As almost everyone who follows activities in the gaming world knows, there have been some major issues regarding women in gaming raging throughout the community. I recently ran smack up against the issue.
I play a browser game called “Forge of Empires“, Its one of those city building games with an element of military development and a bit of PVP but mostly you just build your city, develop new technologies, trade with other players, and collect your taxes.
Recently, I happened to notice another player in the game with the name of “Boyd the Rapist”. Players of PVP games will be familiar with the use of the term “rapist” (or “raper” or etc.) as describing a player who typically attacks other players in PVP. It’s EXACTLY the sort of term that is in common usage in the gaming community but shouldn’t be. It is a vile word, depicting a vile activity and it has no place in a civilized and inclusive gaming community.
Checking with the Forge of Empires website for their rules, I found the following (bold mine)
Insulting other users and the use of language in an abusive/offensive context is forbidden.
We do not accept profiles, player names, guild names or any other publications that the Administration finds to be illegal, insulting, threatening, abusive, real-life-aggressive, sexual, politically extreme, religiously fanatic, racist, playing down the use of illegal drugs or promoting the use of said substances or in any way inappropriate.
It is forbidden to post links to outside sites in the profile or on any other medium.
Spamming other players with in-game mails is abusive and will not be tolerated.
It is forbidden to advertise competitors’ games, post inappropriate content or links to such, post links to moneymaking sites or links to other games.
It is allowed to refer to a player as a noob and to criticize their way of playing using appropriate language.
It is against the rules to impersonate any staff member or suggest acquaintances with them in order to force any kind of behavior.
Racist, illegal, discriminatory or inappropriate names or wording will lead to an immediate game ban.
Using any profanity, insulting language, or being abusive towards any staff member in the support system is forbidden.
spamming the same message repeatedly in the chat room is not permitted as it is poor chat etiquette.
We ask players to not use account names that include whole email addresses or full names, for player safety.
Encouraging other players to break rules is forbidden.
The above seemed to indicate (not just suggest, but in fact state explicitly) that names including references to rape would result in immediate banning. So I filed a complaint ticket about Boyd the Rapist, and was assured that the issue was being handled.
Days went past, and Boyd the Rapist did not disappear.
So I wrote again. And this time, because I was curious, I did a search of player names for terms like “rape”, and “rapist”. And I found that on the particular server I was on there were no less than six. I checked a different server and found two more.
I reported all of them. And I thought to myself “if there are so many of these players in the game, and it is so easy for me to find them with even a very brief search, this company is NOT taking the idea of rapey names being inappropriate seriously.”
And this is part of the problem.
Don’t get me wrong – compared to real life death and rape threats against Anita Sarkeesian this is a pretty minor thing. But in my opinion, it’s the small stuff that we ignore or pass off as “harmless” that leads to the major stuff. Using rape as a game term is beyond disrespectful, it is nothing short of threatening and abusive. And not only to those who have suffered the terror and degradation of an actual rape. To use the term is to demean everyone, and to accept its use makes the gaming community look small, misogynistic, and cruel. This is not something we ever should have stood for, but particularly in light of recent events it is not something we can, or should, put up with or pass off now.
You can contact InnoGames here. Please, if you have a moment, write to them and ask them – as politely as possible – to update the wording of their policy to
Racist, sexist, illegal, discriminatory or inappropriate names or wording will lead to an immediate game ban.
and to enforce their own rules with regard to players using “rapey” names.
It’s time we started having zero tolerance for this sort of crap. It’s time we stood up and called “bullshit” on misogyny in the gaming world.