Time for real men to show the boys how it’s done

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John Birmingham

JB imageMen need to play more video games. Real men, grown-ups. Not squirty, pizza-faced little boys screaming abuse into their headsets because Lara Croft is the only woman in the world who’ll let them stare openly at her boobies.

Real men, with a few years on the clock, some wrinkles, and enough sense to respect the gaming skills of a good player.

Real men, not idiot boys who’d disrespect the same player purely for her gender and the way it makes them feel uncomfortable about themselves.

Reading some of the ugly, misogynist crap coming out of the gaming community the last few weeks, I’m reminded why I don’t waste a lot of time in multiplayer. And when I do it’s almost always in private sessions with mates. The sort of mates who’d bite off their own tongues before calling a woman a ‘slut’, ‘bitch’ or ‘whore’. Either because she just pwnd them, or because she was, you know, just there. And she had a vagina, and stuff. A ‘vagina-n-stuff’ being about the full extent of some losers understanding of who and what constitutes a woman.

Anybody who spends any time playing video games online will be familiar with the crude ugliness of thought and rhetoric that characterises a lot of players, particularly younger, male players. It’s not just women, of course, who suffer abuse at the moist hands of these sad little gimps.Racism and homophobia are rampant as well. Taken together, they’re almost the defining characteristics of online game chat, a communications channel that makes the open sewer of most blog comment threads look like afternoon tea at the Algonquin Roundtable. If the industry and wider culture is truly interested in being taken seriously as an art form, be it high or mass art, the boneheaded stupidity of a significant part of its audience might be one of the biggest impediments. (Attend to the very first comment in the thread below, for instance. That is the opinion most outsiders have of gamers. The third comment, on the other hand, is a fine proof of concept for the proposition that you should never read the comments).

While anybody not confirming to the Nerdworld Hitler Youth gamer stereotype is fair game, the recent outbreak of unpleasantness, has centred mostly on women. You can hit up the link below to read about some of the more egregious examples.

It’s not all toxic and hateful, though. One of the bright spots in the recent nastiness was the positive response to one woman’s Kickstarter project looking to raise funds for a series of videos examining the portrayal of women in games; an examination undertaken from a feminist perspective. In spite of some really sickening pushback from the tiny penis lobby, the project was massively oversubscribed. Not all men hate women.

That’s what’s making me think it might be time to get my mates together, and get our game on. There’s some naughty little boys out there who need to be shown how to behave before they can call themselves men.


It’s a man’s (virtual) world