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“Gaymers” now playing on Current TV

It’s no secret that racism, sexism, homophobia, and colorful swears are all hallmarks of online multiplayer gaming. It’s the sort of thing, in fact, that gamers laugh about, albeit uneasily. But the first time you hear a truly earnest slur, the blood runs cold: something about the experience feels distinctly like being trapped in a small-town Chainsaw Massacre kind of nightmare.

As I was channel-surfing tonight, I flipped past Current TV—that’s Al Gore’s young adult -oriented “citizen journalism” cable channel—and I was pleasantly startled to catch the end of “Gaymers.” It is a short video that, in the span of four minutes, concisely explains the homophobia and hostility that often occurs, whether on Internet forums or inside of in-game chat, within the very insular gaming culture. Of course the video is intended for a mainstream audience, but it approaches the issue in an intelligent way. It is, in short, the video to send to your non-gaming friends.

The video is also a very abbreviated profile of games journalist Flynn De Marco, and his site, the excellent GayGamer.net.

“Gaymers” is framed by credible explication from Dr. Benoit Monin, a professor of psychology at Stanford. Near the video’s beginning, Monin gives this fantastic, succinct explanation of the relationship between anonymity, information technologies, and hate speech:

The problem with anonymity on the web is that everyone’s anonymous. It’s not just the people engaging in the prejudicial action that are anonymous: they’re anonymous, the victim is anonymous, the bystanders are anonymous. And it’s like this perfect storm of social… disinhibition, if you will.

Although “Gaymers” focuses on the problem of hate speech in both online co-op and within the internet-centric gamer culture, the video concludes itself optimistically. After all, as Monin points out, the technologies that facilitate anonymous hate speech and actions are the very same technologies with which we create safe virtual spaces for other communities.

“Gaymers” was recently added to Current TV’s continuing rotation of viewer-created programming, so congratulations to everyone who participated in the video’s making. You can chance across it in syndication on satellite or cable, or you can watch it online here.

One response to ““Gaymers” now playing on Current TV” »

  1. Cody W. says:

    Great story. That’s one thing I’ve run into a lot on Live, people spouting slurs and offensive slang non-stop. My only hope is that the little file complaint button actually does its job in the long run. Or better yet, maybe the people on the other side of the mic will have a moment in their lives when they suddenly realize what they’re really doing and, hopefully, change their ideas of the world.

    Or maybe I’m too optimistic.

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