Ism or Not?

Another week, another larger non-black streamer is in “trouble” for saying the n word.

Who it is doesn’t matter to the conversation, mainly because it is largely and by far an offense that has zero consequence. Let’s be honest – a white e-sports organization with mostly white men at the helm (in front and behind the scenes) in 2020 sees little wrong with a younger, white male gamer using that flavor of language.

Back when we had the GamingSoWhite conversation, I asked where did we think all the toxic and racists folks go to play video games. There aren’t separate match making queues or games that only they know about and play – they were the same person in all aspects of their life – we just swept the idea of them being everyday people under the rug.

Which brings me to my next point.

I’m not sure that I care that white gamers / streamers are saying “nigga” – let me expand.

The conversation hasn’t changed much, its just gotten louder and there is no “punishment” just the RealEyesRealizeRealLies headass notes app apology and enough time offline to prep the redemption story after the good PR spin.

In my opinion, the conversation is larger than casual racism and being caught saying nigga on stream or in your discord.

Much of the communications between players in multiplayer online games is toxic. There are some communities that manage to create bubbles for their players to the best of their ability but the reality is, there is only so much you can mitigate once the toxicity because part of the culture of the game itself.

This toxicity goes beyond racial slurs, its inclusive enough to center all of the worst things you can say to each other and is rife with terminology associated with sexual assault and violence.

Why? Well, its partially a psychological thing. Getting under your opponent’s skin and gloating converge into a spot of darkness.

As gaming culture became more accessible – with millions of folks tuning into esports events and streams every day; it inevitably became the first g-check in your gatekeeper’s score card.

All of that to say – I don’t always think racism is always part of the reason why that word comes up within gaming (I do not want to go into the idea of reclaiming that word as gamer terminology, please, I’m tired) it’s more than that – it’s about saying the worst things.

Why is it one of the worst things? How you answer that determines if it’s racism, bias or just you being an asshole.

I would like us to examine more than the racist slurs that get used – we have made progress with some of the other “gamer terminology” re: rape. The insidious nature of these words and the effect of them when they are used means that while we will continue to make progress, until we address the personal growth and internal work that needs to be done around this issue as a community.

I reflected and then naturally, I was curious:


The responses validated what I felt – my mostly black and brown TL was rife with the folly of our past and we were able to reflect a bit and consider how we have all grown as individuals – some of us with more work to do still but it was great to see all of the honesty.

All things being equal, I’d much rather be called a nigga than some of the responses I got but I also live for the clapback.

Let’s talk.


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