I remember PE class in primary school very clearly. We didn’t have any PE uniforms. In the winter we wore our winter uniforms, ties and all, and in summer we wore our summer uniforms, even if that was a dress. We only ever played four or five games; football, rounders, cricket and sometimes stingball (dodgeball, but played with tennis balls) and at the end of the lesson both teams would line up opposite each other and the PE teacher would force us to go to every member of the other team, shake hands with them and say “good game”.
This had an effect on us as kids. Even at the end of morning break, when there was no PE teacher to make sure we did, as soon as Miss came out into the playground and started ringing the bell we all lined up, shook hands and said “good game”. It was ingrained in us. It probably leaked out of a lot of us as we got older but for some reason it never did with me.
I’m follow this up with a World of Warcraft anecdote. I don’t really PvP on my Priest. I love my Priest, I main my Priest, but I hate PvP on Priests. Over the course of MoP I tried to start PvPing on my Priest a few time, but it just never happened. One of these times brought me to running the Isle of Thunder PvP dailies every day. Now usually when I do this alone and I come across an enemy player, we spend quite a while trading blows where they didn’t die because my Disc self barely does any damage and I didn’t die because my Disc self also doesn’t take any damage. Eventually someone dies and whoever survived goes and carries on their life and if we do meet and fight again the person who lost the fight at least gets a little time to get their health and buffs back up and re-orient themselves, etc.
One time it did not play out this way. One day while doing my IoT PvP dailies I ran into a Rogue. We traded blows for about fifteen minutes. It was pretty fun and I ended up dying and thought that was the end of it. I ran back, rezzed at my corpse and Mr. Rogue almost immediately popped back out of stealth and it didn’t take more than a few minutes for him to kill me again. And again. And again. I was being camped. So I did what people who get camped do; I logged off. I went to play another toon for about an hour. And when I logged back in and re-rezzed? Mr. Rogue pops out of stealth once more. The guy had been sticking around for an entire hour, over my toon’s corpse waiting for me to log back in for what must have been minimal honor per hour spent playing. Well, a Hunter friend of mine on the sever happened to be doing the same dailies at the same time that this was happening and she ended up chasing the guy off after killing him only once.
Oh well, right? I lost an hour, but shit happens, right? And if I wasn’t prepared for this particular brand of shit to happen I would have never have flagged, right? However, a little while after I’d finished up with my dailies I get several particularly nasty whispers from a level 1 with the name Dontcrynow. It was Mr. Rogue again, apparently taking out all of his misplaced adolescent anger at the healer that he had camped for two hours. The whispers each came in very quick succession, like he had written them out beforehand, and before I could reply the toon had been logged off of and most likely deleted. I took a screenshot of my chat window and sent it to my Hunter friend and we both had a good laugh at it, but then I got to thinking about this dude.
There’s not a whole lot of honor to be gained from camping the same person for two hours, especially when half of that time is spent completely rez free. It’s like ganking low levels: there’s no real reward to it other than your own enjoyment, if you’re into that sort of thing. So this dude finds it fun to fight people who don’t really have the full ability to fight back and when someone actually beats him he gets so offended that he feels the need to go out of his way to send nasty messages, not to the person who killed them, but to the person they were camping? And then logging off in order to avoid being responded to?
I think our friend Mr. Rogue exemplifies a huge problem in the gaming community, be it in WoW or LoL or Dota or TF2. And that is that a good fight can never be respectful.
You see, the gaming community is toxic. It’s not just a problem with gaming though; anything competitive has the ability to create highly toxic people that muddy up the experience for the rest of us. Take my primary school example above, for instance. Sure, we really got into the habit of telling each other “good game” no matter whether we won or lost, but there was always one or two kids who didn’t get into that habit, who played aggressively because it wasn’t about the game, it was about the win, and when they didn’t get that win or a play didn’t go their way they a fight would probably start.
And I use the word toxic because this is toxicity. There’s a very important part of my primary school PE comparison that might not make it as applicable and that is that the people involved in this anecdote are children. And as children they act as such. Grown ass adults or even teenagers who are playing games online should no better than to throw tantrums at the first sign of losing.
In the average game of League, either Blue wins, or Purple wins. In randoms 50% of the time Blue will lose, and 50% of the time Purple will lose. I don’t care if you just like playing the game or you only like winning, acting like children when you do eventually lose creates a toxic environment for all involved including you, your team members and your opponents. Throwing a tantrum isn’t going to erase that loss and it’s not going to make your next win any more likely.
If you do something for fun, have fun. Your enjoyment of a hobby shouldn’t be conditional and your feelings towards your hobby shouldn’t lie on the two extremes of the spectrum. Going out of your way to send someone nasty messages after your loss doesn’t make you enjoy the game any more, and honestly, we’ve all become so desensitized to how toxic these communities are that it doesn’t make the person you’re sending them to enjoy the game any less.
We all want gaming to be taken more seriously as a hobby, an art form and a legitimate form of competition, because right now video games are still seen as a thing for children. And we’re never going to change that view if we act like children while we’re playing.
Even if that just means saying “gg” a bit more often, even if you lose.
If you’ve been watching the Sochi Olympics, or have ever watched any Olympics at all, you might notice that, after the event, athletes from different countries shake hands or hug at the end of their events, even if they don’t speak the same language. Those are professional competitionists. The kid that starts a fight with the person who called the off side? He’s not.
That isn’t to say that you can’t get away with a reasonable amount of angry shouting, because even I, the one preaching this nonsense have been known to be very creative with the applications of the word ‘fuck’ when on the mic with only the people on my team. ;]