One of the most prevalent topics in online gaming is bullying. Bullying is all over multiplayer games, and many games and other entities try to combat bullying in a variety of different methods. Personally, I think the best method of dealing with a bully is to mute them, but muting a bully doesn't stop them from bullying others. So, how do we combat bullying? That is where this new organization Bully Hunters comes in...and they're gone.
Before I get into my criticisms that you have probably already heard on Bully Hunters, I want to make abundantly clear that I am opposed to bullying and I am not denying that bullying happens. Now I think some methods of deterring bullies goes too far, but the different methods and how first amendment rights and what is hate speech is for another day. Still, bullying sucks and is rather annoying.
I think one of the best ways to end bullying of any kind is to give the bully a taste of their own medicine. Nothing can show a bully the ways of being good better than bullying the bully. But how do you do that in a video game. That is essentially the premise of Bully Hunters. So what is wrong with this new organization? Everything.
So what exactly does a Bully Hunter do? The services was only offered in Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and what happened was that the bully victim called a Bully Hunter to enter into that person's game and kill the bully. Afterwords, they would leave in the chat "harassment is not a game" and leave. A taste of their own medicine, right? Already, three glaring issues come up.
For starters, let's talk about the game selection. The problem with CS:GO are the many hurdles you have to jump through just to get a single kill and leave. The victim cannot be in the main mode of the game because they don't allow people to enter mid-game (this will be important later on). Then, the Hunter has to be in the right game that isn't a full lobby on the right team, unless they are fine with team-killing the bully (though I don't think that will get the message across). Then, the Hunter has to make sure they and they alone get the kill while dodging all of the other enemies (or killing them too) just to get the bully. Long story short, the stars have to align just to get the optimal solution to this problem. But even if all of that works, you get to the next issue.
In a shooter game, death is common. Needless to say, killing someone in a FPS game is about as common as walking. So do you think being killed, even in the most humiliating way by a person who is only there to make you look like a fool, would make you have an epiphany? I remember watching the livestream of Bully Hunters and watching their services in action made me confused because it was just watching the Hunter knife someone in the back. Big deal, you killed him. Then it turned hysterical when they acted like they were sports commentators analyzing the kill. And remember when I said not being able to play competitive is important? I said that because not only is death in a shooter game meaningless, but the modes where this service can work are more casual experiences (their is literally a mode called 'casual'). At best, people are in those mode to warm up for competitive. Dying in competitive is at most a bit meaningful, but dying in these other modes aren't. The worse things I can think of are going back a gun in arms race because you were stabbed or dying in the modes where you don't instantly respawn, but since the game is more casual death still isn't that meaningful. For a game like Escape From Tarkov where loot is on the line, this service would be great. But for this game, not so much. But the biggest of the three problems lies within using the service.
If a bully were to see that you called a Hunter on them, what would that Bully think? Would that person see that they are the target of a Hunter and realize they are the bully and leave the error of their ways? No. If someone is bullying you on a game, they know they are bullying you. So what are they going to do? They will most likely see that you cannot stand up for yourself and have to call upon others to fight your battles and will most likely bully you harder because of that. If you want to think about it this way; you are essentially snitching on a bully to a Bully Hunter, and snitching never works. The second you use this service is the second the bully knows you are weak, and he will prey upon that weakness even harder than before. All of that is what is wrong with the service itself, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Now this service may sound bad, but what if I told you I left out one key detail that didn't allow everyone to use the service? This service is only for females. It's ran by females, the Hunters are females, and the victims (as far as I can tell) can only be helped if they are females. Do I have an issue with females running the show? Not at all. Do I think that female harassment happens more than male harassment? Probably. But only offering this service to women is saying that this is a big issue that only really happens to women, when it is in fact something that happens to us all. I'm not saying they are denying male harassment, but only offering the service to women leaves out a whole lot of men who are also being harassed. Now I see this service as a thing by women for women, but only serving women can be seen by some as saying women cannot defend themselves as well as men against bullying and that they need this service.
Only serving some people is bad, but scandals are worse. Multiple statistics being used by the group were proven false, the whole livestream was pre-recorded, the same person played both the victim and the hunter, the main spokesperson ZombiUnicorn has used insults in game herself, and the whole thing being used by SteelSeries to sell some headphones. Then you can think about what could've happened if the service continued, as for their are more Bully Hunters on Steam than actual Bully Hunters and the internet is known to have a crazy time with stuff like this. If anything, they are lucky to dodge websites like 4Chan from grabbing hold of this service.
I think the premise of this service is great, but that is about all this service had going for it. It's rare seeing a service fail at every conceivable level like this one, but here we are. Something like this takes time, money, and planning, and it baffles me how they went through all of the trials and tribulations of making this service (they actually rented a large room filled with computers) without seeing the glaring flaws that would render this service unusable. I don't even know if leaving this thing behind and saying "at least it got the message across" means anything because anyone who plays video games already knows about bullying and wants to stop it (or they are the bully themselves). Honestly, other than fighting the good fight, I don't have much sympathy for this service. This feels like something that was hardly given any thought other than "it's against bullies so it would obviously work." Because of all of this more, I am predicting that Bully Hunters is one of gaming's biggest disasters of 2018.
Despite pulling everything down, here is a video of the livestream: