South Korea to Police Overwatch Sexual Harassment

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Overwatch female avatar in mid-air.

South Korea has long been a trail-blazer in all things esports-related. From practically coining the practice of professional video games to quite frankly writing the book on how to play any gaming title as a high-end competition, South Korea definitely knows what they are doing. Is the decision, then, to persecute sexual harassment online taking it a bit too far?

South Korea Takes on Sexual Harassment in Video Games

When I spoke with Heroes of the Storms professional player Lyubomir “Splendour” Kozlovski in a leisurely chat about the state of the game, he mildly said that South Korean teams have long had an idea what to do to turn any esports game with a potential into a hit. As he put it, “South Koreans went to Blizzard and said -Look, you are good at making games, we’re good at turning them into esports.”

There is hardly anyone who would contest the boisterous claim. However, South Korea is intending to lead the pack on another issue – that of sexual harassment, predominantly of female players, online. And the country may be quite serious about this whole affair.

According to a representative from South Korean National Assembly Gender Equality and Family Committee, work has already begun to make such misdemeanor on the wire punishable by law, particularly in Overwatch. Overwatch allows for text messaging and voice communication, which could often turn toxic, or worse – upon recognizing a female in their midst, players could be intentionally ill-behaved.

My Love for Female Avatars

This has nothing to do with the fact that I am a female player. When I started playing World of Warcraft back in the day, I was in love with how pretty the female characters looked, bar the Orcs and Undead, perish the thought! And yet, I was the subject of the occasional saucy remark. It was then brought to my attention that the level of sexism in online games is true and the element of anonymity further enhances players’ boldness.

From my experience, even civil guys piled on the jokes. Before long, I understood that for my sake I would do best to keep to myself or assume the guy persona, including the use of less descriptive language and avoiding VOIP altogether. I believe that the steps that South Korea is now taking in Overwatch are necessary.

However, as a gamer, I fear about the freedom of others. Where does a simple compliment or well-intended pun stops and the other begins? Who is to ultimately say what’s right and wrong? How is then the community going to feel if the freedom of the somewhat boisterous expressions is restricted?

As a female game in Overwatch and nearly every major title out there, I could say you that the silence that could potentially follow would be dystopian. Then again, I understand that some players, female or otherwise, are truly hurt by some of the random clap-trap that oozes through the chats on occasion.

And yet, we ought to ask ourselves – how do we keep our chats vibrant while avoiding oppression and unjust accusations.

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