An excessively visible group within our ranks as gamers, the hostile trolls and blatantly vulgar, have painted the picture of our culture.
This image is what leads people to expect and accept the shrieking in their headset in open lobbies, racial and sexist profane slurs, and outright assaults against their character as part of gaming. That image has frayed the very fabric of our society and woven a new, dangerous, “normal” for gamers; so normal in fact that the new and budding generations, the fresh minds who should be carefree and enjoying all that gaming has to offer, feel they must imitate and embrace this image to participate. Satisfied being hidden behind the element of anonymity afforded by a gamer tag or forum handle, people will often say and do things they’d never commit to face to face – and the unfortunate truth is that behavior has started bleeding over into every day encounters. What appalls me most about this is the complete degradation of a society through the integration of what should’ve been an amazing technological innovation.
We have been pushed onto the rails of cultural destruction through the actions of these few, the bullying, the harassing and the outright disgusting things some will resort to for attention and personal satisfaction; that is what is driving our train, and we are perilously close to the end of the track. We sit by at times, silently, during the awkward moments while a flaming diatribe is unjustly lashed at someone because really, what can we do? If you call out the trolls, they simply grow more hostile and belligerent. We can mute them, and I still encourage this, but that’s not all we can do. I say we need to be the positive change as well. Show support for your fellow gamers with words of encouragement and understanding; give them more reason to ignore the ones looking to tear them down. Don’t remain silent in lobbies; get to know those “randoms” and pick up groups that you end up with. It was just the other day that many of our members were reminiscing on the fact that gaming, and the community as a whole, has made them some of the best friends they’ve ever had. That amazing experience is hard to repeat in today’s environment, and becomes harder by the day.
I know I’m absolutely guilty of the “[expletive] this game.” rants, everyone will be prone to the occasional outburst – but that doesn’t mean when we play that we shouldn’t communicate with the team, and offer support here and there. We need to reinforce positive interaction as gamers, and lead the way to a better future for gaming. We need to be the break wall against the tidal force of hate and refuse that spews from the mouths and actions of these creatures. So, I implore you, don’t let the trolls win. Starting an inquisition would do us no good (even if trolls are weak to fire #DnD) – instead we need to mount a positive campaign and show that they’ve woken the sleeping giant that is the gaming community. I can think of none better to lead that charge, no group more capable, than the friendliest gaming community online. This is a call to action for all gamers, the community needs you!
So for every message you get that instructs you to “throw your xbox out the window” send two to others with something positive. Translate the hate, and pay it forward as some good – something that the community will thrive on. Polish off that Golden Rule and show that the tarnish is only on the surface. Gaming is meant to be a fun experience, and with those that strive to ruin that experience for others we’re quickly losing grasp on what was once a fun pastime. Now, let your awesome shine through – and bring light back to gaming!
Have you experienced this negativity online? How have you handled it?
Will you help to set a positive example?