So what needs to happen? The industry is beginning to use technology to mute, silence and ban offending players, making online gaming a safer space for everyone. Game developer Bungie recently introduced "auto-muting" in Halo, which means that once enough players individually mute an offender, he/she is automatically muted by the game.
At this year's Penny Arcade Expo consumer and developer shows in late August, a number of panels will be convened to flesh out those very solutions. Fat, Ugly or Slutty co-founder and panelist Grace (who usually goes by her handle, — gtz — ) is inspired by developers' anti-harassment tools and hopes that the players themselves will catch up: "We can find ways to harness the power and passion of the community to police itself; let the community decide and declare what is acceptable using technical tools."
Women can also organize. Thankfully, some of us are finding solidarity in co-ed and all-female gaming groups, or clans. The Frag Dolls are one such group, an all-female collection of gamers sponsored by Ubisoft, who play games professionally and competitively as well as represent Ubisoft and its games at various industry and consumer events. As part of the Frag Doll Cadettes Academy, young female gamers who are looking to expand their gaming horizons and get a foot into the industry door are mentored by their big sister Frag Dolls and sent to the same events. Women who have gone through the ranks as either Frag Dolls or cadettes often find themselves in industry positions soon after.
Within the industry, the hiring of more women and minorities is an oft-cited solution. "Often, when I play through new games, or check out previews, it feels like the industry is making games for itself — for the demographic of the average developer, a white straight dude in his 30s," Alli Thresher, game designer and writer, recently told me. "With more diversity in the industry, this can only continue to change and improve."