Why Are Gamers So Toxic?
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Gaming is becoming more popular than ever in quarantine. Nintendo switches are flying off the charts in sales, with there even being a shortage of both the system itself and its joy-cons too. Game console shortages aren't new however, because the Xbox One has been dealing with it since the beginning of quarantine too. Though the Xbox One and Xbox One S may be discontinuing soon, which makes it the perfect time to set up for a possible new console. Plus, the PS5 is rumored to come out soon. Gaming is going no where anytime soon, and I predict to soon become America's favorite past-time. With game consoles being sold out, we have the games themselves. Popular free online games are at its high too, given that you don't need to even buy a console to play them, such as Apex Legends, Fortnite, and League of Legends.

What comes with popular online competitive games, is the inherent toxicity of gamer culture. From Call of Duty to CS:Go to League of Legends to Overwatch, most online competitive games have one thing in common, and it's toxic gamer culture. I'm by no means a stranger to gaming. I grew up playing Pokemon, and I always had a Nintendo Game Boy and eventually a 3DS. But it wasn't until a few months ago when I started to delve into the world famous MOBA League of Legends that I really started to see what it's like to be in the world of online competitive gaming. And boy, was it toxic.

An old nintendo game boy with tetris.https://unsplash.com/photos/lUbIun4IL38

So, how toxic is gamer culture?

A person holding a white PS4 controller.

https://unsplash.com/photos/hP8B_KYRoFE

From popular twitch streamers to your normal everyday gamer, gamer culture is more than toxic. It can be absolutely abysmal. We can cite popular youtubers and streamers saying slurs as horrendous as the n-word slur, such as THE most subscribed to youtuber in the world, Pewdiepie. If one of the most popular and well known youtubers is saying such a slur when gaming, it only empathizes the normalcy of such language in the culture. Nothing is out of bounds for gamers, really. From the n-word (which my boyfriend has received on multitudes of occasions) to other ethnic based slurs to slurs discriminatory to those who may have mental issues, as well as insults so filled with anger and vulgarity that your mother would faint hearing, there is literally no boundary that is "too much".

But couldn't this be just a small percentage of the population?

You would think so right? But this widespread culture isn't new, nor is it hidden or small. It's not just some tiny portion of the population, it's our neighbors, our siblings, our friends who could speak this way too. From personal experience, I've encountered many gamers who BM (A slang term in many gaming communities that means badly mannered). Whether it's general toxicity such as it's AFK-ing (Away From Keyboard, meaning that have decided to stop playing the game), griefing (helping the enemy team), inting (intentionally doing bad), or just being plain verbally abusive or trolling. There's been many prominent figures in multiple games who have spoken about this matter, such as prominent and popular League of Legends streamer, Voyboy, who has commented on the sad state of League before. In a youtube video with over 1,000,000 views, highlights the weaknesses of both of league of legends community as well as the game itself. He highlights many problems with the community, as well as addressing the general irritability and rough state of players themselves as well as these problems and their connections to the lack of action from Riot, the developer of League of Legends.

So it's not a small portion. How many gamers are we talking about?

I'm not saying that EVERYONE is a toxic gamer. I understand being frustrated when playing these games, I've had moments where I've definitely felt like screaming because I was just being killed over and over and over and wasn't even able to play the game at all because I was dead all the time! Competitive games can be really frustrating, with all of the emotions that can come from losing plus the fact that your game developers may be exacerbating already existent problems as well as other people in your game trolling, how could you NOT lose your cool?

But these things are all never an excuse for hate. Toxicity is a problem, especially when 74% of players have reported being harassed in an online game, according to a study by the Anti-Defamation League. And to top it off, 65% of players have reported experiencing severe harassment in online games, 23% being exposed to extremist ideologies such as white supremacy and hateful propaganda, as well as 9% of players being exposed to holocaust denial. What kind of an effect does this have on people? The same kind of effect that bullying has on people. Online hate can follow people into real life. Verbal absuve and threats of physical harm don't just disappear into thin air once the game is over, neither do doxxing or hacking threats. These hateful experiences can carry into real life and effect the way gamers think about themselves, as well as others.

What should we do? What can I do? 

It's hard to answer that question. Mostly, these problems have a lot to do with the developers of the game. The consumer should ask these game developers to do more, except often times, they are and these companies won't listen. In the same study by ADL, 62% of players would like these companies to encourage a safer and more inclusive environment for players with 55% of players also saying that there should be voice-chat moderation. The study also revealed that "The five games where players reported experiencing the most harassment were DOTA 2 (79 percent), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (75 percent), PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds (75 percent), Overwatch (75 percent) and League of Legends (75 percent)". All of these developers need to do better for their consumers, they need to install safety measures such as a working reporting system for harassment (looking at you Riot Games), and other similar measures that will actually keep players more safe from hate and toxicity.

As for individuals, you can only really affect yourself and your circle of friends. Encouraging behaviors like controlling your emotions when frustrated, promoting kind words versus insults, and conflict resolution skills would help transform the gaming community into a more tolerable one.

Gaming is expanding into a huge industry, bigger than ever before. That's why it's important to be aware of toxicity and hate, and what it can do to others and ourselves. The best way to defend ourselves is to do whatever we can to promote kindness and safety whether it's on a small scale of just ourselves or our friends, to urging corporations to take action. Hopefully, we see some change in the future but until then, I'll still be muting everyone when I get into a game.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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