BRINGING HER A-GAME

Should Gamespot Censor Comments Against Transgender Reviewer Carolyn Petit?

Yesterday, Kotaku mentioned that Carolyn Petit, associate editor of Gamespot, released some of her very first video reviews. She’s a really great reviewer with her fair share of fans. Sadly, she has gotten some flack for her transgender identity from the site’s commenter trolls. They compared her to Jay, the long-haired stoner from Silent Bob and Jay Strike Back and said things like “it’s a ‘she’, I think.” Gamespot has censored most of the worst comments, but should they have?

Here’s a doozy of a hateful comment Kotaku snagged from airwalker2000 shortly before Gamespot‘s moderators deleted it:

“I have no problem with the reviewer personally, but I dont want to see what is obviously a man, trying to look like a woman, its just too weird and I find it offensive, I dont want to be bombarded with gay/lesbian/transgender stuff on a gaming website, just have a regular guy or woman reviewing the games.”

Though gamers get a bad rap for verbally bashing queer-identified players, the gaming industry itself has made great steps towards acknowledging gay players and characters. The role-playing game Fable III lets you get gay-married and adopt kids, Heroes of Newerth includes “flamboyant voices” for characters to use, and Dragon Age 2 even has some boom-chicka-wow-wow action that angered some of its more close-minded players.

So Gamespot has made a further step in the right direction by letting the most qualified reviewers publicly represent their site. But they have also taken the pains to censor the commenters like airwalker2000 who rail against Ms. Petit’s transgender identity, leaving only the supportive comments in their place. Censorship or a smart way to keep the conversation on track?

Gamespot commenter SauhlGood wonders if overprotective censorship actually hurts Ms. Petit:

@skelom well its a touchy subject, most of us know she is a real person with two eyes, a nose, etc.. that bleeds just like everyone else…some people here are just judgemental intolerant and prolly afraid.. Still Gamespot shouldnt censor the morons here its truly a discredit, it comes off disingenous, as she should be treated normal, but your overprotecting/overmoderation sends out the opposite msg. let the intolerant speak their minds…

There’s something about allowing the haters to hang themselves with their own words and letting other commenters see the sort hate lobbed at trans people so they can understand why we need to stand against it. But fellow commenter WhataName2 thinks that allowing such hateful comments ultimately ruin the site’s community rather than build it:

@ SauhlGood. I agree with your sentiment, but there has to be some sensoring. This is a gaming web site, and ppl who come to it do so because they want to relax and enjoy themsleves. They should not have to put up with crap that is wrong outside of that and that takes away their experience. Although I think your right that people should be able to speak their minds.

We get our own share of anti-queer trolls here and we support Gamespot‘s moderation. After all, comment boards seek to further conversation about the topic at hand, not to foster personal attacks against the writers themselves. When someone repeats the same bigoted crap we’ve already heard devoid of any thought, it adds nothing. By censoring such comments, Gamespot makes sure that the conversation stays focused on what really matters—the games.