Friday, December 2, 2011

Racism in Online Gaming



The issue of racism sometimes arises in multi-player settings. It is easy to conclude that someone else's bigotry should not prevent any player from playing or enjoying a server. Many companies have de-facto language barring racist language as do many servers. Nevertheless, racist language will be used by players in game chats or VOIP talk.

Obviously, a certain amount of psy-ops occurs in many games, but the racist language seems over the top. The language is certainly distracting, but is also deeply offensive. In addition, there are certainly many ways of being distracting without resorting to racist language. Battlefield Vietnam contained an excellent use of psy-ops that matched the game with its broadcasting of anti-US propaganda in level without being racist.

When another player uses racist language, an admin might kick them or players may respond to them. Interestingly enough, in many cases I've noticed the team with the racist tends to lose and I'm wondering if some of the players on that team sabotage the efforts or simply do not fight as hard.

Jean-Paul Sartre did not necessarily view racist speech as an opinion at all. Sartre felt that prejudice cannot be an opinion since an opinion offers legitimacy. Sartre felt the appeal of the prejudice was in its impenetrability. Sartre felt the appeal was a simplicity that provided stability and certainty- the bigot does not have to struggle with thought.

In societies like the United States, freedoms of speech are generally protected under sunshine theories- that is society wants to know what other people are thinking so it can take actions it feels are appropriate. It is felt it is better to have an open awareness of prejudices so that we can monitor the prejudiced. Suppression of hate merely pushes it dangerously underground and lulls social systems into a false sense of security. In a day and age when so many environments are speech sanitized, the expressions of racism in games serve as a reminder that racism still exists- which may motivate anti-racist actions.

That being said, laws prevent public accommodations from any form of racism. A pub server is in many respects a public accommodation. When a server promotes racist sentiment, it is much more serious than if an individual player did it. Servers that promote racism also reduce the gaming environment as good players who are offended will not play there. There are enough places with racist expressions and gaming need not and should not be one of them.

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