When racism and harrasement are tolerated in a video game community

For the first time in 25 years of gaming I am ashamed to be a gamer. When you are called a social justice warrior for pointing out racism, harassment and hate speech in the in-game chat of your favorite video game something is very wrong.

The game I am talking about is Dirty Bomb and it is developed by London-based developer Splash Damage. It is a free-to-play multiplayer shooter with a small but dedicated player base. I have been playing Dirty Bomb for the past 2 years and never had any real trouble with the community. In every online game there is the occasional troll that trash talks in chat or voice chat. But in recent months there have more and more people that moved from trash talk to harassment and straight out racism or hate speech.

I am used to people who want to put things into multiple body openings of their opponents mother. I don’t care about allahu akbar jokes or how often they can cum over their keyboard. I don’t care about called a nazi because I am a German and used to it. But when people use the n-word in chat and in voice-chat multiple times I cannot look away. When people call their opponent a jew that should be gassed it is not funny. And if the turkish guy in my team is called a camel-f***er it is also far from funny. And dont ask how many times in the past week someone was called a fag or gay and that needs to be shot on sight (IRL).

But to my surprise when I pointed this out on the official Dirty Bomb subreddit that is monitored by Splash Damage people were fully okay with all this. They said “But it’s the Internet. Grow Thicker Skin™.”, “Where I come from n-word is a expression of endearment” or “just mute them”. I was just starring at the screen and tried to comprehend what people were saying. They said racism, harassment and hate speech are just part of the internet and I should look the other way. When it comes to racism and harrasment being a coward does not solve the underlying issues.

I cannot image that any of those people would go into a public building in the US and greet the first Afro-American they see with the n-word. I cannot image that any of those people would go into an Israeli embassy and tell the officials that jews should be gassed. And I cannot image that you would go into Turkish store and call the staff camel-f***ers. 

To make things even worse there seems to be a consensus that it is allowed to say all those things in a video game because it is just the internet. How can something that is not right (or even not allowed) to be said aloud in a bar be okay when you type it on your keyboard in your living room. It is still a real person that has these thoughts but instead of saying them aloud in a bar it gets screamed into a microphone or typed on a keyboard. There is still a human being responsible for this.  

That the community defends this behaviour is wrong on so many levels that I honestly don’t know what to say. And when I asked Splash Damage the developer about this I got a standardized answer that said they are happy about my feedback about the game. – They didn’t even read the email because it had nothing to do with their game.

I decided to leave this community, to uninstall Dirty Bomb and write this short blog entry. I have not looked away and I will no longer support a company that tolerates racism and harassment in their game.


Update 2017-08-17: Someone sent me these post from the steam forums: Toxic community? And a steam forum post similar to this blog entry  where people that dont want racsicm ingame are called “crybabies”.

Update 2017-08-18: I changed the name of this post to make it less offensive against Dirty Bomb as a game.
And another recent reddit post complaining about the constant use of the n-word.
And another reddit post where someone was called the n-word.

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2 Comments When racism and harrasement are tolerated in a video game community

  1. Isey

    Nice post and more people need to rally against this. Digital communities need to be treated like real communities, as you rightly point out in your real world examples.

    It’s why I quit Overwatch.


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