Kotaku.com has run an article/op-ed I wrote on homophobia in virtual communities. It's on their homepage and is generating a vibrant discussion with over 7,000 recommendations and over 300 comments. I encourage everyone to pop over and leave a comment. Unfortunately, the Kotaku version doesn't have all the links/video, so I'll cross-post it below. --------- Guest Op/Ed: The Impact of Homophobia in Virtual Communities A few weeks ago there was a group established on Facebook called "I hate gays" which openly advocated killing gay people. When the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) sent a report through Facebook's built in reporting system and then urged its Facebook and Twitter followers to do the same, the user was suspended, and the group abandoned and commandeered by pro-gay users in the matter of hours. It seems that real people in those virtual communities, as well as the massive companies that run the platforms, don't like when people form groups that advocate killing people or targeting groups. Now what happens when you take that model and you turn it to online gaming virtual communities? To illustrate my point, take a look at this video previously highlighted on Kotaku and GayGamer to get a sense of the problem just in online gaming communities. Halo 3: Homophobia Evolved (NSFW) problem is widespread in these communities, with kids and adults alike throwing around virtual threats and threatening real world violence and death. In 2006, a survey under supervision by the University of Illinois provided the first glimpse of "the social and behavioral demographics of gay video game players" as well as "the role of sexual orientation on gaming habits." Here are some highlights:
- 52.7% of those surveyed said the gaming community is "Somewhat Hostile" to gay and lesbian gamers, 14% said "Very Hostile."
- When asked what forms of homophobia people have seen in the gaming community, here are some of what the surveyed said:
- 87.7% - Players use the phrase, "That's so gay."
- 83.4% - Players use the words "gay" or "queer" as derogatory names.
- 52.3% - Stereotypical representations of gay characters in games.
- 42.5% - Refusal of game designers to include well-developed gay characters.
- 49.4% - Invisibility of gaymers and/or the gaymer community.
- When asked how frequently players experience homophobia, those surveyed who responded "Always" or "Frequently" equaled 42%. Add in "Sometimes" and it brings up that total to 74.5%.
- When asked how often those players respond to the homophobia they witness - 50.9% total responded "Never" or "Rarely."