I wish I was joking, but another bout of sexual harassment against women creeped up this week (only days after the Might No. 9 fiasco). This time in the form of an indi video game a woman is trying to get green-lit to Steam. The game is about depression and is just suppose to help people understand what it’s like living with it, and for this “grievous” action she’s been the target of harassment campaigns. She’s received harassing phone calls, death threats, her personal information and addresses posted for everyone to see. She’s had to change her phone number to stop the harassment, and even pulled the game originally to try and calm this crap down.
Bravely, she’s decided to post it anyway and is trying desperately to showcase how awful, hurtful, and disgusting our gaming community can be when we stay silent.
You can “justify” your reasons for hating her. You can convince yourself that sending her harassment and hate messages is for the “greater good.” But you can’t convince me that the amount of hatred and psychological damage this harassment campaign is producing is ok. I’m so sick to death of anyone thinking that harassment is acceptable behavior towards ANYONE, male or female, for whatever reason.
There’s the old saying “don’t feed the trolls,” but I’m beginning to fear that this is a complacent statement. That by ignoring the trolls we are indirectly encouraging negative behavior because they know they can get away with it. And I think that needs to stop. I’m beginning to think we need to show the world how sick and disgusting this behavior is. To point it out and make everyone AWARE of how shitty the internet has become. And you know what? If that means having to regulate the internet somehow... I can’t say I have much sympathy for what little freedom we might lose in the process.
I’m all for free speech, but free speech isn’t a “get out of jail” pass for shitty behavior. It is not a magical shield you can hide behind so that you can throw out racist, sexual, or offensive slurs at whomever you’re angry at this week. We don’t tolerate harassment in real life at our jobs, in social environments, or between friends... so why should we tolerate it on the internet?
I’ve been asked a lot what the difference between giving “honest” criticism and so-called “trolling” is. And this is a fine example. This is trolling. No ands, ifs, or buts about it. This is not criticism. This is outright harassment of a independent developer trying to get her game greenlit on Steam. A game that would (if you didn’t like it) have no impact on your life one way or the other. A game that should succeed or fail by it’s own merits and not because a group of people don’t deem it “worthy” enough to be allowed to even EXIST.