By Cassandra “Cassi” Martinez
The juvenile nature of Left4Dead (L4D) on Xbox Live reinforces the social stereotypes that exist in society; most prominently in the way users understand race, class and gender (namely black and female). Therefore it is not a feminist space.
In making fun of other players, race is often used negatively as a marker to denote characters on screen as part of the game or in regard to the gamertags that people choose. Users take note of voice cues and accents to determine the class and race of those they are playing with and often ridicule them.
There are no safe spaces on L4D for anyone that is not white, hetereosexual, or male. The capricious nature of the users throughout the day make the community unstable and ever-changing, in my opinion. During the day there are more children, who often troll the game, playing around on the servers rather than playing the actual game. There are second and third shifters, (people who work night and early morning shifts) who are serious, down to earth gamers, but still quite racist/sexist. Throughout the day, more often younger children fill the space and change the space accordingly. For example , there is less conversation, however in instances where there is an active dialogue, its very simple and the children are still learning the world around them.
The space is neither a place for transgression or subversion, because the girl players inhabit their space as women, or remain silent. Such as in the case of Erica Kubik’s article on the hardcore/casual dichotomy of girl gamers, women inhabit the space but are silent. Without a voice these women/girls are essentially non-existent.
Furthermore, race is more often a point of conversation among gamers as a form of bullying and coding of “bad” players, in this specific context of L4D especially, most often with the “Hunter” character remarked as a sneaky Mexican. Louis, the only person of color in the game, is often remarked as a shitty character to play or as “The black man” removing his name entirely.
For these reasons, L4D on Xbox Live is NOT a space for feminists of color.