Show some love.
I was recording an episode of RCM On Tap (which will be out in the next couple of weeks, I think) when I went off into a sort of freestyle rant about how stupid people--specifically gamers--on the internet can be. Part of that rant veered off into GamerGate territory, though I have a hard time recalling the specifics of how I ended up there. Such is the beauty of ranting.

After the recording was finished, my wife mentioned that she saw it as "a problem" that I talked about GamerGate and the first thing out of my mouth wasn't about harassment of women. Well, I hadn't planned to talk about GamerGate at all, but if I did... really, what's there to say? Sending death threats to women is bad, mmm'kay? There's no conversation to be had there, and I don't see any point in preaching further on the topic. Seriously, most gaming media outlets have done plenty of preaching on that subject already, to the point where I'm starting to believe that many of them are more concerned with getting hits than anything else.

Later that week, I was listening to an episode of The Angry Chicken where co-host Jocelyn Moffett and guest Karma were talking about how to deal with the vitriol that gets thrown their way while streaming on Twitch.  They were responding to a question about why there aren't many women involved in professional Hearthstone or other games. The answer was apparently that there are more than enough trolls who don't want them there. Hearing Jocelyn talk about being brought to tears by some comments made in Twitch chat was a quite sobering reminder of what gamers are capable of at their worst... or sometimes even at their average.

After that, I had a realization. Despite all the attention that GamerGate brought to the sexism and misogyny issues that exist in the gaming community, we never really took ownership of those issues. Instead I saw a lot of "#NotYourShield" and comments about how men get harassed too. Seriously, how fucked up is it that some people see harassment of men as a valid defense against accusations of harassment of women? As if being an equal-opportunity asshole is better than just not being an asshole.

Even among people who know that it's not cool to send hateful tweets to Zoe Quinn and the like, it's still seen as acceptable in the testosterone-laden competitive gaming scene to grace women with pearls of wisdom like "tits or gtfo" and "god u fuking suck u dum bitch." Hell, I think it's a miracle that women play competitive games at all. Even as thick-skinned as I've become from dealing with trolls for over a decade, I doubt I'd persevere through constant streams of "nigger" or un-funny chicken and watermelon jokes.

And yet, some women deal with just that and worse, and they keep coming back because they love what they do. Is it too much to ask that the rest of the internet show 'em some love back?

Sadly, I'm starting to think that it is. What I'm asking for requires a trait that the internet seems to have completely forgotten about: empathy. The gaming community is far too quick to label complaints about harassment as social-justice garbage and then go on counter rants about how those evil feminists are trying to censor and ruin our games or something like that. Understanding why this is still an issue risks stepping into enemy territory; you don't sympathize with an enemy, you destroy them.

That's the basis of pretty much the entire internet these days, isn't it? Anyone who disagrees with you is an enemy, and you don't have empathy for your enemy, you destroy them. The end result is the verbal equivalent of thermonuclear war. Even when the bombs stop falling, the radiation will be around for years. Who knows if the social part of the internet will still be worth participating in by then.

There's still hope though. Women would not continue to show up in gaming if there was nothing but hate surrounding them. Yes, the haters get all the attention, but those who support new faces regardless of race, gender, blah, blah, blah, are starting to make themselves heard. Their support is slowly but surely drowning out all the dickishness that the gaming community is legendarily known for.

I guess my overall point is... show some love for a change. It's good for everyone.
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