If you’re having a conversation about escapism and fantasy worlds, chances are that video games will come up. Simply by turning on your PC, you can step into another dimension and become a fearsome warrior, a thieving pirate or a powerful empress. It’s one of the most beautiful forms of entertainment that we have nowadays and has arguably become an art form in its own right.
Unfortunately, it’s not always a good form of escapism for everyone. The gaming community has been afflicted with horrible toxicity for what feels like eons, and many minority groups can face a lack of tolerance and respect, or even actual abuse when trying to enjoy games.
But what does this negativity look like, and what are gaming companies doing to prevent these issues and improve diversity? In this blog, I’ll be taking a look at the toxic nature of the gaming community in more depth, and examining the issues that we all need to combat in the video game industry.
There’s a lack of moderation in online gaming
To start off with, one of the most common issues that people can face in gaming is poor moderation from the gaming companies themselves. What this means is that there simply isn’t enough being done to stop hateful speech, verbal abuse or slurs being used in online games and platforms. Voice chats in games are particularly notorious, as are online gaming forums and chatrooms.
While some platforms may have moderators in place to combat these issues, the sheer amount of hate that is still visible and undeniably prevalent is astounding. Companies need to be mindful of their communities and should be taking further steps to prevent hate.
I can confirm this issue with my own personal experience, as a queer woman who’s been gaming since a very young age. I learned very quickly to never mention that I was a girl, and especially never mention that I was gay when playing online games. It opens you up to a whirlwind of negativity, and can completely change your experience. To be perfectly frank, it has ruined some games for me entirely, and I know others who have had similar issues.
There are offensive stereotypes and imagery in gaming
Another issue that minority groups can face in gaming is offensive stereotypes being presented. This is especially true for LGBTQ+ characters in gaming as many games have been called out for presenting outdated, harmful tropes that do nothing for diversity or representation.
A good example of this is Final Fight’s character Poison. When this character was originally conceived, she was presented as a cisgender woman who the player had to beat in a fight. Playtesters objected to hitting a woman, so Capcom simply changed her to be a transgender woman- believing that this was a great compromise. This fiercely suggests that transgender women aren’t ‘real women’ and also encourages violence against them.
Of course, this an older game, but it is still horrifically offensive and worth remembering. Plenty of games showcase these negative stereotypes, and this alone desensitizes audiences to think that these tropes are normal and acceptable.
It is worth noting that there are less offensive characters nowadays and that more companies are striving to include realistic, well-written characters from minority groups. Life Is Strange is a good example of a game that contains queer characters that aren’t written to simply be the punchline to a homophobic joke.
Online abuse is incredibly prevalent
Something else that all minority groups often face in the gaming world is harassment or even abuse. Bullying is still, unfortunately, incredibly common in online gaming, and this can often target minority groups to a much larger extent.
One key example of this is the use of slurs. If you join an online game of Call of Duty, for example, I guarantee you will hear a colorful plethora of outdated, offensive terms being thrown around to the sound of gunfire. Slurs and derogatory language are incredibly common and I personally believe gaming companies need to be making much more of an effort to stop this happening.
What are gaming companies doing to prevent harassment?
So now that we’ve seen the abuse that occurs, what are gaming companies doing to prevent it? Some companies do have in-game moderators and online forum moderators, who look out for harmful behavior. There are some who have negative language blocks put in place to prevent harassment, and most have effective reporting and banning systems in place.
However, I believe that more needs to be done. The attitude towards diversity and tolerance in the gaming industry is changing slowly, but it should be evolving. Better sanctions and moderation should be put in place, and better support should be available for people who are facing harassment. Equally, this topic needs to be spoken about and discussed, to bring awareness to the harm that is being done.
Some brilliant companies who are making a positive impact and bringing diversity to games
To end on a lighter note, there are some fantastic people and companies who are striving to make an impact and bring equality to the gaming community. One of the blogs that you should be aware of is I Need Diverse Games– they’ve got a great blog and social media presence, where they discuss diversity, inclusion and other interesting topics.
Another important company to be aware of is Gaymer Magazine. I was so pleased to find out about this magazine- it’s dedicated to LGBTQ+ gamers and interactive entertainment. They do a fantastic job of discussing pride, representation and diversity, and provide some wonderful reviews and content to boot.
Someone else that’s making moves in the gaming community is GaymerX, a brilliant non-profit who are aiming to celebrate the gay community and culture in gaming. They’ve put on some amazing events so far, and are really making an impact in terms of representation in gaming and inclusivity.
A final group that’s important to be aware of is Black Girl Gamers. This wonderful group is dedicated to providing a safe space for black women in gaming and does a fantastic job at promoting diversity and supporting people in the community. They offer a huge range of content, including Twitch streams and a great blog.
To conclude, toxic behavior and abuse are still rife in the gaming community- but there are some fantastic companies who are aiming to put an end to this. Video games, after all, should be enjoyable for everyone, no matter who they are.
CRex was created with inclusion and diversity in mind. We’re fiercely proud of our community, and love to create video gaming products for everyone to enjoy. Gamers come from all walks of life, and this is a fact that should be celebrated. If you’d like to find out more about what we do, please check out our about us section and reach out, we would love to hear from you!