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The degradation of online discourse: What can we do about it?
You've all been there. You're playing Halo on Xbox Live, and some 12 year old calls someone who killed him the N-word. Did you call him out on it? Did you sit there silently, wondering who else would say something? After that comment, did the game degrade into trolling and bitching instead of being something you were playing for fun?
To give a personal anecdote, I was recently kicked from a League of Legends team. One of my team members called an enemy player a derogatory term usually reserved for middle eastern people. I called him out on it, saying that's not cool and I really don't think language like that is appropriate under any context. After the game, the team leader pulled me into a separate channel and stated I would not be allowed to play on their team any longer. In a situation such as this, where there are definite negative consequences for standing up for your beliefs, what should you do? What if you were working, and your boss said something offensive? Do you stand up for it then?
Here is a snippet from an article from Gamer Road decrying racism in this context:
There’s a trend in online gaming when user communication enters the mix. It’s not new, by any means, but has gone on long enough: the flamboyant use of derogatory names being thrown about as carelessly as a backpack when a kid gets home from school.
It’s such a common nightly occurrence on games like Modern Warfare or Halo that it’s quickly actually passing as acceptable behavior. A game ends, and the insults start to fly. At first it’s about cheating or how someone spent the whole match camping in one spot. Soon, though, it tends to quickly escalate to offensive names.
What can the gaming community do about increasing racism and homophobia? Should companies take an active role in ferreting out offenders and banning them? Should they use word filtering software that prevents certain words from being used? Or is this the way the internet is and we should just accept it?
Let's also take this a step further. Is it okay for offensive language to be used in a joking context? Are you, by using the word jokingly, "taking it back"? Is it okay to joke about things like that, even if the person on the receiving end might take offense?