliged to try and improve your argument. Which means telling you when you’re wrong. DON’T try and silence those who are pointing out that some of what you say is bullshit, DON’T object to their language, DON’T keep spouting this nonsense about having to stand behind everything you say because we all agree with the general point. Can you not see why that is self-destructive and hobbles your ability to progress?

    Re: anonymity. You’re just wrong. 100%, completely utterly wrong. There have been numerous responses in this thread that have given specific reasons why, including detailed case histories. You asked for ways that real names could enable stalking, and though some people just laughed at you for that (because honestly, it’s a stupid fucking question, think about it for 5 seconds), you were given a number of detailed responses that explained in great detail how this is possible. You appear to have ignored these entirely, and then just went off on your Kitty Genovese nonsense, and started complaining about the tone rather than the substance of comments. Dude, that is not the way to make friends at FTB.

    As punchdrunk and SallyStrange said, this is a seriously tough crowd, and this is all intended as constructive criticism. Take it in than spirit and you’ll do fine.

  128. jemand says

    Another thing… how *many* hardcore misogynists do you think are in gamer culture as a percentage of the male population?

    (Trigger warning, rape)

    I believe the statistics are in the general population if asked about specific behaviors, 6-10% of the male population will admit to having raped someone. That’s obviously way over the line, but not *every* hardcore misogynist will have raped someone, so it could be up to 20% of the male population, or more. Given the bullying obviously common in the gamer population, my guess is misogynists are more prevalent there than in the general culture, so you could honestly be getting up to 30-40% of the male population who seriously is against women, feel emasculated if a woman defeats them, will derive pleasure in driving off a woman from the game through whatever gendered insults and attacks will work for that, etc. These men consider their favorite games a haven of masculinity, and SERIOUSLY resent any female “intrusion” and consider it an attack, to be met and responded to in kind.

    That is a LOT of the population, really.

    Any plan which really does depend on community enforcement of social norms? With that many of the male population really hardcore misogynists? If it starts out in any way unequally distributed between numbers of men and women, (and many games are. What are the demographics on, say, most online FPS’s? I’ll just go with ~20,30% female.) there can *easily* be more hardcore male misogynists than female gamers.

    Thus, playing the statistics and present demographics, enabling community standards to enforce behavioral standards you are *as likely or MORE likely* to have the community ban, silence, and lock female accounts based on male hatred, than lock the accounts of the misogynist bullies.

    The mention above in this thread of servers which ban female players? Not at all surprising to me. Also, secondary evidence for the validity of this general calculation.

    So. Trying to get the force of community standards to silence bullying? Possibly a good idea, in principle. Given the demographics you are working with, though, and the fact that, honestly, even with this type of manifesto, you really are not going to budge the indifference of the majority of non-misogynist male gamers who really don’t care if they are playing with male bullies or female players, such a focus is NOT going to fix it in so many groups, but these tools will *serve the bullying agenda.*

  129. Caroline Dahlke says

    Thank you. I’m in awe – I’ve never heard a man say these things and actually be able to back them up before. Thank you for your intricate level of understanding regarding this issue. You are far above and beyond what I’m accustomed to because of so many boys-in-men’s-skin. Simply put, again, thank you!

  130. Rob Curry says

    @132 “SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius”

    That seems like constructive commentary to me (even though I have a different idea of what Ernest might have been referring to when he wrote “the behavior in this forum is significantly less civil than that in the game developer forums”).

    Generally speaking, posts that are primarily ad hominem, self-absorbed diatribes tend to promote little more than a trollish agenda. The above was considerably more substantive, and the kind of contribution that keeps me coming back.

    The issue being discussed about degrees of anonymity is fascinating from a technical perspective. There are powerful social reasons to promote anonymity as a way to help protect freedom of information, which is itself on balance a benefit to the promotion of universal human rights. On the other hand, it’s possible to protect anonymity in one area while potentially reducing it in some others. Where to draw the line is not always an easy question–which is why open dialog is so essential to helping people who WANT to think about it more carefully do so with the input of others who can share their own stories, desires, and needs.

    I wonder, is it technically feasible to promote pseudonymity as an effective strategy in this context?

  131. Rob Curry says

    @124 “Giliell, not to be confused with The Borg”

    Thanks for addressing this particular point. Although it’s not the central point, but about language and the implications too often hidden within it, I certainly value the insights (and perhaps others may as well).

    /
    “I really dislike the men-boy language.
    “First, it promotes masculinity as an independent set of characteristics exclusive to men.”

    My take on this is a bit different. In my head, “man-boy” comes across like “woman-girl”–both subsets of “adult-child.” The language is susceptible to a gender neutral interpretation.

    /
    “Second, it disses kids. There’s a reason why kids don’t behave like adults, they have to grow up and mature. To compare the behaviour of a 5yo who is throwing a tantrum because he just feels powerless and hurt and angry with the calculated cruelty of misogynists just isn’t OK”

    That’s a criticism I have to say would not have occurred to me. It looks obvious after you do the work of identifying this problem. Thank you for pointing it out.

    It was well worth stopping by to listen to this.

    /
    “Third, almost the same as two: it diminishes their actions. They don’t throw their sippy-cup onto the floor, they throw a fist into your face”

    That one I needed no prompting to recognize. Good point. The dangers and consequences are significantly divergent.

  132. Sandiseattle says

    So: Loved the article. It is going into my personal db as soon as I find a thumbdrive. I had no idea it was so bad in the online game world. (Sadly can’t afford to hang there.)

    Avicenna @ 10: fellowfeeling for ya. Spelling my name with an ‘i’ has caused some confusions. I live with it. Long story.

    Josh @ 24: loved the mixed metaphor.

  133. David Marjanović says

    No, Lyanna, “real man” is at least as toxic as “gentleman”. It turns *barf* Chuck Norris *barf* into a role model.

    The reasons why I’m not using a pseudonym are my privilege (for instance, the kind of people that would ever hire me) and the fact that I’m too far in the autism spectrum to take certain dangers seriously, even when they’re real.

    1. You’d better lay off the false accusations.

    I don’t know about “serial”, but I’ve been told in detail about a case where you did sexually harrass someone.

  134. David Marjanović says

    I had no idea it was so bad in the online game world.

    You should have hung out on Pharyngula more. :-)

  135. Rob Curry says

    // I don’t know about “serial”, but I’ve been told in detail . . . //

    We usually don’t see how anecdotes turn into trials by partial information, repetition, misunderstanding, exaggerations, stories that are modified more by bias than by an impartial evaluation of evidence, and so on. Not that this is necessarily referencing such anecdotal information. Still, it makes sense for good skeptics to be aware of the pitfalls of using summary judgments and hearsay as an excuse to dispense vigilante justice based on passions, grudges, or simply the acceptance of whatever is repeated often enough.

    Perhaps this can serve the discussion after all, if only as an cautionary tale to illustrate what might be one of the dangers lurking around the proposed 5-point solution.

    Consider:

    1. Mockery can be–and has been–used against minorities or those being unjustly targeted by authorities. Mark Twain was right when he said, “The human race has only one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” Yet like any weapon, it too can be abused. Let’s not forget this.

    2. “Shut them up. The right to speak in a public forum should be limited to those who don’t abuse it.” In a public forum? I strongly disagree. If it’s a private forum, then this makes more sense, since restrictions on speech may then be imposed–but freedom of speech in a true public forum is a universal human right. Authoritarianism only replaces one disease with another.

    3. “Take away their means. If you’re the father of a boy who behaves like this online, make it abundantly clear to him that it is . . . unacceptable, then deny him the opportunity to do it further.”

    No argument here.

    4. “Anonymity is a privilege, not a right.”

    I really think this is the most interesting aspect of the discussion. There have been several illustrations that show this is not such a black and white issue. My own instinct is to see anonymity as a natural extension of the right to privacy. Yet it’s true that there are limits.

    How might these limits be explored, voluntarily?

    5. “Impose punishments that are genuinely painful.”

    No argument there so long as the importance of due process is both recognized and transparently built in. Any system that CAN be abused soon enough WILL be abused.

  136. Emily says

    Sorry, but this guy’s paternalism sucks and whilst purporting to challenge sexism he just comes across as another paternalistic, white middle-aged, middle-class bloke on the Internet who feels that on there (as in every other arena of life) the very fact of that gives him the right to lay down the law to everyone else. What’s the whole big ‘glory’ thing about being *a man* anyway? By contrast, hardly any disapproving adult seems to rage: “grow up and be a WOMAN!” as if it’s some ‘Holy Grail’ of the summit of perfection!!! Why couldn’t he just ditch the macho bullshit baggage and implore any obnoxious son out there to simply be a nicer person and have respect for others’ feelings and WHY oh WHY does he assume that ‘the father’ is the head of the household and have the final say in the upbringing of children. Now isn’t that paternalism at its most literal?! And, btw, it might be useful here to point out that children have rights too and the author’s assumption that they should not be accorded the same equal, privileges as adults – simply because they are children – would pave the way to legalised child abuse. The way a male-dominated society genders and brain washes children irrespective of their own wishes is not only entirely erroneous (as masculinity and femininity are no more than false sexist gender constructs MANufactured by the patriarchy) but the damage this does to children is devastating and abhorrent. Do we really want another mister chivalry butting in and sticking up for us, sisters? No, we can kick ass ourselves and contrary to the author’s opinion there are plenty of women who are not only mentally stronger than males but physically stronger too.

  137. callistacat says

    @’Emily’
    It’s not “chivalry” it’s holding other men accountable for their behavior. So are you saying men shouldn’t call out other men on misogyny and sexism? Calling someone’s behavior childish isn’t going to pave the way for children to be deprived of their rights. I find it hard to believe your post is even serious.

  138. Rob Curry says

    @158, Emily reacts:

    // Sorry, but this guy’s paternalism sucks . . . What’s the whole big ‘glory’ thing about being *a man* anyway? By contrast, hardly any disapproving adult seems to rage: “grow up and be a WOMAN!” as if it’s some ‘Holy Grail’ of the summit of perfection!!! //

    So maybe “grow up and be a WOMAN” ought to be raged about more often.

    My own practice and preference is to use gender-neutral language that does not conflate biological sex with the positive attributes of emotional and intellectual maturity, rationality, skepticism, compassion, thoughtfulness, and personal responsibility.

    I get what Emily is saying. When I hear someone saying “Be a man!” (or worse, “Man up!”), I recognize how these exhortations are all too frequently connected to implicitly sexist concepts. There is a lot of unpleasant and idiotic baggage attached to them on a cultural level. Even when I know that an individual using the phrase has absolutely no intention of conveying a sexist message, the negative connotations surrounding the common usage can easily obscure that innocuous intent and result in misunderstanding.

    .

    // WHY oh WHY does he assume that ‘the father’ is the head of the household and have the final say in the upbringing of children. //

    I did not see that, Emily. So far as I can tell, the alleged assertion that the father is the head of a family is not there. That sexist notion may be found very explicitly in some religious writings that presume a husband has authority over a wife, so there’s no doubt it’s a serious problem in the world around us. I agree it ought to be challenged with vigor. I just don’t think it’s fair to claim that Ernest is actually saying, or even implying, such a thing!

    Here’s my working assumption: Parents should have shared roles in rearing children.

    What I think was going on here is taking for granted a common presumption that a father serves as the role model for boys, while a mother serves as the role model for girls. Whether Ernest would argue this is natural or preferred, I really don’t know. That contention could serve to motivate a valuable side discussion. I would argue that it’s often true, but not necessarily so–and gender roles can be so arbitrary that following this practice leads to worse results than rejecting it would.

    But is he contending that this should be the case? Or is he merely recognizing that it’s an assumption that much of the audience he hopes to influence takes as a given, and he has a different “given” that he wants to challenge more directly in language that they will understand?

  139. Shplane says

    “Childism” is not a real social-justice issue. Of course, I’m one of those mean ol’ throwbacks who would say to a tantrumming child, “Get up off the floor and act like a big boy/girl, please,” rather than use the incredibly irritating excuse “But s/he’s just a child!!” to defend such behavior.

    Good job completely and utterly missing the point. The issue isn’t that “We should totally never tell children to do things, nuh-uh”, the issue is that there is a rampant and utterly disgusting strain of thought in our society that treats children as property and associates every single bad thing that anyone does, ever, with childishness. Using “boy” as a slur is bad because it perpetuates the idea that children are inferior human beings. While it may be true that children are generally less mentally capable than adults and have less experience with the world to draw from, this does not make them any less deserving of basic human rights and dignity than you or me.

    The only reason this isn’t a “real social-justice issue” is because, unlike gay rights or feminism or secularism, children as an oppressed group are not capable of making it an issue. All they can do is throw tantrums, and your discounting their experiences because they are incapable of properly articulating their suffering is vile.

  140. says

    I believe several issues are being unnecessarily intertwined.

    1) Children, young adults, and socially immature adults (the most dangerous class) need to learn healthy social boundaries.
    2) Parenting requires both nurturing and limiting.
    3) Growing up in a “traditional” family establishes the “nurturing mother” / “strict father” paradigm, and reinforces the stereotype (as does most media).

    As nurturing and limiting are conflicting messages, it’s most efficient to have two parents each having one of the roles primarily. However, either role can be filled by any socially mature individual.

    It’s about balancing love and fear, give and take, collaboration and survival.

  141. throwaway says

    It’s not so much a sewer as it is a sewage treatment plant, chill. I saw people discussing several issues brought by Ernest Adams’ post, agreeing with his larger point, but pointing out some loaded language and a concern for the protection anonymity also offers to potential victims of abuse. Don’t let the bluntness of these discussions unnerve you.

  142. Chill says

    “I saw people discussing several issues brought by Ernest Adams’ post …”

    I saw angry monkeys flinging poo at someone who probably now regrets ever having entered the zoo.

  143. throwaway says

    Chill, I’m not buying for one second that you’re a fan of ‘civil discourse’ given the last two posts, so your complaints levied against as-yet-unnamed commenters are without merit. Get specific with your criticism if you want to convince anyone. Otherwise it’s just pointless whining about perceived tone and hostility.

  144. Chill says

    throwaway:

    “Get specific with your criticism if you want to convince anyone.”

    The poo flinging commenced at #13 when Crommunist *deliberately* took Ernest’s Klan reference out of context. The last poo fling is Mike at #163 with the petulant jibe about “bisexual erasure” (I suppose I could be equally petulant and point out that Mike has merely reinforced “asexual erasure”).

    One is left to ponder why it is that that such asocial angry types so often rule the comments pages …

  145. throwaway says

    What makes you think Crommunist did so deliberately? It’s telling that you would attribute the misinterpretation to malice rather than simple mixed signals. You do so to reinforce this notion that it’s actual “poo-flinging”, whatever that means. But to do so requires an insight into the mind of someone that you can’t possibly have except by being them. Due to that the accusation falls flat.

    As for Mike’s comment, I agree it was a careless omission of a group on Ernest’s part, and it was an unfortunate choice of phrasing. It could have been said better by using a neutral term “People” or being all inclusive. The fact that it was brought up by Mike isn’t evidence of malice against Ernest. Rather it seems people bring these issues up because they are part of a larger complex of privilege and out-group blindness. They aren’t brought up because Ernest isn’t a great ally against any *phobia or *ism, but that he may not be aware that his words signify such privilege or blindness. By making him aware he can be a better ally.

  146. Lyanna says

    there is a rampant and utterly disgusting strain of thought in our society that treats children as property and associates every single bad thing that anyone does, ever, with childishness.

    Huh? No there isn’t. Property, yes, and that needs to be changed, but not the second part. Nobody associates every single type of bad thing with childishness. People associate immaturity and poor self-control with childishness, and rightly so.

    People also wrongly associate harassment with poor self-control, when it’s very likely a controlled, deliberate attempt at humiliation. That’s why it’s often inaccurate to call harassers childish. It suggests that they are “just” lacking in self-control, when in fact it’s far worse than that–it’s viciousness.

    But there is no general tendency to associate children with viciousness–quite the opposite. “He’s just a little boy, he didn’t mean it!” is an excuse, not a condemnation.

  147. Chill says

    Throwaway:

    “What makes you think Crommunist did so deliberately?”

    Because the context was crystal clear- no-one could miss it. Mixed signals, my privileged white buttocks.

    “As for Mike’s comment, I agree it was a careless omission of a group on Ernest’s part, and it was an unfortunate choice of phrasing.”

    I’m bisexual myself but I think it is ridiculous to expect a busy person in a short note about a very specific issue to include every one of the 50,000 combinations and permutations of human diversity in every conceivable instance lest some immature twit takes offence and plays the privilege card.

    But Monty Python deserve the last word: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFBOQzSk14c

  148. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Because the context was crystal clear- no-one could miss it. Mixed signals, my privileged white buttocks.</blockquote.

    Translation: I have no evidence, its true because I want it to be.

  149. Sandiseattle says

    DM @ 156: I still read over there from time to time, but have found little worth commenting on. That and I tired of the undercurrent of thiest=stupid there. A leopard can’t change his shorts I guess. <<Discworld ref. read several in that series recently.

  150. Bollocks says

    How about women start acting like women again, then I’ll consider ‘manning up’. As it stands, there’s too many spoiled, entitled feminist bitches nowadays, and I want nothing to do with them.

  151. Wilson says

    boy>mangina. It’s natural that after 40 years of gaming your testosterone has significantly dropped, but that’s when you man up and fight against the dying of the light rather than gaily metamorphose into…a bitch.

  152. mildlymagnificent says

    As nurturing and limiting are conflicting messages, it’s most efficient to have two parents each having one of the roles primarily. However, either role can be filled by any socially mature individual.

    It’s about balancing love and fear, give and take, collaboration and survival.

    – either role can be filled by seamlessly included in all interactions with children by any socially mature individual by all parents in all families.

    Anyone with common sense and emotional maturity can ensure that no means no and yes means yes right from babyhood. Both parents, if there are two, can do this consistently. The only issue might be if parents don’t agree initially about what is or isn’t outside the boundaries.

    When children know that you *will* stop the car in the middle of the road if they fidget with their seatbelts. (A parent reaching for the hazard lights switch is a great enforcement tool.) You *will* walk away from a full basket in the supermarket and take them home empty-handed if they act inappropriately. You *will* drive away at the set departure time and leave them standing if they don’t get ready for school / visiting grandma / whatever in time.

    These children know that they can rely on each parent to stick to their word – each and every time. Whether that word is yes or no.

    Separating rule-setting from rule enforcement, action from consequence, by allocating these functions to different people is counter productive. Honesty, consistency, reliability on the part of the adults in a family make for contented family life and good role modelling for children of both sexes.

  153. says

    The post is fascinating for me and the criticisms, from the point of view of ideological purity, were not surprising. I’m not a gamer but I have held lots of interventions in real life along these lines, in tone and content, when criticizing and shaming my fellow men for their sexist behaviors. I know when I do this that I am appealing to masculine pride and privilege, using white-knighting and promoting it. But I know too that if I would use more correct concepts they would simply think I was talking in some incomprehensible language. So I do it because it works in the short term. People have done this many times, using some of the shared values at some time in a way to promote progress. Comes to mind the concept that people were “created equal”, a Christian concept that was for a long time consistently used against oppression.
    But the criticisms are also valid in the sense that when using an adapted or ‘opportunistic’ polemic tactic one should not lose sight of the more profound and difficult concepts.
    Reading those tropes on male pride (interesting images there of male challenges and confrontations and allusions to age-old rites of passage from boys to men) made me think that perhaps it is time to (re)create a new masculine mystique, one not bound to oppression.
    By the way, I probably should get anonymous, but I’m lazy. As far as I know, there are only two Carlos Cabanitas in the world: me in Portugal and another in Paris.

  154. says

    This is the type of information that are supposed to be shared around the internet. Shame on Google for no longer positioning this submit upper! Come on over and seek advice from my web site . Thanks =)

Trackbacks

  1. […] culture. He has written on the subject for his regular Gamasutra blog but this particular piece – A Call to Arms For Decent Men – never made it through the editorial. Here he describes the immaturity of gaming culture citing […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>