How Racism Is Ruining Online Gaming

on August 12, 2009 10:10 PM

Gaming is a place that normally provides asylum to those who seek it. An escape if you will, just like sports, video games are a distraction or remedy that help people recover from the daily stresses of everyday life.  You get into the zone, and for that moment when you’re shooting zombies, rescuing the princess, or preparing for a raid you can forget about everything and take a lot of society’s harsh realities and tuck them into the back of your mind. Unfortunately, there are times when real- world situations or ideals follow you into the only refuge you have, and it’s usually when you enter the online gaming arena.

Now I am neither black nor white. What I am is a first generation American, with ancestry from the Dominican Republic. I don’t speak or carry myself any different from my friends whether they are White, Black, Asian or Hispanic like myself. Somehow though, as soon as I join an online game and I speak through my headset, my voice seems to set off a switch in all the other players’ minds. It seems as though, at that very moment my online tag transforms from “I NME I” and into “I (insert derogatory racial slur here) I.”  Many of the worst words you can use in real life are being thrown around online very nonchalant as if to say “hello” or “good game”. I am not exactly sure what triggers it because whether you’re winning or losing, your still subjected to it either way. You can sit there and try to say something in your own defense but more often then not the only option you really have is to leave the lobby your currently in. I can remember during the weeks leading up to the election of President Obama, playing Call of Duty 4 felt like the equivalent of attending a meeting of the Klu Klux Klan. It felt as though every single lobby I went to I was under constant verbal attack just for sounding a little different.

Here I am in real life preaching to all of my non-online gaming friends about how much fun online multiplayer games are and how they’re doing their respective console(s) a disservice by not signing on; meanwhile I’m an online target of hatred. Many people I’ve spoken with about jumping online say they don’t bother because of that same reason and the constant hatred being thrown around.

It’s really unfortunate because I feel that as great and epic as some single player games are in their own right; online community gaming is the future. Now I don’t consider myself a super liberal by any means, and even less a fan of monitoring and moderation but in this case I feel that in order for the game companies to be more successful and have online gaming reach a bigger audience, publishers and console makers alike need to step in to put protective measures in place. Both the Playstation Network and XBOX Live have a complaint system built in, but after filing complaints nothing ever happens.

So much effort goes into dropping the “ban-hammer” on cheaters who ruin the game for others, that same amount of effort needs to go into maintaining a safe haven for people who simply want to enjoy an online game without receiving constant racial epithets. Developers and publishers need to get more involved in maintaining an online community that lives in harmony by removing those that disrupt it. By doing this they’re just promoting further growth in the past time us gamers all love and share. By waiting around and doing nothing, that’s just one less person to buy their precious DLC.

 /  Co-Founder
Joel Taveras is one of the founding members of DualShockers. He hails from New York City where he lives with his wife and two sons. During his tenure with the site, he's held every position from news writer to community manager to editor in chief. Currently he manages the behind the scenes and day-to-day operations at the publication.