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Rebuttal: Gaming doesn't need Safe Spaces


[This isn't meant to be in any way meant to attack, bash or talk shit about Jed. This is meant as a legitimate rebuttal to the points that were brought up in his recent article and to address why people might be as riled up as they are.]

Well Destructoid suddenly became a nice little shitstorm over the weekend as Jed Whitaker posted an article that's got all sorts of people in a tizzy, as Jed is wont to do. I've given my opinion on Jed before and as I said above there's no need to repeat any of that over again. What I did want to do however is actually address some of the stuff in the article as a lot of people are clearly riled about this but I haven't seen a whole lot of people taking this point by point with an actual rebuttal for some of this arguments. I wanted to go sorta bit by bit through the article and help address why people are saying this is ridiculous and such.

So I think the easiest way to do this is go through the article and address each point as it comes up. So to start with.

"The definition of "safe spaces" varies depending on who you ask, but to me, a safe space is a place where you can be free of harassment regardless of your politics, race, nationality, sexuality, and gender or lack thereof.
Currently, protests are being held at college and university campuses across the United States with students asking for safe spaces. But safe spaces aren't just for the real life and college campuses. The whole of gaming would be better off with more safe spaces as well."

I agree with the definition of Safe Spaces here as that's pretty much how I've perceived it as well. A place where one can voice his or her own opinion without the fear of somebody who might opposed them attacking their opinions. One thing is that it's seemingly gone beyond the idea of people wanting to avoid "Harassment" and more so the idea of people wanting to avoid anybody who seems to disagree with them in general.

As the article states, many college students have been demanding that schools be given a safe space. College is the last place that should be a safe space. Students go to college in order to be challenged by subjects that might make them feel a bit uncomfortable, learn views that differ from their own and develop social skills in a society with differing opinions. Dealing with ideas that make us uncomfortable is an important part of growing as students and as people. To ignore those viewpoints is only doing oneself a disservice and will not prepare one's self for adversity in the future.

Students at these protests use phrases like "Silence is Violence" which seemingly means that even those that choose not to get involved with the issue are against them. A lot of these students tend to take any dissenting opinion as proof of some kind of racist or sexist agenda. This is a problem that has permeated this issue since it began in that a lot of people put their own opinion above everyone else and everyone who disagrees is a "Straight White Male" despite many of them stating otherwise. People of all sorts of races or genders have disagreed with the use of Safe Spaces yet they are seemingly lumped in constantly with the people with more extreme views.  It's hard to take someone who supposedly wants safe spaces from people with differeing opinions seriously when they put their opinion above everyone else and shun every differing opinion.

"The above message was sent unprovoked by someone on my team in a multiplayer game of "Warzone" in Halo 5: Guardians. I had said nothing even remotely related to LGBT people when I was sent the above toxicity; nay, my crime was using the call tag "LGBT" that shows instead of my name, something I started doing after meeting another player that was using it as a means to find like-minded players to party up with, which I still think is a good idea."

If you label yourself something online, chances are your going to run into somebody that is against whatever you labeled yourself as, as bigoted as they may be, and as such eventually one of them is going to voice their opinion on it. Yes the attack may have not been deliberately provoked by Jed but it's kinda hard to say that it couldn't be expected by anybody when you have a tag like that. It'd be like if I had a tag that said I<3Trump and got an influx of emails calling me racist without anyone asking why. If your going to name yourself something that some people might consider controversial, then you should be prepared for the possible backlash that could come with it. This doesn't mean that I defend what the guy said in his message or his intentions behind it whatsoever, I do however think he at least has a right to voice his opposite opinion no matter how dumb it may come across just as Jed has a right to promote his support for LGBT.

"Receiving this message got me to thinking, though: Why would Microsoft allow someone to send a message like this to strangers? I realize there are privacy settings to prevent strangers from sending you messages, but why should I block messages from others for fear of receiving messages like the one above? Why am I, the one playing within the rules, the person to lose privileges? Surely Microsoft should implement a blacklisted words filter for sending messages to strangers in the same way it has for Xbox Live usernames."

This is the part where it gets hard to take this article seriously hence a lot of people wondering if this whole thing is some crazy sarcastic joke. Jed here is basically asking that Microsoft do all the blocking and filtering for him as opposed to being able to do it himself. He's basically refusing to use the already implemented system of being able to ignore and turn down somebody because he apparently feels he's "losing privileges" by doing so. How? Because you have to go through an incredibly simple process in order to never hear from that person ever again? What exactly are you losing here because I'm just not seeing it. The block options have been there since the beginning for this very reason, there's no need to fix what isn't broken.

"Microsoft could even give players the option to enable or disable receiving messages with banned words, or the ability to censor blacklisted words. Popular free MOBA League of Legends offers this feature, but for some reason Microsoft doesn't, which seems like an oversight for a service that costs $60 a year. "

The most sensible point of the article which I frankly can't disagree with. An option for people who want to censor words in their chat is fine, so long as it is just that, an option. It's the next part where it starts to get more silly.

"We need safe spaces, not just from hateful messages, but emotes and assholes humping your corpse.
If you've ever played Hearthstone, you're probably familiar with its emote system. Instead of being able to directly message your opponents during matches you can click on your hero and select pre-made emotes that include: greetings, well played, thanks, oops, threaten, and sorry. At first glance, these emotes may seem pretty harmless, but when people spam them or say them at certain times, they can be downright angering. At what point during a player-versus-player competitive match can the sorry emote be used in a non-sarcastic way?

A survey of 5,100 people on reddit found that only 14 percent of players used emotes sincerely, while 30 percent of players would use an auto-squelch option if it existed. Can you blame the players when some emotes seem to encourage this kind of behavior? Yes, you can, but Blizzard is just as much to blame. An option to display only friends' emotes would undoubtedly benefit some players, myself included."

I don't play Hearthstone and never have so I can't comment really on first hand experience with this. However based on what's here as well as the little bit of research I did seemed to contradict what is said here. There are lots of emotes that can come across as sarcastic, but fact is there are lots of emotes that aren't and come across sincere as well. I've read up on all sorts of players using the Sorry Emote as legitimate because the rng going on might've fucked the other player over or for any number of reason.

I won't go into the idea of a Survey on Reddit being an accurate representation of what people actually use Emotes for but I will say an option to display only friends emotes or an Auto Squelch aren't bad ideas either if they are as I stated earlier an option. Curiously though, how is Blizzard to blame for people being assholes? Blizzard is just providing the means to allow you to interact with each other. They aren't in any way responsible for any one persons behavior and as such to hold them to that standard is ridiculous the same way Microsoft isn't responsible when someone sends you an offending message. Frankly it's up to each individual person to take each emote how they feel. If someone feels their saying sorry in a sarcastic way, that's that own persons interpretation and can't be blamed on anybody else.

"Sometimes players take a game mechanic and use it as a means of harassment with the prime example being crouching on dead players' faces as if to press their testicles against them, a practice better known as "teabagging." Teabagging is not only unsportsmanlike but also simulates sexual assault and abuse of a corpse, no matter how you twist it. Yet teabagging has become commonplace in first-person shooters ever since Halo 2's player-base popularized it. This virtual assault has become so prevalent and accepted that most of us are desensitized to it to the point that the following commercial for Call of Duty: Ghosts wasn't instantly lambasted and banned."

This is the point I'm sure most people are getting riled up over and rightly so. Equating the act of a person being attracted to a corpse due to who knows what kind of psychological or cultural influences a person might've experienced or gone through to the act of a virtual person virtually crouching on another virtual persons virtual face is just ridiculous and frankly kind of insulting to people that may actually have some deep seated psychological problems. The idea of "Virtual Assault" is ridiculous and insulting to victims of actual real life assault.

Apparently Jed has no problem with the level of violence that is displayed in these games but somehow the idea of a player crouching on another players face could be offensive. I'm sorry but you can't cherry pick your arguments. Either the whole of the game can be influential on a person to do horrible deeds, or none of it is. You can't pick and choose specific ideas without acknowledging all of them at least.

"Call of Duty: Ghosts is especially guilty of normalizing this behavior by giving players a field order to "humiliate the next enemy you kill" for a reward. You do this, of course, by teabagging your opponent's corpse, earning a care package in the process. Gross. While teabagging in games may seem harmless to many of you reading this, I imagine more than a few people are uncomfortable with the act in general."

That last bit kills me. "I imagine more than a few people", not that I actually know or have any proof, I'm just taking a wild guess. When you start throwing assumptions into your argument then you've basically lost the argument. I can just as easily assume that people don't think tea bagging is harmless and couldn't care less about people doing it. The assumption road goes both ways. Also just want to address the idea of an adult calling something they don't agree with gross. Of all the words one could use to describe something, Gross just comes across childish and uninformed.

"There are a few easy fixes to teabagging like removing crouching animations from post-kill camera shots, something that would go a long way to possibly make someone's experience a little bit better. I'm not saying players should be forced or punished for teabagging, just having the option of not experiencing the act if you so choose would be a welcome option to many. "

I want post-kill camera shots optional as well, but mainly because I think they are just a waste of time rather than not wanting to see my corpse get tea bagged which I've experienced countless times without being offended in any way. I hate to do the "toughen up" bit that many people have been echoing but I can't help but feel that it applies here. If seeing someone crouch up and down on your corpse for 3 seconds is enough to ruin your gaming experience, despite the fact that you are playing a game where people are virtually murdering each other, you probably should avoid most video games altogether. It's just the most innocuous thing to get offended by compared to what's out there. It's the visual equivalent of someone going "Suck my balls" as a taunt. I don't remember any players in the NBA needing a safe space after Michael Jordan talked all the shit he did on the court.

"These are just a few examples that come to mind when talking about creating safer spaces for everyone in online gaming, though I'm sure there are many more opportunities out there. I'm not saying players freedom of expression should be taken away; I'm just asking that we are given a way to avoid certain things if we see fit. A winning situation for everyone."

I don't really see how making it so people don't have to see anything that they disagree with or offends them thus pampering them to the point where a situation in the real world might arise where they have to deal with that stuff and they aren't prepared to deal with it a "winning situation". As I stated before, dealing with people and ideas that make you uncomfortable and offended are what builds proper social skills and interaction that people need to survive. To hide one's self from all the negative things in the world is to limit one's interpretation of the world at large and as such develop a one sided mind with little room to grow.

We don't need more safe spaces, we need more open ones where people can discuss debate and not shut others out just because they don't agree.

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About ooktarone of us since 12:17 PM on 04.18.2013

Somewhere in the backwoods of California, in a cabin with 1 cat (Rip Fuzzy Butt Boo Boo, Claw and Kisses) and little contact with the outside world. Locked away with nothing but a PC, a guitar, and an near limitless supply of spam. A small yet courageous man works day and night in order to make sense of humanity's greatest secrets. Using his abilities as a skilled video games player, amateur musician, and wannabe film connoisseur, he manages to keep himself busy with his work of saving the world through his studies of Heavy Metal, Silly Pop Culture, and Raccoons.