Ah, to be a parent in this modern age. It’s so rife with seemingly innocuous things that turn out to be the harbingers of the end times (at that’s what local news stations are telling us). My kid is still at the point in her life that she has no clue what an internet is, much less why that grammar-kerfuffle I just made could put a smile on someone’s face. One day, however, she will know not only what the internet is, but will partake of its services on a daily basis. When she finally fires up whatever the equivalent of Overwatch is in the next few years, I hope, I hope, that both game companies have actually developed a real method of dealing with misogynists and jerks online and that gaming culture becomes less toxic.
As reported last week, popular streamer, Annemunition, was the recipient of a metric ton of crap from her fellow teammates, all for the “crime” of being female while gaming. While this kind of abuse is not a foreign concept to me, the news does hammer home some concerns I have for the future when my daughter will be old enough to play online games. The thought that she will probably deal with this awfulness the moment starts up a game is disheartening, to say the least.
I’m an avid gamer, in both video and tabletop forms, and I want to impart the same love I have for this stuff to her. I want her to feel free to engage others and explore her own creativity in an enjoyable and collaborative way. I’d love to DM a D&D game to get her feet wet if she hasn’t already played a campaign with her friends. If it means she will have to endure being called a plethora of epithets everywhere she goes, however, it gives me pause to guide her down that path. I want her to have fun, but not at the risk of her being demeaned and devalued as a person by a deluge of unwarranted, sexist tirades.
The steps that are currently in place to stop the abuse from happening or at the very least punish those who commit it are severely lacking. It’s extremely difficult to setup an automated process to weed out instances of simple mistakes from the egregious violations, and when people do get reported, very rarely do they face any real repercussions for their actions. What I see and hear in game chats often discourages me, and until there is a massive overhaul in how these matters are handled, I will always have reservations when I see her boot up an online game.
I hope that one day in the near future, I can fire up a computer/console, and be relatively at ease knowing the she’s going to have a little fun and not encounter a bunch of jerks that will try to tear her down. At the moment, it’s not a lot of hope, but a dad can dream. And until that dream becomes a reality, I will be ready to support my daughter whenever she needs me.