Link: Homophobia and Harassment in the Online Gaming Age – XBL feature – at IGN

This, plus the rampant racism, is part of the reason I hate playing online with people I don’t know. The other part is when little kids call me a bitch.

A little competitive banter over text or voice chat is all but expected when gaming with strangers. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to play games online without encountering derisive homophobic comments or other hateful speech. Homophobic slurs – whether intentionally derisive or not – have become ingrained in the lexicon of many gamers, and the level of outright anti-gay sentiments and harassment tends to multiply substantially when other players discover there’s a gay gamer in their midst. For the average straight player, one person spouting homophobic obscenities can ruin the experience, but take a moment to consider the impact this can have on members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender gaming community.

Part of me wonders why it’s necessary to define your sexual preference while playing online. There’s a small minority of people who do this. Rarely do you hear something like “Hey, Zapper22, you guard the base door while I take the flag. They’ll never see it coming. Also, I’m gay. Let’s do this!”

But you can’t really deny that one’s sexuality doesn’t play some part in defining their personality.

I suppose that’s beside the point, since the harassment exists whether or not this actually happens. Muting people used to work, but that was before a time when this behavior was the norm. Now it would be easier to mute everybody by default and only unmute people you’re friends with.

Which is a pretty shitty solution to the problem, but nobody has a better idea. Microsoft can’t reasonably be held responsible for the disgusting and hateful behavior of others, can they? They can set up policing controls, but it’s clear that the inmates are running the asylum.

No matter who you are it’s become necessary to define small groups of people you know who you actually like to play games with. That’s quite a shortcoming for a service that connects people all over the world.