Tobold's Blog
Sunday, March 10, 2019
Gamer culture

You are playing an online team multiplayer game of some kind. After a match you receive a message from one of the players who was on your time. What was that message?

A) "Well played, mate!"
B) A friend or guild request
C) "Fukcing retard!!!"

What does it say about us as a cultural group that C) is by far the most likely answer?

Is it? Honestly, that is not my experience.

But even if it were, I wouldn't care. I play poker sometimes, I interpret the Russian phrase "I hope you get AIDS and cancer" as "well played, Sir, you totally pwned me with that unexpectedly successful draw"

Relax. Let people vent. It's a game that has chosen to allow personal interactions - there are many that have chosen otherwise, Why not play them?

"What does it say about us as a cultural group that C) is by far the most likely answer?"

I'd say this is what you get for playing games without any form of admin or moderation control. At least back in my FPS days we had server admins who would be present for Ladder play, and any such language or behavior would result in a server kick or ban. Competition was fierce and the win conditions were well established, known and respected by everyone.

Fast forward 20 years and we now have games built around mediocrity and forced inclusion/grouping without regard for skill level or social accountability. In all of my years of running Dungeons with Guildmates in WoW, I never once felt the need to consider that anyone in my Guild was a "fukcing retard". However, once the LFD tool was implemented, I can say with certainty that I was forced to group with quite a few "fukcing retards". I just never called them that in chat.
While I haven't done a comprehensive review, I do have to say that WoT has the worst community I ever encountered, as far as chat behaviour goes. And within that the Post-Battle messages from random people are basically 75%+ insults.
It's not been my experience, either. It's very rare for me to get private tells or whispers from anyone I don't know in any game and on the rare occasions I do it's almost always a query or clarification about something I've said in an open channel. I talk in open channels all the time while I play, though, so maybe anyone who wants to talk to me feels they don't need to do it in secret.

I also avoid using private channels as much as possible myself. I have always found tells and whispers weird and uncomfortable, going all the way back to when I first started playing in the late 1990s. It always felt to me that sending tells was like sitting in a pub with a bunch of people and deliberately whispering so only one person could hear me. Why would anyone do that?

As for the content of those whispers, if you don't like what you hear most games have an extremely useful "block" or "ignore" function. Use it. I do. I have over 300 blocked names on my main GW2 account and I can guarantee not even 1% of those got blocked for salty whispers. I block people on any comment in open chat I don't like, often on a first offence. You can always unblock them later if you need to speak to them, but chances are you never will.
The fact that the responses so far are mostly of a practical, "Here's how you handle it" approach and do not address the idea of "This is endemic of a culture of disrespect and dehumanization in interaction, maybe there's something fundamentally broken here on a socio-cultural level" is kinda interesting.

@Nicholas Bergquist : I agree. 300 people on your block list is a crutch type of solution, and not an indication that there isn't something fundamentally wrong here.
I think it says a lot more about the kind of game than anything else.
The core problem here is that you're not on a team.

You're on a 'side', and the other people don't want to be there either, they want to be on a 'team.' But they can't, and not because teams aren't available, they are. It's because they lack either the willingness or skill to play on a 'team', or the discipline to be on a team at all.

The problem isn't the players, it's the designers designing team games for solo players.

And of course, add that to the fact that the human race is not an enlightened species. With no face to face interaction to moderate it, a lot of people simply have no control over their aggressive tendencies.

So: tldr: Join an actual team and follow it's rules, or turn off all com channels.

Oh, and welcome to humanity. Yeah, we suck.
I get more A than C by a sizable margin. Usually not interaction though.
There is an argument to be made by game, I suppose. For example, I don't play certain games (CSGO, TF2, LOL and any other DOTA, etc.) on principle. And if I do play something like PUBG (which I enjoy) it's with the knowledge that I don't have to interact with anyone. However, I play Fortnite with the family and we do use audio, finding that 95% of the other players are younger or families using it for fun like ourselves; only in the wee hours are you likely to run into the hardcore who are less tolerant of the average players.

The most toxic era of gaming I remember was on Xbox 360 back in the day, particularly on games like Halo 3. The games where I have found the least "toxicity" overall but the most troubling "life wrecking" self-inflicted behavior were in the MMOs.
I dunno, I kinda get c) from the -opposing- team who get salty. ;)

I think it’s more a tendency of the common masses to blame factors outside their control as an excuse/rationalization as to why something did not happen how they would have liked.

Not gamer culture per se, the blaming happens just as often in real life. The difference is more people bite back saying it to your face, for fear of the consequences, eg. getting into an aggressive fight that could hurt them, or because they might need you in future interactions so burning bridges is ill-advised. But rest assured, they are probably still thinking it.

Your average pickup online game has no consequences for aggressive venting and you will never see the other person again/are more depersonalized through a screen.

The question is, do you want to treat the symptom or the root cause? Symptomatic treatment would involve things like instituting consequences and ensuring players know there may be future interactions with the same person (e.g. on a guild team, or whatever.) Going for the root cause is more difficult, but if you can change a person’s mind to believe that there is something they themselves can do about their unwanted results, the blaming of others will cease.
1: Be Tobold
2: support morons and slackers access all game content for a decade
3: complain about standard M&S behavior in his games
@Gevlon: You are very much part of the problem. The disrespect and dehumanization begins with calling everybody who plays worse than you a moron & slacker (and everybody who plays better a no-lifer).
Gevlon missed a great opportunity to be a smart blogger and a nice person at the same time. Instead he went the "thug life" way and decided to showcase a garbage attitude. Up to a point where he abandoned his blog "because nobody understands him". Defeated by his own enemies.
As I've shifted away from playing whatever the current trend is in gaming I've noticed my average experience in multiplayer games has improved tremendously.

In high school playing Halo and Call of Duty I certainly encountered my fair share of screechers and others that would classify as your type C.

Now that I play "dead" games like MechWarrior Online I have many more experiences that would classify as type A.

Recently I tried out Apex Legends and quickly remembered why I don't like popular multiplayer games. I encountered plenty of type C personalities or just in general people who were "pro streamers" who refuse to play the game as intended.

So I would say the type of encounter you have has more to do with the size of the player base then just the fact we are playing video games. The larger the player base, the higher the chance you get matched with type c personalities.
This is pretty much why I tend to play MMOs more as single player games these days. When you're cussed at, hit on (most of the time on female toons but male toons get them occasionally), or in general treated like disposable trash, I'd say we as a community have a major problem.

There are times when I see the crap in MMOs and think of what it was like at the end of Usenet's era: tons of spam; even more truckloads of conspiracy theories, racism, and sexism; and very little useful content.
@Tobold: your reply is not a counterargument, it merely states that I'm one of the bad guys.

My point is that there are "bad guys" and you need to somehow keep them away from the gaming space of the "good guys". You kept saying the opposite for a decade, that everyone should access to all game content. This guaranteed the result: you are now sharing gaming space with "bad guys".

@Rugus: there is no opportunity to be nice and smart at the same time, because being nice forces you to tolerate dumbs. I had to leave because gaming companies - at the urging of people like Tobold - chose to side with the morons and slackers.
@Gevlon: Well, if you want a counter-argument: I do not think that there is such a thing as a defined group of “morons & slackers”, or even “good guys” and “bad guys”. What we have is people who take games extremely seriously, and people who consider games as, well, games, a form of entertainment and amusement. My counter-argument to your analysis is that the people who don’t take games so seriously are less likely to insult another player for his performance in a game.

And you, with your economic knowledge, should be the first one to know that the idea to make games accessible only to people who take these games very seriously is a financial non-starter. Because the hardcore do not want to pay more money for exclusive access. Most of them wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway, because being a serious hardcore gamer correlates negatively with real-life financial success. In your definition the guys with six figure salaries who like to play an hour or two in the evening to relax after a hard day of work are “morons & slackers”. But of course for game companies these are exactly the sort of customers they want, because they can pay for all those optional virtual stuff and not just for the free or cheap basic version of the game.
@Tobold: wrong on every levels.

At first: marketing stuff to people who actually care about them usually works. You don't try to sell horses or yachts or Tahiti vacation to those who'd try them out for an hour for amusement. You sell them to enthusiastic riders/sailors/travellers who are ready to spend most of their disposable income on them.

Secondly: having casuals in a game doesn't mean they have to share the same "gaming space" with the hardcore. You could play very casually in Everquest. Nobody stopped you from playing 2 hours a week. You just never reached the level cap, so the levelcapped "hardcore" never noticed your existence. There could be "easy", "normal" and "hard" servers in every game for everyone.

Thirdly: if #1 and #2 are wrong and you were right, game companies should be banning the hardcore who are insulting the poor casuals. After all, they are a tiny minority who don't matter.

The solution - obviously - is that those who insult you are worse-than-you players who blame you for their own bad play.
@Gevlon: #3 (alternative version) is making Free2Play games that are Pay2Win. That gives the hardcore players the choice of either quitting in disgust, or spending serious money on their serious hobby. No company ever "bans" unprofitable customers, they just try to "convert" them.

And as this is exactly what we observe to be happening, I am obviously right. "Conversion" is now a major metric among game developers.

Casual players don't care enough about the game to go through all the bother of insulting better players.
@Tobold: your major error is still assuming that bad players are casual. They are mostly not. They play awful lot and they still suck. Feel free to check out the worst horrible idiots in your World of Tanks games and don't be too surprised if they have 2x the games you have.

Bad players are dumb, lazy, drunk, drugged people in real life, playing video games. Or you think that the dumbass who dropped out of high school isn't playing games?
@Gevlon: We seem to have a difference in definition here. The "bad, dumb, lazy, drunk, drugged people in real life, high-school dropout" playing video games all day is not a "casual player". He is a hardcore player. That is, he has the attitudes of a hardcore player, and really wants to be a hardcore player, but he is just terribly bad at it. "Casual" is an attitude, not a measure of skill.

Games in which access is controlled by money instead of by time favor the kind of people who are successful in real life, because they tend to have more money than time. Games in which access is controlled by time instead of by money favor the high-school dropouts.
@Tobold: you started to mention hardcores and casuals, not me.

My claim: those who insult you are bad players (in terms of game points, winrate, bosskills, ratings, whatnot). My main blogging theme was that bad players are morons and slackers (dropouts, drunks ...) and deserve no sympathy.

My solution is that bad players should not be allowed to play together with good players, they should be gated by gear, earlier bosskills, rating, whatnot.

Gaming companies don't do that, because they started to utilize bad players as easy kills for whales.

@Gevlon the guy who insults probably thinks he is one of the good players, and is appalled at the perceived poor skills of the other players he is insulting.

Your solution is a fix only for skill (gated content by skill/performance). It does not solve the real problem that game companies face: how to avoid losing the normal casual players who don't particularly enjoy being insulted because they are further back on the learning curve or have less time to play to get through the skill gate. These players, who have less time but more money on average, are typically the ones actually funding the game through purchases. Why should they be subject to the "morons and slackers" you think will fit in this particular pool? Game publishers already know what happens when the normal people are forced to deal with toxic players....the community eventually withers and dies; the solution has more often than not been to contain or limit the ability of players to engage with each other; one creep in a crowd is enough to sour the rest on the experience, and that translates into money going away for the game.

Both you and Tobold also are overlooking an important fact, one which I am faced with as I game with my son more and more: a very significant chunk of gaming is all done by kids and teens, who often learn poor sportsmanship early on in absence of any controls or guidance from adults. Or worse yet, learn to be unsportsmanlike from the adults. Poor behavior ultimately has entirely to do with how you comport yourself in front of a faceless social aggregate like you find in a game, and is dependent on that person believing that appearance is important even when the audience is invisible. Skill has no factor here; these kids range in talent from inept (and they know it) to godlike in their twitch skills....but one thing a lot have in common is they start off polite, but over time their ability to be nasty gets worse as they are exposed to the older gamer community.

Watching my son play, and just how many kids are actually online and how they learn to conduct themselves from their peers and elders in the game, has suggested to me that behavior is not at all linked to skill. That said, while "bad actors" in gaming can be both skilled and unskilled, it is most definitely true that the more competitive and directly conflict-based a game is the more likely that the participants will stoop to deliberately creepy text or voice commentary, often primarily to alleviate their frustrations on an invisible "other" or sometimes it seems as a deliberate tactic to see if they can rattle or get an opponent to quit.

Worth noting with this: none of this behavior appears to be unique to computer gamers. You can see bad actors and shitty behavior at any live sports event, little league, you name it. It might be a bit more controlled (sometimes) because it's face-to-face with live people, but it's there. I think there's an old school notion for many gamers that we, as computer gamers, are supposed to be better than this....but the reality is that this conversation about bad behavior has been pretty much active since games started letting you communicate with the opposition. Is that an excuse? No....but it means that identifying and fixing this sort of behavior requires a broader cultural approach that goes beyond just gaming.

We have agreed on the following point in the past: In that people with an abundance of time should never be pitted against people with an abundance of money. It should be fairly obvious by now that claims of P2W, claims of matchmaker rigging and other monetized advantages that players love to reference(as counters of their poor performance), wouldn't exist if there was a true level playing field where ALL other things in a game were equal.

I submit that toxicity grows when there are demonstrable areas that gamer's can reference as bonafide examples of inequality on a supposed level playing field. Hell, even back in my FPS days we had people who had amazing twitch skills at LAN events - where latency(ping) times were the same for everyone on the server. But the moment they got home and were faced with +100ms(or higher) ping times(on an internet that they had no control over) and their performance would suffer greatly. Toxicity began developing as insults of LPB(Low Ping Bitch) and HPW(High Ping Whiner) would flood in game chat whenever someone would lose and/or be killed. The solution was simple as 3rd party programmers began producing server browsers that would scan the internet and allow players to play on servers where the ping time was near equal for everyone. A simple, yet elegant solution for that particular problem.

The problem with F2P games and games that use hidden matchmaking variables, is that players have no control over who they are pitted against, hence the toxicity that develops when they can't explain why their win/loss ratio cannot seemingly be improved, no matter what they try. Did the player lose because he was matched with complete morons on his team, or did the player lose because he was matched against players who were using something like Gold Ammo? Or did that player lose because of some hidden matchmaker variable that says "you've won too many games, it's time to lose now"?

Providing a level playing field should be the first consideration of any game developer. But that's not what we're getting under these questionable monetization schemes.
So like your LOL fiasco?
Premium players should play against premium players. Free2Play players should play against Free2Play players. But we all know that companies don't support this model because it's not good for their business. You need to mix them all to lure the F2P players to spend cash to become "better" (that's what they think). If you keep them segregated in a free zone they will keep playing for free and never spend a dollar.

Most of the "free" mobile games offer a fake-free version where you have the illusion to play the game for free and enjoy its content just like anyone else. But then you soon realize that free gaming means tedious grinding and you gt matched against those who don't grind but "buy" their levels/gear/energy with hard cash. It's a lost battle.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool