Three Words I Said To The Man I Defeated In Gears Of War That I'll Never Say Again

"I raped you." If words could lynch someone, then this was the moment for it. The post-game scoreboard said I had technically won, so I'd shown them all, right? No, no I hadn't. The avalanche of trash talk was one thing — you play online enough, you come to expect it — but the laughter, the laughter stripped meaning from my victory. The laughter made me feel like I was shrinking, like I was in danger of disappearing at any moment.

Again.

"I raped you."

The words weren't coming from them. No, they were coming from me. Me. The rape survivor. I was the one saying those words, which now hung tremulously in the air after they failed to find a target. Shaking, I got up from my seat and turned the Xbox off.

At one point, those three words were a little girl's parroting, an attempt to puff my chest and make it seem like I was tough enough to roll with the rowdiest, nastiest of them all. I, too, was one of the boys — see?! It almost seems like the words crept up on me, really — I can't tell when I started using them, but they quickly became a part of my daily language. I didn't win things, no, I 'raped' them — raped people, too. The phrase became compulsion, knee-jerk.

How did that happen? How did I come to sling that idea, which was of the worst experiences of my life, so nonchalantly at others?

I've been raped a number of times, by a number of different people. It was always different, but it was always the same in one important, crucial way. Rape, in my personal experience, was the literal manifestation of a power dynamic. My aggressor was physically assaulting me, yes, but more than that, he was 'metaphorically' subjugating me. To rape someone, after all, is to lack respect for someone as a human being enough that consent is no longer necessary.

I know that. And yet...

That match. Something about it made me break. For them, this was just another milking match in Gears of War 3 where one poor sap — that'd be me — decided to brave the odds. My teammates had abandoned me after a lacklustre first round in an attempt to protect their precious K/D ratio. They were convinced that the other team was superior, so it didn't make sense to waste time with a hopeless match. Might as well take the penalty for leaving a game and go find a match where we stood a chance, instead.

I couldn't leave though.

Like teabagging in Halo, a new, unintended dynamic arose in multiplayer: players would take downed characters and pretend to rape them.

For starters, I'm an extremely competitive person — in this ranked gametype, I was one of the top one hundred players in the world. They'd seen that to start off. That was the reason that I became a person of interest, someone to look out for just in case I posed a threat. Once the pre-game banter made it obvious that I was a woman, it was like Sam, my character, now had a bullseye painted across her forehead. A decision was taken: they were going to make an example of me.

Fine. While they were busy homing in on me, going for the kills, I'd go for the objective. This happens all the time regardless of game; while a team is too preoccupied with something stupid, I'd just stay focused, play it straight and win. Whatever.

There's something 'special' about Gears of War, though. When you don't fully kill someone, they go into a state called 'Down But Not Out.' This state is when a character model goes on all fours. Like teabagging in Halo, a new, unintended dynamic arose in multiplayer: players would take downed characters and pretend to rape them.

Playing games can bring the Jekyll out in many of us. Well-mannered, sometimes meek friends in an intense setting will transform into someone else, temporarily. They'll don an entirely different demeanour, and spit disgusting, vitriolic words with passion, with gusto. The more ridiculous the string of words, the more amusing it could be when you stop to listen to yourself. I mean, most of the time, its 'harmless', just a natural spirit that arises from competition.

Or, so I wanted to think. It's easier to not feel accountable for your actions and words when everyone is doing the same thing, isn't it?

And me, there was something about my experiences with rape that facilitated the way I acted, too — not that I was aware of it at the time. Here's my deep dark secret: after the rapes, I felt completely worthless. What the hell did I care anymore? I had already been broken. I didn't feel like I have a reason to push back against 'rape culture' because I wasn't worth fighting for anymore. Who gives a shit?

So yeah. I "rape" things. What of it? What are you gonna do? That was my attitude. It wasn't until a friend heard me say it that everything changed.

"I raped everyone."

Playing games can bring the Jekyll out in many of us.

I was smiling, but when my friend looked at me like I had just murdered a small child, the smile vanished. Oh.

Oh.

Crap. She was a rape survivor, too, you see. I understood, then. Everything fell into place. Maybe I didn't feel like I was worth anything, maybe I didn't value myself anymore, but this friend, she was dear to me. I loved her. I needed to change what I said — if not for myself, for her sake.

Back to that match. As my friends left, it became easier and easier for the other team to gang up on me — and why wouldn't they? Not only did they want to make me feel less than nothing, I was the only one left. The rest of my team were mindless, aimless computer-controlled AI. Ideally, the match would be entirely against AI, because that made it easier for players to boost points online — the bots are too dumb to provide any resistance. Boosting would help improve their rank, so many players try to make entire teams leave if possible. So this was their attempt to try to make me leave, too. The fact that I wouldn't just leave made their resolve that much steelier, made them that much bolder.

So there I was, my counter steadily rising as I was winning, but I was almost perpetually surrounded by an entire team of players who decided they'd take every opportunity to pretend to rape me. At first, it didn't phase me — the rape thing was a normal part of playing Gears online, really. Hell, even I did it (!), sometimes. It's kind of a part of the 'culture', as problematic as it is to say.

Matches didn't usually take this long, though. The other team was good, and as proficient as I was, there was only one of me. After a couple dozen grating 'sessions' of it, I was wearing down. And that wasn't all; they were sending me messages, too, asking me how I liked it, egging me to leave.

I refused.

Instead of backing down, all the theatrics just made me that much more determined to win. I was going to show them. They weren't going to get the best of me. And on the chance that they still beat me, I'd walk out feeling like the better 'man,' because I stuck it through instead of cutting and running like my friends.

I tried sending messages back to them, to let them know my spirit was still in it. I took every opportunity to perform 'executions' on them, which are lavish, indulgent QTE kill sequences. An arm ripped off here, a head golfed off there. I wanted to express my superiority in the 'right' way. See, I was trying to be better about the way I carried myself in games. I was in the middle of finding alternatives to the things I said online, and was trying to stop performing the pseudo-rape, too. I wanted to do right by the people I cared about.

One of those players got under my skin, though. The ring leader. Towards the end of the match, all I could feel was anger, but Gears of War can be a frustrating game on its own. It was after he sent me a message of himself cackling, that I snapped. That was it. I found him, cornered him, and, screw it all, I wanted to make it clear to him that he would not hold power over me. I downed him, and instead of mercifully killing him, my character raped his.

That unnerved me. And when I won, I was so disheveled that I wanted my words to feel like lacerations. I wanted my voice to burn them through the headset.

"I raped you. I f**kin' raped you."

What I said is troubling, especially because the way I was saying it, I wanted to make it clear the sentiment wasn't figurative. I wanted them to have some vague semblance of the actual experience: that was just how upset I was. I wanted to make it clear that I had destroyed them, because that's what rape represented in my mind. Someone destroying someone else.

And when I won, I was so dishevelled that I wanted my words to feel like lacerations. I wanted my voice to burn them through the headset.

But they just laughed. It didn't mean a thing, it wasn't something that would 'register' or even something that could be used against them.

The power dynamic was already set in place before the match even started, and it wasn't in my favour. Trash talk makes it obvious that the implicit understanding of the language of dominion isn't just sexualised. It's gendered. That power struggle is culturally understood to be a man versus woman thing, even though rape doesn't just happen to women. Most of the slurs of choice point toward the same thing. Someone is a bitch, they're a faggot — feminine — and if you beat someone, then you raped them. The imagery there for most of us will be the same: a man physically assaulting a woman, not the other way around.

That's the tragic thing about rape and its surrounding culture. It's not just that it's so potent as an image of power dynamics, but that that potency also has the ability to pull even survivors like me into using it against others. It's not just what I did in Gears of War. There's plenty of other things that I've been guilty of in the past, before I started giving a damn — like slut shaming, like thinking that a woman could 'ask for it'.

I can't help but ask myself, then. Who really won that match? Me, who completed the objectives successfully? Or them, who, despite as hard as I tried, made me complicit in the rape culture that has taken so much away from me?


Comments

    Great article. Perfect.

      I have to disagree, it doesn't really go deep enough into either area to really make a statement beyond: rape is bad, and so is it's video games manifestation. I agree, but... I wanted more from the article?

      I feel like this is more of a cathartic piece for the author, than something readers can truly gain something from reading.

        I feel like I gained something from it.

          same here. good to know i am not the only one who finds this sort of banter unappealing. just glad i haven't succumb to using it

            this is why i mute xbox live. as a gamer since the 80's my first trash talk started in quake. then it was all 'i will gib yo ass'. at the time it felt like nothing but trash. these days its all so harsh and frankly disterbing.

            +1 love the article

        I agree on the point of catharsis, but mad props to Patricia for seeing the relationship between a serious and important topic in overall culture and gaming culture. Cultural language and lingo reflects how we think, but it also determines how we think.

          No, no it doesn't. There is a strong correlation between language and conceptualization. There has to be, as words are merely symbols for the communication of concepts. However, concepts are multifaceted and the same symbol can be used for a different but similar concept. A gamer shouting "I raped you!" does not generally mean to imply achieving dominance on par with the physical act of rape. Rather, it's a hurtful expression relating to dominance that's utilized because of the highly emotional trash talk that occurs in gaming. It's an awful thing to say and can be truly hurtful (as it was in this case) but rather than being an implication of misogyny or an acceptance or trivialization of the very real and very tragic event it's simply an extension of the deadening of human sympathy that comes with anonymous interaction. The phrase is momentous to Miss Hernandez because the symbol relates more directly to a different concept of rape but it's misleading to imply that the use of this particular phrase within this context is formatting a thought pattern that accepts or glorifies rape. In the same way that "I owned you" is not meant to imply or cheapen the concept of slavery "I raped you" is a particularly nasty piece of trash talk that has no relation to the actual concept of rape. In short, it's a nasty thing people say when they're in a highly emotional but anonymous situation-rude certainly, cruel perhaps, but not indicative of cultural misogyny.

        You seem to be coming from an assumption that an article should be telling you something. Always. Whereas I would argue that an article like this doesn't necessarily have that intention. Occasionally, the intent will be to incite discussion rather than simply inform. To that extent it's clearly a success.

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    I heard this story doing the rounds on Kotaku.com, here's hoping us Aussies can do better than our USA counterparts did and show them the good sides of gaming culture when responding to articles like this.

      I think any difference in response is just an example that a tone has to be set some where. KotakuAU is a smaller community, microcosm of gamers and the like. Folks fall into line to the ground rules that are established here. (Most of the time.) Weird to think that as a whole gamer culture is warped. :P

        I disagree with what you said, not for what you said, but simply because you said it.

        How's that for falling in line, huh!? SQUARE!?!

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          This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      and then if dawn it was to say, have you heard. When Sibelius burnt his compositions one night, head full of whiskey

        Good to see a fellow Townes fan

    Wow. Just wow.

    I applaud Patricia for this deeply personal and slightly harrowing insight into not only the way we play games, but the way we interact with other human beings through the medium. The impact of our actions online are rarely felt (or at least talked about) in the way it has been discussed here. Thanks.

      Agreed, not a topic people are usually bold enough to try.

      Also, it's what she's talking about here that makes me never, ever, ever, ever use a headset while gaming. Regardless of whether it's on my PC, or XBL. The childish crap some people scream over the net is ammunition enough to write a thesis on.

        Yeah, mob mentality never ceases to amaze me either. Humans are screwed up. :S

        same here. the only reason i play ME3 MP is because its not necessary to have a headset. if more then one of a group has a headset active, i don't join. i don't want to become part of the 'crowd' so to speak. i don't enjoy trash talking but gaming culture has a way of working itself into everyday life. best to avoid joining in in the first place

    This... is a weird article. It's both intriguing and, well, sort of silly, in a way. Maybe if more was developed, and if were on Feministing and not Kotaku...

    It deals with a serious topic and a trivial topic in such a messy way. I'm not sure what to think of either issue, by the end of the article.

    I can see what the author is trying to do, but it doesn't seem to be working, at least for me.

      I think part of the point of it was that the 'trivial' topic is not as trivial as so many people believe and that maybe people should be a little more sensitive about the trash talk that is taken as a given in gaming culture.

        agreed. trash talk isn't trivial, and many don't realise that

      How can you say this is "silly"? Or that it doesn't belong on a gaming site, but only on a woman's site? That's such bullshit!

      Rape culture is not silly, it's perpetuated against every woman alive constantly every day of her life. You don't understand that, apparently. It is a constant, daily attack against a fundamental part of half the population of the planet. It affects every human because it affects how we treat each other.

      This is not a woman's issue to be relegated to a lady website. It's a human issue. It's a gamer issue. It should be read everywhere until people with opinions like yours that rape culture is "silly" have the good sense to be ashamed of them.

    that word doesnt have very good meanings, or etymology.
    Perhaps you should switch to saying anther word, which you actually used in your article to describe your feelings, and state of gameplay. "Dominate" would be a more appropriate term, and far less offensive?

      That would be the far less offensive term but the fact is they are trying to shock and offend.
      This is sort of touched on in the article, the point could have been made clearer and with time I'm sure Patricia could have but I am glad she wrote it in the more personal and emotional style. To get an idea of what the feelings of some-one like her are at that time and place was a much more interesting experience than if she had taken the time to wrote 20 different drafts and feminisminise (It's totally a word) the message

      The thing is that while the word "rape" is emotive, I felt that Patricia is attempting to impart that it's more than just the use of the word, rather it's the attitude/(un)thinking that underscores it's use and how it is received. The substitution of another word such as "Dominate", is likely still 'gendered' to the majority. While admittedly less offensive to some as you point out, it doesn't alter the underlying concept or attitude of control or destruction, and therefore raises the question - is it really much of an improvement?

    I have a theory about this.

    In a FPS multiplayer match, death is devalued. Destruction is mandatory and non-permanent. In essence, the humanoid avatar (standing in for a person) becomes a sack of meat to whom nothing permanent can happen. In that sense, words like 'rape' and 'murder' are effectively downgraded to trivial things, as they no longer represent the kind of real-world destruction that Patricia alludes to.

    Great article.

      And when you combine an adrenaline charged competition, the anonymity of distance and online communication, readily available headsets, and the immaturity of some (not all) gamers, the development of such hurtful language and hateful smack talk becomes almost inevitable.

      Yeah, I don't play any multiplayer but as an outsider it always seems that you check your humanity at the door. No story, no emotional connection and no incentive to be decent to the folks around you. I'm sure that's pretty simplistic and doesn't represent every game, but that's how it seems sometimes. I wonder if you were encouraged to cooperate more, look out for each other if this sort of trash talk would disappear. Who knows. :S

      I agree that death is devalued, however those words do represent that real-world destruction to some people, Patricia included. The truth is, people on the internet not only devalue 'death', but they devalue empathy for others and they devalue themselves. It comes with the territory of being anonymous, IMO.

        Should have clarified that I am one of those people who still believe the words have great power to harm. Was just trying to explain their prevalence in the context of gaming.

          I don't disagree with anything you said, I realise you were just pointing it out and trying to reconcile why this even occurs. Again, it comes back to the fact that as an anonymous person on the internet you devalue not only words, in-game death and other anonymous internet users, but you devalue your own person. You take away from the fact that you, as a moral and ethical member of the human race, treat others with respect and dignity for in the real world, not doing so leaves you at an obvious disadvantage. When that disadvantage is negated, through anonymity, the value of your person no longer matters because your person does not exist. The next conversation you have at a bar with a stranger, they will never know that you told some kids on the internet to "get f*d" or "you raped their pathetic asses" or whatever. The separation between your online self and your real world self is really misunderstood I think.

          The Jekyll and Hyde thing is a good way to explain this. A lot of people are much different in real life than their online alter ego's. Thus, this problem in gaming culture is near unavoidable, for now.

      strongly agree. the whole point of the fps is to kill, deathmatches being an orgy of simulated mass murder. responsibility is waived so its only natural that every other scummy facet of human nature
      would surface alongside it.

      Reminds of of something that Jenova Chen said in an interview back when Journey came out. He suggested that the reason people act like dicks online is because that's the only interaction the games they're playing provide them. I.e. when you all you can do in the game is act like a dick to other people (shooting them, stabbing them, punching them, whatever) then that tends to feed into the rest of their behaviour resulting in the kind of offensive trash talk that is so common, especially in shooters.

      I played through Journey again last night, met a companion who was with me for most of the 2nd half of the game. We couldn't kill each other, hinder each other, insult each other etc etc. All we could do was either help each other out or go our separate ways. The only real communication came at the very end when, just before my companion and I walked into the light together he/she made the effort to draw a little heart in the snow with his/her footprints as a way of saying "thanks" or "goodbye" or whatever. And that was it.

        You might have a point there. I remember there was a suspiciously high amount of high fiving and hugs in Portal 2 co-op. :P

        Wow, that sounds awesome! And you have hit on something I didn't realise about my multiplayer interactions: that I get much more satisfaction out of facilitating and helping than I do out of dominating and subjugating. I thought m distaste for any sorts of trash talk was just the product of very uanaggressive personality, but now I realise I just find helping so much more fun. Before I quit mmos I usually give all my stuff away... Invariably those are the moments I enjoy enormously because its fun to make people happy. Absolute props to Patricia for her stark honesty about self revulsion. I ask a little disappointed that she tried to participate, but I know the feeling of wanting to fight fire with fire. Fantastic discussion

    Hmm, 2 thoughts.

    1. Wow what a gutsy article.

    2.
    What the *hell* happenned to online FPS culture since the late 90s?
    I was there in 1997, playing Quake via 33.6k modem. Then - it was Half Life deathmatch.
    There'd be the occasional bit of trashtalk, but nothing like 'gay' this or 'rape' that, all the time.
    Thank god I don't play any recent console FPS titles.

      Barriers to entry significantly lowered and more kids started playing.

      I think what happened is that it went mainstream.

        Yeah, I think this is it. Back then, mostly shy nerds played videogames at all. It was a geeky hobby not the kind of almost-a-sport competition that it is today. Today, the grunts that would have laughed at you and taken your lunch money when they heard you played videogames back then have found a niche, specifically in fps where they can continue pushing their "might is right" attitude with even less consequence than in reality.

      I have a feeling it's got a lot to do with sheer numbers, back in the quake/hl 1 days there wasn't a huge amount of players and most people sort of stuck two one or two servers that they liked, this usually lead to regulars knowing admins/being admins. and in turn this lead to the servers being quite well moderated and idiots were dealt with in short order.

      These days your lucky to see dedicated servers with really any form of moderation/administration (on games that support it) and most players know that the chances of getting banned for abuse is almost nill as is their chance of seeing the same players again.

    I don't think someone saying the word rape to another person in this context is adding anything to the "rape culture" what the flying fuck is rape culture anyway?

      The fact that you're so willing to easily dismiss the connotations of the term rape hint to the fact that our (gaming) culture has become desensitised to it's meaning, and the intention behind it's use. That is what rape culture is - the subversive acceptability of such a loaded term of power and subjugation.

      In a face to face competition, you probably wouldn't go up to your opposition and say it. And if you did, I would think people would be appalled. Gaming culture is different, and the growing acceptability of such terms is basiclly rape culture.

        Actually I dismiss the 'I raped you' crap on games pretty easily and I'm certainly not desensitised to it's 'meaning', and don't ever assume that anyone ever is. You have no clue as to what they have had in their life.

        Don't make assumptions about what I would and wouldn't say to people's face. Thanks.

        I just don't understand why people are using the term culture. A few people saying the words now means that gamers are creating a culture of people insensitive to rape? Bullshit.

          Gamer culture is not being defined as a rape culture, although the use of the word in such contexts does contribute to it. Rape culture is the normalisation of one of the most traumatic experiences in some peoples lives. A lot of rape survivors might find the word triggering and the casual use of the word to be trivialising their experience. In addition, rapists themselves can see such jokes as an implicit support for their actions by normalising what they have done. There is a fantastic article on I think it is Shakesville, rape culture 101, which you should check out if you want to know more :)

          TL;dr: the use of the word culture refers to culture at large, the use of rape in casual conversations, the prevalence of jokes based around rape and the tendency of people and the media to victim blame, rather than being an attack on gaming culture, which while implicated in such conversations, is only one small part of a very big picture.

            I don't buy it. I don't think this lady has done anything to add to a culture that sees rape as OK. I don't think that culture even exists.

              As I said, see Shakesville for a fantastic breakdown and introduction to rape culture. While no one would admit it, we do live in a culture that implicitly excuses rape. How else can you explain to me the fact that when a woman is raped, often people focus on what she was wearing? How else can you explain the prevalence of the phrase 'they were asking for it'? How else can you explain the seeming acceptance of the fact that you WILL get raped if you go to jail? I have honestly read articles which dared to imply that an 11 year old girl was tempting the gang rape she suffered because of the fact that she dressed older than she looked, as if that excused the horrific things that happened to her.

                If this culture exists, then i've never seen it. I've never heard of any person gamer or otherwise say someone deserved to get raped for any reason.

                  Then you clearly have not being paying much attention to the way that sexual assault cases are treated in the media. The most obvious and disgusting example I can think of is an article published in the New York Times, aka supposed a reputable and well-regarded news source, where an 11 year old was gang raped and the piece took the time to humanise the assaulters and wonder what drove them to it, and included a long description of how the 11 year old dressed older, with short skirts and makeup , and flirted with boys. Because that clearly excuses it.

                  http://www.shakesville.com/2011/03/today-in-rape-culture.html

                  Few people would ever overtly say that being raped was the victims fault, but the implications are there for anyone to see. You can't tell me you have never heard someone say that she was asking for it about rape or domestic violence. Or that you've never heard that a prostitute cannot be raped, which is of course not true. The objectification of women dehumanises them and makes it easier to treat them as objects and less as people. Not by the majority of the population, obviously, but by those who are inclined to rape and murder.

                If someone walks through a dangerous neighbourhood while waving a wad of high-denomination bills around, and they get mugged, we'd consider them foolish for taking such a risk, and it might even reduce the sympathy we feel for them. But that doesn't mean that we consider the mugger to be any less culpable.

          The fact that you say "a few people" shows how disconnected are you from reality, or rather, immersed in the "culture" (call it any other name if you prefer,) that most of it hardly ever register as background noise. Go and get in any multiplayer (the more people participating the better) fps and carefully pay attention to the slang used. Perhaps you'll then notice how prevalent it is the gender-specific usage of verbal violence.

            I'm the one that's disconnected? Grow up, you think people limited to FPS online games are creating a culture? Yea, sure.

              Rape culture is not something limited to video games. It exists everywhere.

      Rape culture is explained very clearly in the article but there's a big wider internet about if since you don't seem to get it.
      Did you read the article? It explains very clearly what rape culture is and how it is pervasive in gaming culture.

    I admit I'm a bit confused here. To help add context to the article, was the author actually raped once in real life or is she purely referring to rape within the context of video games?

      Perhaps you should read it again. The author clearly states she is a survivor of several rape attacks.

      "Me. The rape survivor"

      There's your answer.

        That's what I initially thought but then she goes on to say things like "I’ve been raped a number of times, by a number of different people." and that leaves me a little confused. Either she's incredibly unlucky or she's not talking about real life rape.

          That's the part that got me too, glad I wasn't the only one!

            And this is the part of the article where (for me at least) the author lost credibility. She may be trying to bring to light how inappropriate this is but how she conveys is doesn't resonate with me very well.

            She didn't survive rape attacks at all.
            What she 'survived' was trash talk, slurs and belittlement.
            Having known real life victims of rape, to even infer that she in some way shares the feeling of a real rape victim is highly offensive and disrespectful.

            I can understand the reaction and feeling that the word is supposed to trigger but let's keep things in context - she survived a personal attack in a video-game. Yes, semantics and definitions can be argued but if she really understood the generally accepted definition of the word 'rape' and met an actual - real life - rape survivor I daresay she wouldn't be calling herself one.

            Gaming culture and the language and attitude have devolved into this pathetic trash talking and I see most of that coming out of North America and it influencing gaming culture globally. It is for these reasons (and the fact that it breaks immersion in the game world for me) that I avoid Vent / Teamspeak / other type of voice interaction in games.

              Uhh, she IS a real rape victim.

              "Rape, in my personal experience, was the literal manifestation of a power dynamic. My aggressor was physically assaulting me, yes, but more than that, he was ‘metaphorically’ subjugating me. To rape someone, after all, is to lack respect for someone as a human being enough that consent is no longer necessary."

              I don't know how much more black and white she can be.

              Wait a second. Are you saying that she wasn't actually raped?

              "Me. The rape survivor"
              "How did I come to sling that idea, which was of the worst experiences of my life, so nonchalantly at others?"
              "I’ve been raped a number of times"
              "Rape, in my personal experience,"
              "my experiences with rape"
              "Here’s my deep dark secret: after the rapes, I felt completely worthless. "
              "survivors like me"

              I think that pretty much solidifies the fact that she has been raped. Which makes her a real rape victim. Ergo, she shares the feelings of a real rape victim.

              Your poor reading comprehension is second to your offensive stupidity. I knew this was going to be a rough topic to discuss, given the gravity of the act in question, and you can see by my other comments that I have remained civil and constructive.

              But you can fuck right off.

                Unnecessary to bring that language into it bro, even though the overall tone of this argument has been negative. You are just reinforcing the negativity with that. I understand that Amused's opinion may not be your own but I think his/her opinion largely stems from misinterpretation of the original article. Not necessarily comprehension or stupidity. By swearing and whatnot, you will just reinforce the misinterpretation and create an unnecessary argument. There is no need for the personal attacks.

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            Being a child. That was circumstances enough for a lot of survivors.

          Many women are raped more than once in their lifetimes. This isn't at all confusing. It's just depressing.

    I read this piece over at Kotaku US. Some of the comments over there were less than mature and intelligent. Here's hoping the Australian audience is more thoughtful in their replies.

    Rape culture in gaming is a topic that I think needs to be addressed. Tentacle Bento had a big target painted on it recently, with some people suggesting that it trivialized sexual assault. The comments made regarding Catwoman in Arkham City were also called into question regarding their offensive nature towards women. This article is also going to get a lot of attention, which makes is clear that this is a big issue for the gaming community.

    When 'rape' is used for a synonym for 'dominate in competition', I think we have some problems. I'm not sure if those who spout the word as part of their trash talk actually realize what a horrifying and abhorrent act they are invoking, especially when they (probably unintentionally) target rape survivors. And if they DO know exactly what they're saying - Well, I think we have an even bigger problem.

    A lot of gamers are working to show those who exist outside gaming culture that we aren't just foul mouthed, violence addicted males with a preteen mentality. Unfortunately, the ignorance displayed by many gamers does nothing to help forge some kind of legitimacy amongst the larger population.

    This issue isn't going to go away. It needs to be addressed.

      agreed. it has gotten out of control in some areas and has slowly (but surely) become a problem that needs to be addressed. although i am appalled by the slanderous remarks, i find it difficult to think of a way in which to address the problem. good thing i play MP with others that don't have headphones.

        Indeed. The method of fixing the issue is the major hurdle here. Banning those who use this kind of horrendous language is likely to incite more drama, and quite possibly worsen the problem, with people seeing how much they can get away with or how offensive they can be, just to appear edgy.

        I cant imagine that hoping everyone will suddenly grow up and show some respect is going to work though.

        There's no silver bullet to this sort of thing unfortunately. The only solution is for people to start speaking up, to let others know this kind of thing is not okay. I've done this a number of times and admittedly I've been quite fortunate to get quite positive responses from people when telling them they're taking things too far. Obviously not all people or communities will be quite that accepting of criticism, but you've got to start somewhere.

    Bravo, this article is spot on.

    Being in a relationship with a survivor, you quickly begin to understand just how inappropriate terminology like this is outside of a counselling room. It really has no place in gaming.

      I just tried to "like" this comment. Took me a moment to realise I couldn't.

    I've always disliked the term "rape" when used to describe an accomplishment in a video game. Therefore I never use it.

    I dislike the term "gay" as well, although there is a kind of alternative spelling "ghey" that's floating around...while it's not THAT much better, at least an effort is being made to distinguish between the two.

    You can probably make the same argument about "pwn", or "own" too really.

      There's nothing worse in the world than leet speak. :P It's a whole new level of awfulness when sites like News.com.au use 'em in their articles. :S

        It's not even "leet" speak though that's the problem. "pwn" obviously derived from "own", meaning to dominate or conquer. Goes back to the times when a slave was "owned", "conquered", "dominated" by his master. I can understand how some people may take offense to that.

        The word "gay" meaning "bad" or "stupid"...ie "Haha that's so gay". Once upon a time, before there was really any connotations of sexuality attached to it, "gay" meant "happy". The word now seems to have the totally opposite meaning.

        This is the culture we now live in.

      i always saw "ghey" as a way to mock people who say "gay", kinda hypocritical

        Nah it's just an alternative spelling to mean "bad" or "stupid", although it's not an accepted term or anything.

    I don't understand this article, was this person really raped? Are they just referring to dying in gears of war? Is it all a metaphor? Can someone with better understanding clear this up for me?

      Yes, she was really raped. No its not a metaphor.

      The term "Rape Survivor" is used to describe those who were victims of rape.

        It just seemed to switch back and forth a lot with her saying something like, I was raped multiple times, then I raped this guy in the corner.

      its about how terms like 'rape' have become trivial in gaming culture. they use it for the shock value and for me at least, its the reason i don't play online with a headset.

        That makes sense, the first thing I do in any online game is disable all VOIP.

    One of the reasons I generally play only with my friends in games.

    I've never quite understood the no girls allowed attitude people have to games, I care more about the person having my back and helping the team than I do about their gender and sexual orientation. That being said the person whose personality appears to be there sexual orientation annoys me no end. I don't want to hear about it; constantly; unless it specifically relates to how to get the enemy flag to our base or whatever the objective is.

    i'm not gonna kid myself, i do say "raped" in video games, but never over the internet, only when i'm playing a LAN or something with friends. i don't like that i say it, and have been trying to stop, but it's quite simple for that 4 letter word to slip out.

    Anonymity gives people license to behave in ways they rarely would in real life. It sucks, but when it comes to playing online you may have to be more pragmatic and only play with people you know and trust. The kinds of people who wouldn't use such language.

    People blurt out stupid things in the heat of the moment. We've all said things we wish we wouldn't have. The best we can do is be aware of how our behaviour and language affects others. It'll probably take awhile, and not everyone will want to participate in that way, but it's a damn sight better than going along with or turning a blind eye (deaf ear?) to behaviour like this.

    Wow, this has really got me thinking. I don't use the term in games but as a gamer I know it's "in the vernacular" and so I have used the term in general discussion to mean "being totally owned".

    The point this article has raised is that I could have seriously upset someone (without realising it) who may have been *actually raped* in the past. I think I need to seriously adjust my vocabulary.

      exactly but i all people outside of gaming culture, whether they have been raped or not, would be greatly offended by the term. some have been desensitised towards the actual meaning behind it and the reactions people have when it is used in such a manner.

      its easy enough not to start, but it will be harder to break free

    It took a lot of guts to write this publicly, I hope it inspires a lot of people who casually use that kind of language to never speak like that again.

    I was told once that almost all women, at some point in their lives has been either raped or sexually assaulted in some way. Sometimes when you try so hard to move beyond something, be tough about it, laugh about it, you really don't realise just how much of an effect it has had on you. Great piece, thanks for sharing.

    I think that in gaming culture has an entirely different meaning to the word rape in reality. Of course, you're playing GoW online, so you're going to get people that aren't part of gamer culture, or the culture of the word in that particular game is completely different.
    To me the usage of the word has always been defined as something like "besting a player on fair terms"; so like spawning and then being killed by an asshole with a sniper rifle. I'm sure that this is the way many gamers see the word, and not the literal and formal meaning.

      "on UNFAIR**" Bah, typing faster than I can proof.

      but its that sort of attitude that can ruin it for others. people using rape in that context don't realise the implications of what they are saying. groups of players that the writer of this article are referring to ruin online gaming for others with this sort of insensitive dribble. there are other ways to say "besting a player on unfair terms" instead of rape.

      rape is defined as domination, but it has no place in banter between players

        Language changes based on how it's used. In gaming culture the word rape has a completely different meaning to the term rape in regular culture.
        Words only have the meaning bestowed upon them by a particular culture. If we all agreed tomorrow that yes would become the new no, yes would mean no in our particular culture. To any outsider this would be bizarre, or even offensive, but to our group it is not.

          "Language changes based on how it’s used. "

          Yes, and the most common meaning bestowed upon rape has nothing to do with video games in the slightest. There are plenty of other words you can use in place of it.

          "In gaming culture the word rape has a completely different meaning to the term rape in regular culture."

          'Gaming Culture' isn't mutually exclusive from the rest of society. To pretend otherwise is naive. Gamers live in a world among other people, and most people live as a gamer and a person in society, a society where rape is, quite rightfully, a despicable action.

          the meaning has not changed like you suggest, just the object to which it is applied has changed. it can be used to describe "an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation" in games but its the people who used it and their reasons for using it that's an issue. its use to shock ,offend and anger which isn't acceptable in public, so why is it in the gaming community? because the anonymous people let loose because they think because they can't be identified is ok to run riot. it is becoming like many curse words. people are desensitised and are not offended by their use. is the word rape going to be added to that list? well i hope not. in 5-10 years i am walking down the street and rape is used in that context, i don't know what i would think.

          what does that say about the gaming community and in particular anonymous online MP when this sort of behaviour is seen as acceptable? its not just about the words used but general behaviour as well. its one reason i rarely play MP unless no headsets are used and the players aren't out to have fun.

          now saying that there are those that can use it and don't intend to cause harm. but there are many who don't use it this way and their the ones that need to clean up their act.

    I had one of those moments when I was in game and while I was often an offending party, this time I was just consuming the chat floating by. Then I realised objectively the conversation was along the lines of 'rape' 'ghey' etc etc. This immediately kills any interest when participating in a community based game. As such, I just walked away, and stopped.

    Recently I picked up Tribes Ascend. During the beta it was the fans, the guys that were Tribes 1 experts. The conversations were constructive. Voice commands of "that was graceful" and "thanks" consistently happening. It felt great to play even if you were losing.

    Then came open beta, then general release. Now it's full of voice commands of "is that the best you can do" and "awwww, too bad" ... instantly the game shifts from fun, to frustration, and then the chat. It has gone from advice on how to improve, to "learn 2 play" comments. These comments aren't directed at me personally (well, not most of the time), but it just means all of a sudden I'm participating in a culture that is of no interest to me. In summary, fuck those guys.

    I am guilty of saying it. But that's only on vent, to people I am friends with in real life (not that that really excuses it at all) and never in the open or over public voice channels.
    This topic comes up a lot, so it is obviously a bigger issue than most people take it for. In fact, Mark didn't you do an article about similar topic?
    I seem to remember linking to this before http://web.archive.org/web/20110726010006/http://treebarkjacket.com/2010/10/05/habitual-and-negligent-intolerance-or-how-i-came-to-realise-that-i-enable-bigotry/ (my girlfriend's blog which has since been hacked and only lives on cached on the internet)

    God damnit. We were doing so well.

    "i’m usually not one for blaming the victim, but "...

    Do you know what this sentence means? It means the words that follow are going to be you blaming the victim. Which should never be something that one does.

    It's not like people advertise the fact that they are a rapist, then you make a decision to take the chance.

    I could berate this comment for days, but I wont. Just think about what you're saying.

      Apparently the comment I was responding to has been removed.

        Maybe LOTS of comments have been removed and in reality Au is doing really shit :p

      I love things like that
      "No offense but..."

        I'm not a racist but... Everything that's wrong with the world is caused by non whites.

          Meh its a good thing. Learn to hate and the world gets alot simpler.

        I'm not racist, but..
        I'm not homophobic, but..
        I'm not sexist, but...

        People should realise that the "but" negates everything in the sentence before it.

          Everything before but is bullshit!

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