A cowardly racist bushwhacks Alex Yarde playing DESTINY. They both got more than they bargained for.
“Evil prevails when good *people fail to act.”-
Edmund Burke 1729-1797 *amendment my own
Upon matchmaking (finding random players to form a strike team), the offender in question (a grown ass man, not a juvenile as if that would excuse his behavior) sent me an innocent party invite. Upon cursory inspection of his profile his reputation was in good standing. I accepted his chat invite. After all, he played many games I had as well and I assumed he wanted to coordinate and strategize. As soon as his mike went live he started in. Here are some highlights:
Mr. Racist: “Fucking nigger” (repeated 20+) “I hate fucking niggers.”
Me: “You kiss your Nana with that mouth?”
Mr. Racist: “Go back where you came from”
and this chestnut-
Mr. Racist: “Go pick cotton!”
Me: *laughing incredulously “Really!? Dude It’s 2015! Pick cotton is the best you got? Technically, being from Barbados, a more historically accurate diatribe would be go cut sugar cane.”
I was Gobsmacked, mainly by the unmitigated gall & privilege Mr. Racist assumed to think it’s OK to speak to a total stranger this way. It then dawned on me that the reason Mr. Racist was so comfortable bushwhacking people was because he’s a serial offender. For him to maintain such a high reputation and not be banned on XBOX LIVE outright his friends must also be knuckle-dragging racists and/or there is something seriously wrong with Microsoft’s reporting policy. I was going to write my straight review (admittedly late) of the long anticipated Bungie follow up to the award-wining HALO. However, I felt it was more important as a public service to remind everyone there are real people, with real lives on the other end of your mike that deserve common courtesy and rally my fellow Guardians to truly “Serve the Light”, stop being apathetic and take a stand against this behavior.
DESTINY can be played lone wolf, but gear drops are meager unless you complete Vanguard or Crucible or other multiplayer matches. “Grinding” to the level caps, voraciously battling other players for better stats and better gear is part and parcel of the DESTINY experience and I welcome the challenge. Playing more experienced players makes you better. A bit of boasting and friendly trash talk is all part of it. Being called a “fucking nigger” is something that I neither enjoy nor improves anyone’s game. Put simply. It’s no fun. So if a game can’t be fun. Why play?
I’m a DESTINY “noob” but it’s not my first rodeo. I’ve been a Gamer for 30 plus years. I’m no pearl clutcher. I’m no stranger to the typical trash talk, casual misogyny and blatant racism that exist particularly with the FPS (First Person Shooter) crowd on line. Despite that, I’m a seasoned veteran of every HALO Campaign and played Bungie games since MYST, but the abusive language got to the point where I avoided matchmaking all together. I strictly played with vetted friends and muted everyone I didn’t know to avoid the vitriol. I’m sure there are many out there that can relate. At issue is where HALO had a robust single player campaign the DESTINY campaign only preps you for team play. In HALO your character was basically static, your generic Spartan character and their gear didn’t change so you could pick up, play and have little investment in gear or weapons. DESTINY is different; your Guardian character is unique and customizable. The tougher bosses and levels, some of which you need 3-6 players to tackle, hold the promise of better gear. The “meat” of the DESTINY experience is built around the strike team and multiplayer. Silence limits the effectiveness of a coordinated team effort and chances of success. “The strength of the pack is the wolf, the strength of the wolf is the pack.”
Playing deaf & mute limits my options on big missions, more importantly, why should I have to play mute? I paid for my game like everybody else. Can’t I share the same experience the designers intended everyone to enjoy? If you are a Gamer, don’t you enjoy taking a break from the daily grind and playing a game in peace? (Playing a War game in Peace. The irony isn’t lost on me.) Don’t we ALL have a right to play free of harassment from random bigotry and hatred? This is America, 2015. As a black man, I deal with this kind of bullshit in the real world on a daily basis. I’m a HUGE Geek but I grew up in The Bronx, New York in the 80’s dodging the NYPD fearing people whom my families taxes payed to protect and serve me. How crazy is that? If you don’t know what that’s like, you are more fortunate than you realize my friend, trust me, its no game. I’m an American. I’m treated as a second-class citizen in my own country, I REFUSE to be a second class virtual one. Are you guilty of this kind of behavior? If you are. Please stop. It’s not cute or necessary and goes against the camaraderie and fun we all play these games for.
Don’t like black people? Sounds like a whole lot of your problem to me. Don’t invite us to dinner. Or invite us to chat only to insult us. It’s just a DESTINY strike mission, we don’t have to be best friends at it’s conclusion and you don’t have to join the NAACP for playing DESTINY with a black person. All jokes aside, I’m an adult. I can take it, but there are young, impressionable kids out there on line and you don’t have a single clue what struggles they are going through daily. Maybe a kid, just like yours, got DESTINY for Christmas and you’d spoil it for them to go out of your way to be a dick? Hating people you don’t know doesn’t make you special.
My loot crate for this encounter was a valuable reminder. Thank you Mr. Racist, because you actually did me a favor. You reminded me why I started All Things Geek. I’ve been an outcast long before my favorite pastimes were mainstreamed and packaged as they are today. As a proud Geek of Color I love many aspects of our shared Geek culture that admittedly don’t love me back. I’m lucky enough to get paid to explore Geek Culture and share my experiences, educate and inform a fast growing audience! I have a responsibility to Geeks young and old who are passionate about a video game, or comic, or comic book movie or TV show to do what I can to ensure they are unmolested as they Cosplay at The Cons or Trade Shows, line up for hours for a selfie or autograph or log on to be entertained. I’m an advocate for positive social change within our shared Geek culture, where ALL should be represented positively and respected regardless of sexuality, race, gender, ability, body type or age.
I’m done avoiding the vitriol. So if you choose to be a “Thrall”. I’m a Guardian and Guardians don’t hide from “Thralls” they eliminate them. Adversity only strengthens resolve as dragging a knife against a whetstone only makes it’s edge sharper. Mr. Racist, and his ilk are why Gamers have garnered such a bad reputation. If “Culture” is a lie we all buy into then Bigotry is only acceptable cultural behavior if we Gamers accept it. I reject the notion that misogyny, homophobia, ableism & transphobia as “par for the course” in on line play, not on my watch. Be forewarned, from this day forward, you see my gamer tag (same as my name) come up in matchmaking check any sexist, racist and homophobic baggage at the launch screen or your Reputation will take a hit and you will be publicly outed. EVERY. SINGLE. CASE. After I lodge a formal complaint as a bonus, I will also post a screenshot of your gamer tag on all my social networks.
To the vast majority of my fellow Guardians whose company I enjoy, veterans and “noobs”alike. The Hive and The Fallen aren’t the only foul things you will encounter. As Mr. Burke declared “Evil prevails when good *people fail to act.” Join me in pushing back the darkness and anonymity these cowardly on-line “Thralls” thrive on and cloak themselves in. Let everyone know where you stand and what you think of this kind of behavior polluting the gaming communities we love and share. On and off line, I’ve always found “The Light” is the best disinfectant.
*Points, waves and salsa dances.