Wednesday, September 25, 2013

GameOver Hate #3

Day 2 (Tuesday):

On Tuesday, we focused on the different forms of hate-speech and the labels associated with it. We examined the terminology and tried to come up with some common ground regarding our perceptions of what exactly is this thing called "hate speech".

But first, a little morning gaming.

We did a couple of exercises in the morning designed to challenge our perceptions of the labels/categories people are put into, some of the exercises being a little bit more in depth than others. I must admit that having the door to the room closed and being told I couldn't get out until we'd finished the exercise was way more harrowing for me than answering deep personal questions in front of many people. It was a good way to create a safer atmosphere though, so it worked out well in the end. I also felt that the exercises built a deeper trust between us, since we were given a chance to confront the normal humanness of everyone else and were able to face our own less-than-desirable traits in an honest environment. The fact that I was in a group that was very open and willing to share might have had something to do with it as well. 

Words connected to hate speech.

The exercises paved the way for actual case studies in the afternoon. We separated into two different groups, with each group focusing on one case. One group looked at the case of Anita Sarkeesian and the hate speech she has been receiving online for her feminist work, and the other group concentrated on the case of Carolyn Petit and the grief she has been getting as a transgender reporter who dared to give GTA5 the low score of 9/10 in her video review.
I was in the Carolyn Petit group, and I hadn't heard about her case before this. I was absolutely appalled at the pure hate and entitlement that the people harassing her displayed - don't these people have any common decency, let alone any sense in their heads? I'm glad some of the other Gamespot reviewers took her side and answered with videos of their own. Many women don't have this kind of support group, and end up retreating from the public due to intolerable harassment. 

Along with all the exercises and assignments we do face to face, we also have a very active reddit page where people post links, participate in discussion and do extra assignments. Each day, we have a one hour gaming hour where we are given an assignment, then told to go play games while keeping the assignment in mind. Afterwards we reply to the assignment on reddit according to our experiences.

Secrets (?).

Tuesday's game hour assignments had us going into our own communities, and asking about hate related experiences there. I was surprised at how difficult this felt for me to do - I chose Guild Wars 2 as my game, but I didn't dare to ask around on a public channel about people's experiences because I was afraid it would turn into a troll fest, and because I was worried that I wouldn't have time to process it all. Instead, I asked my guild about their experiences. This turned out to be a good choice, since there were some surprising revelations about different points of view towards hate (I won't go into them here, since I promised to use the material gathered from my guildies only in our private reddit board). However, it got me thinking a great deal more about doing a wider questionnaire to GW2 gamers about the hate they experience, and how they deal with it. It will be a bigger project, and I doubt I will have time to concentrate on starting it while here. 

In the evening there was a party. It was crazy, and involved foosball, drinks, dancing and many, many silly Youtube videos. I love how gamers the world over enjoy similar pursuits (and similar slightly questionable humor). I also love how in the first half of the party, the only people actually dancing were the finns who weren't even drunk yet. :P

The best thing since Playstation 3.

Revelation of the day: How surprisingly difficult it is to publicly talk about hate in games to random strangers ingame. Even just asking about it casually in a public conversation online feels scary. Is the fear of being singled out for harassment really so strong? I challenge anyone who thinks it would be easy to actually go to their game community, and take that first step to start an open conversation about hate-speech.

Link of the day:

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