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Jenny's Got a Gun

Posted on Saturday, August 24 @ 15:00:00 PST by Jessica_Vazquez

If they did use the banhammer more often, then maybe people who want to have the freedom to send hate-filled messages to people may not want to pay for an Xbox One and a fancy Gold membership. Instituting a system where violators of online conduct codes can co-exist with people who do not harass people is the current situation for Microsoft. Perhaps they’re afraid that banning the actual amount of people who behave this way online would lose them a ton of money.  Regardless, I think adding some extra manpower to the moderating pool would at least help send a message to people who think it’s okay to go beyond the bounds of a public lobby and send people threatening messages. Maybe they could put the extra billions of dollars they’re planning to make off the cost of the Xbox One toward increasing the amount of people they have moderating Xbox Live complaints.
The only glimmer of hope we may see regarding this issue next-gen is the reputation system. In a statement to OXM, Mike Lavin stated the following:

“…There’ll be very good things that happen to people that just play their games and are good participants. And you'll start to see some effects if you continue to play bad or, or harass other people en masse. You'll probably end up starting to play more with other people that are more similar to you."

Jenny Haniver has heard of this new upcoming approach to reputation-based matchmaking on the Xbox One and appreciates the “prisoners island” approach to it. However, if there are instances where people making nonchalant claims can lower someone to the “avoid me” status, then I suspect there will be some rather harsh blowback from the Xbox Live community. This is something Lavin stresses will not happen, but we’ll have to wait to see it in action.

There’s more at work here than logistics. I don’t like singling out Xbox, and I don’t like admitting that female gamers are the targets of most harassment that occurs while playing multiplayer games online. If you still don't want to accept that as common truth, then you should really explore the transcripts on Not in the Kitchen Anymore and see it for yourself. Before I saw Jenny Haniver on last week’s episode of Minus World, I didn’t want to admit that women are more singled-out online than men. I don’t play online games too much, so it was easy to fall into denial and forget that things like that are an everyday occurrence.

Jenny Haniver isn't looking for attention. In fact, the only spotlight she wants is the one that needs to be sharply illuminating this problem. This is something that needs to be publicized more and right now she's the only person online doing the most in depth reporting on it.  Some may criticize her for using her full name in her Xbox Live tag but you know what? That's her choice. (Would a man using his full name receive the same treatment?) She doesn't enter public lobbies and announce that she's a women or goad strangers into being assholes toward her. She just wants to enjoy a game she loves in a social online enviornment like anyone else who plays multiplayer games.  

Most of the advice women are given when reporting online harrassment is not to advertise that they are women in their screenname or not to use a microphone when playing online so people won't know their gender. Frankly, that's not the advice you give to someone if you're looking to solve a problem, but advice you give to someone if you're trying to avoid a problem. The Guardian posted an article about an MMORPG player who had been given that advice after complaining of harrassment and things didn't work out so well for the young woman in the article. Someone in the company she was reporting claims to ended up getting so fed up with her reports of harrassment that they sent out all her information to the MMORPG community she was a part of and she ended up having to change all of her social media contacts and her telephone number because she was getting harassed even more.  She was also banned permanently.  

Jenny's put the same advice to the test with a twist, by creating a fake screename that was incredibly feminine, which she uses when she gets free Xbox Live Gold cards that come with certain games. When playing online under her alias, she still uses a microphone so people know she's a woman and doesn't behave any differently. The scary fact is that she has NEVER been harrassed while using her secondary Gamertag, but as soon as she switches back to her normal one, the insults and threatening messages start up again.  

I know that even after reading all this, some you may be thinking that she's still doing this for the attention and I'm just fueling the flames of contorversy. So I asked her about how she would feel if the next generation of Xbox Live did what it promised to do? What if the reputation system succeeds in funneling all of the ignorant assholes into multiplayer purgatory together and she ends up with less material for her website? Would she be disappointed?

She responded with the following:

Hell no. I would be ecstatic if it got to the point where I couldn't update my website frequently anymore, or at all. I think it would be great if gaming got to the point where the times of harassment and weirdness I highlight on my website was nonexistent... Or at least a lot less prominent.

What she is doing is incredibly important.  This is not her day job.  She is not doing this for the money and she isn't doing it for the fame.  She is doing this to show how women are treated when they play online multiplayer games.  No amount of criticism or victim-shaming, like the kind seen on websites like Gamers Association will prevent her from displaying the realities of what it's like to be a woman in an online gaming world.  

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