We’re currently in a gaming era where the mmorpg has somewhat fallen from their standings, clearing the way for the MobA to seize control of ‘top games’. Leading examples currently are games such as DotA 2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Smite and many more! With this new type of game came a new type of gamer. We’re no longer expected to be elite gamers, the best of the best to actually be able to play the game to its utmost potential (such as raiding in WoW) but now, everybody can be a gamer, take part on a daily basis and learn the arts of gaming. Mobas are more open to the less committed gamer who do not feel the need to devote themselves entirely to the game but use it more as a part-time hobby, as a little game in the weekend to pass time. This new kind of gamer brought with them a new way of social interaction both in and out of game. The question is, does the way we behave ourselves in game and interact with our fellow gamer reflect our way of social interaction in real life? Does our behavior in game influence how we behave outside of the game? And how do we resist bad or toxic behavior?
We’re all acquainted with the anonymity people have on the internet and the (perhaps false) ‘sense of security’ it gives them, feeling bolder, encouraging them to speak their mind, up to the point they’ll downright forget social etiquettes. This has been seen all over the internet over social media (reddit, 4chan and whatever place you can browse) but the gaming communities and environment weren’t to be spared from this. Mobas have the reputation of being an extremely toxic environment compared to other game types such as RTS, mmorpg or other multiplayer games. Why? We cannot be entirely sure, perhaps because moba’s are a team game. For example, in Starcraft, a strategy based game, you play one versus one, so if you lose and mistakes were made, you have nobody else to blame but yourself.
Mobas are teamgames, often in teams of five, where every player decides a certain role (depending on meta) and play their role trying to secure victory as a team. This does mean that, even if you play a good game, you may still end up losing because of teammates not performing their role well enough or simply because your team lacked synergy and teamwork. Players find an excuse here, denying their own mistakes and blaming the faults made during the game on others because, admit it, it’s always easier to put the fault at someone else’s feet than admitting you might not have performed as you could or should have. This leads to blaming, shaming and a lot of aggressiveness towards your allies when your team is losing. Especially when you’re only playing with a specific team for one game and you know you’ll most likely never see the players again after that game. If you play in a ranked team, you’re usually with players you decided to team up with and you’ll be far less aggressive for you probably do intend to keep on working together in the future. Tip number one of dealing with toxic teams has just been shown here. Do look objectively at your own mistakes. Blaming others for your own mistakes is a mental block stopping you from getting better as a player and simply ruins the game for a lot of players, not only for you. Also, if some players try to give constructive feedback, this can be with good intentions. If the main midlaner tries to give you a little tip on how to line up those Q-R combo’s for maximum damage output, just listen before you get all defensive and angry.
It’s also important to stay calm and to put everything into perspective. People can have a bad game and that’s no need to flame them consistently. If you’re having a bad game, just be honest and tell your team that you’re not performing as you should be and apologize. Chances are your team will understand and respond a lot more friendly than blaming the jungler for not ganking your lane often enough. If you’re going into a ranked game in a moba, always do so with a clear and calm mindset. Don’t go ranked if you’re already worked up and tired for it might just make things worse.
Last but not least, try to encourage your teammates. If your teammate is being flamed, defend him and try to make the flamer realize what he’s doing, that he’s being very toxic and that it’s not helping. Players do not play better when they’re getting thrown insults at them and their relatives in a rapid tempo. Have a player in your team who’s struggling? Be kind, give constructive tips, offer to help out but most of all, STAY CALM! The player will know he’s not performing well and he’ll feel bad. For example, your top lane is having a tough time and has already given up some kills to the enemy toplaner and jungler. You have two choices in this situation if you’re the jungler for your team. Option number one is leaving your toplaner on an island, meaning you tell him to play safe, hug the turret and you put all your attention to the other two lanes, making sure these two lanes do win and that they can carry the team to victory. Option number two means you’ll be on the defense for your toplane, babysitting and counterganking if the enemy jungler tries to snowball his toplaner.
As you can see, there are a lot more ways to react in game than simply being aggressive and throwing a tantrum, but the question does remain, are toxic players also toxic in real life? Do they react the same way in real life as they do in game? Studies have shown that only a very small amount of players in mobas are truly toxic and these players are either rehabilitated or banned. Then what about the other players who act toxic but aren’t? Are they just going with the flow because the standard has been set and it isn’t seen as wrong or counter-productive? We cannot surely know why and how this standard has been set but we do know that these players can be put back into the right path with a little warning or just a little notification that what they’re doing isn’t helping.
So, do toxic gamers act the same way in real life as they do in game? The obvious answer is no, because that security called ‘anonymity’ has fallen away and is no longer shielding them from being put in their place by social standards in society. They might think the same things but they’ll rarely say them and perhaps in real life, they’re truly nice people!
In the end, a lot of people do complain about toxicity in moba communities and do agree something must be done to stop them. Well, newsflash, MJ was right people; you have to start with the Man in the Mirror. If you remain calm, if you are nice to other people and even in toxic teams, refuse to join in on the flame fest, chances are people will notice and even take a hint from your way of gaming. If a player is being toxic, just tell him that you’d prefer if he’d not flame or insult his team members and that it truly isn’t helping the team. Does the flaming persist? There’s a magic little button called mute or ignore and at the end of the game, you can simply report them. If they get reported enough (and chances are if they’re a truly toxic player, they will be) they face judgment from the game developers and risk severe punishment.
So, stay positive folks, for a healthy mind makes our lives a whole lot more peaceful and gamers game because they love gaming with a burning passion so make it as fun as possible!
Co-community Leader of the Viking Nation