Thursday, April 4, 2013

Crossing Lines

Poetic wrote a post about a former CSM candidate that is apparently a rather unpleasant person.  Corelin wrote a rebuttal and covered CCP's decision regarding the issue.  I have no desire to elaborate more, as I do not want to give any more attention to this person, but it brought something back into the forefront of my mind that comes and goes.  That something is the language we use in Eve, and other games.

I will not enumerate terms, as they are plentiful and pointless.  But one term, in particular, has become personally relevant to me.  In the world outside my computer, I am a married man with a wife who is extremely tolerant of my gaming habit.  She lets me play quite often, and even lets me schedule things around Eve once in a while so I can make it to a fleet or event.  I've never gotten the red-box of wife aggro, and for that I am grateful.  Some of you may think this is stupid, but to all the other married pilots out there, you understand how great it is when your partner lets you indulge in just a few more minutes of fake spaceships.

One of the things my wife does like is listening to comms.  The personalities, accents and comments often make her laugh, and it gives me a way to share the experience with her that she can appreciate, even as a non-gamer.  It also helps her understand that I'm not just staring at a screen, I'm playing with other people.  She can understand the social aspect of the game, even if gaming is not her thing.  But I'm always a little on edge when I put comms on the speakers.  I promise I am coming to a point.

My wife is jewish, and like many religious individuals her religion informs her life and her identity.  The term "space jew" gets thrown around in Eve, along with many other terms.  I haven't had it come up on comms yet, but I'm sure one day it will, and I'll have to explain the concept to her.  The term is not really related to religion, but it is based on stereotypes and racism that are both very real.  It doesn't matter if the speaker is anti-semitic or not.  It is a hateful set of words.  Using those words perpetuates the underlying history of discrimination and hate that all such phrases perpetuate.  How do I explain that to my wife?  More importantly, why should I even have to consider that possibility?

Game are for fun, and for relaxing.  Our language can be coarse, and that's fine.  But there are so many delightful phrases that do not spring from real hatred in the real world.  Using terms like "rape cage" or "space jew" demeans the speaker and the listener.  These phrases are demeaning because they perpetuate hate.  They are demeaning because they lack creativity.  They are demeaning because they are based on phrases or actions that were created to belittle, demoralize and inflict pain on the people they target.

Eve players are a ridiculously inventive bunch.  This creativity is exhibited time after time.  Hell, we break the game and exploit the game, and figure out elaborate schemes and cons that can be insanely convoluted just to get a few more kills or a few more isk.  Let's use a bit of that creativity to come up with insults that don't rely on pointless hatreds and conflicts.

I'll get you started.  Here's a partial list of terms that are synonymous with greedy:
acquisitive, avaricious, avid, carnivorous, close, close-fisted, covetous, craving, desirous, devouring, eager, edacious, esurient, gluttonous, gobbling, gormandizing, grabby, grasping, grudging, gulping, guzzling, hoggish, hungry, impatient, insatiable, insatiate, intemperate, itchy, miserly, omnivorous, parsimonious, pennypinching, penurious, piggish, prehensile, rapacious, ravening, ravenous, selfish, stingy, swinish, tight, tight-fisted, voracious


  1. Yea... bad enough to have to deal with explaining to your adult wife why that idiocy is 'acceptable' in the game... try explaining it to your 10 y.o. daughter or son.

    Both my kids find EvE facinating (fights) and booooring (the rest of the time) but always WOW (visuals except PI scans)...

    As my CEO is my son you can well imagine they LOVE hearing their older brother (and chattin w/ him occasionally on COMMS) so we have had more than a few "Hey guys, my kids are listening." which does not 'always' get the desired response from our younger or cruder childfree members... at which point I have to mute to my kids disappointment.

    I will say this though, on the VOIP servers we have used when this does come up so far, the Alliance (VOIP server owner or CEO) has always stepped in on their own and soundly shut up or muted (and then had a priv talking to w/) the person who felt such language was appropriate with children listening...

    That said however as an older guy in a mixed bag family with kids from 30 to 10 I personally find it very uncomfortable and unpleasant when racial slurs are used in any context... and I discovered recently I am very uncomfortable with the term rapecage for a POS covered in bubbles... I get it, it is highly descriptive, but it evokes a level of personal sexually based violence that I find particularly offensive...

    Did I say anything? No... it was not being used as a vulgarity it was being used as a descriptor for that game mechanic not as a personal insult to anyone... yet, I was worried how I would explain that to my daughter if she happened to hear it one day...

    There are many who will say I should not allow my kids to every listen to EvE Comms... I disagree to a point and yet I do understand their position, EvE aint My Little Pony and it shouldn't be...

    still... I hate the use of racism and extreme personally violent vulgarity that can be rife in this game. I believe the worst thing I personally use is 'tard' as a descriptor for an experienced player doing foolish crap or worse... and even that bothers me after, sometimes.

    I have heard so many say so many times... "It's only words man." and yet... the Bible, the Qur'an and the Torah... are not they also, made up of 'words'?

  2. My wife plays EvE, and she has left fleets and corps and has given me a bit of grief for not doing so when those words and terms have been used. Rightly so, I think. The argument that it's just words, or that everyone else says it, so it's fine are just cop outs, honestly.

    Words have power. Words are how we express ideas and shape opinion. Ideas and opinions lead to action.

    I admit to not objecting when I hear objectionable speech in game because of the grief I get from other gamers. That plus the futility of arguing, because it never seems to make a difference. I blew up on comms at a corpmate the other day for using Jew in an obviously derogatory manner (and EVERY use of that word in EvE is derogatory, make no mistake about it, regardless of the person speaking). He responded by mailing an aopology, saying he didn't know I was Jewish, blah blah. I'm not, but it doesn't and shouldn't matter.

    I'm a student of history, particularly military history, so I know how these things go. My family sent 8 members to war to put a stop to that kind of thing. I carried a rifle for 12 years for Queen and Country to make sure that stuff didn't start up again.

    The language we use in EvE is plain wrong. What's even worse is that the vast majority of people, even folks like Jester, either don't see anything wrong with it, or they make rationalizations for it's continued use.

    Poetic was wrong about CCP and Fon and Corelin was right.

  3. works well for us.

  4. Thank you all for your comments. I hope if enough people talk about this it might help in some small way to make the gaming environment more inclusive to everyone.

  5. I love this post a ton. Thank you a bunch for doing your part on this.

  6. I am sorry but I think I HAVE TO quote Stephen Fry on this (you know why):

    "It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so f*cking what?'

    This is a game where people have spent hours days or even months preparing for an engagement and so they ARE emotionally involved almost like in a real battle.

    Fun fact: do you know why videos of air bombardments (for example from the first desert storm) are always shown muted in public? Pilots curse like a drunken sailor in a mad rage...

    Now back to topic:
    I DO understand you, I really do. There is nothing better than playing WITH your family the game that you so love. It is a boon that ... cannot be really expressed in words. It is just that it is not suited BELOW an age or for all groups of people.

    Fun fact two: EVE has a PEGI rating of 12. With violence added (although they really should add the 'strong language' icon too).
    I'd opt for a PEGI 16 to be honest. This game is complex and there is death and there IS harsh language.

    Just open a local chat channel somewhere with people interacting with one another. I'd wage it will take no more that 15 minutes for the first F*ck to enter the aether.

    And on a side note: I have met a player who IS Jewish, plays like a (stereotypical) Jewish (ie: trading like a boss), is called with pun intended/for fun a Jew on coms. And you know what? He is proud of it...

    What the hell?

    1. I get what you are saying. People can say what they want, and my opinion is exactly that, an opinion. Which as they say are like assholes.

      But I think you are saying that 1. Words and phrases are meaningless, 2. My complaint about language is me complaining about my particular set of sensitivities, 3. People are emotionally invested in things and say emotional things, 4. Some people enjoy the stereotypes when used by people they know, 5. That age warnings are enough to warn people. Please correct me if I misunderstood.

      To reply, 1 is contradicted by 3 and 4. I think, and you seem to imply, that words do have at least emotional meaning to those that say them, and that meaning is important and carries weight. Look at the various reactions to speech around the world, and I think the whole "it's just words" concept falls apart. So what we say does matter. Beyond that, I find it hilarious that a culture commentator would try to argue that some words are meaningless, but that is also my opinion.

      2 is completely true, I am complaining.

      3 is also true.

      4 relates to people who know each other, and if your friends are proud of or enjoy language others find offensive, great. I;ve done the same thing. But I (my opinion again) would never assume a stranger would be ok with language I use with my friends. I don't think it is a fair comparison to treat language between friends the same as language between strangers. General chat is full of strangers. Well, maybe not if you block everyone you don't know or know every player of the game...

      5 I don't think completely applies. There are all sorts of people who are both over the PEGI age of the game, and still find many things said in-game deeply offensive, and would feel that way anywhere. I also tried to make clear, but maybe failed, the point that I could give two shits about curse words that have no deep cultural context informing them. Fuck. Shit. Assclown. Dipshit. Go nuts. I'm not asking people to censor emotion. Nor am I asking people who are specifically trying to offend to change, because that's pointless. I'm asking players who have no desire to use charged terms intentionally to reconsider what they say so as to not drive people away or perpetuate hate speech. It's norm changing.

      Hopefully that's useful to you. Either way, thanks for taking the time to comment.

  7. I do hope this comment will go below yours, I've never done commenting on forums like these... hope I don't break anything or so

    1: you misunderstood it (this is why it contradicts to 3 and 4 :-)). Words and phrases do have a meaning. My goal was to point out to the truth of: complaining about it will not get things done. But it could be that English is not my native language so I might have missed a thing or two to really get through.

    4: from what I've read in your post, you have flown with people you know fairly well (corpmates, I presume) and you - for obvious reasons I hope :-) - know your wife even better. Point being:
    You could really just sit down with her and talk about this to her - because let us face it: it is really about HER approval, not ours. Tell her that you love her and you love EVE and sometimes things like these will go out on open comms and this is because it is a slang term for this and this... etc.

    If she if offended, you are in a pinch. If she understands this, you are clear.

    tl;dr: talk to her about this, your life in EVE will be that less frustrating when things like these flow from comms.

    Errmm, since when did this post turned into public service message?

    Where were we? Ahh point 5. you are correct on that, PEGI is -unfortunately- some rubber something sticked to a web page and done then and there. And people can be both ways about it.

    As for the norm changing: I approve fully, unfortunately I do not really see now how one post could make a difference but I have hope.