This is arguably not an incident as such, but it does illustrate a few common themes.
To start: The Oatmeal made a comic (on tumblr) contrasting "when I make a mistake in an online game" (shows a male character being ruthlessly insulted), vs "when a girl makes a mistake while playing an online game" (shows a female character saying "oops" with the following responses from her game-mates:
- Aww that's okay. I love napalm!
- You're doing such an amazing job! Will you add me as a friend?
- As a gamer, you inspire me.
- Oh God... Your voice is like an angel playing the flute. I love you
These happen to be pretty good examples of a sexualized environment and condescension - borderline online harassment. However they are presented in a mild way that appear to be perks - lavish, uncritical attention.
The Oatmeal shortly posted a follow-up which said in part:
Based on [playing Steam], and primarily on playing Left4Dead, I noticed that anytime a girl was playing everyone acts REALLY nice to her (even if she throws a molly at the team and sets us all on fire). That’s where the inspiration for my last comic came from.
- Outside of steam, it sounds like it’s still pretty horrible for women to play games. Is this true?* A lot of people are talking of rape threats, sexism, harassment, and a lot of other awful things. I’m a guy and I barely talk into my mic, so *I’ll concede that my view of things is probably very skewed.*
That being said, I apologize to any female gamers who I offended. I didn’t mean to perpetuate the idea that women are treated more nicely while playing games online. It sounds like in a lot of cases the opposite is true.
In short: I’m sorry for making a stupid comic today.
Lastly, apologies on the internet mean about as much as farts do in outer space. So I went ahead and *donated $1,000* to the Women Against Abuse foundation.
...Which is a pretty good apology.
- Comic and initial response after backlash: http://oatmeal.tumblr.com/post/21330629429/update-from-the-author-a-lot-of-people-seem
- Follow up response: http://oatmeal.tumblr.com/post/21333597121/is-it-just-a-steam-thing