Verbal harassment of women in video games is said to be a fairly common thing. Although I have never personally witnessed it, I could easily see that happening. The world of online video games is a fairly disgusting place filled with the trolliest of trolls, usually below the age of about 14. All the sick stuff those kids want to say but can’t, they seem to enjoying releasing all over the gaming community. God forbid a woman actually interacts with one of them.
Since its 2018 however, there obviously needs to be a group formed to protect the verbal safety of a minority group within a community. Firstly, I want to be clear in the fact that I fully support a little cleansing of the gaming trolls. I would love to not have to hear about what my mom apparently does to pre-teens when I’m online. Creating a vigilantly group to stop that however, is just a terrible idea; which is exactly what the woman gamers decided to do.
Bully Hunters, a group of hard-core woman gamers, set up a live-stream on Twitch to demo their website. The idea was, if you were a woman being harassed by a gamer in a first-person-shoot like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, you could call for help. A Bully Hunter would remotely take over your controls and hopefully kill the “bully” for you.
“The Bully Hunters started as a pro group of female gamers who came together to disrupt the status quo, forming a vigilante in-game hit squad with one simple mission: to beat bullies at their own game,” the Bully Hunters web site explains. “What started as a small team has become a global tool to connect victims of bullying with elite gamers who can come to their defense in real-time. We invite all gamers who want to stand up to harassment to join us as bully hunters and help bring an end to toxic behavior.”
With a group of hard-core women fighting for their rights to not be verbally harassed online by boys playing video games, what could possibly go wrong? I don’t know about you but my first thought was, “dear lord these women have figuratively (and literally; I mean look at their logo) put a target on themselves for trolls. What actually happened was even worse.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 13, 2018
After Good Morning America ran an entire story about the Bully Hunters, news came flying in that the group was completely scripted and was being used as a marketing ploy for a new headset. That’s right; the virtue signally, super female gamer squad was not only never actually fighting verbal harassment but just a staged group to sell a video game headset. Good Morning America actually compared this to the #MeToo movement that focuses on women who were sexually assaulted.
Obviously, Steel Series, the company associated with the scandal, has sense claimed they had no idea it was fake. Stating on their Facebook:
“To clear a few things up: BullyHunters was not a viral campaign stage-managed by us. We did not hire a marketing agency to create it. We didn’t have anything to do with its execution, content or messaging. And more importantly, we would never take advantage of an issue like bullying to sell hardware. They asked us to supply some headsets, support the call for positive change, and we did.”
Unfortunate for Steel Series, this explanation hasn’t gone very well, as gamers are not convinced they were unaware of what was going on. If the Bully Hunters wasn’t their idea, then whose was it? And more importantly, why would anyone have an interest in staging a stunt like this? As proven in the past, the gaming community is fairly ruthless and I can only image this marketing ploy disaster will not go over well for the company.
It’s a pretty crazy world we currently live in that a company can market a product by creating a fake team of female gamers to act as bounty hunters for offensive kids online. If this ploy wouldn’t have been exposed, would something like this actually work to sell a product? Regardless, this Bully Hunters scandal is one of the ugliest we have seen in a while.