The zombie apocalypse is now.
So, let me just say, all my knowledge of social justice was definitely brought on early in college. I was the girl in high school who was a die hard tom boy. I was bold and crass, unlike all the other girls in my friend circle. I was the girl who would say, “I’m not a feminist: I don’t want to be equal to men, I want to be better than men!” I was the girl who made subtle jabs at non-binary sexual orientations and said the N word. A lot. These are things I cannot deny. But, I am glad to say, I have grown away from being like that.
The real eye-opener, however, was when I started college.
I got the literal worst student work study job on the history of the planet in all of the galaxy – computer help desk services. I was basically the person who spent hours answering the shit bag phone to tell people that the internet was off (because they’d call us to ask if it was off and when it would be back), reset passwords, and troubleshot computers.
I had this girl who was supposed to train me, but she never did. So I sat around, getting accused of not being able to do my job because “I didn’t know what to do” (I didn’t know what she looked like, nobody introduced me to her, so how was I supposed to get her to train me?) and put paper in printers. One day, I printed out a comic that was hilarious to me at the time.
Part of that “I’m not your typical girl” mentality meant that I played a shit ton of video games. This comic, at the time, was hilarious to me. Little did I know that there were other ways to describe what I felt when I encountered a bunch of Tanks in Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2). Zombie apocalypse. Survival. That kind of game.
So, I printed this comic out once (trigger warning: rape) after laughing my ass off because 18 year old me thought, “this is so relevant and displays my sentiments exactly!” And it was from a web comic called CTRL+ALT+DEL, and that was a very important web comic to me.
I probably would’ve continued like this for years. Thinking using those words to describe those situations was appropriate. The more I think about it, the words “shit shit fucking shit, this is bullshit” are a more appropriate way to describe a horde of tanks in the game, not rape. I didn’t continue on like this… because I left the fucking comic in the printer and my supervisor traced it back to me.
Basically, he decided that this wasn’t an OK way for me to think, that it was funny. I told him it was funny and relevant to the game and not a reflection of anything I would do in real life, but that wasn’t necessarily how he saw it. It was worrying to him, like my mindset and how I had been conditioned to think about what I saw was funny. He told me, as long as it didn’t happen again, he wouldn’t report it. Reporting it would’ve been automatic expulsion. Maybe not automatic, but it would have literally ruined my life.
And since then, I have come to realize just how problematic a lot of the gaming community is and how my attitude was directly related to those attitudes of misogyny and racism and homophobia and all the other things I am severely fighting against now. Whenever I see anybody say, “That character just got raped,” I tell them to use different words. Usually it falls onto deaf ears, because these are 10 year olds (which is horrifying to me as somebody who plays casually online through Steam and things like that) who learned this from other gamers. People who are my ages, were my ages, were younger than I, older than I. It’s horrifying. What makes it even more horrifying is that once they find out I’m not a male, it’s curtains for me.
Once I accidentally called this woman a sociopath (because I forgot that was actually a legitimate medical condition and not just a word) and I replaced it with a huge apology and, what I MEANT TO SAY was uncaring, unfortunate person who lacked empathy and was voted in high school for being most likely to be hit by a bus. (I’ve been really creative with my insults since I stopped using medical conditions.) That’s why you shouldn’t say rape. Rape has a very specific definition and connotation and context. “That character got their ass kicked!” or “That level was hard as shit!” should suffice, but they don’t. They use rape as if it was one of Patrick Star’s “Sentence Enhancers”
Conclusion: This has been a blog post about how my vulgar gaming habits caught up to me in real life and made me reevaluate the entirety of everything I’d ever done and will now continue to do. I hope it will help to know people who make these same mistakes, getting caught up in the hilarious world of video games, can change and hopefully not ruin their lives like I literally almost did.