In light of the recent BBC Three documentary The Dark Side of Gaming – The Females Fighting Back (which I have yet to watch), I decided to bring up my own account of this issue. Granted, I have not been threatened like these women have, but I have experienced harassment which has changed my gaming experience. Equally, I am not here to point fingers at male gamers or an gaming company – far from it. I just wanted to give my view point and perhaps give a warning to those who are affected by online trolling or those who do it.
It’s fair to say that I don’t play many games online – I’ve played the usual Call of Duty and Halo games online and being a Tekken fan, I’ve put my skills to the test there, but there was one game that meant I had to share my experience with others. And that game was PlayStation Home.
If no-one knows about PlayStation Home, I’ll give a quick summary – you create an avatar, you can explore worlds and even homes and clothes. You can chat to people, play mini-games (how meta) and even interact with others by shaking their hand or giving them a hug. I was a noob at the beginning – as everyone always is – but soon developed my skills by using a keyboard to type (the onscreen one took forever) and even bought MMOs so I could dance in clubs and have wings so I could fly around. I meet a lot of amazing people on there – most of my PS friends are ones I met on Home – but equally I met people that I felt shouldn’t even have access to the game.
My avatar when I first started playing Playstation Home in 2013
I didn’t make my avatar look like me in the slightest – apart from the same colour hair and eyes (eventually) – simply because it didn’t appeal to me. Why make an avatar look like you when you have cool things that make you look like how you want to look like? And as time went on, the more I convinced myself into the micro-transactions to my avatar look more awesome and do more stuff so I wouldn’t get as bored.
How my avatar looked before PlayStation Home closed for good last year
PlayStation Home did make a lot of ‘sexy’ outfits and poses that for me, did cause harassment. For instance, one of my repeated cycle sites was the Granzella Beach in which I would change my avatar into a bikini and add poses so it looked like she was sunbathing or just chilling on the edge of the water. But the amount of times males avatars would come up to me and send private messages of ‘how good I looked’ or took pictures when they thought I wouldn’t mind, I lost count of.
I loved the beach on Home and would often go there – fully simulating that I was on a beach
The private messaging is where I got the most harassment. Guys would ask me how old I was or if I was looking for a boyfriend. Of course, my initial response was just to ignore them, and if I got really sick of them, I could mute them so I would never see their PMs again. But I won’t lie and say I didn’t get sick of it – I did. It got to a point sometimes when I would curse at them and then get reported myself. Other times, players would follow me around and I could simply transport to somewhere different, but again my anger would get the better of me and I would refuse to leave the location, despite that being my best option – why should I have to go away when I’m perfectly happy where I am? I mean, apart from the annoying guy.
I liked the clothes and outfits on Home too, even if some where more risque than others
One of the features I previously mentioned before was that you could buy your avatar homes such as mansions and beach houses – I had a few myself. You could also invite other players to your home. Many times I would meet someone I was happy talking to – it felt like they really wanted to get to know me and become friends – and they would invite me to one of their homes, only they would demand cybersex or for me to start using a webcam. Even when I told them I was filming for YouTube (of course, a complete lie) or I would report them, they didn’t care. The only solution then was to block them for good. Which was something I never enjoyed doing – everyone as a right to play the game, but when you abuse it for things like that, should you have the right?
Yes, please come and tell me how good I look non-stop. This isn’t like this is made up of pixels or anything
Another thing that would often happen was that people would ask to see real photos of me – mainly guys – which of course, made me feel very uncomfortable. They would freely send my photos of them – even when I didn’t want them – and ask me my real name and stuff like that. I never did – I either left or gave them an alias.
All I wanted was to have fun – whether it be by myself or with meeting new people – only sometimes, it would get spoiled by another players
Apart from that, I’ve never really experienced the extent of harassment that these women and others have online, and I hope that I never do. With rise of female gamers, I hoping it will more of a norm to see female playing games such as Doom or Diablo. And I’m hoping that harassment will cut down or completely wiped out.
Many people have given the advice of muting or blocking players on games when being harassed, which I agree with – many games include features like this, such as Grand Theft Auto V. No player – not just females – should have to feel bullied or harassed while gaming.