The world can be a rough place, but regrettably the virtual world can sometimes be rougher – at least much more rude.
It’s no surprise to anyone that has played an online game – the slurs and insults cannot be avoided in the lobbies and in game chats (voice and text) being hurled back and forth between competitors. Sometimes it’s friendly, other times its abusive – but why do we treat each other like this?
Well many scientific studies have been done in the gaming world to try to shed light on the many different human behaviors that get in the way of just having fun in the game. There have been studies on psychological examinations of the similarities of esports to professional and problem gambling, as well as studies involving the toxic behavior often found in your favorite online game. In this post we are going to look at a few possible reasons why this is happening and how it is affecting the success of competitive gaming going mainstream.
Psychology of Competitive Gaming
The stakes are high and emotions are higher – but can most players handle the pressure? Some are starting to say that the psychology behind online abuse should be examined to see what lasting effects it may have on the players and ultimately those around them. Online abuse comes in many forms and is not exclusive to video games – we see it on twitter, chatrooms, forums, everywhere that someone can be nasty to another person you better believe that it can and does happen. There are a lot of frustrated people out there in the world, and simply put – games can be hard. When things are hard, people get mad.
Can’t Gamers Get Along?
Again, we revisit that question – Why does it happen? One of the biggest reasons that guy or girl on the other end of the chat is calling you a name it’s because they’ve been frustrated with their own progress. If they have managed to progress farther than you in terms of skill in a perceivable hard game, they feel as though they’ve earned the right to belittle you if they are beating you (even if you are beating them, they feel as though they can act that way because they feel they “could” or “should” beat you).
Another reason being that anonymity reigns supreme online. We can all understand how human behavior increases the urge to do negative things, or behave badly when there are seemingly no consequences behind those actions – and no one will really know who you are.
Toxicity tends to spread as well – with the whole mob mentality of “monkey see, monkey do” if someone is abused – they are more likely to abuse another, because it’s easy right?
Real Life Hurt
Toxic behavior online is ultimately fine when it is contained online if the old adage holds true – “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” – you can’t physically hurt someone online after all, can you? The problem comes in when this online abuse spills into real life, at school, on the playground, and recently we witnessed one of the worst cases – gun violence at an esport qualifier tournament. There’s no wonder that most gamers are complacent staying at home, playing online where it is safe rather than doing social activities such as events, conventions, or esports meets.
eSports is still in it’s infancy but recently experienced a huge boom in popularity and interest – which was getting some gamers excited about actually gaming in real life and being social in public – but with the possibility of a shooting breaking out there too it could scare some people away from that opportunity which is a shame. Gamers could resort to safer bets such as just gaming from home with friends online or getting their kicks playing on online betting sites. Either way physical violence is never acceptable and if toxic online attitudes in gaming are the cause of this then it needs to stop before the entire industry of eSports gaming takes a hit in terms of growth and popularity.
How do we stop this? It starts with us, and education. We need to educate ourselves and educate others – and most importantly educate our children. Too many parents are taking a back seat to their childs hobby – if it’s gaming too many parents are letting their kids get sucked into toxic behavior without them even noticing. Parents aren’t teaching their kids how to be good sportsmen and women – teaching your kid to take a loss gracefully goes a long way. It not only helps the kid to cope with difficulties but it definitely keeps them from participating in vengeful activities just for the sake of “pride and glory”.
When we are bad to each other, even if it is a game – no one wins.