Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published August 31, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Page modified September 1, 2014 at 10:35 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments
  • Print

For gamers, combating online abuse not easy

While most attendees of Penny Arcade Expo come to the boisterous convention to play games, bag swag and meet like-minded people, a few take the time to investigate online bullying and why it's so prevalent among the gaming community.


AP Entertainment Writer

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
The plains Indians used to "count coup". One way was to race up to an armed enemy, tap him with a coup stick, then... MORE
Probably because the mentality of these games, these gamers, and these programers do not exceed the maturity level of a... MORE
There's a really simple solution. Either turn off the system and go do something else or turn off the voice feature. ... MORE

advertising

SEATTLE —

While most attendees of Penny Arcade Expo come to the boisterous convention to play games, bag swag and meet like-minded people, a few take the time to investigate online bullying and why it's so prevalent among the gaming community.

Therapist Stacey Weber, herself a gamer, is a bit mystified.

"It just doesn't make sense," said Weber, who was part of a Saturday talk at PAX Prime called "Not Us, Not Here: Examining Bullying, Harassment and Misogyny."

"When we pick up our games, we delve into these whole new worlds where there's a multitude of various species and ways of being," Weber said. "Difference is the norm, so how come this community seems so intolerant of difference?"

The discussion at the four-day, sold-out convention, which ends Monday and is expected to draw about 85,000 gamers, follows a week of several reports of online harassment of developers and personalities in the gaming community.

"Unfortunately, a lot of the recent conflict is showing us there's a lot of work left to be done," Weber said.

Weber points to research that shows online taunting, popular in "Call of Duty," ''Halo," and other shoot-'em-up games, may come from bullies who enjoy the online anonymity while seeking to reduce their own anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. She said such abuse is no different whether it occurs on the playground or the virtual battlefield.

"The quadrants of harassment don't change from the physical space to the digital space," said therapist Joshua Neal, who joined Weber for the discussion. "The effects are the same."

Neal said that because anonymity is common on the Internet, online activity can become a "fantasyland" for people seeking to spread negativity with fewer repercussions.

He implored PAX Prime attendees to be mindful of the language they use while playing games.

"When our speech directly harms marginalized communities, I think that's something we can stand up for needing to reduce and stop," he said. "Individually, we can parse that stuff out. If we're using misogynistic, homophobic or racist remarks, that has a real impact on stereotypes that get perpetuated in communities where we can see damage occurring."

Despite developers and publishers taking steps to stymie abuse, the name calling, sexual harassment and "swatting" -- when a person anonymously files a false police report -- continue to persist in the gaming world.

Weber and Neal told PAX Prime attendees that if they observe abuse online, the best response is to show empathy not only toward the person targeted but also toward the tormenters because that might provide them an opportunity to recognize and correct their bad behavior.

___

Online:

http://prime.paxsite.com

___

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang .



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

Also in Living

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Where in the world are Seahawks fans?

Where in the world are Seahawks fans?

Put your marker on The Seattle Times interactive map and share your fan story.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►