Toxicity in MMO Shooters
Video games from the very start have always elicited excitement and a form of aggression in general. The simplest non-provoking game which started the video game industry had a single player trying to bounce a ball back and forth a wall and at times the player would miss and aggressively shout expletives in unconscious anger. This game was then modified for multi-play and released commercially where 2 people bounced the ball back and fort each other from 2 opposite sides.
Having 2 players shoving the ball at each other and just waiting for the other to miss created a mild yet aggressive tension. After all, they where playing electronic ping-pong or Pong. Believe it or not but this was the beginning of the Toxicity we have today in our current high octane, high pressured shooter games.
Let’s take a generalized look at how toxicity develops in one of today’s most popular shooter games, what starts it, and how it affects and most of the time destroys the game.
Unlike in Tournament or formal competitive games which are held in a supervised venue, online shooter games can have almost anybody joining the game. Most of the time, you don’t even know your team mates let alone your opponents and maybe your first time to even meet them online. In short, you know squat about them.
There are several main reasons why an online shooter game like CounterStrike usually ends up in fights and over-spilled aggressive behavior. Let’s discuss some of them to show as examples.
Immature players are usually kids who cannot control their emotions or behavior. Unfortunately, some older teens and adults fall into this category. As the saying goes, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen”. These are the players who taunt the most (especially when they’re winning) but who cannot accept loss. You can’t win all the time and you will go down no matter how good you are.
Taunting is natural in competitive game play but there is a limit to this. “Sure I’m better than you” or “You wouldn’t stand up to me boy, better go home to Mommy” are but a few nauseating comments being thrown back and forth. Immature players will not just taunt, they will insult the other side especially when they loose, besides, habitual taunting is a form of insecurity.
Swearing is taken for granted in today’s social behavior especially in the Western world where people cannot even utter a single sentence without the F or S word. Immature players equate swearing to fun since they do it over and over again even when there is no reason to do so. To swear at your opponent for no valid reason is equal to insulting him or her for that matter. That is very toxic!
Somebody shouts at you like that, better leave the game or file a complaint with the server admin. People like these should not be tolerated and should be banned from playing online with others. Insulting and swearing at others does not only pollute the game but ruins it for everyone else playing at the time.
This can cause a chain reaction as others may not be able to hold back and an online personal argument or grudge occurs at which point the game environment is considered extremely toxic. However as it may be, there are some public servers who operate this way and usually frequented by people of the same kind. Toxic online players playing a toxic game on a toxic server with a toxic Admin none the less.
Cheaters! Oh yes…one of the most toxic of all. Players who rely on the one-shot-one-kill-no-skill paradigm. These people are psychologically chronic dependents on cheat scripts that need to get their fix per game. They just can’t loose and have to win one way or another.
One of the things FPS players hate the most is a cheater in their midst. In MMO shooters or FPS specially in gaming communities, most of the players play for camaraderie and to improve their skill. Of course winning is important but one has to prove oneself and bring honor to ones team or clan.
A person who cheats has no honor and brings shame to his team, his clan and the community as well.
This is a paradigm most pro and serious shooter game players operate within and a cheater is someone who does not adhere to or agree with this way of thinking. This kind of person has no place in online FPS or competitive eSports for the matter. They are toxic and will ruin the game for everyone.
These are 2 of the major reasons that make a competitive MMO shooter game turn sour. It’s difficult enough staying alive to get a chance to pawn a skillful opponent and one still has to deal with these sort of individuals who make it very very difficult to land that much needed score for your team.
There are other sources of toxicity that are prevalent in almost any competitive online games. The trollers, griefers, hounders and those who can’t control their sexist and racial discrimination. There are even those who should not be allowed to play at all especially in LAN matches where toxic over-spill is left unchecked. Places where computer rental shops host LAN gaming are prone to this. Insults are traded back and forth real-time that some players literally get up from their computers and walk across the room to the offending loudmouth and they literally beat each other up. In worst cases these guys would be armed with a small knife they get through without notice and one or both end up bleeding. How toxic can it get?
Toxicity in shooter games whether on-line or not is no doubt a widespread problem that eSport organizations, gaming communities and the game companies themselves are trying to address today as ways and means are being developed to minimize or totally eradicate it.
A well run gaming community is one good way to address the problem as members are constantly in check of each other and a good friendly environment especially towards newbies to the game will go a long way.
This author who is an FPS level designer and senior admin for an FPS online gaming community encourages the readers who love to play FPS and shooter games online to join an active gaming community that is friendly, helpful and fair to it’s members. You cannot eradicate the taunts and competitive behavior between teams and clans alike but you can always draw the line when enough is enough and remind them that they belong to the same community whatever team or clan they may be. There is no room for toxicity in the community or any other community whether against ones opponent or team member and the rules apply to all.