Musings: Whatever Happened To Just Playing Games And Having Fun?

Couple playing videogames

… I’m getting sick of this. Really am.

[UPDATE]: Well, other folks picked Jenny’s story up, and it caused quite a stir. As a result, there are a lot of updates over at Jenny’s blog, including that the offending gamer has been flagged by Microsoft with “Code of Conduct” (a sign that’s he’s been banned or suspended).


Good day, gentle people! Has been a while; me going underground head first in work. But that’s all done, so I’ll be dusting the place and getting into the thick of it soonish.

But for now… I have to rant.

I’m getting real sick — REAL SICK — of reading stories about people getting harassed and threatened while playing a videogame. Good God, I’m now writing about this! That fact alone saddens me, ’cause I shouldn’t have to. I mean, this is videogames, for crying out loud. VIDEOGAMES!

*takes a breath* So what caused me to be on the brink of explosion and throwing up my hands? This post over at Not in the Kitchen Anymore [WARNING! It’s pretty bad]. For those unfamiliar with the blog, the webmistress, Jenny Haniver, chronicles the verbal abuse (written and spoken) that she undergoes on Xbox Live.

In this particular case, she played Call of Duty: Black Ops II around the end of July and ran into a young man, who proceeded to make lewd remarks, which ultimately lead to him sending her a rape threat after the match concluded via Xbox voicemail.

Jenny then did what anyone would do in this instance: contacted Xbox Live Support and Call of Duty developer, Treyarch to report abuse.

A week later, she finds out that this player was still playing, no disciplinary action taken, and thus began her back and forth between Xbox Support and Call of Duty publisher, Activision (hoping that talking to the publisher would also help speed things along). As of this writing, nothing’s been done.

I’m so, so, SO SICK of reading about this stuff happening. When has this kind of abuse IN VIDEOGAMES been an acceptable practice? I mean, there’s smack talk between friends, sure, but any smack talk I do with my buds never escalated into the vile crap that gets flung out at people today! Other folks may smack talk with their friends and be more rough, but those involved knows it’s in jest. Smack talk against strangers was usually on friendly terms (again, ya knew the other person wasn’t being malicious). What in the hell happened?

Maybe it’s because I’m old and I’m really that out of touch with the gaming world, but this is just so sad to me! When I was a wee lass, talks about videogames kinda went like this:

Kid A: You play videogames?

Kid B: [Yes] -or- [No] [If No]

Kid A: Okay, cool. -or- You should! They’re pretty cool.

[If Yes]

Kid A: What games you play?

Kid B: *list of games*

Kid A: I haven’t played those. They any good? -or- OMG, THAT’S THE COOLEST GAME EVAR!

(conversation ensues either way)

It just didn’t matter back then if you were a dude or a chick, or what games you were into. If you played videogames, YOU PLAYED VIDEOGAMES. You were part of the Super Secret Club, got the Special Decoder Ring that came with the membership, and learnt the Super Secret Handshake.

You were part of the gamer family. Welcome. Have a seat on this couch and put up your feet. Have some of this chicken I found in a wooden crate in Final Fight. It’s still good; pipping hot and juicy, and came with a bowl of gravy for whatever reason. Let’s stay up for obscene hours playing Contra III, or cheat during splitscreen multiplayer in GoldenEye 007 (I know you did it… ’cause I certainly did. Still sucked at the the game, but that’s besides the point).  We just came together, with a similar interest, and had a blast doing so. And it was wonderful.

We should all love each other and be welcoming! We're all part of the gamer family!

We should all love each other and be welcoming! We’re all part of the gamer family!

Now it seems like it doesn’t matter if you play videogames or not, ’cause people will berate and insult you based on gender or sexual preference and won’t accept you no matter what.

Why is that? This person HAS THE SAME INTEREST AS YOU! Do you have any idea how excited I am whenever I meet someone who has even one thing in common with me? I’m sure lots of you get that kindred spirit vibe when you meet someone who was interested in the same thing as you! It’s a starting point; excellent for conversations and could lead to wonderful and long-lasting friendships!

Why is it that such a thing feels almost non-existent when gaming nowadays? You’d think that there’d be even more camaraderie with the online gaming boom. “Finally! I can play my favourite game with other people halfway across the world!” you think to yourself, all starry-eyed and filled with hope. But nope! People are going out of their way to make you feel like crap. Because LOL INTERNETZ.

There are folks who are taking a stand against this most unwelcome behaviour, such as Gamers Against Bigotry (I signed The Pledge a while back and you should, too!), but more has to be done, ’cause this kind of crap just isn’t okay. I wish I had a ray gun that I could blast out and make all the internet kids act mature, but that hasn’t been invented yet. And crossing my fingers in the hope that they’d wise up isn’t gonna help any, either. The more mature-minded of us can only call out despicable action for so long.

I hope that more companies take these kind of abuse reports seriously, and I certainly hope that Microsoft and/or Activision do something about Jenny’s complaint (why hasn’t this dude been banned yet?). Again, they haven’t done anything yet, which is just as frustrating as all this threat slinging. They want people to play their games/support their products, but when something this serious comes up, they seem slow to react, or give people the runaround. How can customers and players support them if they feel like their concerns (especially those of harassment) aren’t being heard?

Yea, I know there will be trolls on the internet. But… I don’t know… doesn’t there come a point in time when all this stupidity has to stop? Why go out of your way to shoo away someone who loves the same hobby as you? Sure some people might not play the game as well as you (or someone might be just way better than ya!), it doesn’t mean you have to be nasty and make ’em feel like they don’t belong. This is the realm of videogames! EVERYONE’S welcomed here! Let’s eat some of that leftover pizza, cheer on the hype moments, have a laugh at our failure when we missed that jump (it’s the controller’s fault!), and move on. Let us embrace one another in gaming awesomeness!  WE’RE ALL FAMILY!

Let’s just play games. And have fun. That’s what games are all about, after all. Let’s enjoy a great show time (anyone who knows where that last line comes from gets a cookie, by the way).

As for those big companies, I pray that they do more to help make people feel more welcomed to playing their games. When issues such as this arise, not only should they take them seriously, but remedy the situation quickly before it gets any worse.

I think I’ve calmed down some, so I’ll go back to work now. Let me know how you feel in the Comments Section, and follow Jenny on Twitter!

And remember: Minee loves you! [icon name=”icon-heart”]

Featured image: iStockphoto/diego_cervo