Welcome to Real Talk Tuesdays! We encourage contributors of Girls Got Game to share their feelings on issues in “the real world” through this column. They may or may not have to do with geeky things. If you stumble across something that you think we’d be interested in, drop us a line!
The views expressed in this article are personal views of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Girls Got Game! as a whole.
This requires just a bit of a background.
GGG’s volunteers have an FB group where we bug each other about our deadlines for the website and share things that are relevant to our interests. Denice linked Leiron Martija’s “Signal Noise” a few days ago. It’s a piece on the notorious behavior of Filipino gamers in online games.
What got me interested enough to read it wasn’t the article itself at first, but Denice’s reaction. The copy was pretty good: “Filipino gamers are getting notoriety for their salty behaviour. Are these ‘Peenoise’ ruining the fun for everyone else?” Denice was characteristically blunt. “It’s even worse when you happen to be in possession of a vagina (or identifies as a woman, actually).” That’s the reality on our side of the fence, see.
Please note that I said “reality.” I’ll go back to that later.
Thanks for telling us what we – especially the ladies in the house – already know.
Martija does not have a kind word to say about Filipino gamer behavior. “Signal Noise” focuses on the reputation that we seem to be building for ourselves online as rude shits who win as horribly as they lose.
If we are sore losers, we are also abhorrent winners. No team that has lost to a Filipino gamer… has ever walked away without fists clenched, mashing “report” buttons wherever available, only to find that the threat of online sanction will not cease or stymie the torrents of invectives hurled against mothers, sisters, girlfriends… references to sexual abuse… or dismissive lectures about unfortunately easy opponents. Filipino gamers do not bury the hatchet — they dance on the graves of their enemies.
He drives home, yet again, the fact that in the already incredibly salty world of online gaming, us Pinoys shine in all the wrong ways. We’re breathtakingly creative in our ability to be juvenile to whoever we’re playing with. Being one of us doesn’t even save you in the end. In fact, sometimes that makes it worse since you’re expected to grin and bear it.
Expressing dislike of any kind results in anywhere between uncomfortable laughter and everyone and their brad telling you that maybe you’re just too sensitive.
Yes, kids. Us Pinoy geeks had our own version of “eh di wow” way before it became a Thing.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Anyway, somewhere in the middle of his piece, Martija has a message for the aggrieved parties of this phenomenon.
I do not write to rationalize this behavior, nor do I condone it. I would like to apologize… to anyone who ever had to encounter a Filipino gamer… in the e-sports scene: we detest intelligent plays because we feel it behooves us to realize our own faults; we are absolute in our bitterness in losing and gracelessness in winning because, most often in life, we know nothing but the former. Without admitting that there is some unfortunately complex reason or some acceptable apologia somewhere that exists to validate or reasonably temper this behavior, I can only go so far as to acknowledge that it is a symptom of something more: a social and psychological frame of mind that isn’t just contained to online gaming, but which is essentially a Filipino trait. It’s the desire to have more, without changing for it.
Why do I have a bone to pick with this piece? He’s acknowledging that there’s a problem. The attempt at some sort of cultural analysis is cute (if not a little too lofty). He’s made his stand against the matter clear, and he’s apologizing.
But that’s just it. People have apologized enough. It’s time that we start doing something about this shit.
The saltiness in Filipino gamer behavior is the tip of the iceberg.
Saltiness is one thing. From where I’m standing, I believe that we’ve weaponized our sense of entitlement. Everybody owes the Filipino gamer – and by extension, Filipino geeks – something. We’re owed our victories, we’re owed our “entertainment”, we’re owed unending praise for spending money and time on geeky products. Everybody must conform to our world view. Geek entitlement is not unique to any particular nationality: it’s cultural in the geek sphere as a whole. And from what I’ve seen, the first hard lesson that girl geeks, in particular, have to learn is that fandom is NOT a safe space.
Now before y’all go into a tirade for #NotAllMen and how geek douchebaggery does not discriminate, let me NOT let you finish and tell you that you’re gaslighting. I KNOW that guys can be douches to each other too. I KNOW there are girl geeks on the scene that are absolute scum. But throwing those faces in our points just reduces the magnitude of the situation, and glosses over the fact that the discrepancies are real.
Identifying yourself as a woman or simply existing as a woman in the geek-o-sphere makes you a target.
Did you select a girl sprite for your MMORPG? Expect propositions, and players having their sprites walk over and hump your corpse if you were unlucky enough to die in their presence. Do you belong to a forum or network like Twitch? Expect dick pics and stalkers. Planning on going out to your local gaming store? There’s always a high probability of someone staring at you like they’re wondering if you’re real. Active on social media? Not a week will go by without someone writing something misguided or downright crappy about “your kind”.
People are slowly but surely coming to terms with the fact that geeks and geekdom just are what they are. There’s nothing mystical about it, there’s nothing deviant about it, and we don’t have to justify our hobbies and our existence. However, girl and LGBT geeks, it seems, will ALWAYS have to do that. Imagine having to engage in a constant negotiation of “Is this place safe? Is this crowd okay? Am I saying or doing anything that someone’s going to hit me for later? Can I really say what I like and what I don’t?”
Imagine having to defend every little thing you say or do every damned day. If you can’t, then you better give your girl or LGBT geek friend a hug, because that is their life.
And shitty geek behavior is reflective of a larger, scarier picture.
Girls Got Game’s FB Page linked a think piece called “Tabletop Gaming Has a White Male Terrorism Problem” last March. It was full of concrete and personal examples that many people from all over the world felt that they could relate to. It was ALSO full of people denying the problem to death, and calling out anyone who defended the existence of the issue as overly sensitive.
Dialogue in some local circles was even more rage-inducing. “We can’t be racist, we’re all Filipinos!” some said. “Well, I haven’t seen that in MY neighborhood so it can’t real,” others claimed. “Geek girls are way too prissy anyway,” still others seemed to imply. What struck me about all of this was the examples I am mentioning were all straight geek guys. When girls and LGBT folk tried to engage them, some of them were talked over.
That sounds exactly like what happens when we talk about rape culture and gender-based violence, doesn’t it?
Rendering something invisible will inevitably lead to denying that there’s an issue in the first place. Social media makes that ridiculously easy. Sure, the internet gives us great, incisive pieces like this one, but the power to curate our online spaces also creates echo chambers. News with chilling statistics is capable of spreading faster to a large demographic than it ever has in the past, but so can gross misinformation.
Filipino gamer behavior is problematic. The current trend of geek behavior as a whole is problematic. We know that.
Don’t apologize for this. Do something about it, and let that something NOT be just telling me or other geeks which games or places we should avoid. Read up, speak out, listen. Report and/or ban the fuckers who cross the line. Call people (yes, even your friends) out when they’re being dicks. Change the way you act.
TL;DR: stop justifying the bullshit.