Please welcome Jen Doering as the latest member of the Geek Girls Rule! family!!
If you’ve been playing an MMO in the last five or six years or so, you’ve been conscious that some of the language involved can get a bit…salty. Sometimes the only thing you can say in response to a particularly bad wipe is an f-bomb or other bit of profanity. And, I’ll be honest, things get a bit risque in my guild’s Ventrilo channel. (For instance, a husband and wife weren’t responding to ready checks, so there was all sorts of speculation as to their whereabouts, when they were merely getting a snack. We didn’t buy it either.)
If you play an MMO and still have general chat channels on, then you’re aware that certain words—such as “gay,” “rape,” and “fag”–are thrown around quite readily. Combine this with the new random dungeon finder that Blizzard added in December, and it’s a given you’ll be tossed together with players you probably wouldn’t associate with normally. If I find myself in a random dungeon and there’s profanity, I’ll stick it out. If people are using the word “gay” as an adjective that doesn’t refer to sexual orientation and “rape” as something that gets done to monsters or other players, I’ll immediately drop the group and wait out my deserter debuff.
The people who use such terms are quick to throw out free speech and their rights, but the WoW servers are not public spheres. It would be as if I went into someone’s home and swore a blue streak. Sure, there’s nothing to stop me doing so, but odds are good I’d be asked to leave and not invited back. In the same manner, Blizzard can (and does) ban people for such behavior.
The thing is, words have power. I know too many people who’ve been sexually assaulted or been targeted because of their sexual orientation. I’ve seen what these evils do to their lives, and I’ll be damned if I continue it or passively condone it. Every time someone talks about “raping” a boss or an opposing faction, they’re contributing to the mindset that rape is acceptable. If “gay” is used as an epithet, it’s reinforced that some sexual orientations are undesirable.
Of course, the objection is raised that they really aren’t talking about rape or homophobia, but “nice” people don’t use words that hurt other people. Because of the nature of MMO’s, you never know who’s the person behind the toon. Isn’t it better to just not use words that could hurt? In the end, it’s a more fun time for everyone involved, if we do what we can to make things a little better for everyone else.