If you have taken a fair amount of time to play any multiplayer game online, you have likely seen the best and the worst that the gaming community has to offer. Unfortunately, there are groups of people out there that find it acceptable to harass their fellow gamers. Jenny Haniver of Notinthekitchenanymore.com decided to take a stand against this and documents her interactions with these mouthbreathers on her website, creating a showcase of dialogues to show the world what some gamers have to deal with. Jenny took some time to have a Q&A with us, here is what she had to say.
Jenny Haniver: I’m a 23 year old female artist who also happens to be a video gamer. I’m in my senior year of college, about to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a sculpture emphasis.
Josh Knowles: Awesome, so you created the website notinthekitchenanymore.com, how did that get started?
Jenny Haniver: It all sprung from an art installation I did at my college in the fall of last year. My installation featured a welded sculpture that held two Xbox controllers (one pink, one blue). The controllers had MP3 players installed inside them, and headsets attached to the MP3 players, allowing the viewer to interact with the sculpture by listening to audio while reading the banners placed around the room. The banners contained phrases from the transcripts of audio I had recorded while playing Call of Duty on Xbox live. The pink controller played audio that is somewhat typical of a woman’s experience gaming online, and the blue controller played more male-based audio.
Jenny Haniver: The website is essentially and extension and continuation of that project. I’ve continued to record audio while I game, and I now upload that audio to my website for a wider audience to listen to and experience.
Josh Knowles: With the two experiences that were recorded from the initial project, were people surprised at the differences between the two?
Jenny Haniver: Definitely. While many people who are active in the gaming community are generally aware of the fact that female gamers sometimes face some pretty sexist behavior, people outside of the community tend to have no idea this kind of thing is occurring. So it’s a little jarring to experience it for the first time, for outsiders.
Josh Knowles: I’ve noticed on the site that you are very clear that this is not a way to complain, but more of a method to create awareness. How often does the sexist behavior spill over onto the site?
Jenny Haniver: Actually it hasn’t at all, yet. The comments made on the site are overwhelmingly positive at this point. The sexist behavior is, however, tends to be exceedingly prominent in the comment sections of the articles that have been written about the site so far. I document those comments on the “Case in Point” page of the website.
Jenny Haniver: Overall I have incredibly thick skin, and I’ve been exposed to this so much that I basically don’t give a shit anymore. I’ve been gaming online pretty seriously since 2007, and I’ve become largely immune to this behavior by this point.
Josh Knowles: My wife won’t play games online anymore due to the treatment that she received. What sort of advice to you have for gamers that have turned away from the online multiplayer experience?
Jenny Haniver: Tune it out, mute people, report them. Don’t let the assholes get to you, because they are truly a minority. The gaming community is largely made up of amazing people who can become great friends if you’re willing to stick through the rough patches of running into rude jerks. Just keep your chin up until you find a group of friends you can game with on a regular basis, they make a world of difference.
Josh Knowles: On, the lighter side of things. I’ve heard that you are quite good at Call of Duty games. Is it icing on the cake when you take a top spot at the end of a match that has these type of people in it?
Jenny Haniver: It’s a pretty mixed bag for me. On the one hand, yes, it is incredibly satisfying to have a bunch of people flip out because you destroyed them and they didn’t expect it at all. But on the other hand, it’s kind of insulting that it’s considered THAT unusual and debasing to be “beaten by a woman”.
Josh Knowles: How often do the nonparticipants of this behavior step in when they hear it happening?
Jenny Haniver: If I’m playing with my friends, they step in every time and throw it right back at the person in question. If I’m in a lobby by myself and someone starts verbally harassing me, I don’t believe I’ve ever had another random player step in and tell the other person to shut up.
Josh Knowles: As far as gaming goes, are you strictly a Call of Duty player, or do you get into other games as well?
Jenny Haniver: I absolutely play other games! On the Xbox 360, I really enjoy the Bioshock and Deadspace games series, and I’ve played a fair amount of Halo as well. Loved Borderlands too, and can’t wait for the next installment. I still play Pokemon on my Nintendo DS (a lot), and sometimes I’ll even bring out my original Play Station to play Final Fantasy 9 or Legends of Legaia.
Jenny Haniver: And Minecraft, on my PC. I LOVE Minecraft.
Josh Knowles: Excited for the “release” tomorrow?
Jenny Haniver: Yes, but I won’t have time to play for a week, because Saturday is the opening of gun deer hunting season in Wisconsin, and that takes priority over everything else!
Josh Knowles: Has the site created opportunities to meet any influential members of the gaming community yet?
Jenny Haniver: I’ve had some amount of contact with people who run/work for gaming websites, which has been pretty interesting and informative. Hopefully as my website grows, I’ll have the opportunity to meet more and more people who are key players in the gaming community.
Josh Knowles: So, a question we always like to ask here. What was your favorite game of all time?
Jenny Haniver: I’m going to have to go with Bioshock. It’s the entire reason we ended up buying an Xbox 360 in the first place. I kept seeing commercials for it and I HAD to play it, so we picked up a console when it was released. The storyline and visual effects blew my mind. It was how I got into console gaming again.
Josh Knowles: So, I take it that you are looking forward to Bioshock Infinite
Jenny Haniver: Yes. A millions time over, yes. I thought Bioshock 2 was great, and I have high hopes for Infinite as well.
Josh Knowles: Do you have plans to continue the site after College?
Jenny Haniver: If at all possible, yes! I don’t know what job I’ll end up in, but hopefully I’ll still have free time to dedicate both to gaming and running the website. It’s become pretty important to me, and I have a number of readers who seem to feel the same way.
Josh Knowles: So, what would you hope that readers are able to take away when they visit the site?
Jenny Haniver: If they’ve experienced the same thing, a sense that they’re not alone. And hopefully people get the sense that you don’t have to be crushed by the rude or ridiculous things people say sometimes. It’s easier to brush those things off if you have a sense of humor about it. And if it causes some people to think twice about spewing hate when they game online, that would be great too (although not entirely expected)
Josh Knowles: Any parting words for the normal members of the gaming community? Any shout outs of thanks to anyone else?
Jenny Haniver: To the gamers out there who don’t treat their fellow gamers like shit, kudos to you- you’re the ones that make gaming with others worth it. I’m so grateful to all of the friends I’ve met and that I’ve been gaming with for the last few years, there are so many of them I couldn’t name them all individually without taking up a ton of space- but the GEZR clan knows who they are.
Josh Knowles: Awesome! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today!
Jenny Haniver: No problem, thanks for having me!
I’ll tell you this, next time you hear a fellow gamer being harassed. Be the bigger person, step in and help them out. It doesn’t matter if they are male or female, gar or straight, black or white, they are a gamer and most likely trying to enjoy themselves. If we can all take a stand against that type of crap, I assure you, we would have a plethora of additional gamers to share our experiences with.
Once again, thanks Jenny for taking the time to talk with us!