The GamerTag Series Part 2: Achievement Counselors

This situation is ironic in many ways, but not the least of them is the fact that even their tormentors were, at some point, Newbie gamers themselves. The hypothesis has been promoted that the newest crop of miscreant -- there seems to be a new one every few months -- are merely exercising the very same behavior that they themselves faced in the past, and there are even fancy labels that have been created by psychologists who study the phenomenon to explain how emulating that behavior is a very typical survival reaction, with some experts suggesting that by the time these bullies reach the point where they are themselves part of the problem, they have lost sight of the pain that they experienced and that they now cause for others, seeing it as a natural element of the landscape for modern online gaming.

Alternatives and Survival Guides
This practice of hazing and harassment is so widespread and anticipated in online gaming that advice for the new -- and female -- gamer can be found all over the web, right down to survival guides that echo the same basic set of strategies:

-- Be Discrete and Do Not Call Attention to Yourself: This one is perhaps the Golden Rule in survival for online gaming and the new gamer -- it isn't fair to have to change how you play and what you do online just to not be harassed, true, but when you are dealing with a bully no matter what the environment, any actions you can take to prevent them from identifying you as a newb are worth taking.

For girl gamers a basic element of survival in online gaming is to disguise the fact that they are female, because it is not just the bully that presents a potential bad experience for them, it is almost any male gamer... Call it what you will, the presence of a girl in an online game tends to evoke one of two reactions from the element in online gaming that is the source of most of the strife: misogyny or sex-desire.

The sex of a gamer shouldn't matter -- when you are good, you are good, and the issue of whether your plumbing is tucked away inside of your body or dangling outside should not matter, but for a lot of male gamers it does. It has been suggested that their dislike of being beaten by a girl gamer is a major part of their motivation to hate on girl gamers -- we don't know about that, but what we do know is that announcing that you are female in an online lobby while waiting for a game to start is probably the surest way to ensure that you get the sort of attention you do not want.

-- Use the Player Review Feature: The player review feature on Xbox Live was engineered to help gamers in building lists of the gamers that they want to avoid -- people who have demonstrated that they are part of the problem, and not part of the solution. By flagging them as undesirable in theory the gamer can reduce (but sadly not prevent completely) the likelihood of encountering them again as an opponent in an online game.

The creators of the world of Xbox LIVE subtly acknowledge the existence of those hostile elements by building into the Player Review mechanism not simply an avoid option -- which is critical -- but also include a complaint mechanism in which the gamer can more or less anonymously file a complaint against the offending player they wish to avoid. The admins on LIVE are aware of who filed a complaint against who, but the miscreant being complained about is not. When enough complaints are lodged against a particular gamer, that gamer can (and often will) find themselves banned for a period of time and, if after the ban expires they continue to behave unacceptably, end up having their GamerTag permanently banned -- an event that many new gamers say does not happen enough.

-- Play With Your Friends: Probably the easiest way to avoid the jerks and bullies is to simply not play with them. Skip matchmaking and stick to group play with your mates and you avoid almost all of the negativity in that environment.

-- Join a Grrl Gamer Group/Site: There are a lot of them; sites and communities that are made up of girl gamers who play together, organize group play times, and appear in numbers large enough so that only an idiot would try to harass one of them considering that they are, thanks to this organization, a minority at the moment. Many of the girl-centric gaming groups exist as a reaction to the hazing and harassment that is so commonly experienced in online gaming, so if you are a girl gamer, this should be a serious consideration.

-- Join a Tribe or Guild: Newbie gamers who have skill can avoid a lot of the hassles, harassment, and hazing by legitimately being able to add a tribe or guild tag to their 'nym -- many of the jerks out there in the world of online gaming are jerks, sure, but they are not stupid. Harassing a member of a large gaming group is a good way to find yourself on the hate-list of the hundreds of gamers who are also part of that group, a situation that can (and often does) lead to the bully experiencing the sort of harassment they are more familiar with when they are the one dishing it out.

Posted: 18th May 2012 by CMBF
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