The Toxic Gaming Community

This isn’t my own writing and is ripped off the Tera Forums from around the start of the year but with the way things are going with so many big names duking it out in the mmosphere lately it seemed apt to post it. Not to mention the really rabid “people” posting filth which has been highlighted over at Diminishing Returns and In An Age. It seems as though something needs to change and fast before we all rip each other to shreds and give ourselves a bad name to those looking in. Our gaming community really is sitting quite precariously on the edge, not that violence isn’t fun but lets leave it for the battlefield

The Toxic Gaming Community by Vorch

Let me preface this by saying that this problem is by no means exclusive to this forum. It also does not apply to everyone…there are plenty of decent folk in this community, but they tend to be quieter than the loud and rude people. Feel free to disregard this topic all together as well…I just need to vent my frustrations in writing.

I have 3 main issues with gamers today:

1. Liking a Competitor’s Game is Frowned Upon

This is probably the stupidest facet of our community. Halo vs Killzone; Dark Souls vs. Skyrim; GW2 vs TERA…this “versus” crap needs to stop.

pref·er·ence- A greater liking for one alternative over another or others

Preferences are something that everyone has: I like strawberry ice cream over vanilla, I like the Pontiac Firebird over the Ford Mustang; I like Battle Star Galactica over Star Wars; I like mozzarella over cheddar. Does that mean I HATE vanilla, Mustangs, Star Wars, or cheddar? NO!! I really like all four! And guess what? There’s nothing fraking (Battlestar Galactica reference ^_^) wrong with that.

In contrast, enter the gaming community. Someone plays Halo and even THINKS about talking about Killzone, people freak. Someone comes from playing Skyrim and asks a question related to Dark Souls on a forum; instantly, the topic reverts to Skyrim being an easy game for casual gamers. People come from being psyched about Guild Wars 2 and also wanting to play TERA, and they are branded trolls and fanboys. What the hell is wrong with us? We used to be a society that could play Sonic one day on a Sega Genesis and Mario the next on an SNES…WHAT HAPPENED?

The anonymity of the internet—that’s what happened

2. Being Anonymous is NOT an excuse to be rude

“Character is what you are in the dark.” -Dwight L. Moody

I’m sure that all of you have someone who loves you, likes you, cares about you, or at least tolerates you. How would you feel if everything you say online comes to light? Freedom of speech is a very important human right; however, equally important is how responsibly we utilize this right.

You don’t have to agree with someone in order to respect their right to disagree. However, just because you disagree with someone does NOT mean that it is respectful to call them every name that you learned in by 3rd Grade.

3. It’s OKAY FOR PEOPLE TO DISAGREE

“Forum- A meeting or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged.”

People have views, morals, and principles that are derived from their own life experiences and upbringing. As no two people’s lives are exactly the same, everyone has a different take on what is right and wrong; what they like and dislike.

Guess what?

That’s PERFECTLY FINE.

Forums are supposed to be a place of heated debate where ideas can be exchanged, challenged, and defended. However, this can only work with mutual respect of all participants. If you are not respectful, or you are not respected, all that forums become are a shouting contest of who can make the most offensive post, or of who has the snappiest comeback.

Don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to change someone’s mind about a topic in order for a lively exchange to be productive. People in the most heated of debates more often than not leave with the same views that they had before. However, they now know WHY they believe what they do and are able to articulate the defense of their position much clearer.

You cannot know where you stand on an issue without first understanding why others do not stand with you.

In the end, I know that this will most likely wind-up buried under a pool of other off-topic threads. However, I REALLY hope that someone will take this to heart before they say something stupid and perhaps disagree with the person in a respectful, constructive manner without degenerating the conversation into accusations of trolling, fanboyism, and other silly terms.

TL;DR

1. Liking a Competitor’s Game is Frowned Upon
2. Being Anonymous is NOT an excuse to be rude
3. It’s OKAY FOR PEOPLE TO DISAGREE

I REALLY hope that someone will take this to heart before they say something stupid and perhaps disagree with the person in a respectful, constructive manner without degenerating the conversation into accusations of trolling, fanboyism, and other silly terms

I really can’t believe how much I agree with this, the gaming community seems to be getting worse with some communities being an absolute cess pit. The worse division in my mind is between the apparent “Hardcore” and “Casual” demographics, or whatever that even means in this day and age. It does a better job of constricting the market then any game mechanics or apparent stigma ever could, if the environment isn’t welcoming you will see less people entering or even enjoying the genre… This is the main reason I don’t play LoL for instance.

I really do want the community to grow up, people usually say it is becasue gaming is in it’s relatively infancy but in reality it has been around for decades now, pnp, card and board far longer so that it’s a new market really isn’t an excuse anyone more. We are now a hugely diverse market and that should absolutely be celebrated but instead all it seems to be doing is causing division.

I think the gaming media is a huge part in the problem, there is just so much inherent bias between “Journalists” and even whole sites. At the moment many claim that it isn’t there fault or that we shouldn’t take it too seriously but when you are in the public eye, whether or not your intending to write a review or an opinion piece you should always try to keep a critical eye with what you are writing and how it can be construed. Nearly every review i read these days always seems to compare games to another (worse with mmo’s) rather than actually talking about their experience, pros and cons, themes and such, there is just no real discourse around games and this really needs to change. For starters such a review system makes it very hard for those not familiar with the field to make informed opinions, secondly it encourages people to compare a games merits against each other leaving to a good and bad analogy. It is an anomaly that i never really see in any other media types or at least is never as all consuming and blatantly belligerent.

It also comes in part to the moderators of communities who let such attacks slide or are completely bias themselves (*cough* gw2guru *cough*), and I applaud companies like origin for making a stand on these issues and outright banning people (wholeheartedly against people being locked out of their game libraries though, as well as the system where you can’t actually appeal the claims).

And then it is the user, we all have verbally attacked someone from one reason or another and i really don’t think there is ever an excuse. Be critical, respond calmly and just remember that someone’s opinions whether or not they agree with you are always valid. We are a diverse group when it comes to our likes, dislikes and interests and this really should be celebrated. Such a diverse way of thinking will lead to greater projects and communities if we can put aside our difference and work together.

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7 thoughts on “The Toxic Gaming Community

  1. Hey! I’m gonna start reading this blog, so expect responses and comment from me regularly. 🙂

    But I agree totally.

    There is a certain point where people are simply trolling. A good example is on the TSW forums when people would make topics labeled “I’m going to leave this game for GW2”. It was a trend for a while. It was a very annoying trend.

    There is a difference between having a preference and trying to start a fight. There is a difference between having a discussion on a forum and attempting to get a rise out of someone.

    Unfortunately, due to that, people normally have their hackles raised and when people decide to be pleasant and start an actual conversation or discussion, it can devolve quickly because the idea of civil discussion about another game has been ruined by those who enjoy getting a rise out of people.

    So ya. Awesome repost. 🙂

    • AWESOME, always happy to have another reader and you can expect a lot of replies as well =p
      It is a very hard line to cross sometimes and I agree with the age old adage of “Don’t Feed The Trolls” which can be hard sometimes as someone always wants to get the last word in.

      While many of these are simply rage or troll bait threads i have seen a couple that are entirely objective and critical in their response and contain some very important points, it is just sad that both these get drowned out regardless. I actually think though that regardless of the posters motive or intentions these sorts of post are always very valuable in terms of gathering information for the developers. It is always good to know why your playerbase may be leaving and for every one post of these there will be many more leaving with exactly the same feelings that won’t say a word.

      It is very hard to have a civil conversation now days in just about any gaming forum and that is quite said as a great debate or conversation regardless of differing opinions is always nice to have.

  2. I won’t lie, I use to join in on the debates. I don’t believe I ever got to the point of verbal harassment (as I’m an adult, and I don’t believe we’re as anonymous as we think we are), but I definitely joined in on the whole “MY game is better than YOUR game” debates. It wasn’t a good time for me.

    Looking back, I was defending mine and attacking other games because I just didn’t know any better. I hadn’t TRIED those other games, I hadn’t fully experienced what systems I liked, and what systems I didn’t. I also found it hard to dislike anything in the game I was heavily attached to… (3 guesses as to what game that was… hint: the obvious one).

    Paying a monthly subscription will do that, though. Finding a way to justify why you’re paying almost $200 per year for a game that has flaws causes a huge cognitive dissonance. Once I finally saw the light, though, I then found myself ATTACKING the game I use to play, telling others they were foolish for being caught in the same web that I was trapped in. Again, not something I am proud of.

    Now, though, like someone who has gone through a nasty breakup (hey… this gives me an idea…), I have passed through the many stages of grief, and have finally come to “acceptance”. I see the game I use to play for what it is. Simply a game with both positives and negatives, like any other game out there. I think this experience has allowed me to create and write my own gaming blog, as I can now view gaming as a hobby from a much more open perspective.

    Sure, I’ll still geek out over a title I’m playing or looking forward to, but I now know better than to fall into the psychological trap I did before, and to look at games more objectively. Most important, I now look at games with the most important determination of whether I think its good or not: Simply, to me, is it fun?

    I do think a lot of people in forums or playing these games are in those psychological traps, and so although what they say is contemptible, I feel they deserve a little slack. Cognitive dissonance is hard to get over, and the elitists, like a poker player who is already so heavily vested in a hand as to go all-in even if the odds aren’t in their favor, don’t want to leave as they’ll then feel all their time and money has been wasted. They just don’t know when to fold, and so they fight to defend it.

    P.S. – Take a look at this article, too… goes a long way into explaining why, as the forum poster said “People in the most heated of debates more often than not leave with the same views that they had before.” – http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

    • I think we have all been there at one time, let’s just call it the exuberance of youth. I don’t think the issue is really the cost factor too much, it may seem like a lot in the long run but it really does require little short term investment (Couldn’t even sponsor an African child for that). I believe it runs down to the time-factor that makes people more passionate, you get attached and comfortable with the game, more so in mmo’s as it is a considerable time investment. Everyone has passion and that is a great thing but when people are creating arguments from ignorance… well we have the issues we see.

      I think as you get older you gain a greater understanding and critical eye solely because of the wealth of experiences you gather along the way. That’s an interesting way to look at the birth of your blog too.. a better understanding of your interests, bias’s and opinions gives you a more informed response but also a lot of contrast in your writing. I’ll be honest as I’m not at that stage yet, I still have huge inherent bias’s, for instance it could be said I loath WoW even though I have never experienced it myself and that is something I probably should remedy.

      yeh I have read a lot of that stuff before what with having a bachelor in psychology that I have no intention of using. Cognitive dissonance is a very powerful thing and more so when pervasive ideals are in general consensus among groups. It mainly comes from deeply rooted belief structures and while it is wonderful that our medium of choice is so enthralling and all consuming (which you rarely see in other medias to this extent), but there are always groups that take it to the extreme.

      One thing I can remember from the bachelor when dealing with cognitive dissonance and an ingrain belief structure is to always try to agree and validate part of their claim, first they need to think you understand there position and that can be unbelievable hard. Second is to never overload with information, short and concise, It’s funny but on the forums I do sometimes use these mind tactics on others.. I am kinda evil

      Haha, stages of grief.. I think I went through that with C&C

  3. There’s a saying in Latin: ‘De gustibus non est disputandum’.

    There is no point debating one’s tastes. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, just preference.

    It’s fun to discuss why we like certain games and dislike others, but what I hated about the comments on Azuriel’s page was that they were all out attacks, reflecting badly on the GW2 community.

    Anyway great post -> adding to my reader 🙂

    • Yeh the bad part is that the comments on Azuriel’s page pretty much mirror my own experiences and a few people I know as well, I have even witnessed coming from the mod staff which is just a little disturbing. I think there has just been to much hype built up by Anet and fans surrounding the game but the main issue though is that it has been prolonged for so long now.It is kind of a perfect storm in a sense and we have a very zealous fanbase.

      It is quite bad though as even though they are most probably under the impression they are defending the games honor as well as there own interest in it, it actually comes of as rather inflammatory and dismissive of anyone without there small minded view. While it may not push people away people from playing or trying the game it definitely makes people think twice about being involved in the community. I don’t know tough… I just think a game should be able to speak for itself based on it’s own merits, it isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea but that is perfectly fine.

      I have actually started visiting gw2 guru again lately and even posting but I don’t think I would have the nerve to post a critique of it as it would either be intensely flamed or dismissed out of hand. And that is a shame since constructive debates about interests and opinions are a wonderful thing.. giving great information and point of views to developers and in the end strengthening communities.

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