Dom Joly: Play is no fun in the white rage of the gaming world

A psychological crutch and a repository for morons' anger. Our columnist despairs at the nastier side of the internet

Share
Related Topics

The online gaming community seems to be getting more and more angry. Maybe it's the credit crunch. Even a year ago I would only come across one or two violently aggressive and racist morons during a typical hour-long session of Call of Duty 4. Now, however, things almost anything can set them off.

In the UK, if you sound vaguely posh or southern, then you are the immediate recipient of vitriolic hatred from northern players with an extraordinary amount of pent-up anger and God forbid you might be foreign.

I did some filming for a gaming show called Gameswipe with the very funny Charlie Brooker. I went online and assumed a series of personas in order to see, in a very unscientific sort of way, what would happen. It's all about time with regards to whom you get. In the morning, it tends to be angry English northerners; then, around 4pm, the Americans start to play and you get a completely different mentality, although a similar attitude.

I went on first as Billy-Bob, a rather dumb hillbilly from Mississippi. The moment I started talking I got a wall of abuse from two roofers from Manchester. This ranged from my hailing from a fat, obese nation, to how happy they were that the twin towers had been hit. They finished off with a barrage of abuse about "nigger presidents" and how it was now a "Black House not a White House".

This Obama abuse is a very common phenomenon whenever Brits play Americans online. I played on three different maps with three different groups of people and every time the abuse came thick and fast and of a very consistent nature: "fat", "terror", "blacks", "fat", "terror", "blacks". The sheer anger in their voices was what frightened the most. It's the video-game equivalent of road rage: you get behind a microphone and you're anonymous and broadcasting to strangers who can't reach you, so you say whatever you want. The worrying thing is that you can hear that this is what they truly feel; it's not for show.

Next up I tried another approach. I donned the persona of Luis, an amiable Mexican fellow who was keen to practise his English. "Hello everybody. I am from Mexico City." That was enough. I was interrupted by a Scouser: "Fuck off, you foreign bastard. Go fuck a donkey." However hard Luis tried to make friends, nobody was having it.

I wondered whether Luis might have more luck with Americans? I waited until 4pm and went online again, this time encountering Yanks.

"Hello, United States people," said Luis brightly. "I want to thank you all for your hospitality in your wonderful country." The Americans answered as though in sync: "Fuck off, wetback. Go home, you scrounging bastard. You bring us swine flu and nothing else. How much do you earn a year? A dollar?" It was immediate and as vitriolic as the English stuff. I couldn't resist riling them a little bit. I announced, with some pride and seeming ignorance of their anger, that I was in the process of building a huge tunnel under the border that would accommodate up to a thousand "tourists" a day. They went totally mental at this news and I was faced with threats of nuclear holocaust and total extermination of the country.

It was an interesting experiment, although a rather worrying one. I can't help wondering just how many people secretly harbour these views while putting across their politically correct façade to the world? The most worrying aspect is that my kids are going to be playing these games very soon. I dread to think about the kind of stuff they're going to encounter.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine