Anita Sarkeesian received death threats for her series of controversial videos. Zoe Quinn’s detractors posted naked pictures of her because her ex-boyfriend encouraged 4Chan members to do it. Video gamers unleashed police on their opponents during a recent incident. The first two events demonstrate that racism, sexism, and even homophobia remain alive in gaming culture. When a casual observer considers all three incidents together, another truth emerges. Video gamers are an immature lot who need to grow up.
Eighteen to twenty-five year olds compete to be the alpha male within the virtual worlds. The games allow them to be someone, even if they find themselves on the fringes of society in their daily lives. Virtual worlds allow them to take on a more prominent role. Aggressive tendencies that society discourages are often rewarded by other players. Dedicated gamers who spend hours in virtual worlds often lack real-world social skills. Many of them remain in a perpetual childhood, and the online world becomes the only source of social interaction for many of them. Testosterone-laden teenagers and young adults compete with each other to prove how “l337” or “ub3r” they are.
Sarkeesian, and others like her, produced poorly researched videos that challenged sexism in video games. Her supporters could have taken on homophobia and racism as well. These demons openly reside in many MMOs. The trolls who dominate Barrens chat and similar channels responded by dumping documents about Sarkeesian. Quinn and Sarkeesian received rape threats as well. Not one of the perpetrators thought about the real-world consequences of their actions. They assumed that the real world offered them the same consequence-free environment the Internet offers. These trolls may or may not have realized that their actions would force Sarkeesian to flee her home.
Most children learn that their actions have real-world consequences. As we mature, we learn that our actions have unintended consequences. Sarkeesian knew she would be attacked, but Quinn did not expect her ex-boyfriend to unleash 4Chan upon her.
The largely 18-25 year old male demographic who perpetrated for the attacks on Sarkeesian and Quinn should be ashamed. Their behavior made me ashamed to even be associated with them. There are people who responded with polite and impolite videos challenging Sarkeesian’s assertions. (Here is one of the many YouTube examples.) Immature gamers can learn something from these only slightly immature individuals. Sending a SWAT team isn’t a joke, as some gamers in Denver thought. It’s an act of terrorism.
Note: Yes, there were women involved in the attacks on Sarkeesian and Quinn. They should not be given a pass either.