Monday, 5 May 2014

Sexism in Star Citizen

Update: Ben Lesnick of CIG has posted a statement. I still have issues and have sent them to Ben via PM on the forums.

Star Citizen is a game that I've been excited about since the first announcement. Chris Roberts has made some of my favourite games and I still have fond memories of playing Wing Commander 3 with my friend back in the 90's however these were before the Internet was so deeply intertwined with out daily lives.

It's no secret that the gaming community is sexist and is actively hostile towards women, just ask any female gamer for their experience and it's 100% guaranteed that if someone knew they were a woman gamer then that woman has been verbally abused (Note: I don't agree with many of Anita's ideas but her story is indicative of the community as a whole) and propositioned. This is a sad fact of the gaming community and one that I hope they're ashamed of but that's not the crux of this blog post.

Star Citizen has it's fair share of sexist remarks including a thread asking for rape to become a part of the game because pirates should be absolutely disgusting people, and the rape culture is something that is joked about and discussed in a positive light within the community. Star Citizen has also had a number of other threads but not quite as disgusting as that one including an entire thread about sex in game, a thread about "space bikinis" and many many more.

Last night I made a thread on the Roberts Space Industries forum (full screen caps will be made available later) which is the official forum for Star Citizen, I expressed that I was making a community for female Star Citizen gamers to gather in and talk about topics that they might not be willing to talk about with their male counterparts and just generally have a safe place to get involved with the Star Citizen community. This idea was immediately and brutally shot down by some very vocal members of the community and not only that but I was also personally attacked for making such a thread. The idea that I would want females to talk to each other was an idea that some members of the community found absolutely reprehensible but I'm still questioning why this is the case.

The extremely innocent and honest thread I started survived for about 4 hours and lived to 7 pages filled with personal attacks, trolling and just general cynicism with no reasonable reason why the idea was bad. There was a few general comments such as the fact that women should be encouraged to be active members of the star citizen community and I wholeheartedly agree however the fact remains that females do not always feel comfortable being part of a community which promotes rape and has threads on sexist topics and sometimes need a place to talk to other members of the community with similar ideas.

Note: at no time did I say video chat would be required and I explicitly said that being an active part of the Star Citizen community would be encouraged in the group.

Another reason for being shot down was that the group was exclusive and people that used this line equated the idea to being the KKK for females and quite overtly said that gender was not a reason to create a community basically telling me that females had no right to a group because it was just the same as being a racist (again, equating the idea to that of white supremacists).

I and several of my guild mates questioned why there was so much hostility towards the idea and myself over this and this resulted in further attacks.

This entire thread I flagged some of the more serious posts for a moderator to review, the moderators decided to move the thread to a part of the forums where threads get buried very quickly but left all of the posts in tact and went about their way. Around page 3 or 4 I saw that this was very much out of control so I private messaged community managers Will Lewis and Ben Lesnick for assistance and expressed that this was a genuine thread and the community was something I was passionate about, Will came and closed the thread and left leaving me to wonder what the hell was going on. About an hour later (I presume after Will had read the thread) I found myself unable to log into the forums and was greeted to a big red banner stating that I had been banned for excessive use of the forum flagging option (which as far as I know, isn't even a rule) and for creating a bait thread despite the fact that I was not expecting so much hostility towards my quite innocent idea. The rules quoted were #3 No Trolling and #5 No Spam, how the staff came to this conclusion is absolutely beyond me as no explanation has been given.

One other thing about the ban that I will point out is that I was banned for 7 days citing a previous 24 hour ban and in Star Citizen if you've had a 24 hour ban you automatically get a 7 day ban. That 24 hour ban was overturned by the staff due to heavy handed moderation when my guild mates complained so the 7 day ban by Cloud Imperium Games' policies is unreasonable and excessive.

After this happened my guild mates decided to express their concern and outrage via several methods, the first being an email to customer support and the second being posting about it in our organisation thread due to the fact that these threads are usually not moderated very heavily and the organisation is allowed to have more free reign than in other sections of the forum. My guild mates were treated to moderators deleting entire pages of their posts with no explanation as to why, when the moderators did post they informed my friends that they were not allowed to discuss forum moderation in any way and that by doing so they were in breach of rule #7 which is a blanket rule that says no-one is allowed to discuss the moderators actions on the forum, ever. When my friends questioned this and asked how they could express their dissatisfaction they were told that they were only allowed to contact either a moderator or Will and Ben and that by contacting customer support or a senior member of the company (such as Chris Roberts) that bans would be extended. My friends then questioned what happens if we have an issue with Will and Ben and were told to either remove themselves from the community or they could ask for a refund (note: you can't ask for a refund).

So far approximately 25 of my friends have received bans due to questioning the actions of the moderators and I am still left with a 7 day ban despite having tried to reach out to CIG through various methods. It's also important to note that when you get banned you lose all rights to the forum and chat functions which means that you're not allowed to contact moderators or Will and Ben.

The absolute least I am asking from CIG as a resolution here is:

1. The immediate reversal of my ban as well as the revision of my friends bans (some were justified however some were not).
2. A PUBLIC apology, not just in a section of the forums that no-one will read but a proper full apology.
3. For them to encourage and support my idea of a female community, and due to the inconvenience I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that CIG start a brand new thread on my behalf.

There's of course other things that I'd want but these three are the core.