Gamers battle racism online


Heartbeats drum to the rhythm of steady machine gunfire and adrenaline is pumping high. Unaware of what the opponent will do next, the player analyzes each and every sound, the ultimate goal being to conquer the enemy.

Gamers indulge in this out-of-body experience every time they pick up a controller. Unfortunately, it also describes how gamers feel when they are bullied by other online gamers. 

Gamers are misusing the live online communication feature on Sony’s Playstation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 by shouting racial slurs and life-threatening attacks.

Online attacks have become so intense that they cause people like 21-year-old Kender Massillon, a third year accounting student from Orlando, to refrain from gaming online.

“Go kill yourself nigger,” include one of the many racist remarks he has received.

These hate attacks might come to as a surprise to first-time online gamers, but racial comments are commonly made about every race and nationality. Some ethnic groups have even organized online clans.

 “There’s KKK and Nazis, or Jew-killers as they like to call themselves, all over Call of Duty,” Harold Bruney, 20, a third year information technology student from Hallandale, Fla., said.

These online clans blurt out repeated hate attacks to anyone they believe belongs to a different race or ethnicity.   

Outside of the virtual world, it would be uncommon for 22-year-old Thanh Nguyen, who is Vietnamese, to receive comments like “go pick cotton” or “go hang yourself.” 

However, within the world of gaming, gamers are judged by the sound of their voice, which leaves anyone vulnerable to inaccurate hate attacks.

“Most people don’t know I’m Vietnamese online, everyone says I sound black,” the fourth year biology student from Orlando said.

Nguyen admits the prejudiced remarks are frustrating and even provoke him to respond back to racist gamers.  

Though most players express racial tension through their microphone, others get their point across by creating hateful usernames or sending attacking messages.

 “I won’t forget the time someone made their user ID name Jew killer,” Bruney said. Such hateful usernames may come as a shock to gamers at first, but it quickly becomes a natural occurrence.   

Because of the popularity of online gaming nationwide, prejudiced remarks are bound to surface. 

Also, with millions of online game users, some hate attacks go undetected by Microsoft Corp. and Sony Computer Entertainment.

Despite the difficulty of this task, both Microsoft and Sony have online complaint systems to try and reduce the amount of online attacks.   

According to the Microsoft website, gamers who “witness a player behaving in an inappropriate or vulgar manner, cheating or harassing others” can file a complaint using their Xbox’s feedback system and “appropriate action will be taken against offenders.” 

Gamers may also make use of the Xbox five star rating systems, which gives players the opportunity to rate their competitor’s character without ever leaving the game.

A customer service representative from Sony urged gamers to report inappropriate content by filling out and submitting a complaint form online which could lead to a player’s online access being suspended.     

“Reporting everyone that says a racist remark would take up a lot of time, plus it’s their freedom of speech so I just let it go,” said 20- year -old Kevin Sharperson, a third year business administration student from Miramar, Fla. and daily online gamer.

Regardless of the constant hateful remarks, some gamers have not let it interfere with their love to play. Most gamers ignore the foul remarks and continue playing online for the opportunity to play against more challenging players.

Some gamers solve their racial gaming problems with online disputes while others find comfort in only playing with the people they are familiar with or simply pushing the mute button on opponents who insist on using racial slurs.