, , , , , , , , ,

Recently, a prominent pro Hearthstone player, MagicAmy, faced unsubstantiated accusations by the Reddit community that a man was playing the game for her. After a thorough three day investigation by her team, they found nothing that supported this claim. Regardless, she has retired from the game over this incident. A more detailed summary can be found at this link.

So, why is this important news? This comment should sum up why:

It’s becoming a trend to throw acusations at people over the internet but never fully back them up, instead just bullying people into dropping whatever they’re doing.

Whether or not MagicAmy is who she says isn’t the real issue now. The issue is a lot more disturbing. It’s like the next terrible step up from the Sam Sheppard “trial by media” fiasco because now there isn’t even a jury of peers to be influenced – the judge and jury is the internet.

-Ohshiftson, commenting on a PCGamer article about the MagicAmy fiasco.

All it took to ruin MagicAmy’s reputation and drive her away from eSports is to make a claim that appealed to the prejudices of video gaming’s infamous machismo culture, no proof necessary. The online community is already inclined to believe any “Fake geek girl” accusations, and once the accusation is thrown, no amount of evidence to the contrary will sway the mind of a conspiracy theorist. It’s why Gamergate has lasted long after the accusations against Zoe Quinn were debunked, and it’s why, despite the investigation, much of the online community still believes the libel and blames MagicAmy for, well, whatever excuse that allows them to deflect responsibility. And they receive no repercussions whatsoever.

This enabling of libel and sexual harassment has gone on for way too long in the eSports and online video game community. It’s treated as mere trash-talk, and even a part of the culture according to the guy responsible for harassment at the Capcom Cross Assault tournament. News flash, if you pulled this crap outside your insulated community, you would be ostracized by the rest of the world. Many people are well aware of the invisible barrier to participation just for being female and are repelled by the toxic culture within. Is this how you recruit new followers? By forcing people to put up or shut up? And as the MagicAmy case shows, it doesn’t even matter what you say. It sends a strong message: “it doesn’t matter how good you get at a game. You are not one of us. And you will never be one of us.” And then you wonder why people don’t take eSports seriously. So if you want eSports taken seriously, for people to join, then start acting the part. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

For too long, we’ve trivialized Internet “drama”, treating it like some sort of dream world detached from reality. Well guess what? A Nightmare on Elm Street isn’t fiction anymore. What happens on the Internet has real-world consequences, worst of all, high-profile suicides such as Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons. The witch-hunt against MagicAmy is yet another black mark on the gaming community showing our acceptance and enabling of hate speech. This must end.