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May 04, 2015

KVR Gaming Feature: Cyberbullying and The Problem with Anonymity

Hello everyone! Before I begin this article, I just want to note that my Game of Thrones Content Guide will be updated this Wednesday, along with the Thoughts & Impressions on Friday.

I originally wanted to post a Mortal Kombat CG (Content Guide), but decided against it as there's still too much content left and I don't want to post a half-baked attempt for you guys.

Anyhooey, here's the first KVR Gaming Feature in quite some time. Let's get right to it!

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For about a year, give or take a few months, I've had a desire, call it an urge, to branch out into online activism. I wasn't sure what I was branching out towards, but it seemed like a necessity.

After a rough and emotionally scarring year, I focused on simply picking up the pieces without putting much thought into what I'll be doing with my future. Come late January, and things changed.

The urge shifted from "rebuilding" to "building". My film career wasn't going to start itself. My exams were not going to ace themselves. Nor was my site going to build its own community. From then, until now, I've been focusing on working towards this goals, slowly but surely.

During this time, I also took the opportunity to get back into gaming. After making a commitment to finish the games I started, I've been really enjoying games for the first time since my teenage years. (Well, my early teenage years.)

Everything was just "peachy" and "rosy" and all kinds of "fruity", except for one, nagging, little thing: Throughout my years in the gaming community, I've noticed a particular type of "nastiness" which didn't quite exist in real life. 

It was as if there was a certain kind of evil which loomed over the gaming community, causing otherwise upstanding citizens to become complete monsters when faced with conquering foes in a simple Multiplayer game.

If you're reading this, and fit into my age range (16-25), you've more than likely had your own nasty experience with the unique and vicious bullying only known to the internet. The anonymity of the web allows for vile, malicious and downright hateful comments to spread like wildfire, all without the consequences and social alienation of real life.

Online gaming is rampant with reviling comments and trash talk which not even the most ruthless of sociopaths would say to their victims. Sexism and misogyny pulse through the veins of multiplayer lobbies, with female gamers constantly harassed as a result of making their gender known. Homophobia is also an extreme problem on the internet.

Multiplayer clans and online friends often gang up on other clans or persons, exacting a "mob revenge" type of vigilante justice on griefers, hackers or noobs. (Griefer is a person who intentionally ruins the game for others. Noobs are "newbies", people who often play the game poorly due to a lack of experience.)

Bullying doesn't need to be clarified. We've all been "put down" or attacked by our friends, family, or even complete strangers. But in my relatively little research on cyberbullying, it shows that technology can make the hurtful act of bullying even more prevalent in children's lives.

Cyberbullying is just as bad as normal bullying. Some research even suggests that it's worse than "real" bullying, due to the relative lack of consequence and minimisation of empathy, causing ruthlessness and harassment like none other.

The most upsetting of all, is that, just like real life bullying, cyberbullying is linked to a spate of teen suicides, who had their lives cut short by the  severe depression caused by the hurtful comments of online users, and even close friends, all through the use of technology.

As you can see, cyberbullying poses a very real threat to young and old alike, and it needs to be stopped as soon as possible. The only question is: How?

Well, the answer is the saddest of all: It can't be. There are many ways one can attempt to fight this epidemic, but none of them will ever stop cyberbullying as a whole. Human nature is too vile and corrupt for such a thing to happen. We'll never be able to entirely stop it.

However, there is hope. We CAN try to significantly reduce it. There are many ways to stop your children/friends/family from being attacked online. Mobile applications like Whatsapp and BBM allow users to block bullies from harassing them.

Facebook has a strict anti-hate speech policy, and as a result, will help fight any cases of cyberbullying. YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, also has ways to report offending users and help make the large community a much friendlier place.

Recently, Killing Floor 2 developer added a controversial new addendum to their EULA, which stated that any users who bully or harass others will immediately have their game keys revoked. This may seem a bit harsh, as users can get easily banned for saying something they didn't mean as an insult. 

I just want to make it clear: KVR Gaming aims to make a friendly, thriving community filled with people able to ask hard questions and get honest, respectful and informative answers. Heated discussions are allowed and even encouraged, as long as they don't descend into personal attacks and insults.

Additionally, KVR Gaming will, from this point onwards, make it our goal to give gamers and parents useful, clear and concise information on how to stop cyberbullying in online gaming, and even outside of online gaming.

After all, we are about promoting safety in all kinds of electronic media, including sites like YouTube, Facebook, and related. It may take time before we're able to provide any substantial information on the aforementioned, but rest assured: We will make it our goal.

Thank you very much for reading this article. Have a great week ahead, and many happy returns. Kyle out!

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