Joystick: Don’t let gamers get away with slursPublished 2:44pm Thursday, August 1, 2013
I’ll never forget the first time I heard idiot white teenagers call another gamer racial slurs while playing a video game.
Not surprisingly, it was during an online team deathmatch on a “Call of Duty” game. Two teens were taunting a black member of our team about his poor shooting.
The black gamer tried to defend himself when it happened:
“God, quit being such a n[redacted],” one of them said.
Of course, once one of them said a slur, the other one chimed in. Bullies like that always seem to demonstrate a pack mentality. They shouted slurs over and over, until the black player quit.
I quit the game a second after he did. As a reporter, I have written about diversity issues for years and was the president of a multicultural diversity group for communications students of color and their allies in college. As a white male, I’ll never know how powerful and painful words like the slurs I’ve heard online can be, but I have met enough people who have felt those words sting to get a sense of how devastating slurs can be.
It’s not just teens or disgruntled adults who act this way online, either.
I’ve heard young children playing “Black Ops 2” say those exact words during matches, often repeatedly, in order to annoy their teammates. Why those children were playing M-rated games is something only their parents can answer, but hearing hateful language and racial or sexual slurs is one of the most dissatisfying aspects of playing online multiplayer games.
And it has been a consistent problem in gaming for years, one that isn’t likely to go away any time soon. One weekly column in a small southern Minnesota newspaper isn’t going to change that.
There’s something parents can do about it, however: They can talk with their sons and daughters about online gaming behavior. Many of the social issues surrounding video games can be solved through better communication between parent and child, and this is another example of that concept.
Parents, make sure your children know it’s never OK to use slurs when gaming online. Gamers young and old will experience hostile social situations in online games, just as they would at school or in the workplace.
They need to know how to deal with those situations just the same as everyone else.
It’s one thing to trash-talk, but prejudice needs to stay out of gaming.
A simple talk will likely go a long way toward helping that happen.