Toxic Behavior: Discussion

Aug 29, 2015 | 2 Votes by Adeaphon 9.5 rate Your vote
As you may have seen recently, Aethyna brought us a nice piece on the toxic behavior that is seen in a variety of places online, and especially in games. As we have done previously, we found that this brought another lively discussion into our office, and we wanted to share this with you and see what you felt about it too. WWGDB - Toxic Behavior: Discussion

As you may have seen recently, Aethyna brought us a nice piece on the toxic behavior that is seen in a variety of places online, and especially in games. To take a look feel free to browse the Toxic Behavior in Games article for yourself. As we have done previously, we found that this brought another lively discussion into our office, and we wanted to share this with you and see what you felt about it too.

Aethyna: “Heya, guys, have you heard the news? League of Legends pro-gamer, Konstantinos ‘Forg1ven’ Tzortziou, was suspended for 4 games as he has, as quoted, “shown a pattern of negative in-game behaviour and toxicity in the past month”. It’s really good to see Riot take such a firm stance against toxic gamers regardless of the player’s fame or “in-game status”.”

GamingApe: It’s about time! Honestly, and this is quite a confession, I don’t play MMOs. why you ask? because: It’s too time consuming and I can’t invest that much constant time for one activity. I mean, I can, but not when other people are dependant on my schedule. I don’t want to waste other people’s time.

The first and last time I tried playing LoL, I played an hour and a half, and encountered on average around 25% obnoxious gamers per session. So after learning that enlightening statistic, I just decided to play on my own terms with people I actually choose on other multiplayer games that are not MMOs.

Aethyna: Wow, it does sound like you have had a very rough personal experience with player toxicity. I totally feel you, GamingApe. I’ve have had my fair share of insults particularly in MMO shooters. It’s kind of a habit for me to mute people who are downright unpleasant over VoIP or chat whenever I play MMOs.

Adaepon: There are many more games where there are trolls and people who do stuff that's just not nice, it is well documented that I am a WoW player and I have been since it came out. In the last few years there has been a lot of stuff i have seen, from griefing in chat to all of the PvP ganking that can go on. I really hated little rogues waiting to jump players half their level and 1 shotting them just for kicks.

But a 4 game ban, while that action is nice, it’s a tiny punishment for a pro player, that’s like taking away a chocolate bar for a day. There needs to be something that is an actual punishment. If he is a pro player, ban him for a month, that will hurt him far more.

GamingApe: That’s not entirely true. A 4 game ban for a pro-gamer is taking away his livelihood, which is a serious punishment. I do however think there should be a clearer code of conduct and a a sort of in-game laws to maintain a decent online gaming experience. The main question is how can you enforce such a thing? Maybe, due to the difficult burden of enforcing the issue, there should be a mechanic to remove/block a toxic player?

Aethyna: I’ll have to agree with GamingApe on this one. A 4-game ban is no small matter for a pro-gamer, though I do believe that if the situation warrants it, the ban should be longer.

Adaepon Many games do have a written policy, but they are very difficult to enforce, I am sure that there are people who are banned or disciplined, but the majority are not. It has to be something pretty serious for a game to remove you, especially if it is a paid game where they have a revenue from players who can be nasty to or troll others. There are some mechanics in place, for example in WoW you can ignore a players talking, completely. But you still can’t stop them bouncing in front of you or stealing mobs / items that you try to get to.

Aethyna: True. Besides Riot, I don’t really hear a lot of news for other equally toxic games, whereby players who are ruining the gaming experience of others get banned. In fact, none of the other gaming companies seem to be taking toxicity seriously. I’ve even heard rumors that Riot actually funds research into curbing this toxicity phenomenon. Not to say that Riot’s actions in regard to toxicity is entirely fair either. Just early this year, another high-ranking pro LoL player, a particularly nasty one to be exact, had his permaban lifted. According to the company, they want to provide toxic players the chance to “rehabilitate themselves and reform their behavior”. I seriously doubt you’ll be that lucky to get a second chance, provided that you’re not a pro-gamer.

Negative behavior report

GamingApe: First off, I just gained a lot of respect for Riot Games. That is one hell of a move and taking responsibility where it’s needed. That even emphasises how little other companies do. If you ever played more than 5 minutes of Counter-Strike you probably got cursed at least 10 times. in 12 different languages. Nobody even thinks about lifting a finger, not to mention actually banning or educating them.

Aethyna: I believe in most games you can report the players who are rude, though most of the time, action will only be taken if you have any hard evidence like a screenshot for a particularly toxic chat message. However, evidence is not that easy to obtain for voice chat, unless you do keep a recorder handy at all times. However, there have been suggestions that the community itself should police toxicity themselves. Perhaps there can be a system where players with plenty of negative feedback by other players will get investigated by the moderators of the game. This will at least keep some of the burden off from the staff and allow them to focus on the more serious stuff only. What do you guys think?

GamingApe: Frankly I fear people will abuse it. It’s not unthinkable toxic players will form guilds or teams and will be reporting in bulk against players they believe “snitched” or they want to bully. I think there should be a good, reasonable, discreet human hand in the matter.

Adaepon: It is very difficult for the community to police, sure you can spread the word of a bad person, or try to ignore or just avoid them. But developers can not give players the ability to moderate. Without any powers, other players can do very little in response to a particular individual, or as GamingApe mentioned a group of players being toxic. It falls to developers, and I understand your comments about Riot doing it well. And I see your point. But there are so many other companies that just let the behaviour go through.

One of the only real options for some players is to leave a game, and find something else, which is no fun for them and costs the developer a subscriber and money. If enough people leave a game, do you think the company would take notice? Would that be an option for gamers do you think?

Aethyna: Well, companies are all about earning profit and a huge enough dip in their profit margins will definitely turn some heads around. However, most players that I know of just tolerate the toxicity - they just love the game too much (and had invested so much time in it) to just get up and leave.

Anyway, I still believe in community policing - developers already have too much on their hands trying to filter through the various bug reports and player feedbacks to handle such a matter. In my opinion, developers should focus solely on how to improve the game and communities should take care of themselves. After all, if you’re old enough to be on the internet playing games unsupervised, you’re old enough to know right from wrong. It’s just that, like Adaepon said, there are trolls and such kind of people who enjoy riling people up and this is where the community should step in to stop them.

However, there’s still room for improvement for community policing… plenty of it. The voting system can be adapted to a more suitable, non-abusive form, regulated by volunteer player-moderators or outstanding members of the community. New rules can also be put into place to punish players who report other players without proof. Do you guys have any more suggestions?

Adaepon: That’s the difficulty, there are not many suggestions that can be made that will work, taking into account the cost to developers, the issues of people’s personal opinions potentially clouding things. The industry itself needs to take a stand, it seems that in general any game you play is going to have trolls and nasty behaviour. Some games have better reputations, but over all, expect bad behaviour. That is not a good place for us to be and I personally hate it. But I also feel helpless to do anything about it within the games that I play.

Aethyna: You’re right to some extent I think. Suggestions can only work if the company behind the game takes them seriously and actually try to enforce it. So perhaps community policing should be supplemented with aid from the developers. The developers themselves should also let the players know that they take toxicity seriously… a lot like what Riot is doing… and if something huge and very toxic happens, their banhammer should be swift and just, not to only teach the offender a lesson but also to solidify their stance against toxicity and as a warning to other players.

But I disagree that players are entirely helpless in cases of toxicity. The best move for a player is to just do their part and report the offender. Make sure to get proof or your claims will probably be ignored. You can also stand up for the person being berated with insults and hope that other players will have your back. If not, well... refer back to step 1.

Now that we have had our say on this toxic behavior issue, what do you, our dear readers, think? Do let us know by sending us a message and we’ll get right back to you.


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