I get emails from the editors of The Root, a singular publication sponsored by Skip Gates, that continues and extends crackpot racial conspiracy theories for those who dig them. It's only rarely that I find anything that really interests me, but almost never enough to comment. Today, however, I've gotten forwarded a second missive on the same 'university study' about how the 'gaming community' is complicit in the assault against 'minorities'. I excerpt.
The GAMBIT study involved creating and registering gamer profiles with the names PROUD_2B_MUSLIM, GayPride90 and Black_N_Proud90, and playing Halo: Reach online with random players (for those who don’t know, the use of hate speech in gaming is usually associated with the proliferation of console multi-player gaming via the original Halo). As you can probably guess, the players using those names suffered much verbal abuse directed towards the identities their names indicated they had. Not only that, in player vs. player combat those with the minority-identified names were more aggressively targeted.
Good’s analysis of this study is, to my mind at least, indicative of the ossified privilege that is endemic to gaming as an industry explicitly designed to serve the sensibilities of disgruntled white teenage boys. Good looks at the hate speech and aggressive play and concludes that the minority-identified players brought the abuse upon themselves. Good writes – “If you’re looking to be called the usual filth-flarn-flarn-filth-flarn, those are some awesome gamertags, well worth the 800 Microsoft Points change fees.”
Good’s insinuation, as per his title, is that GAMBIT is involved in “intellectualized trolling” here, but his use of the term “trolling” is both disingenuous and fundamentally incorrect. Trolling, as those who have spent even a small amount of time on internet message boards will tell you, is a sort of forum sport in which a member posts something for the sole purpose of causing arguments and strife within the topic or thread. By definition, trolling is provocation – it is done solely to elicit emotion and negative response.
Thus, what Good is really implying is that being a Muslim, or black, or a woman, or a gay person, and being open about that fact to others, is an open provocation in the gay community, that being a minority player is something that you inflict on other people. There’s no real scandal in being called a nigger or a fag or a cunt in a game, or being singled out for aggression based on your identity – it wouldn’t have happened had you kept it to yourself. The onus is on the abused to prevent abuse. This is, obviously, a repugnant view to hold to, but it’s one that seems to be held as widely agreeable within the gaming community.
Obviously there's some subtlety involved in determining who's writing a review of a review of a study about what gamers say and think and the reasons they do so. Which is why, after a couple glasses of Jack Daniels, it was so easy for me to get some gut rumbles about the foolishness of the entire matter. I responded like Redd Foxx.. to wit.
All this reminds me of loud minority talk of the 70s after there was nothing left to burn after 68. At some point it continues on its own momentum driven not by substance but by the curiosity of people who really actually don't give a shit, and the fanaticism of people who do. It becomes a trope which actually challenges nobody because it's always priced out of the reasonableness of the discussion.
One day somebody is going to make a gay game character that's as popular as the Master Chief, just like we might have said in 1974, one day a black man is going to win the Oscar for best actor. The problem is that in 1974 the black actors getting consideration were simply not in a position through a combination of skill and connection to win that prize, and so everybody suffered loud minority guff amongst films like Blackula and Super Fly TNT. And that is about the status of gay gaming right now. No amount of ranting and raving and critical theory, scholarly melioration or minority hermaneutics of any degree is going to create that great gay game. It's going to take the Denzel who was born to do it. And today that game programmer doesn't exist, or he's just batting in the bush leagues. So what.
I imagine that it's difficult for people with iphones who can complain about having a dropped call (!) to try to imagine how millions of people survived before the advent of the boombox - how anybody could possibly appreciate monaural music collections consisting of fewer than 100 albums - how could we possibly find music to fall in love, get married and make babies to, and in that order. And with no black actors taking home the gold statue, how might we have found any self-respect? It comes as no surprise that such people, clueless as to what it might be like to face mandatory conscription, could lose sleep over being called an EPITHET by some anonymous teenager in a virtual game room. Such things are considered significant by this generation. It's weakness, I tell you. It's weakness because 55 year old men who have no compunction for giving you an actual illegal ass-kicking *say* it's weakness. Think of that the next time you say 'Kadafi'. You share this planet with true, honest to goodness badasses who do drink, smoke, curse, spit, cheat, and fight dirty. Love *that* neighbor, ya yellow whelp.
One of these days, when you prissy little pricks get through a divorce, a heart attack, a child custody battle, an irs audit, a felony conviction, a civil suit, a foreclosure or a something more serious than a teabagging in Call of Duty, please write us another 1000 words about how much we need virtual alternate role models.
Or fucking write the game yourself.
It makes no sense, of course, for today's gay gaming community - whatever that is, to emulate the black community of the 70s -whatever that was. Nor does it really make any sense to dignify those 'communities' until such time as they manage to overthrow a dictator and convince the international community - whatever that is, to lob some cruise missiles in their favor.