Monday, April 19, 2010

Online Hate Speech Is Awesome

I recently read an article entitled Racism and homophobia in gaming: Hate speech corrodes online video game experiences. The first mistake I noticed is that the author used the word ‘corrodes’ instead of the word ‘enhances’. Secondly, it’s important to note that the vast cornucopia of racist, homophobic, xenophobic and sexist language to which the article refers is not confined to online gaming, but is rather an essential component of online interaction in general.

In fact, via some bizarre law of human nature, 99% (my estimation) of Internet conversation will eventually devolve into a communal rage-fest based on one of the following themes:

1) Your race is inferior to mine
2) Your religion is evil
3) Your country is evil
4) Your political views are synonymous with those held by Adolph Hitler
5) You are gay

Hitler, the ├╝ber-reference in political feuds

Additionally, one will find a healthy dose of sexually explicit commentary littered around the Internet regardless of the original topic of discussion.

With all this in mind, let’s return to the world of online gaming. Considering the fact that people will launch into obscenity-filled tirades in response to something as benign as a Youtube video of someone making fruit salad, you can only imagine the extreme levels of hatred and anger that arise from heated online competition. In fact, you don’t have to imagine anything because the article lays it out:

One gamer told an opponent he presumed to be Jewish that he wished Hitler had succeeded in his mission. Many exchanges involve talk of rape or exult over the atomic bombing of Japan. There are frequent slurs on homosexuals, Asians, Hispanics and women.

Sounds like a good time to me! I can’t imagine why this kind of speech would be frowned upon, but apparently some people are not cool with it:

"Personally, I don't do a lot of online gaming for that reason," said Flynn DeMarco, founder of the Web site, which has worked with Microsoft and other companies on steps to clean up online gaming.

No offense dude, but your website sounds kind of gay. At any rate, these psychotic gamers are adding an element of realism that hasn’t been acknowledged. For example, imagine you’re playing a World War II themed shooter. With all these people yelling anti-Semitic insults, it’s like you’re actually in Nazi Germany.

Even if the hate speech doesn’t match the environment of the game being played, it still adds that extra little bit of entertainment. In a society where political correctness is sometimes pursued to an absurd degree, it’s somehow ironically satisfying to enter a chaotic world filled with deranged psychopaths freely yelling out every manner of slur imaginable.

Taking things a step further, many people actually record videos of angry gamers flipping out and post these online, where they inevitably spawn more meaningless and frequently offensive commentary. It’s like a delicious layer cake of rage, hilarity, stupidity and frivolity.

In summary, the world on online gaming is similar to the Mos Eisley spaceport from Star Wars. In the words of Obi-Wan, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Both areas are places filled with intolerance and violence, but they also hold quite a bit of entertainment value for visitors.

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