Monday, August 13, 2012

PAX panels on harassment in gaming

From an article in Slate this morning, What It's Like For a Girl Gamer, I learned that there will be at least two panels on harassment in gaming at the upcoming PAX convention in Seattle-- Ending Harassment in Gaming and Harassment and Bullying in Online Games: Technical Solutions v1.0 (Elisa Melendez, author of the Slate piece, is on the panel for this one). Excellent! Hope they have some fruitful discussions. And, of course, wish I could be there.

Here's PATV's Extra Credits episode on in-game harassment. Check it out.

1 comment:

  1. Comments essentially cover your three most recent posts (and I read Natalie's excellent essay)

    Though I know "Second Life" may not truly fall within the "gamer" definition, there exist some parallel issues with respect to attitudes, sexism if you will, in what some may also refer to as a "game".

    I am male but have virtual presences in "Second Life" (SL) both as a man and as a women. One of the distinguishing benefits often promoted in "SL is that one can experience things vastly unattainable to one in Real Life. Every waking moment I am male; people recognize me as male, treat me as male, I view my world through the eyes and context of being male; I cannot escape this fact. But SL has presented me with the rare opportunity to at least attempt to simulate what it might FEEL like to experience the world as a female.

    Unfortunately one thing I noticed immediately was a lot of hostility directed toward other female avatars suspected of being men protraying themselves in world as women. The most common assertion being that men were probably using female avatars as an act of malfeasance; infiltrators, spies, bent on mocking or harassing women; viewed as almost an act of aggression. And perhaps on rare occasions this may indeed have been true.

    What is indeed true is that, statistically, the ratio of females to males in SL does not match up to real world demographic, so it is highly likely that a lot of the "women" on SL are indeed males. I found that a scant few female avatars sometimes disclose their true gender in their profiles. More often many have leveled accusations that any or all avatars who have chosen NOT to voice-verify their true female status should be considered as men posing as women. This is a specious argument as many women in gaming, including SL, may have legitimate reasons to not reveal personal information out of genuine concerns for privacy or safety.

    What I have come to question is: does really it matter if a woman portrays a man (or vice-versa) if there is no harm in the motive for doing so? What cannot be separated between the avatar and it's human handler is the character and nature of the real person behind it. An avatar is merely a "pixel puppet" and can not act independently of that human pilot.

    No one in that virtual world has ever outright asked me (or avatar, that is) directly if I really am a woman or a man posing as one. There seems to be a virtual "don't ask, don't tell" policy. I don't know what I would do if asked; it is an ethical question... would I be honest, would I decline to answer as not being relevant? And I must confess that of the women in SL who have since become my friends, and even lovers, I don't really want to know, it is enough that they are who they appear to be.

    SL is my only opportunity to experience life, though imperfect, in the gender to which I was not born. I must respect that this may be their motivation as well. I am just grateful technology has given me a rare opportunity and I will take advantage of it to the extent I can... and yes, even the occasional incidents of sexism.


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