"Can't we all just get along? The nastiest, most hateful things are being said over voice chat, in chatrooms, and turning up in your inboxes. And while this is a problem across the internet, it seems particularly acute in the online gaming realm. Will online players ever play nice? The hate speech can ruin perfectly fun experiences, and abuse and alienate innocent players. What can be done? and even if you don't participate yourself, is doing nothing adding to the problem?"

What do you think, will we ever clean up the toxicity in gaming?

Travis   Admin wrote on 07/05/2014 at 03:22am

I'd counter that with "can we ever stop toxic, racist, and abusive people?"

It isn't at all unique to gaming-- it's just that in real life you might have to deal with repercussions, and gaming is when you're at your most anonymous, with the least repercussions, and with the frustration of defeat or getting carried away in victory.

To fix it, you'd have to fix human culture.

Zach_Foster wrote on 07/06/2014 at 03:09am

I agree with Travis. To change the attitudes of people you have to change people, and that's nothing that will happen soon. I think there's something to be said for in-game voice auditing, and blocking people for swearing, but it can't catch everything. Cyber bullying is becoming a terrible problem. I played Call of Duty: Ghosts the other day and was placed in a room with what sounded from their voices like a bunch of ten and twelve year olds, and they were swearing at each other like sailors. it doesn't help that it's a violent video game, but the idea that kids are playing these games, and talking to each other the way they do is disgusting.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 07/06/2014 at 06:43pm

Trash-talking in sports picked up momentum in the 60's and has been snowballing ever since. Now, it's actually an encouraged tactic for victory, even so far as getting the fans involved. It's gotten to the point where people don't seem to care about respect anymore. How do you give millions of these same types of people microphones in dark rooms, and expect them to behave?

When I was in school, they used to give out a trophy for good sportsmanship, and while it wasn't the most sought after award, it was at least a public recognition of competing with honor. The NBA started handing out such a trophy in the mid-90's, the NFL has a similar award that's been around since the mid-80's. I think rewarding good behavior is positive approach, and video gaming has the best environment to promote this. In-game items, achievements, titles... all can be tailored to promote good gaming behavior. Riot Games' system, mentioned in the video, is a prime example. Giving in-game badges in multiple fields to help promote helpfulness and friendliness is a start.

Personally, I use the mute button if the game has one (and most do these days), or play without a mic. I hate to say it, but I think Nintendo was the wise one in all of this. Only allowing online interaction with someone you choose to play with could be the best solution. It kills the matchmaking aspect of every online multiplayer game, but maybe that's the kind of overhaul that needs to take place?

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 07/07/2014 at 08:01pm

Thanks for that script! Whereas sportsmanship awards are a bit odd in a social way, that kind of positive incentive is a great idea.

I think each game implementing it's own mechanism that's right for the game is best. That said, if I had to do something to handle a toxic community I'd look at Riots community tribunal model.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 07/09/2014 at 01:17am

I've been struggling a bit with Jamin's attention to the Bystander Effect, and how relevant it really is to the issue (Jamin states that it's the biggest problem that he's seen regarding this issue). How would you even know if other players were remiss in their duties as gaming citizens to take action against abuse? What are the paths of action we can actually take as gamers witnessing this type of abuse? We can report it (probably the most prominent option available), or we can actually make a stand in the chat/game space to defend the victim, or try to diffuse the situation. I don't think that anyone has a problem reporting abuse. I'll bet that most people have done it at least once, and a large chunk of people do it often. Intervening, however, can be tricky, and I'd argue that, in this situation, doing nothing could be much better than doing something that could totally backfire, and perpetuate more abuse. Regarding the abuse toward females, white-knighting it is largely looked down upon these days, and is just asking for more abuse. In the nastiest cases, I've been in chat spaces where all you have to do is open your mouth and you're a target for abuse. Again, it seems like the mute button is the best option. Jamin also mentions that witnessing positive behavior has an area effect of altruism, but I don't know how relevant that is to gaming, either. Maybe in some games it's easier than others, but in the games that are garnering the top abusers (let's face it, it's the FPSs), there isn't really a way to act as a Good Samaritan (or is there? anyone?).

Are there alternatives to abate abusers outside of muting, reporting, or stepping in?

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 07/10/2014 at 12:14am

I think the best thing to do is to not be abusive in the game, but most people on Cheerful Ghost are not idiots so that doesn't take us too far here.

I'd say after that, yeah, reporting as much as possible. Stepping in can be useful, but I wouldn't recommend telling the griefers to stop, i'd focus on the person being abused. I'd maybe just say they are doing fine and to ignore the haters(or something to that effect given the circumstance).

The worst thing good people can do in a bad situation is nothing, but it's not entirely obvious what the good thing to do is. I can't stop people from being dicks on the internet, but banning, reporting and saying a kind word to something is something.

Largely it's up to the game developers to act on the data they collect.

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