Warning: pictures contain strong language
So the voting ended for Cutthroat Politics earlier today and as someone who was supporting Evon Gnashblade I was a little disappointed with the result. I am more disappointed with the reaction to the result that has been seen on the forums and in game. I expected disappointment, maybe a little anger, but not the combination of racism and misogyny that has been seen over map chat.
What is so revealing about these horrible statements (on all sides) is that they’re said about people and races that don’t exist. Ellen and Evon are nothing but a collection of polygons and rows in a database. Humans and charr have rich lore in Guild Wars 2 but are just as imaginary. So really this hatred says more about the people saying these things than the characters of the individuals.
Lets start with some of the lines said about Evon Gnashblade (Lines said by the same person are grouped together):
Common thread along these bashes are general attitudes to charr. They’re smelly, they’re only good as pets and apparently they rapists (I really don’t remember that bit in Guild Wars lore. Oppressive to women yes, but not rapists). Only 2 of these lines are aimed directly at Evon himself while the rest are more related to the entire race.
Lets compare this with comments I saw about Ellen Kiel:
So in contrast, none of these comments are about Ellen’s race. Nearly all of them are about her physical appearance and supposed promiscuity. These comments also spill over into Queen Jennah’s Jubilee, the next Guild Wars 2 update. So whereas Evon’s comments are racial, Ellen’s are personal. It’s demeaning that Ellen’s supporters are seen to vote for her on the merit of her appearance alone, rather than her campaign promises.
This could be dismissed as trolling if this wasn’t the kind of attitude women face on a regular basis online and in real life. In the last 2 weeks, several female activists, journalists and one MP in the UK have been threatened with rape and had bomb threats, for successfully campaigning for women to be represented on British currency and reporting on the story. People have been arrested for it. Likewise racial hatred is no less vile and shouldn’t be an issue for anyone in 2013.
But we share a gaming world where some people (I have no idea if they are male or female and will not guess) think these attitudes are OK to have and to voice. I can’t get my head around hating an aspect of someone so much that you would voice your hatred for an NPC who has that characteristic. I’ve been on the end of all kinds of abuse in game over the years, mostly from people who just wanted to get their rocks off, but this is the first time I’ve seen NPCs be the target. I’m ashamed to share a hobby with these people and those who enable them to carry on spreading their hatred.
This leads to an interesting question I had to answer today: is it verbal abuse if the target isn’t real? I decided it was, but am curious what you think. And if not, how would you have reported these statements?
Of course, this is a small minority of people. Several others I saw expressed their views in a balanced manner.
To those who voiced their views like this: thank you. You made this election interesting and I enjoyed listening to the pros and cons.
I really hope that ArenaNet will continue to put forward strong characters to drive their stories, challenging stereotypes every step of the way. Bring on the Jubilee!