Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sexism, misogyny, racism and bigotry in Android:Netrunner

As I write this my computer is quietly dinging at me every few seconds to let me know that new comments are appearing on a post on the Netrunner Facebook group. I started to write a long response of my own when I realized that it needed to be longer than just a few words.

The original post the person made isn't that important except to say that a commenter made a casually sexist remark and then defended it by saying that he was joking.

I love Netrunner. It's important to me. It's the first game in years that has gone from being just a game and into full fledged hobby for me. Part of what attracted me to it was its diversity. In the game, Runners come from all over the world and are often not male. Hell, they even have a 'Natural' tag (to differentiate from genetically modified, cyborg, etc.)

For all intents and purposes, I'm a straight white male. But having been an outsider in other ways for much of my life, gaming is something that I *need* to feel is inclusive. Netrunner became a beacon of maturity and thoughtfulness as well as creativity and theme and it wasn't hard for me to step into the role of a league and tournament organizer, which I've been doing for more than a year now.

I'm proud that we have plenty of people who aren't white men in our league and that we held what may have been the first Ladies Netrunner event.

That said, I've had to deal with sexism in our league on two different occasions and I'm here to say that I have absolutely zero tolerance for that shit and if you love Netrunner, you shouldn't tolerate it either.

In both cases, I had female players approach me and detail an uncomfortable situation. In both cases I asked what I could do to ensure it didn't happen again to them specifically. I also sent out a general email detailing my lack of tolerance for any kind of sexism, bigotry or other ugly behaviors.

The reason I'm writing this is because it's important that we call it out. Loudly. Call it public shaming. Call it whatever you want. It needs to be called out because it is corrosive, divisive and deadly to the community and the game. Netrunner is too important and too good to let it be dragged down by backwards, outdated thinking.

Netrunner is a game about the future and it's a game that portrays a role for all people in that future. I want to play Netrunner with everyone - straight, gay, Ugandan, Russian, female, male, cis, trans - everyone, except assholes.

So, I'm challenging all of you Netrunner players to either stand up and call this shit out...or quit playing my fucking game.

8 comments:

Niclas said...

Thank you.

My thoughts exactly, but put in better words and written out loud and clear.

Keep doing what you're doing.

Jaggerbyte said...

As a well know idiot I have said many things that offend ( ironically hetro white males ) I have greatly improved however and now cause unintentional confusion. Which normally end in laughter when it is resolved. I still slip now and again but so far everyone has been great and helppes me correct bad behaviour on my part.

Silver said...

So by your own admission, in the various events you run this has been brought to your attention twice. The issues are only described as being uncomfortable, which gives no indication as to what happened or if that feeling was justified. Whatever happened you made sure we knew you handled it and then made sure we knew you protected those maidens' virtue.

Yes that's what someone does as an event organizer, only you do it for everyone, not just women. Oddly enough I was looking through this post for the racism that the title of the article claimed would be found in what you have encountered and found nothing unless you qualify your own mentions of "white men" as racism... which I would but I am sure you have a reason why you don't.

I can get a "one time is too many" mentality on actual bigotry, but the offense culture that infects people now is ridiculous. From all I can see you posted this to get pats on the back for your heroic stand either against things everyone is already against (if this is real bigotry and not petty offense), or incidents of petty offense of a protected group you try to twist into a mountainous issue, either way your the kind of self aggrandizing/petty offense pushing asshole I don't want running my game (because Netrunner would be as much my game as yours)

When you make posts over-blowing an issue of two incidents in the thousands or more you must have overseen (assuming you are a frequent and active event organizer which you seem to suggest you are in the article) and promise more bigotry in your title than you can bring up in your article you kill your own hobby a little for your own ego.

So please... quit playing my fucking game.

Unknown said...

Seriously?! Ignoring bad behaviour won't change anything. Nor does this short opinion piece come across some sort of hyper political correctness. Did you expect a long detailed list? It's a call to take a stand and about making that stand. In fact it comes across as less of ego inflation article because he doesn't go into minute detail. If I'd been one of those ladies who'd spoken to him in confidence I wouldn't want the details spread far and wide. I think it's considerate.

People like you who are always willing to play devils advocate and assume something is minor rather than be cautious annoy me. You make it harder for people to be heard.

Warp said...

Seriously?! Ignoring bad behaviour won't change anything. Nor does this short opinion piece come across some sort of hyper political correctness. Did you expect a long detailed list? It's a call to take a stand and about making that stand. In fact it comes across as less of ego inflation article because he doesn't go into minute detail. If I'd been one of those ladies who'd spoken to him in confidence I wouldn't want the details spread far and wide. I think it's considerate.

People like you who are always willing to play devils advocate and assume something is minor rather than be cautious annoy me. You make it harder for people to be heard.

Silver said...

Where was bad behavior ignored? It was addressed. If this is an actual issue and not this guy patting himself on the back for doing his job then yes I would expect a long detailed list of it occurring enough to be a problem worthy of even a "short opinion piece". Perhaps you think my own gripes are minor but are they really not also allowed to have an even shorter opinion piece? No, I get it. I get where this is coming from. As you say it's a call to take a stand to this guy and your particular brand of morals or sexism and racism, i'm simply not drinking your kool-aid and that can't be tolerated because it annoys you. You are fine to post your even shorter opinion piece just like I am.

Why would the ladies whose anonymity is fully preserved have any actual damage done to them even if he had said what happened. It's not a courtesy and if there is an issue that would make a strong less simply self aggrandizing short opinion piece. If that is the kind of offense we are saving people from then and definitely think this guy deserves no credit for simply being a human and doing his job.

Rude people are a problem, regardless of the manner they are rude in, if the title had been about rudeness rather than suggestions of actual sexism, racism, and bigotry in Netrunner, then he probably has enough evidence to support that, but he went for buzzwords and hot topic issues and hasn't show them.

Also get your head straight, this isn't a devil's advocate. Not once are actual sexism and racism are acceptable. Everything I have seen and everything that this opinion piece brings up falls far short of that line by a large margin. I will question anyone who makes such claims just like anyone should because the opposite is fundamentalist totalitarianism.

You are the dangerous one, you are the one willing to assume every molehill is a mountain. The author of this post probably had to deal with some actual first hand problems which will make them seem more important because they had to deal with them. I would like him to be more careful in the allegations he throws in the future, but I can understand this came from a place of righteous frustration, not rationality. So instead of backing the indignation, i'm opposing it.

If that annoys you... tough. He still gets heard, you still get heard, the people experience actual problems still get heard.

Argent said...

Silver, I'm going to hazard a guess that you're a straight white male. If I'm wrong, please pardon me. In the interest of fairness, so am I. The culture in gaming has become so pervasively sexist that women have trouble even getting involved in the past time. I understand that you feel like gaming is your turf, and that you should be able to act in a way that you see fit, but the truth is simply that sexism (which is really what we're talking about here) is ALWAYS unacceptable.

There's one exception: When you're in a close group of your friends, and everyone is okay with the jokes you're making. Even then, I would never be one of those friends, but at that point, you aren't directly harming anyone.

At events like the original poster mentioned, would it be acceptable for a stranger to make a whole bunch of jokes based on someone's race? Of course not. Would it be acceptable to make fun of a homosexual simply because they were gay? Absolutely not.

Equally, making fun of someone because of their gender makes someone feel unwelcome because of something they cannot control, and did not choose.

It doesn't matter if it happened once or a thousand times. That number SHOULD be zero, so if the number is any higher than zero, someone is WELL within their rights to complain about it. Telling someone to "Leave my game" because they're endeavoring to make a game a better place for someone else.

One final point - The original poster didn't necessarily say what he did for recognition. That's not the only reason people do things. If that's how you see the world, then I feel very sorry for you, but please don't project those motives on to a stranger that you've never met.

Mike Wellman said...

I'd honestly like to know what was said. I'm being told to accept, at face value, that the comments were sexist without being allowed to judge them for myself. When you open a debate, but then (through lack of information) put yourself in an unassailable position of "I'm right and you're wrong"... that's not a debate, and isn't conducive to solving the underlying problems that are at the center of the debate. I don't know how many people in our culture are actually willing to argue that sexism is ok... but there are plenty who may or may not see certain comments as sexist, and thus that's where the real debate stands.

Further... handling interpersonal disagreements like this at the lowest level possible is a mark of maturity. Telling a tournament organizer "That person over there made a sexist comment" is not as effective as telling the offender "That comment you made was sexist, and you should probably refrain from that in the future if you want to continue to play this game, since you're making this an uncomfortable play environment for myself and presumably other people." The first option gets a delayed response, is open to debate, and is generally ignored. The second option gets an immediate response one way or another, and usually has a much more lasting effect on the conversation. It also has the advantage of allowing the offender to face their accuser... something that is highly prized in our culture.

I'm not saying the comments weren't sexist. I'm also not saying that sexism is ok. If that's your take-away, you should probably re-read what I said. What I am saying is that to have a productive debate on sexism and curb this behavior, we need to approach it more directly... call people out on the spot, one on one and, if that fails to satisfy, detail the actual behavior rather than simply saying it was a sexist remark. By highlighting what is or is not sexist, and debating the merits of those stances, we move our society closer to one that can recognize that language for themselves and censor their own speech rather than having someone else do it for them.