Autism Acceptance Month - Representation and Acceptance of Autism in Gaming

In the spirit of Autism Acceptance Month, your local aspie is coming to you to talk about (the lack of) autistic representation in video games.

First, let’s cover what autism is and why we’re calling it Autism Acceptance Month instead of the traditional “Autism Awareness Month”. Then we’ll get into the meat and bones of who our canonically autistic characters are and why we should have more representation.

Amy from  Amy

Amy from Amy

What is Autism?

Autism is a neurological condition in which social interaction, communication, and even motor skills are affected. Autistic people may also have need rituals and routines, have special interests, sensory issues, trouble expressing feelings, difficulty forming and maintaining relationships and perhaps engaging in repetitive and compulsive behaviors (often referred to as “stimming”). Autism is hyper-individualized and presents itself differently from autistic person to autistic person. People are born with or without autism and it is generally diagnosed in childhood. Though some autistic people slip through the cracks and don’t get diagnosed until adulthood. Boys are more likely to receive a diagnosis of autism than girls, as the way it manifests from boys to girls is often different. Girls tend to copy and mimic behavior around them, often camouflaging their autism to a point that it can be missed by a professional not aware of how autism presents in girls and women. While boys do not generally do not do this mimicking of behavior.  

Autism Awareness vs Autism Acceptance

The word awareness comes to mind when we talk about cancer, rare diseases, and negative things. We want people to be aware of those things, typically, so they can better protect themselves against it or money can be gathered for a cure. Therefore, Autism Awareness suggests that we are a problem waiting to be fixed. Awareness also works based off of stereotypes and often casts autistic people in a negative light. People in the world are aware of autism, but typically have a very hyperbolic and misguided view of autistic people.

Autism Acceptance, on the other hand, is all about taking in autistic people as they are. It is accepting our stimming and being okay with the fact that eye contact just might not be our thing.  Awareness highlights us as Other. Acceptance looks at the commonalities we share while celebrating our differences. Please make sure that the organizations that you support this month and throughout the year are run by autistics themselves. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a great place to start if you’re looking to learn about Autism and everything to do with it from actually autistic folks. As the saying in the autistic community goes: nothing about us without us.

Autism in Gaming

The lack of autistic representation in AAA games is honestly saddening, but not surprising. In fact, there wasn’t even an autistic character in a Triple-A game until 2001 in Twisted Metal Black, and that character didn’t even have a name. Autistic video game characters include these twelve: Cassandra from Rage of the Dragons, Jade (The Indigo Child) from Fahrenheit,  Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum from the Bioshock franchise, Simone Cole from Clive Barker’s Jericho, David Archer from Mass Effect 2 DLC, River Wyles from To The Moon, Amy from Amy, Patricia Tannis from Borderlands 2, Symmetra from Overwatch, Josh Sauchak from Watch Dogs 2, Rell from Warframe, and Shana from I Don’t Have A Clue.

A lot of the autistic representation in gaming isn’t great, either.

Most of the characters mentioned reinforce the “savant” style of autism where an autistic person is only worth having around if they have a special ability or are exceedingly talented at one specific thing (their special interest). You can see that in the case of Brigid Tenenbaum who was only saved because of her love of science and was blinded to the atrocities she was committing in the process. Amy tasks the player with taking care of Amy, an autistic child, who can heal the player and is immune from the zombie infection the game is set in (think The Last of Us).

“In a Better World” - Blizzard Entertainment

Symmetra is one of the few, well-done pieces of autistic representation in games. The average player might not even notice the autistic traits that Symmetra has, but it stood out to me the second I heard her interact with the other heroes. “Do not deviate from the plan, and victory will be ours.” is more than a quip about winning. Most autistic individuals, myself included, struggle with changing the plan or routine. As characters run around the map making jokes back and forth, Symmetra misses most of the ones thrown her way or takes them extremely literally which is another subtle nod to her autism. In the Overwatch comic “A Better World” there are more subtle nods to the fact that Symmetra is autistic before she comes right out with it and we see her thoughts.

Sanjay has always said I was… different. Everyone has. Asking where I fit on the spectrum. It used to bother me because I knew it was true. It doesn’t bother me anymore. Because I can do things no one else can do.

I love how we see that Symmetra has struggled with her autism but she’s come to accept and embrace it. It makes her strong in a different way. It empowers her.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the article and feel more knowledgeable about autism and autism acceptance as a whole. I hope to see a more positive representation of autism in the gaming industry as well as television and other media in the future. Comments? Suggestions? Things we missed or that you disagree with? Drop them in the comments below or hit us up on our Facebook Fan page or @ us on Twitter!

After Only One Episode of Season 8 of Game of Thrones the Memes Are Lit

While some people thought the first episode of Game of Thrones season 8 was a bit slow, others thought the episode was amazing.

It’s true that the first episode of each new season of Game of Thrones is usually extremely dry and a bit difficult to get through. But Season 8 started off as basically one big meme factory. And we’re here for it.

Memes have truly become a necessary part of pop culture and can even be like a companion guide or accessory to a movie or TV show. That’s why we love these GoT memes. And most of the memes that sprouted from this episode are either about that infamous Bran/Jamie near reunion or Daenarys and Jon Snow. Either way, the memes and commentary are EVERYTHING. So, here’s are some of our favorites. With no context. We hope you enjoy these as much as we have.

Ellie's Harassment and Exit From Overwatch Contenders Highlights Toxicity Toward Women in Competitive eSports

Ellie's Harassment and Exit From Overwatch Contenders Highlights Toxicity Toward Women in Competitive eSports

Just before Christmas, Ellie was signed to Overwatch minor leagues, Overwatch Contenders with Second Wind. After receiving threats of doxxing, Ellie stepped down from the league after only 11 days.

On December 21, a professional female gamer, Ellie, tried out for Overwatch Contenders and made the league. Three days later, Ellie tweeted “screenshots that had been passed to her showing a coordinated effort in a Discord room to doxx her.”

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Hey Girl, I am NOT Your Competition


There are a lot of gaming and nerd groups with more women/girls only groups sprouting up on Facebook. Sadly, a recurring conversation seems to be one centered around the meme of "Real Gamer Girls vs Fake Gamer Girls". The premise is always the same: judging women gamers on how they dress and their mannerisms. But here's an idea: what if women and girls who gamed were allowed to wear whatever they wanted and allowed to be themselves instead of being injected into a ridiculous, subconscious competition?

I grew up playing video games. I’m on the higher end of thirty years of age and I still love playing video games. We ladies who love to game come from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, with different gaming preferences. Yet, women who play video games face incredible negativity from male gamers and, unfortunately, from other women as well.


How many times a day have you seen, or were even guilty of posting a meme about fake, sexy gamer girls versus real girls who game? I see these memes in my Facebook newsfeed at least three times a day. And while these memes may seem harmless and even funny, they are anything but and contribute to the pitting of women against women.

We already live in a society where women are culturally conditioned to be subconsciously (and even consciously) competitive with one another. Ladies, how many times have you said “I’m not like other girls”? or “I’m not your typical girl”? Or simply bashed another woman gamer for wearing makeup and a tight shirt while she streamed? How many times have you said that those are the “types of gamers you can’t stand”? I’m sure you’ve seen the memes of women gamers (models) who are scantily clad, as the guys proclaim “Yes! That’s the type of relationship I want” even though those same men bash women streamers who wear t-shirts that show cleavage? They effectively cosign this mean girls mentality while harboring unrealistic expectations of women. Not cool, bro.

you can't sit with us.gif

Who says you have to look or be a certain way in order to play video games? One of the main reasons I join gaming communities for women is because the goal is usually to create a community that fosters every type of gamer girl—to create a positive environment for ladies and the men who support their need to game. So how can we combat the negativity and stereotypes about gamer girls?

Ditch the “I don’t like other girls because they’re catty” mindset.

We have been culturally conditioned, almost since birth, to be in constant competition with other women. And subconsciously, we avoid other women and prefer to be the lone girl in a group of guys. Why? Because we’ve been culturally conditioned to feel as if we have to disassociate ourselves from our own gender to be recognized as “interesting”. Here is where our catty behavior comes into play. “I’m not catty!” You say? Ask yourself this: how does what another woman wears affect YOUR ability to game? If your answer is “It makes us all look bad” then you, my friend, have a catty attitude. Girls who wear makeup and, perhaps show cleavage while they stream don’t make all girl gamers look bad. It’s the negative attitudes and perpetuation of an “Us versus Them” competition that makes girl gamers look bad.


Recognize that there is no one type of girl gamer.

We are all gamers. There is no handbook for how to dress, act or be a gamer. Some women are just sexy. That's their thing! You can be sexy, enjoy fashion, makeup AND video games! Just like no one HAS to like it. aJust respect each other as human beings and gamers. It's not really that hard! And quite frankly, some of the clothes that women streamers wear and get flack for are downright CUTE!!! Many women streamers end up becoming sponsored by clothing companies and, therefore, advertise the clothes on stream. 

Give up the “I’m not like other girls” schtick.

The fact of the matter is, you ARE like other girls who game. Sure, everyone is their own person with their own unique qualities, but whether you’re a tomboy or “girly-girl”, goth-girl, geeky girl, whatever—you are not singular in that particular subculture. Don’t be afraid to accept and get to know others whether inside or outside of that subculture. If you are a part of a gaming community group for women and cling to the “I’m not like other girls” motto, perhaps you should rethink your motto and embrace the solidarity that you do have with other women who game.

Respect and love yourself for all that you are!

Sounds easy, but it’s not. It’s something that most of us who do know self-love must work on every single day. So, it’s not as black and white as people think. When you love yourself, you are less likely to attempt to tear someone else down for being different in order to make yourself feel (momentarily) superior. And when you've learned to love yourself, you end up appreciating other people’s differences.

Just say NO to misandry.

men who appreciate us.gif

Solidarity among women gamers does NOT equate to hating or disliking men. Men are some of our biggest cheerleaders, so let’s not be afraid to show them some love in return. And yes, that love includes correcting them when they try to pit women against each other and helping them to understand that this is not the 1950s--we can wear whatever the hell we want and they can, too (as long as it doesn't violate Twitch's Terms of Service).
Think about this: us Ge’NeLs (geeky, nerdy ladies) already have to deal with unrealistic expectations, stereotypes and harassment from guys in the geek community. Why contribute to that sort of negativity by tearing each other down?  Is this really the legacy we want to pass down to our mini-gamers? No, we don't have to like everyone, hold hands and traipse through a field of dandelions. But we don't have to go out of our way to tear each other down, either. We come in so many different shades and shapes and sizes and gaming preferences. We all have our own individual play and fashion styles. And we should totally celebrate how amazing we are. What say you? Let us know in the comments. 

Dear Male Friends, No Definitely Means No

"I'm not interested" does not mean "keep trying until I give in."

We live in a society where boys are taught not to take no for an answer--to go after what they want. Great! They, as everyone, should reach for the stars and work hard to achieve their goals. Unfortunately, society teaches them that this includes girls. Boys are taught that if a girl says she's not interested, then she's playing hard-to-get and he must work harder "wear her down".

just friends.gif

One of the reason online gaming soared instantly with its inception is that it allowed gamers to play with others and make friends from all walks of life. But it also provided another avenue for harassment. I recently made friends with a pretty decent Overwatch player while in a match.

Sometimes it's difficult to find random players with whom you have decent team-symmetry with. This guy and I were pretty damn lethal. Soon, I noticed a bit of clinginess on his part, so I backed up and began to play with him a little less, only grouping with him when we were playing with other friends.

Then, one day, while we were playing with friends, he sent me a private message and asked if I were single. Harmless enough. "No, I'm not single," I told him. "Is your bf okay with you being with other guys?" Whoa! What is this guy even talking about? "No, he's not," I responded. I knew where this was going, so I continued. "Even if he were, you and me, definitely not going to happen. I'm just not interested." His response, "Why? I've been with older women." I reiterated, "I'm with someone. Plus, we just wouldn't be compatible. I'm not interested. Sorry."

karen wtf.gif

He tried to get me to talk in Discord. I kept focusing on the match. Then he added, for some odd reason "I usually look for fwb but idm (I don't mind) taking it slow." Once again, I told him, I expressed my disinterest. Still not getting the hint, tells me he bought something to help him "ejac". Why would I even want to know that?!

After the match was over, I logged off. The next day I went to log on and saw he was online and I decided not to log on. For two days. I came to the realization that I was going to have to block him because I want to play my damn game. The next time I logged on he sent me a group invite before my screen finished loading! I declined. Then I told him "Look, I don't feel comfortable gaming with you anymore." Then he hit me with "No one wants to play with me anymore." That actually made me feel bad for him. So, instead of blocking him, I told him that I'm just going to play alone for a while.

I confided in one of my gaming groups that I'm in and other women talked about their very similar experiences. One woman made very good sense in saying

"Men are socialized to believe that wearing women down through persistence is a legitimate and acceptable way to get what they want from them."

I thought about it and this was not the first time. And each time it had happened, I felt uncomfortable, then guilty for saying no. I've even dated guys because they "wore me down" even though I still wasn't interested; I was made to feel bad for saying no. It's called coercion and it's a common narrative among girls and women. It's one of the many reasons ladies have begun to create spaces just for them.

So here's a piece of advice to our guy friends:

When a lady tells you she that she is not interested in you, do not assume that you must wear her down and keep trying. Back off. If she changes her mind later on down the road, she will let you know. Or, if you feel the climate has changed down the road, try again. But don't be pushy. Don't try to coerce her into dating you. That's not cool at all. It's beyond creepy. And yes, this definitely goes both ways because we know that guys experience this just as well.

Have you had a similar experience? Tell us about it in the comments. Don't forget to LIKE us on Facebook.



After Only 2 Days, #BullyHunters' Website is Offline Due to Backlash

Standing up to bullying and harassment in video games should be a goal worthy of the gaming community's support. But after Bully Hunter's live stream on April 13, they've encountered the behavior that their organization was created to fight. 

When Ge'NeL first learned about the creation of the BullyHunters, we wanted show our support for an organization standing up to harassment. BullyHunters' was cloaked in mystery until it's launch. Their teaser video did just that--teased, offering no details except that women gamers are tired of the casual sexism and harassment that's treated as if its supposed to be normal and accepted by everyone. Like everyone else, Ge'NeL had to wait until their first live stream for more details. 

BullyHunters seeks to address the growing problem of in-game harassment and bullying. The premise is " to connect victims of bullying with elite gamers who can come to their defense in real time." It's almost like a buddy system. If you're being harassed in game, you hit the button and ask for a hunter to come to your aid. Their purpose isn't to harass the bully. Their purpose is to offer assistance. Someone to have your back. Despite the message, BullyHunters is facing swift backlash online for a myriad of reasons.



Reasons for Backlash

During their live stream, there was a mixture of support, uncertainty, expected trolling and the behavior that Bully Hunters was created to fight. Afterward, Twitter was aflutter with talk of BullyHunters' stream. While some called it a "trend" others called it a scam. The data that BullyHunters used was not thoroughly researched and may have been extremely exaggerated or made up. We attempted to verify the given sources but ended up with more questions than answered.

"21 Million female gamers..."

BullyHunters claimed that "21 million female gamers have experienced sex-based taunting, harassment or threats while playing video games online." This number was based on an article written in 2012 that surveyed 874 women. Then, BullyHunters exaggerated the figures based on market size estimates.  BullyHunters named YouGov as its source, but did not provide a link to the survey for this particular statistic. Ge'NeL was unable to find any such research to verify this statistic.

Source: BullyHunter's website

Source: BullyHunter's website

"Over 3 million female gamers have quit a game because of harassment"

Again, these figures are based on market size projections (estimations) in relation to the 874 women polled in the 2012 article. The BullyHunters quotes, but misrepresents the quote with the omission of the word "temporary." They also greatly exaggerated the "874 women" in the study via the PriceCharting blog. What's more concerning about the information that BullyHunters cited is that, when one Twitter user, Platinum, asked about the figures, she was dismissed and blocked due to being an "inter-misogynist". Platinum, a mental health researcher, deciphered BullyHunter's stats in a blog post.

35.8% of women reported having quit playing temporarily because of sexism, and 9.6% reported that they quit playing a certain game permanently because of harassment.
— Original quote from

People thought the platform wasn't inclusive to men

Male gamers claimed the platform was biased against men and took offense to not being included. Some pleaded that "men experience more harassment than women," information likely seen or quoted from PEW Research Center that said, "Overall, men are slightly more likely to experience any form of online harassment (44% vs. 37% of women)". For women, however, harassment isn't about name-calling; It's about being respected as a human being. That same study conducted by PEW found  that "among adults ages 18 to 29, women are more than twice as likely as men to report experiencing sexual harassment online (21% vs. 9%). And among the youngest adults – those ages 18 to 24 – women are more than three times as likely to be sexually harassed online (20% vs. 6% of men)." It's a very serious problem that some men and women do not care to address.

Viewers of the live-stream thought the in-game harassers were fake

After watching the video several times after the live stream, it's very possible that the CS:GO matches were scripted. Ge'NeL has no way of knowing this for certain. A possible explanation for being scripted or in a custom match is to demonstrate how the BullyHunters platform works, which would have been acceptable had they disclosed that the matches were either scripted or customized for demonstration purposes.

"They're just bullies themselves"

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

After their video demonstration of how BullyHunters works, critics of the campaign felt as if the Bullyhunters were just bullying the bullies, which solves nothing. Critics also shared a year-old tweet with Bullyhunter spokesperson, ZombieUnicorn exhibiting behavior akin to those bullying. Though, after reading the tweet, it is clear that ZombieUnicorn was defending herself.

A general lack of understanding of the severity of online harassment, especially in video games.

What's more disheartening, however, is the way critics have responded to the BullyHunters, their misinformation and their existence in general. People have different ideas of what harassment is and expressed difficulty in understanding the difference between typical in-game shit-talking versus flat out harassment. Many began harassing BullyHunters' partners via Twitter--their behavior actually displaying why women gamers are trying to fight online bullying to begin with.

Most male gamers do not believe harassment in online gaming is a "thing". And those who do mis-characterize it as name-calling and don't think it's a big deal. And that's part of the problem that people fighting against in-game harassment are facing. People who dare speak up against in-game harassment are called white knights, social justice warriors, feminists or feminazis and worse in order to detract from actually addressing the problem.

Attitudes toward online harassment vary by gender

While people can easily hit the ignore/block button, ignoring the problem does not solve the problem. When you hit the ignore button, the offending person think's he or she has won and will take his or her behavior to someone else. However, when people speak up and stand up to bullying, letting the offender(s) know that that behavior is not okay, there is more of a chance for that person to stop the offending behavior and not continue or at least try to correct their own behavior in the future. That is the importance of speaking up and standing up for others.

These mistakes by BullyHunters led to, not only the backlash, but their partners pulling their sponsorship and the BullyHunters' website being taken down. SteelSeries issued a statement, though, issuing false statistics of their own in order to combat the backlash they received due to their affiliation with BullyHunters. Diverse Gaming Coalition went so far as to throw ZombiUnicorn and SteelSeries under the bus.

Diverse Gaming Coalition went so far as to throw ZombiUnicorn and SteelSeries under the bus.

All in all, the BullyHunters' intention to combat in-game bullying is noble. However, they lacked professionalism of thorough research, transparency in their actions and inclusiveness of male gamers who are also subjected to various forms of harassment. BullyHunters missed out on a great opportunity to gain male allies because they, themselves, didn't quite understand the data and, therefore, manipulated it in order to make a point. And that backfired. 

What do you think about the BullyHunters campaign? Do you think they can recover from the backlash? Or do you think it's game over? Let us know in the comments.

Join Us in Support of #BullyHunters April 12, 2018 at 7PM EST

Bullying and harassment in the gaming community are plagues that continue to spread throughout the gaming community. While both men and women are victims of bullying, women are more likely to be sexually harassed, threatened with rape or other forms of sexual violence. While developers and social platforms are finally beginning to address the issues of online harassment, there is still more to be done.

I recently played Overwatch and stayed teamed up with a few guy players after we wiped the floor with the opposing team. We began talking in on Blizzard's voice chat. When we got into the next match, one of the guys, a 13 year old boy, on our team became angry at another player who had admitted to being new to the game. The 13 year old proceeded to call the new player bad, berating her. Before I could even say anything, our teammate jumped in to correct his behavior. "Yo! We're not having that toxic shit on our team. Everyone starts out not playing that well. There's no need for name calling, man." And you know what? That kid apologized! But of the many times I've witnessed such bad behavior, that was the very first time I was witness to a man stepping in to correct another guy's bad behavior online. 

But of the many times I've witnessed such bad behavior, that was the very first time I was witness to a man stepping in to correct another guy's bad behavior online. Even when I had joined a CS:GO game to play with my so-called friend. I hadn't played CS:GO before but my friend wanted me to play with him. Almost immediately, I'm asking my friend questions and one of the guys in voice said "Must be a girl." Another guy chimed in "Yeah, probably a n*gger girl." The other guys laughed. My "friend" who was streaming was passive and just said "come on guys, that's not nice." I left the game, not only disappointed with those toxic, racist fucks, but in my so called friend. I haven't been able to play with him since. By being passive, we allow people to think this behavior is okay. And it's not okay!

That wasn't the first time nor the last that I've encountered racism and sexism while gaming online. As a Twitch streamer, I've been told to "show me your n*gger tits" and "wow a n*gger trying to play video games" and "another game whore". This has to stop.

This why I and many other women gamers are taking a stand with Bully Hunters. We're tired of being told to "Just ignore it," which ultimately allows the harassers to just go and do it to someone else. We're tired of being told to "get over it". We're tired of being expected to be passive and not fight back because of the detriment it has done to other women who have stood up for themselves only to receive incredible backlash. We're tired of our supposed guy friends not having our backs. We're tired of guys not checking their bros when they exhibit abusive behavior toward anyone.

Though we're not sure what we will see at the unveiling of Bully Hunters, their mission of standing up for others is one we can get behind.

Will you join us at Bully Hunter's Facebook Event on April 12, 2018 @ 7:00PM EST?  

Drake's Infectious 2018 Anthem "Nice For What" Is What Ge'NeL is All About

It's about damn time that a club banger anthem is about Queens holding it down.

Yes, there are many songs about women holding it down. Beyonce and Rihanna always take care of us. But this a little different. Drake, known for putting out crazy bangerz did it again with this anthem that features women across the entertainment industry holding it down: Olivia Wilde, Issa Rae, Misty Copeland, Rashida Jones, Jordan Dunn, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tiffany Haddish, Yara Shahidi, Zoe Saldana, twins Victoria and Elizabeth Lejonhjärta, Letitia Wright, Bria Vinaite, Emma Roberts, Syd, and Michelle Rodriguez.

"Nice for What" is an ode to the women of Hollywood, a salute of respect. The video, directed by Karena Evans, also seems to be an ode to 1998, with pieces of videography akin to Hype Williams' "Belly" in addition to Lauryn Hill's "Ex-Factor" sample from her  1998 musical masterpiece "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The only thing that would have made this video better is a cameo from Lauryn Hill.

Care for me, care for me!
I know you care for me!
There for me, there for me!
Said you’d be there for me!
Cry for me, cry for me!
You said you’d die for me!
Give to me, give to me!
Why won’t you live for me?!
— Lauryn Hill, "Ex-Factor"

Recognizing that women, too, work hard and play harder seems to be the theme. Not stressing about an ex, putting in overtime to reach our goals, then a much needed going out session with our crew. And yeah, how some people talk so much trash, especially online, but they don't act the same in person because there's no computer screen to hide behind. 

You ain’t stressing off no lover in the past tense
You already had then
Work at 8am, finish around five
Hoes talk down, you don’t see them outside

"Nice for What" is hard to get out of your head. It's fun, it's catchy, it's a man recognizing girl power from women of all backgrounds. And yes, we do play up our best angles when taking a selfie. Why the hell shouldn't we?

What do you think about the song and video? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook.

Harassment in the Gaming Community Needs to Stop


The American Psychological Association defines harassment as "threatening, harmful or humiliating conduct based on race, color, national origin, sex or disability" regardless of intent. Harassment creates a hostile environment that interferes with or limits a person's ability to participate in an activity. Harassment can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony if the prosecutor can prove specific intent, "which is intending the specific act that one is charged with. This means that the prosecutor must show that the defendant did or said something with the intent that the communication would harass the victim. The person may intend to annoy or intimidate the victim, or the words may be designed to provoke a fight." Why, then, do we allow online harassment to grow into a toxic culture in the gaming community?


As gamers, we have to have thick skin, especially when competing in games such as Counterstrike: Global OffensiveOverwatch, and other games where you communicate with people. That is not, however, an open door policy for harassment, and it shouldn't be considered normal. Unfortunately, harassment is becoming the norm in the online gaming community because we allow it. There is a fine line between typical gamer trash talk and harassment. When a gamer talks trash, it's generally about gameplay and/or strategy. Harassment delves into a much nastier conversation intended to mentally and emotionally cause harm. Stanford University alumnus Kaitlyn Williams wrote an award winning research essay, "When Gaming Goes Bad: An Exploration of Videogame Harassment Towards Female Gamers". Inexperienced with the online gaming community, Williams's research found that

For female gamers in online settings, harassment generally includes sexist or misogynist comments, threats of rape and death, as well as demands for sexually-related images or favors. According to a survey conducted by Emily Matthews on Pricecharting Blog involving 874 respondents, “63% of women reported being called a “c*nt, bitch, slut, and whore” while gaming. Others reported they were threatened with sexual assault, asked for sexual favors, and bombarded with stereotypical comments regarding female gender roles”. Comments related to female gender roles range from “go make me a sandwich” to “get back in the kitchen and make me some pie”. Generally, the content of the harassment does not relate to gaming, and unlike trash-talk, harassment is solely intended to mentally wound or silence female gamers.



While men definitely experience harassment in the gaming community, women are more often the targets of gender-based harassment.Overwatch player Glisa recently recorded her gameplay as she was being harassed by her teammates. She uploaded it to Youtube and, unfortunately, it's harassment that many women gamers—including myself—have experienced. So why is it so prevalent? Harassment in video games is rampant for a number of reasons, the biggest being people's perceived safety behind the anonymity of an avatar. Anonymity means no consequences for actions that, outside of the online community, would warrant confrontation and/or legal action. Most of the people—predominantly young men—who find entertainment in harassing others would not do so outside of the online community.

Another reason for the continued growth of harassment in the gaming community is the "just ignore it and it will stop" mentality. This is the same tried and not true method that parents would tell their children who would come home from school after having being bullied. And lastly, probably one of the saddest reasons that harassment continues to grow like a poisonous weed, is that we, as a community, continue to reduce harassment's severity to "just trolling". Trolling does not sound as severe as harassment. Trolling sounds like a joke. This is where we learn that words really do have power in how they are used. No one wants to use the word harassment because of the stigma of being seen as someone who whinescomplainscries wolf, or is called a feminist. Remember the backlash known as GamerGate, that Anita Saarkesian faced for exploring stereotypes of women in video games?


Unfortunately, combating harassment in the gaming community is not easy and it never will be without help from game developers themselves. The gaming community is filled with countless forums and groups that offer support for specific games or general gaming. When someone posts in one of these groups about being harassed online, the likely response from other community members is to "just hit the ignore/block" button. The problem with simply ignoring the problem is that it does not go away. It moves onto the next person and the next. And sometimes, the harasser will be so bold as to create another character in order to continue to harass the person who blocked him/her. As Laura Carruba explains in her article "Why Reporting Offensive Players in Online Games Is a Losing Battle", "...reporting a bad player can take longer than playing a game session with said bad player, the path of least resistance is to put up with" the harasser. One Twitch streamer gives an example of how to handle mild harassment in the video below.

How, then, do we combat the plague of harassment in the gaming community when ignoring it and just putting up with it is clearly not helping? We don't have to stoop to anyone else's level in order to defend ourselves. If you are streaming, record it. If your harassment is via text, screenshot it. Report that player and keep reporting the people who think that the culture of being as offensive as possible is acceptable because there are no consequences while being online. Petition game developers and platforms to update their policies on harassment and to hire staff to specifically deal with harassment. And if you see someone being harassed, don't just sit there and watch. Do something! At present, Halo 4 is the only online gaming platform that takes a "Zero Tolerance" stance on harassment. It's not impossible just because people don't want to put in the work. We do not have to foster a culture of harassment. We don't deserve that. We can do better. We all deserve better.

Have you experienced harassment in gaming? How did you handle it? We want to hear about your experiences.

Marvel Editor Heather Antos' Milkshakes Brought the Broflakes to the Yard and Twitter's Clapback Was Epic


Heather Antos and her team were out celebrating women in comics and decided to take a group selfie while sipping on delicious milkshakes. Fun, simple and carefree, she decided to share the moment with followers and friends on Twitter. Lo and behold! The "Women are being happy" spidey senses of broflakes the world over began to tingle and they decided to flood Antos' Twitter and DMs with sexist tweets.

Broflakes are guys who are so threatened by women working in industries that are seen as traditionally male and feel the need to harass those women and expose their own ignorance.

Some of the insults thrown into the DM's of the GwenPool editor included “'fake geek girls,' 'the creepiest collection of stereotypical SJWs anyone could possibly imagine,” and “Gee, I can’t imagine why Marvel’s sales are in the toilet.” One of the broflakes was upset that there were no men in the picture of friends getting a milkshake after work.

Real comic fans weren't having the misogyny and showed solidarity for Antos and other women in comics in the most amazing way. They began posting selfies of themselves drinking milkshakes with the hashtag "MakeMineMilkshake." Some people didn't have milkshakes and simply took selfies with whatever drink they had. Some drew characters drinking milkshakes, posted was magical. And it's still going strong!

Marykate Jasper with The Mary Sue is absolutely right in pointing out that "some 'fans are so misogynistic, and so threatened by the idea of women in the industry, that a selfie sets them off." They are threatened by a changing world where women have the freedom to be creative and contribute, nay, improve upon certain industries where a different perspective or more creativity is needed. And for these so-called fans of comics to think misogyny and harassment is cool means that they don't understand what comics are about in the first place.

It sure as hell isn't about bullying and putting people down based on their gender. It's not blaming the editor of one of the best selling comics series for a sales slump just because she's a woman. Comics are about telling stories and creating new worlds, having super powers--the power to change or alter reality. There is no right to creating comics based on gender.

And one thing these broflakes don't understand is that for a long time, far too long, women weren't allowed to have such jobs. Women were forced to stay home, not because they weren't creative or lacked skills, but because of a patriarchal society. And guess what? Women fought and changed their reality and are using their skills in so many different ways. Women are superheroes. We all are. Problem is, some men can't handle women using their super powers.