[b]In modern offices, the term “Sexual Harassment” carries such a weight with Human Resource departments that they commonly have classes to relate the strict definitions of what qualifies as harassment, and how employees are to go about reporting it.
In an MMO, players typically outnumber the GMs by the thousands. As compared to a relatively small office space in the real world, the online game environment is wild and dangerous.
How do we define Sexual Harassment in an online game? Obviously, the lack of physical contact means that the only damaging actions we’re talking about here are language and whatever limited interactive capabilities the developers have added to the avatars. Is bringing this kind of activity to light “playing the victim”, or is this a valid complaint?[/b]
Considering that at least half of the females in MMOGs are actually dudes, I find the harrassment more ironically humorous than offensive.
Given the lead demographic of online games in general – teenage boys and older guys who on average aren’t at the peak of the social skills scale – there’s nothing suprising about it being a hostile environment for women who are uncomfortable with rude, base male behavior.
I always play female characters in MMORPGs and I’m female myself. I find that while there’s a lot more harrassment online than there is in reality, it’s also much easier to walk away from. There’s almost always an /ignore type of command.
Interesting article, mystery. Thanks for the link and excerpts.
I think this is just another sign that a lot gamers are boorish, juvenile, and short on social skills. Combine that with the anonymity of online interaction and you get an environment ripe for what you’re calling harassment.
But what surprises me is that it doesn’t happen more often than it does. I’ve ‘met’ plenty of polite helpful folks online. I think the sense of community when you’re all playing the same game more often outweighs any inherent boorish juvenile unsocially skilled activity.
I like to play female characters in mmogs too and I have found little distinction made about it, aside from a few extra "m’lady"s here and there. Sure a few people are generally nicer to me because I’m a female with a female avatar, but I also don’t call myself HOTCHICK4U (name choice intentional in retrospect) and that probably factors into it.
But the MMORPG scene is entirely different from FPSs. The absolute second that I’m revealed as a female either by voicecom or name choice in an FPS: the harassment is frequent, incessant, and almost always intolerable. The only choice there is to ignore everyone, change your name, and/or don’t talk. However given the current state of FPSs nowadays that’s my natural inclination anyway.
I know several females who play female characters in MMOGs.
I also know several who play male characters to avoid getting spammed.
I also know several who enjoy the attention of playing females, including getting free stuff all the time.
I know a few that understandably disdain the whole mess, but play SWG, which features a breast size slider for female characters.
Gender is a weird beast. I’m of the social constructivist school of thought on the subject, but what do you say about social constructs created in an antisocial environment where the only people are just representations of real personae?
Camille Paglia would have a field day talking this to death, but as usual, on the off chance she came up with something insightful, it wouldn’t be any better than what experienced players or employees could say.
That doesn’t mean it’s not worth talking about. :) Just don’t expect a quick and easy explanation for extreme perversions of human nature. These games cater largely to people who want whole-scale escapism, after all.
That said, I think Sanya’s comment hit truest, at least as far as the game makers are concerned. Harassment is all in how the game’s providers define it, and how it’s enforced. Maybe the best way to do that is to define harassment independent of gender, and apply it as fairly for gender harassment cases as for anything else.
I can’t seem to write something coherent that accurately states my opinions on this matter. Short version:
A lot of (mostly) male idiots in MMOG and message boards perpetuate (through their language) disgusting social structures in regards to gender.
Most people, of course, should realise that a lot of it is just the bloody internet, you don’t have to care (easier said, than done, really, because you might have gotten involved in a “community” or something before you notice it)