When I was first shown the offensive messages that my friend Jaspir received, I laughed. Their crudeness was so hilariously over-the-top that it was nothing short of ridiculous. I had been told many times by people I know and trust that online games are a wild and untamed jungle, with pictures of genitalia hiding around every corner. But it wasn’t until I was actually shown the messages that I really understood. Something finally clicked.
I thought I was alone in this misunderstanding. I figured every gamer must have already known how horrible the world of multiplayer gaming was, and that I’d only missed it because I don’t play online all that much. I figured the lewd content and insults were accepted by everyone as a hazard of the hobby – it’s just trashtalk, right?
So, when my friends and I started Fat, Ugly or Slutty to collect examples of this rude banter we didn’t think it would shock anyone. We wanted to gather all this horribleness in one place and have a chuckle about how stupid and ridiculous it was; the FailBlog of gaming.
Then, on the day that I affectionately refer to as The Redditpocalypse, things changed. Two hundred thousand people descended on the site, which overloaded under the strain, and a number of articles, blogs and forum threads started to spread the news. Suddenly, everyone was in on the joke. Not everyone found it as funny, however.
Many of the first comments came from people who, like myself, were shocked. It was only when the information was presented all at once that anyonerealised how widespread this behaviour was. Online players the world over are spewing unbelievable bile through their keyboards and microphones whenever they discover that supposedly-rare female gamer. And their spelling is appalling.
The chunks floating in that bile are usually from the same disgusting buffet. Women gamers don’t need to spend long on the site before they recognise the messages we display – they’ve received nearly-identical love letters before. They’ve already been told to ‘suck a big fat cock slut’ or ‘you fat f**king tomboy go kill yourself’ or ‘u no ur an ugly girl wen u play xbox’. They’ve come to expect this level of romance from online gaming and, of course, they recognise the jokes that inspired the 1950s-housewife aesthetic of FUoS itself: Get back in the kitchen.
Women have developed various strategies to deal with the influx of idiocy. My FUoS cohorts like to fire back with their own trash talk. Others choose to simply ignore it and use the mute button. In a frustrating self-fulfilling prophecy, many people are under the impression that nothing happens when you report bad behaviour to online moderators, so they don’t bother.