Greetings fellow gamers! My name is Josh “The Law,” and I will be your guide to all things gaming related! I am an avid PC and PS4 gamer, and I have an absolute love of gaming culture and the friendships you make throughout. This column is going to focus on various different games, both old and new. We will discuss reasons for games being good, the problems gaming may be facing in this day and age, and other related topics. For the first article, I figured it would be most appropriate to talk about toxicity in the gaming community, and how all of us can work towards changing that.
It is no secret that the gaming community can be quite infuriating to deal with. Since the first multiplayer games started up, players have had to wage war against other toxic members of the community. This problem is especially prolific in First Person Shooters (FPS) games. Games such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, Overwatch, and Destiny are riddled with bad mannered, foul languaged individuals. Statements ranging from simple “you’re dumb,” to insulting comments about someone’s mother are commonplace in gaming. It can be quite disheartening, especially if you are like me, and by and large you game for the simple fun of it. And when teammates start flaming other teammates mid match, it can be enough to set down an enjoyable game for a long time. So what do we do as a community?
The change must start at an individual level. Starting off with saying hello to teammates can go such a long way. I often am in voice chat while playing Overwatch, and it can be such an uplifting experience to have another person on a mic talking and saying hi. This opens dialogues, and I have met such great individuals simply by being polite. One of the gamer tags I use often is Gentleman Death, a moniker I picked up when I first started gaming. Gamers can help make the community more positive by communicating in team matches. Using mics, team chat, and various other outlets to help coordinate and solve problems can make the difference between an awesome match, and a horrible experience. The final action gamers can take is the simple use of “gg.” GG, representing “good game,” is an important aspect of the culture. It is the virtual equivalent of shaking hands after a match, and shows good sportsmanship and positivity regardless of the outcome.
The other change that must happen is more accountability from gaming companies. Anyone who has been gaming for a long time remembers the toxic wasteland known as “Modern Warfare 2.” An FPS game, this was one of the worst gaming experiences in terms of toxic players. People would say such vile remarks to one another, and it became almost impossible to enter a game lobby without someone saying horrible things to another person. This became the gaming norm until recently. While the problems are still there, companies have started to take toxicity more seriously. Overwatch implemented an endorsement system, where players could endorse one another for being a good teammate, sportsmanlike, or a shot caller. This in turn would add up to a rank that would be displayed over the profile during games, and players would be rewarded based on their endorsement level. Other games have created a ban system, where players found saying or typing harassing phrases would be placed on probation, or banned entirely from the game. This has helped cull the flow rudeness, but has not eliminated it entirely. Companies must stress that gaming is all about having fun, and is not something that should be taken as seriously as it is sometimes.
There is so much more that we can do to be better gamers as a whole. The beautiful thing about gaming is the community that has been built around it. I am not saying that the community is inherently bad or toxic, quite the opposite actually. I have seen acts of great compassion from gamers, and such love and support as well. It is why I advocate that we continue to buckle down on harassment in gaming, and why we must lay down the law.