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Why Dyrus said sorry for using the word rape

By Iris 'Mydnight' Z
May 9, 2012 21:33

ImageWhy did Dryus apologize for the 4-letter word that begins with R and ends in E? Why should the League of Legends community take up his example and refrain from using such slurs?

We’ve all heard it before—the gloating using this 4-lettered word after a particularly one-sided 20-5 game. This is why when Dryus of TSM apologized in front of thousands of viewers for using the word after winning the championship, Summoners were thrust into a community-wide soul-searching. The word under contention, "rape," and many like it have become, for better or worse, an indictment of gaming culture as a whole. Are these iterations merely something every gamer should just put up with, since we spend our free time hacking away and killing one another in the fields of justice? Or is this indicative of a community which needs to adapt to the changing demographics of gamer as a whole, more sensitive to the needs of those doesn't fit the "teenager in mom's basement" stereotype?

One fact is for certain: that stereotype of the average gamer simply isn't true anymore. According to Entertainment Software Association’s 2011 study, the average gamer is age 37. 42% of gamers are women, and women 18 and older represent a greater portion of the video game playing population than boys 17 and younger. These facts confirm what gamers have knew mostly all along: we are a diverse crowd. As League of Legends tries to raise its popularity among mainstream gamers, this trend will only continue. To appeal to this more diverse audience, casual and professional players of League of Legends alike will have to transcend a culture of harassment, misogyny, and immaturity and embrace a respectable level of professionalism and restraint.

ImageThis the face of 42% of all gamers. Respect your sisters.

While many players have the entitled attitude that everyone should simply develop a thicker skin when playing MOBAs, others are simply ignorant of the fact that words like "rape" and other problematic slurs have a cost that far outweigh the benefits of their use. When Dyrus' fan came up to him at IPL4 to request him to stop using the word, she or he was probably speaking up for the 1 in 6 women who have been a victim of rape. Consider the possibility that you may know a victim who hasn’t disclosed her status to you, even as a mother, sister, relative, or good friend. It’s not only women who may bear this burden--men can also be victims themselves or close to a victim. Then consider how many complete strangers you have queued up with who you will know little beyond their ability to last hit and position in team fights, all of whom have a decent chance of being a victim or know someone who is. To hear the word "rape" thrown around so casually by professional gamers, friends, and strangers who have never experienced the horrific trauma for the sake of making a metaphor for dominating a video game is tone deaf at best, triggering at worst. In a culture that already trivializes rape, the continued use of this metaphor trivializes the experiences of rape victims. Do we really want to consider ourselves among the ranks of American right-wing political pundits like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh?

We should also examine critically our use of slurs. While the Dyrus fan did not mention other words, we know the common ones usually thrown around when a player starts feeding and the game starts to look bleak: "f-ggot, n-gger, gay, b-tch, r-tard" and all kinds of homophobic, misogynistic, ableist, and racist language comes forth even from the most mild-mannered players. Most of us would agree that using any sort of insults, even mild ones like "noob," deserve to be called out as shameful and detrimental to our gaming and community.

But using actual slurs, even in jest, takes it one step further. You have no idea if the person you have called a f-ggot for giving first blood has been the victim of gay-based bullying growing up. You can't know that the person you called a r-tard for dying to golems while jungling has a developmentally disabled sibling who is the frequent target of such insults. Just like the rape metaphor, you can never know who you may potentially hurt.

Some gamers may protest that this is an insidious part of gaming culture that we should just accept if we wish to participate. Is that sort of reputation we want to establish for League of Legends? In a world where people are still killed for not being white walking through a white neighborhood, gay people still fight for the right to marry each other, and a person becomes a victim of sexual assault every two minutes just in the US alone, do we really want to defend those slurs that do nothing more than make us sound immature and uncreative in our insults? League of Legends already has a poor reputation of having a bad mannered playerbase. We should be striving to move beyond verbal abuse and harassment every time a newbie decides not to uninstall, not defending its worst elements.

Thankfully, some push-back has already generated change within the gaming community. When competitive fighting gamer Aris Bakhtanians defended using "Rape that b-tch!" at a match, he was rightfully admonished by some of his peers and the sponsors of the show he was featured on. Gaming groups such as /r/Gaymers on Reddit and League of Girls have cropped up to provide a somewhat-safer space from the outright vitriol and inconsideration from the larger community. Even Dryus admitted in front of thousands of viewers that he would commit to becoming a better person by refraining from using rape metaphors. This positive step should be one toward a series of many that will change League of Legends to more professional and inclusive gaming community. You, too, can be a part of that change, by respecting all gamers. Start now.



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