I follow many folks in the gaming community on social media. I appreciate what they bring not only to our favorite medium, but also what they do to help grow and expand the communities that we all inhabit.
What I don’t appreciate is the misogyny, sexism, and racism that has permeated online gaming within the past ten years. It is a cancer that is ruining gaming for everyone involved but shows no sign of slowing down. I bring this all up because during my usual nightly Instagram crawl I came across this photo from fighting game community member Sherry “SherryJenix” Nhan.
I had to double take for a moment because besides being a great player, Jenix is pretty well-known in the fighting game scene for breaking down some of the barriers that have befallen many of the women combatants in a super male-dominated field. She has gone to all the tournaments, performed extremely well, and has gotten enough exposure that she was even asked to help debut Street Fighter Cross Tekken in Capcom’s Cross Assault “reality show” earlier this year.
It has become more and more difficult for gamers of color, women, and members of the LGBT community to game without the need to cordon themselves off in muted match limbo or party chats because the rest of the world hasn’t grown up. We’ve gotten to the point that even the good guys are being attacked by other members of the community for speaking out against bigotry. A couple of recent examples include Anita Sarkeesian getting trolled while trying to address some of the video game stereotypes that involve women, and the Gamers Against Bigotry pledge site getting hacked and all petition signatures erased.
What I wonder is, why did she feel like this was ok? It’s not funny for many reasons and does nothing to further the push to make the FGC more inclusive or help remove the societal stereotypes that come along with being part of a specific group.
Knowing how hard I and others root for women like her is what makes this incident so upsetting. We all know where the word that she used derives from, and at this point no one needs to use it or any remixed version of it. The Hip-Hop’s community’s co-opting of this word has enabled people to use a historical epithet like it’s an ok thing. I don’t agree with its use in either case; I would like to start the process of removing it from everyone’s lexicon.
I’m sure Sherry thought this was supposed to be a joke, one that you can just flippantly post on the web and think that people don’t care. Maybe next time she will use her stature and platform to promote something we can all get behind and not this kind of ignorance.
Tell us what you think in the comments below.
So after some initial blowback in the comments section of the above photo Nhan issued a Twitter post that initially defends her “joke” by stating that people need to “get a sense of humor”
Which lead some folks in the community to jump on the “well a black dude started it” bandwagon:
“To those who got offended, I apologize”.
Not that she actually felt any remorse for what she said or repeated, not that she took responsibility for posting racially insensitive things but she is sorry that you didn’t get the joke.
The thing that I find most problematic is the co-signing to things that really shouldn’t be co-signed. We as gamers need to use our words in ways that aren’t destructive. We need to tell our fellow gamers when they step out of line and need to educate them on why.
Although she took the photo down, blocked folks who were offended and made her Instagram account private it doesn’t change the fact that she and other people still feel like this is an ok thing to do, you can see some of this even in the comments below.
People need to understand that great power carries great responsibility. Let her know what you think @sherryjenix