Call of Duty: Bro Ops; Virtual Bullying Entering the Real World

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Author’s note: My views in no way shape or form represent the views of my employer as a company. They are my own personal opinions and should not be associated with the company any further than by the fact that I work there and these experiences come from their employing me.

As a self-proclaimed lover of all First Person Shooters (FPS), especially those with an online multiplayer component, you may be wondering why it is that I haven’t picked up and played Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 yet. Of course the usual money issue pops up; any gamer knows that when release season comes about you better have saved your money or make enough to be giving up $60+ once a week for about a month and a half. There’s also the issue of waiting to pick up a game because you’ll probably be receiving it as a gift for the holidays or your birthday (which isn’t really a problem at all… hello freebie!). What may be a less common issue when deciding whether or not to pick up a game is how the customer base of said game treats you when they come to the games store to pick up their own copy.

As if a Call of Duty launch week at work isn’t stressful enough, it quite literally is ALWAYS the biggest launch of the year, I had the honor of dealing with customers who treated me in person in the same way that they treat the women who post their horror stories on Fat, Ugly or Slutty in a virtual space. When answering the phones at the game shop on launch day we usually answer the phone with the following greeting: “Thanks for calling “the game shop” where you can pick up your copy of (insert game title here).” Most people are calling to ask if we have a copy of the game and informing us that they will be in soon to pick it up. We actually receive quite a few prank calls, most people asking when the next Battletoads is coming out (hilarious, really), but people also think it’s funny to call to see if they can get a copy of a game early. This is definitely not allowed since breaking street date would result in someone at the store losing their job, but kids seem to think it’s funny to ask. You can watch for yourselves to see how some of these folks entertain themselves:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E14XVvUxt7c

As you can see they are just absolute gems. But even these prank calls are something that can be brushed off and walked away from. Unfortunately, the prank phone call that I received was much more immature, vulgar, and depraved than something along those lines. I had a young man call the store and upon hearing my greeting responded with, “Hey b*tch I’m gonna f*ck you in the ass when I come to pick up my game.” I immediately responded with the threat of calling the police and told them if they came to my store to pick up the game I would refuse them service. On the same day as this phone call, I watched 5 young men (high school age) walk out of the store and write f*ck in the dirt on someone’s car in the parking lot. Now, I can handle your stupid prank phone calls and your horrible use of the English language, but do not think that you can call the store and threaten to sodomize me and expect customer service on any level.

Why is it that Call of Duty brings out this debauched behavior in gamers of any age? This was a threat I would (unfortunately) expect to hear from players I encounter in a virtual space, but not in a physical/real life space. We argue all the time that the violence within games rarely spills out into the actual lives of the gamers, but in this instance the virtual bullying and threats surrounding games have most certainly spilled out into their day-to-day lives. While I will argue that these young men are the exception to the rule, is this something we should begin to expect from the virtual bullies who hone their “skills” online? Will they become so empowered by their abilities to belittle women virtually that they begin to do it outside of their online gaming experience?

I truly hope that this is not the case. It is already disheartening to see the absolutely disgusting verbal abuse that is being dished out within the virtual community, but to have to deal with it outside that space would/will make some people not want to leave their homes. While this phone call has lead me to question my wanting to immediately participate in an online culture that threatened me at my job, my resolve has not wavered. I am bigger, badder, more intelligent, mature, and much much stronger than these people that think they have put me in my place. And fair warning to them, when I meet you in the lobbies and on team deathmatch expect no mercy. Because I am bringing all of this woman your way.

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2 Responses to “Call of Duty: Bro Ops; Virtual Bullying Entering the Real World”

  1. Danielle says:

    My first experience of online multiplayer FPS was a shocking one. As soon as someone heard my voice I became an immediate target of both verbal abuse and in-game abuse. Male players would set out to kill me, excluding all others, just because I was the only female in the match. I was so shocked and upset after trying multiplayer that one single time that I now only play with trusted friends I know IRL or through my IRL friends in private games. It’s the only way I can actually get better at a game and enjoy myself.

    The strange thing is that this culture seems to remain mostly in online FPS as I have felt comfortable playing many other online RPGs. What is it about FPS that brings out this violent and hateful behavior?

  2. dr. b. says:

    My experience playing multiplayer in FPSes has been much the same. Unfortunately I played a lot before I just got fed up and stopped playing multiplayer all together. For me that means that I rent all FPSes and play through the campaigns in a couple of hours and return them. I know that there are other women out there who do the same or just don’t play them at all.

    At some point the game companies are going to have to realize that they are losing a lot of potential income. I guess it’s hard for them to see when Halo 4 and BLOPs are making $220 and $500 million, respectively, in their first 24 hours, but missed money is still just that. I think that their marketing, design choices, etc all lend to this culture of sexism and misogyny. No women in the game means that women shouldn’t be playing, right? Women as sex objects in the game, release parties at strip clubs, half naked booth babes at cons….that’s the way we’re supposed to treat all women right?

    For now I just stick to playing RPGs for multiplayer and playing with women I still have in my friends list from the old days of Gamerchix or that I know from other online fora. Hang in there, Danielle!!