Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Toxicity in our Communities

When behavior impacts experience:

I have been a fan of video games for a long time, and one aspect that I used to enjoy was playing with others.  Before the Internet, I would crowd around TVs with my friends, passing the controller back and forth in single player games, and participated in my fair share of trash talk.

As I got older, I was introduced to LAN parties, where a bunch of people connected their computers together or set up multiple TVs to play with each other.  Being able to look your opponent in their face and gloat a win or accept a defeat made the experience personable.  You knew who the assholes were and, in most cases, they would either shape up or not return to events.

Today is a bit more of an interesting experience.  I am currently addicted to Star Wars: The Old Republic, an MMO made by Bioware that has been around for a little over 4 years.  I played for about a year after launch, but when the game itself became too repetetive (like most games eventually do), I put it down to play other things (Team Fortress 2, Skyrim, etc.).  When I came back the game changed completely.  With the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion being released, I was approached by a good friend to start playing again.  I fell in love with the stories all over again, but what I cannot get past is the ignorance and abrasiveness of many in the community.

I have lived through WoW's Barrens Chat, had my fair share of nonsense from players on Xbox Live and PSN, and have been reamed time and time again by players on other popular games (CS:GO, TF2, etc.).  For the most part there are 1 or 2 assholes that enjoy berating/harrassing other players. However, I see more and more joining in on the nonsense, and it makes me miss the good ole days when your opponents had a name and a face.  You could go to their house for dinner after the last battle was won or lost, and have conversations on strategy, tactics, and how bad each other is without needing to defend yourself from anyone but someone you trust.  There was a sense of communion. Now it seems that the communities are basted in cynicism to the point that there is no real sense of community for new comers, or even those of us who have been around forever and want to experience a game with others.

Listening to 2Pac's changes:

So I am a bit of a hip hop fan, and the inspiration for this post came from 2Pac.  I would like to see a change in the gaming community.  I propose 2 things:

  1. Stop giving the assholes the attention they obviously want.  If someone is trolling or being a complete douche, ignore them outright.  No witty comebacks, no joining in, no "fuck you man that's stupid" remarks back.  Hungry trolls will always be there, and the more they are deprived of the attention they seek, the less enjoyable it becomes for them.

  1. Be kind to each other.  This goes back to not saying rude shit unless you have something kind to say.  To quote Bill and Ted "Be excellent to each other."  This seems to be the hardest part, especially to MMO players.  MMO'ers spend a lot of time in their MMO of choice and it becomes obvious that basic human interaction is already a challenge for them so they get the most enjoyment out of trying to spur a reaction by being "cool" on the internet.

Rant's End

Stop being dicks to each other.  We live in a world where being a "nerd" or "geek" is socially acceptable, and I think we owe it to ourselves to show those who are on the outside looking in that having an interest in things that used to be niche or uncool is perfectly acceptable.  If you really want to help, help others.  Be patient with the n00bs, give them time to learn, and don't hate on them if something that is painfully obvious (i.e. not understanding that a healing spell does more than just heal themselves).  Be a leader in a crowd of noisy followers.