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

Three Words I Said To The Man I Defeated In Gears Of War That I’ll Never Say Again
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.


“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

    • 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.

        • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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. 😛

      • 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.

      • 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 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?

      • 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.

          • 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.

        • 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’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. 😛 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.

      • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

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

    Jekyll was the cultured one; Mr Hyde was the animalistic one.

    • that aside, still a valid point. i got to stop and regroup when i start getting angry at a team mate. they can’t see everything and i am there to help them when i can, not abandon them in times of need

  • I completely agree with the article, and the problem applies to many areas, not just rape.

    The more a term or attitude is portrayed in any kind of culture that is not as serious as the topic, that topic become trivialised – even if only by a tiny degree – and the more trivial the medium, the greater the result if we as a community accept it. The more we are exposed to it, the more desensitised we become, until eventually the original impact of the topic is masked by the new context.

  • Sorry but if you bang on about ‘raping someone’ in any forum (online/offline/whatever) then your immature and messed up to being with. If you’re a semi ‘normal’ person (even using that term extremely loosley) you don’t go on like that whatever environment you’re in.

    • that’s what anonymous gaming has caused. they can get away with it in the gaming environment where the banter can get out of control. no moderation like forums or everyday life

    • This is quite a silly comment because the way you dress does not enable or give permission to people to rape. Are you saying that she “deserves” it if she dresses a certain way? If so, I really think you need to step away from the conversation and educate yourself a little more on the issue.

    • Erm… I can’t believe you opened a comment like that with ‘no offence’ as if that somehow makes what you’re about to say any better. Do you really think she was asking to be raped, no matter how she dressed?

      • Also, the notion that women should have to walk around in ski masks to prevent themselves from being raped is ridiculous, offensive and is an incredible insensitive way of ‘blaming the victim’ for whatever happens to them.

    • i just don’t know what to say in regards to your ‘comment’. rape can happen any time, any place to anyone no matter how they look, dress or act

  • It’s not really your fault. The human brain is designed to assimilate language. Playing online, you hear this sort of language often, and eventually it just slips out. It’s just the way it works. Now, it obviously does not absolve us of using offensive language, but it will take a concentrated effort and lots of self-monitoring to prevent it from happening.

    Obviously, for you rape has a different meaning than for most of us. However, if it makes you feel better, my best friend is a rape survivor and she still says “I raped you” when playing League of Legends. So yeah, my point is, relax, it’s not the end of the world, even if you feel guilty, it happens.

  • I don’t think this is the appropriate place for this. The author obviously has some issues, as well she should, I don’t mean that as an insult on any level. But this article is essentially an in depth and very personal description of how she took a video game too seriously, got too involved and ultimately began to take the slightly paranoid step of attributing personal malicious intent to her opponents. (Hint: They most likely laughed because it’s all just a game to them, as well it should be, and don’t get me wrong I know online communities can be horrible.)This is the kind of person who shouldn’t be playing this video game (in her current state of mind)(not any video games, but avoiding this specific environment). This ‘article’s’ contents is something that Patricia should be discussing with a psychologist, not as paid work on a gaming culture website.

    Obviously if people felt they got something out of this that’s good and well, I’m stating my opinion, not fact, and frankly my concern isn’t for ‘the public’ reading this in any way, it’s for the author herself.

    • I tend to disagree. What has been said here, in my eyes, is incredibly brave. I am sure that absolutely no-one asked her to speak of her experiences with rape. This is an article that sheds light on a virus that infects a lot of online gaming. For Patricia to bring it to light like she did can help people to understand what happens online and even in fact, potentially (like you suggest) to avoid these environments.

      Personally I don’t think it is very fair that she has to not play these types of video games because of her ‘state of mind’. That is another argument altogether and I think a very, very interesting one, FOR SCIENCE!

    • I’m a male survivor of real life rape, yeah i have had counselling, and gaming is my major passion in life. Judging from her realisation of rape as a power thing she has seen professionals about it.She is just discussing a thing that happens in gaming, and maybe a victim who has suffered or is continuing to suffer, (who is also a gamer) may get the same help. From writing that they can identify with. They may not feel brave enough alone. And maybe some of the gaming community thinks and maybe changes their usage of the word after reading the article. To think victims just have to blindly just accept the word no matter the context and it’s just their problem… yeah just no.

      Empathy tis a good thing

      • The thing is I don’t think she’s at the point (unless this was 5 years ago or some such) where she’s well enough that dealing with such an abusive community as online games can be well used as a form of relaxation and carthasis, as evidenced by her psychological responses to this particular event, she reacted as my 10 year old cousin might instead of brushing it off and accepting the online community is generally a horrible place. (NO NO NO does that mean I think we shouldn’t strive to change it, but her reaction didn’t further that goal in the least, in fact it made the problem worse, and NO NO NO do I think she should be attacked for that, it’s quite understandable considering her state of mind)

        As for the word itself, I’m from the school that intent is everything, not that I really want to get into the discussion/explanation on Kotaku again. Generally if someone says it makes them uncomfortable I will make an effort to try and stop using it mind you, but there’s nothing more to a word over and above a series of sounds, and the intent behind it is where meaning should be derived. It’s not all so simple, but I’m not inherently against the use of any word. (That doesn’t mean I can’t be convinced in certain cases.)

        Finally, in relation to Hermes, I did not and will not say she ‘can not’ play them, only that in that state of mind she probably ‘shouldn’t,’ because it’s only going to make things worse. And while it may shed light on some things, the forum/format/method of general delivery of such a issues could be handled in a better way, as others have touched on, the focus of this article is clearly the author’s personal issues not the issues of online communities at large.

    • Couldn’t be more wrong Sam, this is exactly the place to discuss game culture and its interactions with acceptable behaviour, imo

  • I’m not going to lie, i use the term when gaming with my mates. We say it to each other we say it about the other team to each other however we never say it to another person unless they’re one of us (friends on vent in our own channel). To us it is socially acceptable replacement for dominated. The same way that i curse incessantly with my friends yet at work i do not.
    It may be that i am an insensitive knob head but i fail to see how my use of the term in an enclosed environment only heard by others who also accept and use the term impacts others.
    I am interested to see peoples thoughts on this.

    • My $0.02 : what you say in the privacy of people you’re all comfortable with is very different from going online and blasting strangers with the same language. Ultimately (at least in a technical sense) nothing is offensive until someone takes offence.

      • Im of a similar view point. Maybe i just read too much into some comments.
        I pretty much have an argument with a friend every few weeks when he starts abusing team mates in games for being bad. I tell him to cut the crap. He can rage about how bad they are to meall he wants but no need to abuse and disrespect them publicly

    • its acceptable if your amongst friends who know what you mean but many use it to shock, anger and annoy others they don’t know. thats just unacceptable. to use such a word in such a malicious manner shows some serious issues with people taking a game too seriously.
      i also think its use in day-to-day life isn’t really acceptable either, but thats just my opinion. as patricia mentioned, the impact of her using rape in day-to-day conversations made her realise how trivial the word had become

  • This might sound insensitive but it just sounded like she took the game too seriously. Gaming is supposed to be fun. Trying to prove a point to a bunch of anonymous trolls is just a waste of time.

  • Warning: Massive generalisation ahead. A lot of people who use this language have been on the wrong end of a dom/sub trauma too in regards to real world bullying. Unfortunately in an anonymous virtual world a lot of victims try to take a bully role to take their power back and a lot of bullies continue in the way they do in the real world. The remainder either don’t stick around in the gaming community after speaking up and being shouted down by the vocal minority, or, they have thick skin and suffer in silence thus implicitly allowing the culture to perpetuate.

    Don’t usually hear this shit out of many people over the age of 25 usually though.

  • The words you use matter.

    There is no ‘second meaning’ to a word like rape.
    Don’t use it.
    Just don’t, to quote inego montoya ‘I do not think that word means what you think it means’

    If your defence is ‘but I would use this word in real life’ then you’re an arsehole in real life too. It’s that simple.

    It’s so easy to pick a different, better, more accurate word for beating soemone at a computer game. Like, I beat you.
    If you insist on using the term for no other reason than sheer bloody mindedness and a determination to be a prick then just know you’re a bad person. When you look in the mirror, realise that you’re looking at a total arsehat who has decided, CHOSEN to make the world a worse place for other people.

    • It’s not necessarily as black and white as “use this word, you are x” because as has been said through the rest of this comment thread there is a distinct desensitization in the modern world to words like ‘rape’. I wholeheartedly agree that the word conjures up images of a disgusting and despicable act, but do you think that 8 year old’s on Call of Duty actually understand the connotations of it. What about 12 or 13 year olds? I am going to be honest and tell you if someone said the word rape to me at that age, I would not at all understand it.

      Hell, even 17 or 18 year olds might not understand it. I know that seems strange but at some point in your life, you finally grow up and realise that hell, all these things I have said really DO mean something and these words have a negative effect on the people around me. Anonymity drives a large portion of this and video games give us that. Most 14 year old kids probably dont use the term rape in the schoolyard because on some level they understand that it is ‘a bad word’ but once you get them online, with no restrictions, they use it purely because it is a bad word. Not because they are arsehole’s, only because they think it gives them power.

      The argument then comes full circle and we see how rape, the word, is so similar to rape, the action when we are talking about online communities and looking at it from an adult, mature perspective. I think that it is lost in the minds of children and adolescents though.

      I hope I made sense and didn’t sound too inflammatory.

      • I see what you mean, in the sense that often immaturity and ignorance rather than ‘being a dick’ can lead to using this sort of language, to the point where it becomes habit. And I’ve seen more than once that when people are aware how much using words can hurt and offend others, they resolve to stop using it.

        That being said, using that term is *so* closely bound with power dynamics and everything that rape implies – destroying an opponent, humiliating them, rendering them powerless, sexual violence, and *so* potent as a symbol of all that, that its place in (mainstream?) gamer culture is really disturbing.

      • Exactly, which means that as a community, both in gaming and in the wider world, we should make a concerted effort not to use the word to refer to anything that isn’t actually rape. If kids don’t hear adults using it in a casual way, they won’t know the context for doing it themselves. In addition, a better education on the topic, which is massively taboo in high schools but really needs to be discussed in an educational format, would perhaps eliminate some of the casual usage when people realise the terrible and upsetting power that the word has.

    • This is false. There’s no educated way of even debating it. Language is dynamic not static, the meanings of words change, it takes literally 5 minutes on google to confirm this. Whether you wish to subscribe to prescriptive grammar or not, (that is, you wish words to remain stagnant and unchanging) you simply.can.not.argue.that.they.don’t.

      /linguistic rant

  • What I got from this article was that people don’t realise how horrible that word actually is.
    It’s not something that will ever go away, no amount of Therapy will make it go away. You will learn to deal with it, but that is about it.
    It doesn’t matter in what way you are using the word, a rape survivor is going to think of the horrible time when someone took his or her power and made them feel worthless.
    It appears that these guys were trying to do the same thing her, but via bullying. If they bullied her (which they did, it wasn’t just trash talk). They were trying to take her power of being human, of being worthwhile.”You are not worth fighting us, just leave now”, I felt like they were saying.
    I don’t blame Patricia from getting angry and invested. It was almost like being back in that situation emotionally, and this was her chance to fight back. Unfortunately, when you are that upset, you do not think with a clear head and you don’t think to report these people. They should be reported.
    Let me pose a question to you. Why should someone stop enjoying something they love because the majority are ignorant to how it affects some people?
    I think it’s good that this issue has finally been addressed.

    • I actually found that article hard to read.

      At a large family/extended family dinner about a year back we somehow got onto the topic of rape and sexual assault (lovely dinner conversation I know). I was surprised to find out how many people there Had been directly affected in some way by sexual assault and I started to ask other people I knew. I was horrified to find out just how common it is out there.

      As a result I have been trying not to use the word “raped” when describing how a game went but not very successfully.

      I suggest those people who think anyone being upset by the word are just being soft might want to consider asking the people they know. Might change their outlook a bit.

  • as a long time gears player i’m very familiar with being pretend raped when down but not out. it’s annoying and childish and not how i carry myself in gears matches. when i own (not rape) someone at gears i get the fuck on with it and if they are down but not out, depending on what is tactically appropriate i will quickly finish them off, curb stomp or do an execution. i dont do the prolonged arm bash either. it’s boring and i dont feel the need to rub anything in anyones face.

  • The meaning, intent, and change of language actually does matter. I’ll openly say here that I have used words in my game playing that have been discussed here before, thankfully I rarely play multiplayer so there I have never managed to offend someone yet (to my knowledge.) But this does create some roots, for instance: When playing a single-player game, when was the last time the computer ‘raped’ you? Especially easy to invoke when game animations get rather suggestive. It exists in more places than just conversing in multiplayer.

    Of course I have never intended my use of any language in my gaming to offend, insult, diminish, or hurt somebody in any way, and I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of people trash-talking feel the same way. The way words are used is extremely relevant, we expect everybody to use tact and be sensitive, allowing for no offense. It’s practically impossible.

    Why and how language has changed over time is important, as well as how context effects the use and intent behind the words. To bring up the old one from that other article: Gay. It use to mean ‘happy’, ‘carefree’. Became attributed to homosexuals and thanks to societies plain and simple prejudice, became associated to negativity: attributes nobody would want to be attached to. Thus, it is now widely used to refer to anything upsetting, annoying, negative. Is this fair to those who identify with the word? No of course not, but the transformation of language is apparent.

    ‘Fuck’ is a swearword, often used yet considered terrible to use in everyday language. Strangely its meaning is completely positive: Sex. Thanks to the negativity applied to sex and its nature as taboo, the word became a swear. When the meaning becomes negative “you got fucked”, “that’s fucked up” guess what? You’re talking about rape. Negative sex, the implication that when it occurred it was not desirable.

    Admittedly while it does contribute to ‘rape culture’ ( a term I believe should be changed since it currently implies that said culture condones and participates in rape rather than ignoring and desensitising it) said above, and it has the opportunity to offend those who now unfortunately identify with the term; we need to still use it objectively even when the context would make the use, not the meaning, trivial. When talking about damaging undesirable domination of a sexual nature, or actually sexual assault, we can’t soften the words. If we are actually talking about rape then we can’t try not to offend people. As an extension, when we ‘rape’ somebody in a game the word was used because the transformation of the language allowed its meaning to be appropriate. Let that sink in. We may not have actually sexually assaulted the enemy in a game, but the word actually did convey the damage of the event. Not to the player, nobody wanted to offend or rape the player, but instead the metaphor for the situation was apt. “They got fucked.”

    What about something that’s not only said, but done in games quite a lot. In game we KILL, we MURDER people. Something by all right minds should horribly offend those who have been close to violent death. Somehow the diegetic universe of games allows this and you could say we’ve been desensitised and been wholly absorbed into “Murder Culture.”

    Lastly, words have changed and we have accepted them gladly. For example: HATE. This is a negative word. We use it all the time to refer negatively to things. We use it casually. It’s an extreme version of ‘dislike’ and actually implies that what is hated is so disgusting and deserves destruction. If you’ve ever hated a bad boss then that actually implies that you wish death and misfortune upon them. But we don’t use the term to mean that any more, it is no more than an expression we use to describe a feeling applicable to the context, based on our own understanding of the language as we know it at the time.

    • But there is a difference between language like hate, which while it has insulting implications, doesn’t trigger anyone, and something like rape or gay being used as an insult. Those words target particular communities as a negative thing, which even if that wasn’t the meaning of the word in the first place, it certainly is now. Just because language can change, doesn’t mean it should.

      There is no such thing as a “murder culture” because one in 6 women and one in 33 men are not murdered. Murder is never an excusable act in the eyes of the public and the media. But one in 6 women and one in 33 men are raped during their lifetimes. And the culture surrounding rape is full of jokes about rape, victim blaming, slut shaming. When 6% of college aged men admit to raping someone as long as the word rape isn’t used, because we have such a skewed definition of rape and consent that having sex with someone while they’re drunk or unconscious, or having sex with someone who changed their minds half way through, is not rape in some people’s minds.

      Also, we are in a culture that condones rape implicitly. Victim blaming is not desensitisation of rape, it is downright giving the rapist an excuse for his or her actions. And you can’t tell me that it doesn’t happen; there’s a thread above that clearly implied that what this woman was wearing was relevant in her rape, although it has since been removed. Also the New York Times last year did a story on a gang rape of an 11 year old girl, and took the time to humanise the assaulters and ask what in the community drove them to this and the impact it will have on their families, and spent a paragraph explaining what the 11 year old was wearing and how she flirted with boys. See here: http://www.shakesville.com/2011/03/today-in-rape-culture.html. If the New York Times, a supposedly reputable news source, could write such a story, then what hope do the rest of us have.

      • Please notice that I was in no way condoning or supporting the use of the word, the act, or the aforementioned culture. WE are not in a culture that condones rape. SOME people condone rape, and other are desensitised to the WORD.

        A word like hate could definitely trigger someone. Not only can it be used as a direct insult, but using its original meaning for anything should have people incredibly upset But we don’t.

        “Just because language can change, doesn’t mean it should.”
        Of course, in fact I agree to some extent, it would make things a bit easier. But unfortunately it simply isn’t the case, knowing how and why it changes helps us interpret meanings. Language is a two way street, we need to communicate it correctly, and interpret properly. How about if I said this regardless of context: “Are you smart enough?” Depending on an unholy mix of original intonation and intent, as well as the perspective of the listener, it can be a simple question or an implied insult.

        I’m not at all interested in the argument about ‘slut-shaming’ and questioning whether women’s dress is a factor because like you I don’t believe there’s a side to take that can blame the victim if the victim is sincere.

        I’m going to say (and heck I could be wrong, it is my opinion) that most gamers using the term are not at all attempting to actually insult somebody who would be sensitive to the word. Today’s connected world and the large population in general has created a form of communication designed for attention. I’m not stating that these gamers are attention-seekers but simply language these day almost requires hyperbole and exaggeration. We now use a lot more words that are contextually sensitive and that are designed to abbreviate meanings, situations, emotions. When gamers say “I raped you” they could have arguably said “I dominated you to the point that it would be considered damaging would this have not been a video game filled with riotous horseplay” Instead the brain found the nearest single word to encapsulate the entire extreme meaning of the event and feeling that the real world provides. They would not necessarily mean to insult the other (or they could be dicks and actually be insulting) or to actually refer to sexual assault.

        Why are so many commenters here claiming to have their eyes opened and not use this word so much? Because when they used it there was no hurtful intent, any hurtful intent was not realised until the writer pointed it out. Of course we can learn to use more tact, but we also need to learn not to lynch every person who runs their mouth.

        • I have to disagree with you about the culture part: although no one would actually say that they condone rape, we live in a society that does implicity excuse many instances of rape. The existence of terms such as ‘gray rape’ or ‘date rape’ for example, as if implying that they are lesser forms of rape, or the fact that as I said many people will admit to rape when that is not the word used, shows that they do not consider what they did to be rape. Which means we are living in a culture where rape and consent are not clearly defined for many people. 1/6 women and 1/33 men is not an exception, it’s an epidemic.

          I’m not sure a word like ‘hate’ could individually trigger someone unless it is connected to something more vivid. ‘Rape’ can trigger rape victims to reexperience the rape. ‘Gay’ is actively villifying a person for something that is a part of who they are. Same with n***a for example. Whereas I don’t think ‘hate’ holds quite the same power or history as those other words. But I am willing to be proved wrong on this, perhaps the word can be triggering of bullying or something in some people and I should be more careful about how I use the word.

          I agree that language can and will change, but that doesn’t mean that it should or that people should be preferencing their casual use of a particular word above the mental health of another human being.

          My point about the victim blaming is that rape culture exists. That’s it really. And using rape casually to refer to anything other than rape itself contributes to it.

          I agree with you that most gamers are not attempting to trigger people, but surely the statistic on how many people experience sexual assault should justify the removal of the word from the gaming vocabulary? Particularly in open online multiplayer. I’m not trying to lynch people at all, and I wasn’t blaming anyone here at all who hadn’t thought about and has resolved to try not to use it now. But your original argument seemed to be that language can evolve and this has – and this is something I feel needs to be nipped in the bud as quickly as possibly, just like the use of ‘gay’ or anything else which implicitly attacks minority groups.

          • My argument using the basis that language can change was merely an effort to illustrate that fact that it is present and therefore impossible to stop. I’m not going to argue about ‘rape culture’ because it’s clear we will disagree about that as long as it’s called that. It does make it harder that rape is not clearly defined by many people: I’d argue that it isn’t clearly defined as a human concept. It makes it incredibly easy to re-appropriate the word when trying to communicate its connotation, it’s a heavy word that mean something ‘strong’ even though there are types who clearly don’t agree on what constitutes its extremity or seriousness.

            For instance: I ask you for a candy bar, you say yes. I start eating it and half-way you yell stop and claim you either never/or no longer wish me to eat it. What have I done to you? (yes I know this is a basic analogy and does not compare to human suffering, but I’m talking about the meaning of the event) What do we call what has happened? We probably don’t condone eating people’s food against their will, but each of us would have a different perspective, causing a rift between what is considered right and wrong, and somewhere along the way we’d need names and terms for both the act and the feelings we had about the undesirable candy eating. Of which might end up being the same or different words that may change exact meaning frequently.

            What I meant by hate was that if you said something like “I hate my boss” I’d go “Haha, I know what you mean” But if this was back in ye olde meaning of hate and you said “I hate my boss” it would stop the conversation there, because I’d have to assume you were willing to kill them.

            I agree that the gaming vocabulary could use clearing up but I suppose as this was a ripping good discussion my whole point was that it’s not going to happen. Language is all pervasive. It’s good of people to bring up “rape culture” spreading the awareness should help it to hopefully not be a part of societies reaction to such horrors. The use of it in language might or might not change as quickly, because a far as I know, it can’t be forced.

  • Whoever (there are a few), has said that language is dynamic – thank you for being the shining lights in an otherwise muddied puddle of PC-ness and hurt feelings.

    Mountains, molehills.

  • Amazing, excellent piece. Gave me chills. Reminds me of “Bow, Nigger”, but addressing rape culture instead of racism.

    Patricia, thank you for this excellent piece of game journalism. I’m resharing it with all my geeky friends. And thank you for reminding me why I’ve decided not to talk that way online. When everyone else out there seems to be doing it, it’s easy to forget my convictions.

  • Thanks for the article patricia -I work in a games research group in Brisbane and I’d like to follow up on some of the issues you raise in my research – would you be interested in being involved?

  • I don’t really play competitive FPS online anymore, mostly because the invading mainstream culture has turned it all into a self-worth scenario. It doesn’t matter what they’re saying to you; for many, everything they do is to somehow prove they are worth more than you. It’s not worth participating in, and it disappoints me that in so many ways it has ruined one of my favorite pass-times.

    That said, Deathmatch and CTF ran out of steam for me somewhere around 10 years ago, anyway. They were very cool when they were new, but I’d rather play Laser Tag or something.

  • I don’t want to say “No big deal,” but I think it’s important to draw a semantic distinction between “rape,” the act which was inflicted upon you, and “rape,” what you did to a bunch of people in Gears of War. You did not hold someone down and forcibly penetrate them — you beat them in a videogame. The fact that you used the word “rape” is not indicative that you’re a horrible person with a sick mind: it’s indicative of the fact that words are co-opted by social groups and change meaning over time. Gamers also say “wrecked,” “destroyed,” and “dominated”. What of it? If you had heard other gamer say “I flumblewumbled him,” then that’s what you would have shouted instead — “I flumblewumbled you! I flumblewumbled the SHIT out of you!”
    As cold and clinical as it sounds, language is a fluid thing. “Rape” does not mean to you what it means to another person. It doesn’t even mean in one context what it means in another.
    We call stupid douchebags now. We’re not implying they’re a feminine hygiene product. We’re just, yknow, calling them a dick. Which is not to say that they’re a penis. Just, yknow, that they’re kind of an asshole. Which is not to imply that they’re a bodily orifice from which waste matter is excreted…etc etc etc…
    See what I mean?

  • I might be missing the point here, but since i have stopped playing CoD and increased playing games like BF3 and GRFS where there is a larger emphasis on teamwork the amount of trash talk i hear has drastically decreased (so has talking in general). But if there is more teamwork doesnt that reinforce a group mentality? While CoD supports a lone wolf mentality. Anyway my point is that my experience of trash talk has come from lone wolf types (admittedly sometimes a group of lone wolf types) while the teamwork groups tend to be more…polite? but as clearly stated in this article it was a group that was attacking the author.
    ah i dont know where im going with this.
    Anyway great article. (I always find it strange that i come to kotaku for intelligent reading)

  • You can’t be serious. You turn an experience that apparently traumatized you into a JOKE, and then expect people to NOT LAUGH at it? God, there are better ways of getting attention. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends who are victims of serious rape/molestation and I attempt to keep it out of conversation as much as possible because I care about them, but they would NEVER broadcast it to the world. They reach out to people that they know care about them, and they certainly don’t use it as a crutch on their lives, as so many people such as you choose to do. If someone inadvertently triggers traumatic feelings legitimately, then the appropriate response is to politely ask them to keep that out of conversation as long as you’re within range, and explain why. If they refuse to, then you can take it to the next level.
    It disgusts me to see people who choose to blame their life issues on past problems and use them to get ahead rather than overcoming them and becoming truly successful, not caring who they have to shame, anger, or disgrace to get there.

  • They laughed because that was the only way in which they could find some sort of emotional rebuttal to the fact that they lost, terribly, to you. As long as there was one other guy there participating in the idiot practice of, well, just being an idiot, he/they were able to laugh and shrug of their defeat. You still won, oh trust me, you still won. A win’s a win a loss is a loss, in any medium in any competition. I can only entreat you to imagine for a moment how red jackass #1’s face would have been if it were you and 4 other female gamers. When you told him, “I raped you.”, any god would have blushed because she or he couldn’t have made their tomatoes that red. Think about if you’d still feel the same way. If they all laughed with you because of your comment. Don’t be afraid to say any word or group of words, they only mean what you have them to mean. You didn’t mean actual rape, you meant it in a game. You could have easily said “owned you”, and if you were a victim of human trafficking would you still have feel the same? Don’t let idiots bother you; they’re have been idiot gamers since Doom when jackass #2’s mods had pixelated nakedness replacing the textures of walls and doors. Although a bit funny to some, it was idiotic. I appreciate your article, but there is not a rape culture in games. There is an issue of being dumb as hell online and using the visions of artists and developers to project a new truth on top of something that originally was only a story told in a provocative way. Same with books, but you don’t here people in book clubs going over and smashing the book in their fellow-readers face after she or he finished reading first. You have them misinterpreting Lolita to be kiddie-porn intentionally to be a smart-ass.

    Say whatever you want! If you had said that to a rape victim, that would have been different, because that would have affected their feelings. Be proud of your accomplishments as humbly as possible. You should not feel dirty for saying that, it’s just a word. As a former game-developer it’s a bit sad to see the state of gaming become the face of the mainstream and forgetting about actual games from indy devs. Games used to be fun, telling a story or not. It wasn’t accomplish objective A through Shit. Find yourself playing independent games for a bit, those are actual games, and they are plentiful. The mainstream will always be distorted and polluted with the most basest of our species.

    I think it’s a rule.

  • I can understand, as a girlgamer myself, you can get into that corner where there’s that bubble of pure rage where things like this ‘rapeage’ culture can get the better of you. In CoD and Halo, it’s faggot and faggotry and vicious warcalls over the headset.

    Yes, you lost in a moral way. So does everyone that attaches themselves to that sort of culture; however you can only take a faint light away that you won the game and you got rid of some of that fury that could’ve been taken on someone closer to home than just idiot boys over a microphone.

  • And this is the point where I reconsider my entire standpoint as a gamer, and fully gauge what I’ve been doing when trash talking. Even to NPC’s. Even when my headset isn’t plugged in. Even when I’m not screaming out loud. Even when that trash talking has been in passing and after the moment’s gone I’ve thought nothing more of it. That male dominated ideal is even planted in my female mind. I feel entirely disgusted with myself.

  • I know that you & everyone in you’re position dose know this but every time I read something like this I always feel compelled to state it for myself. I am a male gamer, I spend a lot of time online & I truly hate this behavior, we are out there, & I think I speak for most of us in saying that we do what we can to be supportive. I hope you find a more dignified way to deal with the rabble & don’t allow their true ignorance to hurt you.

  • Thanks for this article, it really vindicated a lot of things I have felt present in games right now.
    I know this is a bit of a late comment but this is something really important to me. I grew up in a home of domestic violence. I had four sisters, two of which were assaulted.

    What a lot of people dont want to talk about are the stats, which are way too high. Ive had six girlfriends over the course of my 29 years, mainly long term, of which two were rape victims.

    What most people dont understand is that whilst you can heal with time, the humiliation and scars remain for life, it is one of the vilest and demeaning of acts, which is becoming far too glorified and present in prime time.

    Im not one for censorship, and if something is informative and topical, if it adds to the conversation, no particular thing is taboo.

    Within reason.
    Some of us believe the idea of free speech allows them to commit hate speech, which is different entirely, and actually illegal in Australia. There’s no such thing as ‘free speech’ here actually, and you can quite easily be sued for slander, which is why our media works so drastically different.

    To see this sort of behaviour, or name convention within games, not only breaks the fourth wall and diminishes enjoyment and aesthetic(something of particular concern to devs of such games), it is purposefully aimed at hurting and belittling people, and in this case victims of a grievous crime.

    The only people who this amuses are people of the same mindset, like the troll in chat throwing his ‘umads’, they aggravate but in the same way a non attended child at a dinner party who has just shat themselves and has started bashing pans together…
    You are annoying.. that is all.
    You aren’t funny, if you were you cold come up with a better punchline.

    The only people who ‘get it’ are people like yourselves, who you spend all day trying to troll…
    Sometimes you get people who react, at which point you mock and jeer..
    Its like some weird kind of sycophantic symbiosis, where you all circle jerk each other until you feel vindicated and like it doesnt matter that mum never looked when you screamed ‘hey no hands’.

    There is no place for this, and what you guys have to realise is that you are quickly becoming a minority as our lovely world of gaming becomes more mainstream.

    Before long, there will be legislation in place to hold people accountable for such online activities.
    You have chosen, to in a public forum, be hostile and use hate speech.
    The fact you’ve done it over a different medium to the conventional means, in a currently grey legal area… does not make it right.

    Start counting your days.
    The real majority are fed up.

  • Some people pointed it..
    That s something about PvP games, there s a real violence behind it…
    It ‘s not only about the word “rape” which can find more echo in some people than others.
    Players want to prove themself something, hurting others in the process ..but at the end of the day ,when the game is dead ,nobody cares who were “the best” …Still lot of average players,trying to have some fun have been brutalised emotionally.
    Some people take videogames too seriously, they think it s society, but you gain nothing in video game,there is not even the excuse of money !!
    They just brutalise people for they own pleasure…IT s serious.

  • The objective was to win. You won. Regardless of what you may have done or said that made you feel bad, you accomplished the goal. Taking it a step further, the other winner wasn’t the enemy team. It was your past. You shifted the blame onto them for “making you complicit in rape culture”, but we are defined by our experiences, and we are who we chose to be. If you sacrificed self-restraint for the temporary amusement of smack talking others, only to find you’re not happy with it, then it is up to you and you alone to decide if that’s who you want to be. On another note, congratulations on your impressive skills.

  • You should have told your friend to grow some goddamned skin and learn how to read context in conversation. Am I supposed to shit my pants for calling something a cancer because oh shit somebody around me might be a cancer survivor? Or avoid the word “limp” because someone near me might have ED? Well fuck, I guess I can’t joke about tits either – some stupid woman might be a breast cancer survivor who had her tit removed. You fucking pussies need grow a backbone.

    Oh shit wait I didn’t realize “pussy” might remind some whore that she has an STD. Fuuuck I said whore, somebody’s mom might have been one! Fucking get over it.

  • Oh please. You cannot expect every gamer to consider every person’s past and other BS. You are COMPLETELY blowing this out of proportion. Way to over analyze and turn this into some kind of misogynistic culture completely out of context. But you’ll probably delete this comment too, like I see alot of throughout the discussion. Don’t like criticism? Of course not.

    Suppose I shouldn’t say “blow me” or anything else out of fear somebody might be reminded of some dark deep past trauma. This article is ridiculous.

  • Omg lady….you cannot be serious. I’M a gamerchick AND a survivor. Teabagging is NOT RAPE. FYI, teabagging is when someone gets slapped in the face with a scrotum. Here’s some advice: if you can’t take teabagging (SURE, its puerile, but it is almost ALWAYS meant in good fun…my clan does it to each other ALL THE TIME) or stupid comments like “I raped you”, don’t play competitive online games! It’s gonna happen, and there is nothing you can really do about it. I have bigger balls than most men (which is saying a lot, being as I lack that particular package), and when something like that occurs, I give as good as I get. Being a rape victim has absolutely nothing to do with it. It’s usually some stupid kid over a mic. And usually, you can get them back, if you’re any good at the game. The object is to have fun…and if you feel violated, ashamed, or dishevelled in any way after playing….maybe you ought to stick to games like Minecraft or Viva Pinata…gods forbid your sensitive sensibilities be marred by us tough types…. get a life and do us all a favor: shut up before you sound even more idiotic than you already do. Gaming does NOT have a rape culture and anyone who thinks so should NOT BE PLAYING.

  • So basically an article of some chick ratting herself out for being rude in-game, and then making it out to be some big thing about how its not her, but rather the rape culture being SOOO strong.

    Chick who kind of dances around saying she was rape, in a way that would allow her to deny the claim of actual physical sexual rape, thus allowing her to use such a brutal experience as backing in her knowing what rape is and how rape culture is responsible for her one off time of basically being a childish spaz who seems to have forgotten the main point of videogames; fun.

    Shes playing a multiplayer videogame; fun…. with others, and because she decides to face off against a better team, odds she admits aren’t good, she ends up turning it into something much worse than people “raping” her in game; when you are downed they will run up and just walk back and forth into you.

    From my viewpoint, if I were a rape survivor, and I was playing with a group of people…. and them doing that was so bothersome to the point of me reliving the rape and what not, maybe idk….. tell them thats the case and ask them to stop? Maybe not pretend like these are your rapists back at it trying to get you one more time, but now in your videogames!

    Its a damn video game.

    This is an article, covering people in games who walk back and forth into downed people, or teabag them.

    Seriously? Its a [email protected]#$#$ game where you SHOOOT EACHOTHER. Where you punch grenades into someones chest cavity, or cut through their torso’s with a chainsaw attached to a gun….. and you can’t handle the teabagging?

    Honestly this I just a bad bad viewpoint coming from an obviously jaded person who Flat out admits doing what they are complaining about, except to the point they are saying “i raped you” which i would find infinitely worse than the various teabaggings in game.

    Sorry babes but just because we pwn someone and call them our bitch…. doesn’t mean we all are referring to them as females, were just referring to them as our canon fodder that mainstream society taught us was ok in our youth, Not video games.

    If you want to blame media, blame movies and television, of course then if you do that shit you begin to talk censorship of a lot of things and of course no one wants to ruin their precious tv.

    Chick goes into the kitchen even though she knew she couldn’t handle the heat, ended up acting out worse than the other team, and then blames it on rape culture, talk about an inability to take responsibility for ones own actions.

  • You really need professional, psychological help Patricia. This isn’t the place for that.
    Your immature friend had no right to shame you for using the word ‘rape’. Most people are intelligent enough to understand what ‘hyperbole’ and ‘metaphors’ are. Your take on the gamers’ reaction to being ‘raped’ by you is troubling. Clearly their laughter is part of the humiliation and insecurity at being beaten ‘by a girl’. To most, this is part of the reward, but sadly this being unsatisfying indicates a troubled mind. All the best, Brett.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!