[TW for discussion of rape] “Rape” usage in games
“Oh man, I totally raped that noob!”
“We totally raped that boss, man!”
The word “rape” has become a part of gaming culture, and most noticeably online gaming. People use it in such ways as describing other gamers they’ve defeated in Call of Duty and bosses they’ve beaten in MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy.
I personally play World of Warcraft, and in the last two weeks have started noticing a disturbing upsurge in the use of this word. I don’t know whether I just started paying attention to it more or people are using it more, but it’s been happening. I have:
- been kicked out of my guild for getting angry at one of the officers who told a rape joke.
- had one of my friends tell me it was “bigotry” for me to ask them to stop using “rape” to describe PvP combat.
- had one of our most active raiders be so attached to the use of the word that it almost cost him his spot.
The gaming community is primarily made up of white heterosexual males, which may explain this trend (but surely not excuse it). Since rape culture “rewards” men for being aggressive and not caring about so-called “Political Correctness”, perhaps nost of these gamers feel as if they can joke about it without anyone caring or being punished, because the most vocal section of the gaming community is just like them (i.e. white heterosexual male).
I don’t like this trend. Gamers are smarter than this. Surely other words would be more appropriate in this situation - like “owned”, “defeated”, or even “killed”. People saying that “the word ‘rape’ is just a part of gaming culture now and that will never change” need to rethink that. Surely gamers can find other words instead of trivializing a serious incident that happens to a lot of people. And the problem with the Internet is that one never knows who’s listening. You may think you’re telling a hilarious rape joke to your guild, but on the other side of the screen could be a sexual assault survivor who is violently triggered by your “joke”.
I personally have not been raped or sexually assaulted, but I know people who have been, and when people use “rape” in this way it is like equalizing what happened to them with a 30-second wait or the killing of a virtual boss.
So remember this the next time you want to use “rape” to describe something in a game - is it something as life-changing as actual rape? If the answer is no (and it probably will be) use a different word. Don’t contribute to the problem. And I encourage you, if you feel you can, to speak up within your gaming community to stop the spread of the word. I certainly don’t want people to speak up if they feel they can’t, but if you feel your community would understand your thinking go for it.
P.S. If you reblog this post, please leave the trigger warning in the title there (even if you don’t use them normally) - I don’t want people to get the wrong idea about this blog (i.e. that we don’t use trigger warnings).
I personally can’t stand the word and try to use it as little as possible, generally not at all. But sometimes I slip up. When in a party full of males all talking about how badly they beat someone or a clan and then I happened to be in a game with them and someone will ask me if it was true or how it was. After hearing them say “We raped them” or “They got raped” so much in the party, I will just automatically reply with “Yeah they got raped.” then the moment the words have left my mouth and I am actually paying attention to what is being said I immediately feel terrible about myself and become filled with guilt. I hate the usage of the word and how flippantly it is thrown around, and I hate even more how sometimes I get caught up in it and slip up. Because then in that moment I know everyone thinks I agree with the usage of it when I definitely do not.