The Burning Question: How do you deal with toxicity in online video games?

So after all the news regarding Pewdiepie last week I started thinking more and more about the online space and more so the video game online space. If you grew up in the 90s and even early 20th century for some of us you’ll have probably played at some point multiplayer with a bunch of friends in the same room. Throw in games like Street Fighter, World Wrestling Federation, Call of Duty or even Fifa in a group of competitive friends and you’re bound to have passed a few words around, and more times than usual those words can be unsavory and toxic.

Speaking from experience, these moments never really put a sour taste in my mouth nor did it send me home crying or belittled. Indeed it was quite the opposite and infused a feeling inside of me to try harder, play harder and beat the crap out of my buddy in a wrestling match on the original PlayStation. However as with everything in this world things have changed. From playing in the same room together or against each other with only my group of friends, to now playing from each of our homes still together yes, but also with strangers online. What does this entail you ask? Well being able to play from our homes of course adds the luxury of being able to play for longer periods of time (and as Garth would say, playing without pants on) as well as being in the comfort of your home. This however also sometimes means that we have to play with strangers online. With this comes a little or sometimes a lot of toxicity.

Now I know you might be thinking whats wrong with that? Well lets for example say that you’re playing in the Dark Zone in a title that I’ve become a little too addicted to – Tom Clancy’s The Division – being in this area of the game you’re open to playing with your friends but also strangers can attack you at any time. Of course this is not a problem after all why go into this zone if you’re not prepared to take on the challenge? Now what happens if you’re in this Dark Zone taking on rogue agents (other players who’ve decided to turn on ‘The Division’ and stop your mission/take you on) and all of a sudden out of nowhere on your surround sound speakers you start hearing these strangers hurl abusive language at you. According to these strangers (who know nothing about you at all) you now go by a different name, and you often find out (sadly this is the worst and seems to be the most common) that your mum has been unfaithful in many ways. Of course it doesn’t just end there and there has been many cases where racial remarks are blurted out as well, as we’ve heard and seen recently with Pewdiepie. These incidents are often more common than most of us know. I, myself have been in the midst of many of these moments online and now find myself (due to having kids) playing more and more often with my headset on, rather than enjoying the incredible sound of bullets flying past me on surround sound or even the standard sound from my television set. There is obviously no permanent solution in resolving these kind of occurrences and with popular games like PUBG and Overwatch, the online community is only growing larger and larger. Which of course isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

So my burning question this week is – have you ever been abused online or in a situation where you’ve had to mute your sound or plug in earphones? And more importantly how have you dealt with this sort of situations?

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