As I have a quality that leaves me open to be the victim of verbal assault with some regularity, someone recently said to me, "And you're active in the video game industry? Good luck. I mean it--don't let them drive you to suicide."
I happen to be transgender, and I make no secret of that when it is relevant. It's not something I go around shouting to anyone who will listen, but it is something that I refuse to hide, because I'm not ashamed of it. When a conversation makes its way toward homosexuality (I am a lesbian), transgenderism, women's rights, and the like, I speak up, because all of these things affect me in one way or another. While I'll surely rant about all of these issues one day, anyone who isn't a gamer and who knows of the "horrible behaviour" of gamers is usually stunned that I choose to remain part of the community.
However, that's because they don't understand gamers, which is a result of information coming from the media. Gamers are not anti-homosexuality, racist, or anti-transgender, regardless of what the media would have people believe. I have told countless gamers that I'm transgender, and they have never replied with an insult, and if I happen to say that I'm a lesbian, the response is usually, "That's hot," or something like that—it's never been met with something offensive.
To gamers, these are non-issues, and irrelevant when it comes to individuals and how they are treated, and that's the crux that eludes the media and those who derive their worldview from the rantings of the Press. Gamers don't care in the slightest what my sexual orientation is, or whether my gender is more or less complicated a matter than most; it means nothing to them. Everyone gets the same insults thrown at them.
When a gamer shouts what we'd normally think of as a homophobic slur, they're not doing it because they hate homosexuals. In fact, by and large they have nothing against homosexuals. To be totally honest, I've been known to throw such words around myself, and it has nothing to do with homosexuality, which South Park pointed out years ago. When a gamer uses a homophobic slur, they're not thinking, "Oh, that's a homosexual." They're just throwing an insult; sexual orientation has nothing to do with it. Gamers aren't homophobic; they just like pushing boundaries.
These are my people, "Mainstream Media." I am a gamer, and I love my fellow gamers to death. I've been called all sorts of things probably hundreds of times, but it's always irrespective of orientation and gender, and that's the point non-gamers aren't grasping.
A few months ago, I made a joke to a friend that was pretty messed up, and we both laughed about it, because it was a joke. He knew that I was being intentionally offensive, and that the joke was intentionally offensive just because. That's the way gamers are: we're offensive, we know we're offensive, and that's why we're offensive.
The media wants to paint gamers as a bunch of racist, homophobic, sexist bullies, and nothing could be further from the truth. Most gamers grew up being picked on, being called nerds, and being otherwise bullied. A lot of us are overweight, a lot of us have self-esteem issues, and a lot of us are timid in person. Gaming is, and always has been, our refuge from a world that has consistently bullied us, primarily because of our hobbies - so it must be understood: gamers aren't throwing insults at dainty little flowers with soft skin and easy-to-hurt feelings. Gamers are throwing slurs at battle-hardened warriors who have endured systematic bullying from virtually every other element of Western culture; very few parts of Western entertainment have not insulted "nerds" at some point.
"If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch."
On that matter, gaming entering the mainstream also brought in a ton of "Bro-Gamers" who don't understand why such taboo insults get thrown around in gaming. These Bro-Gamers came in, joined the Ventrillo Server, heard the insults, and we could almost see the euphoria shining in their eyes. "Oh, wow!" they cried in unison, cheering. "We can say anything we want here! [Omitted—use your imagination, because we all know what was said here]"
It's true, though; on the Internet people can say whatever they want, but these people can be identified a mile away. Bro-Gamers use the slurs because they think that the anonymity gives them licenses to be ignorant jerks. Other gamers use the slurs because we consider nothing sacred, despise political correctness, abhor censorship in all its forms, and just enjoy pushing buttons.
It cannot be overstated: gamers loathe censorship. The media would be immensely surprised to discover how deep gamers' hatred of censorship actually runs. Gamers tolerate censorship from no one and for no reason, and restricting words because they're taboo, or being held up as holy things that can't be used is a form of censorship. Gamers use those words to spit in the face of censorship and those who support it. Don't believe me? Browse the Steam Greenlight forums and look at some of the more terrible games, and find the developers that are deleting negative feedback. Gamers revolt against censorship.
The use of these insults has nothing do with whatever characteristics someone might have. Yes, Mainstream Media, and everyone who gets their information from the MSM, I am a transgender lesbian and proud member of the gaming community. These people you call hostile, homophobic, racist, and sexist have more respect, tolerance, and acceptance for me than any other community in the world, and they prove that because every individual is fair game to be called every insult in the book, regardless of their gender, race, orientation, or religion—it doesn't get more "equal treatment" than that.
The gaming community is remarkable. You just have to take the time to understand it.
Note from the author: The use of "gamers" in is not meant as every single person who plays videogames. Instead, it implies that "gamer" refers to "gamers who use the slurs." In order to avoid the article being monotonous and repetitive by constantly saying "Gamers who use these slurs..." each time I had to reference gamers, I opted to use an ellipsis and omit the qualifier. The qualifier, however, is still implied, because the article is not talking about gamers who don't use these slurs, and at best applies to the gamers who do.