A gamer on the receiving end of undue online hostility questions the ‘maturing’ community.
The gaming community has done well to shake off its image as the nerdy kid with tape on his glasses, who hasn’t been outside in a week and could add up all the change in your purse really fast. But do we want to move from that stereotype to one of annoying, loud and emotionally unstable 20-somethings?
It’s not very often that you can fire up your Xbox or PlayStation and play through a whole session of your favourite game without either having the most foul-mouthed tirades aimed at you, or overhearing them aimed at strangers in the pre-game lobby.
Raging is now common place in gaming, there are even entire YouTube channels dedicated to posting videos in which they troll other players in order to get a reaction from them. Some of these channels have over one million subscribers.
Games are supposed to be a place where we have complete control. We have control over all of the choices we make in a game, what our character will look like and in which style we choose to play. We don’t have control over other players online and that means we are putting our gaming experience in the hands of strangers all over the world.
Games are there to test our abilities, to distract us from the mundane and to wind down after a stressful day. They aren’t supposed to infuriate, irritate and incense – but they do, for some people at least.
You can see why people can get wound up easily or overexcited about a game. Not only do we invest a huge amount of effort and time in them, we also get emotionally involved, whether it’s because of the storyline, the characters, the graphics or the dialogue. Before you judge, how is that any different from loving a film or a book?
But the fact remains that some people become so unstable, purely because you’ve gone on a killstreak in Call of Duty or nabbed a hat-trick on Fifa, that they unleash a torrent of abuse and foul language your way via a mic, or a lovely typed message if you’re really lucky.
Some chose to employ the ‘rage quit’ technique. That is, they get so angry with a game that they’re supposedly playing for enjoyment that they remove themselves from the situation before they explode.
Other symptoms of rage can be, but are not limited to: lashing out, physical violence, making claims about your sexuality and bringing up any relations they have had with your… relations.
It’s not just us amateurs who are at it though; even the pro gamers lose their rag or get a bit overexcited and can’t help but rub their opponents’ faces in it. The video below comes from the 2013 COD Championships at a qualifying event in Cologne, Germany.
After Eurogamer posted the video, the event organisers got in touch with them and they compared the competition to other sports like football and rugby, pointing out that mind games and “banter,” as they put it, are just a part of the game.
Some comments on YouTube refer to the incident as trash talk as well, but even if it is just trash talk, is that something we really want in the community? I can’t recall a time I’ve seen a rugby player score a try then run over to his opponent and swear at him, and if they did I don’t think they would get off the hook by claiming it was trash talk.
Now is the time to take a deep breath and think about it. Video gaming has become a socially acceptable pastime, especially with the big boys in the industry trying to become the all-in-one entertainment mediums. Do we really want to go from the kids who don’t like to go outside to the adults who are emotionally unstable and can’t take defeat?
Featured image: Smurfy via Wikimedia