Writing about something like this is comparable to being a Charmander in a fireworks factory. Somewhere, somehow, something is going to explode. As such, I'm just going to do without the coyness and opt for a blunt approach. Here's a direct question, folks. What do you think of racism (or xenophobia , as the case may be) in the DOTA2 community?
I want to know because it happens a lot and because it happens everywhere. Bigotry often seems synonymous with competitive games. I know people who refuse to play with strangers for that reason. Over the last decade, I've seen everything from rape threats to homophobia to racial slurs. However, in the interest of keeping this article from bloating into a thesis, let's focus on the last bit. Let's talk about racism or xenophobia or whatever you're most comfortable calling it. Let's talk about hatred that happens because of where someone lives.
Now, I'm a long-term fan of the franchise. I started playing the original DotA (That's Defense of the Ancients for those new to this) almost around the time it began and since then, I've seen the community point its collective loathing at, well, pretty much anyone that doesn't use English as their primary form of communication. Lately, however, it looks like the pitchforks are being raised in the direction of the Russians.
You know what I'm talking about. There are people out there who will abandon games because there's a Russian present in the team. Trash talk can commence the moment a single Cyrillic letter is born. Instead of homophobic insults, people now insult one another by declaring them a 'Russian noob'. It's a discomforting trend, one that has helped vilify the MOBA community on the whole. Insults that encompass personal beliefs, sexual preferences, color of skin, nationality and so forth really shouldn't be a part of your gaming vocabulary. What's wrong with going the old-fashioned route and telling someone to uninstall their game because they, as a person, are a failure? (Not that I'm condone flaming in any way. I'm just trying to make a point.)
Not too long ago, someone I knew played a match against a Russian team. As his opponents gained ground, one opened fire over the chat channel. "How does it feel to be crushed by Russians? Who is the noob now?" When that somebody responded with perplexity and welcome, the hostility vanished and an apology followed. He had only been confrontational because of the treatment he had been receiving, his foe explained.
Personally, I can't imagine what it would be like to be treated with verbal battery of such consistency and magnitude. Can you? How would you react if each match was punctuated with insults against your nation? As an American, how would you deal with being told you were too fat to play? What if you were Chinese and constantly accused of hacking? What if you were Korean and told you were an embarrassment to your country because you're new to the game? I bet there are a few furrowed brows in the audience out there right now. Some of you might even be prickling in resentment. If you are, I've done my job. I've made you angry because I've defined your country as a stereotype. I've diminished you. I've ignored who you are and I've given you a label instead. How does that make you feel?
What I want you to do now is to take that feeling and imagine it being magnified a hundred fold. Imagine seeing that time and time again in a game you play for your leisure, a game you indulge in as a recreational activity. How long will it take before you snap?
Before you label me a sanctimonious wench. I'm well aware of the fact that there are reasons for such mindsets. In fact, I'd really like to what are your reasons. And so, before we begin discussing the rationale behind this behavior next week, Iet's open the floor to everyone else. What do you think of the community in DOTA2? Is the flaming merely good-natured ribbing? Why is there so much hatred against the Russians and the Brazilians? What do you think of Scandinavians? Do you have any explanation as to the prejudice? Are there certain nationalities that rub you the wrong? If so, why? If you're a citizen of a country that is often met with criticism, how do you feel about this? Do you rage in return or do you take it with a grain of salt? Talk to us. We want to know and next week, we'll share the most informative views (all credit will be provided, of course) and some of our own.
As the Human Torch would say, 'Flame on!'
(You can read Part 2 here. In the second installment, we look at the rationale behind the prejudice or the harsh words in an attempt to investigate what exactly is going on. )