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One of the great aspects of games is that they allow you to be whoever and whatever you want to be. In the virtual worlds of the games we love, players can take on the role of any kind of character and do pretty much whatever they want. The same goes for multiplayer games, where it doesn’t matter what you look like or where you’re from.
Yet, the gaming community is often not seen as one of tolerance, as it has had its fair share of toxicity and controversies that have received significant media attention over the years. We, as gamers, don’t feel that this paints a complete picture of what it means to be a gamer and want to shine a spotlight on some shining beacons that represent just the opposite of the stereotypical toxic gaming community.
Indeed, gaming is an activity that unites people from all over the world, regardless of their sexual orientation, creed, gender, age, origin, or other categories. In a way, games can provide a sense of belonging to many people.
Becoming more inclusive
Gaming has become a massive phenomenon. It permeates all parts of society and connects gamers all over the world through the power of the internet. It unites all of us. We can easily find likeminded people and bond with them through the joyous experiences we share in the games we play.
It has been shown, for example, that, when a group achieves success in MMORPGs, it positively effects their self-esteem. Also, such experiences strengthen social bonds between the players (Gabbiadini, et al 2014). As gaming erases the danger of being judged for stereotypical characteristics, only the performance of each player counts.
Overcoming stereotypes in gaming
Some players have translated their online fame into the analogue world thanks to their excellence. The most well-known one is probably Dominique McLean, better known as SonicFox. He is a fighting game pro signed to EchoFox who successfully competes in multiple titles and has won championships in Dragon Ball FighterZ and Injustice 2.
He openly talks about his sexual orientation in his own social media channels and is really proud to be representative of people with non-heteronormative personalities.
The disabled CS:GO streamer Adam “Loop” Bahriz received much support when being bullied online. This was not because people intended to overprotect him due to his genetic condition, but because he’s an amazing player regardless of his sight and hearing impairment.
Another positive example for tolerance in video games is Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn. The StarCraft 2 player made a name for herself in Blizzard’s RTS as one of the best players ever. She is much respected in the scene and has become one of the most acclaimed female pro gamers ever. What is more, her being a transgender person isn’t an issue at all to her peers – as it doesn’t matter.
United by gaming
The sense of belonging is incredibly high in the gaming community. The hobby we all love provides us with common stories to tell and goals to achieve. This makes gaming such a great tool to achieve tolerance.
Gabbiadini, Alessandro, Silvia Mari, Chiara Volpato, and Maria G. Monaci. 2014. Identification processes in online groups: identity motives in the virtual realm of MMORPGs. Journal of Media Psychology, 26(3):141-152