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Addressing and Overcoming Toxicity in the Gaming Community

Addressing and Overcoming Toxicity in the Gaming Community

Gaming, a diverse realm where players seek enjoyment and triumph, is not immune to a disconcerting presence — toxicity. The term “toxic gamer” has emerged to describe individuals whose online conduct deviates from harassment and negativity. Events like ‘Gamergate’ in 2014 highlighted the prevalence of toxicity, but recent data shows it remains a concern. However, the gaming industry has responded by implementing measures such as clear guidelines and zero toxicity in gaming policy against unkind behavior. As virtual connections shape the gaming landscape, fostering positive community building becomes imperative to address and overcome toxicity. Clinicians treating gaming disorder must also acknowledge the traumatic impact of toxic experiences during gameplay. Moreover, the role of game localization in bridging cultural gaps within the gaming community is crucial, providing a nuanced understanding of diverse perspectives and fostering a more inclusive gaming environment.

What is a Toxic Gamer?

A toxic gamer is more than a player with a bad attitude; it’s someone consistently negative, complaining, swearing, and being rude to both known and unknown players. This behavior extends to teammates, contributing to the pervasive issue of toxicity in gaming. The term ‘toxic player’ includes using hateful language, bullying, and harassment. Recognizing and addressing gaming toxicity is crucial, impacting not only the gaming experience but also emotional well-being. Gamers must be vigilant, taking proactive steps to prevent the spread of toxicity within the gaming community.

Types of Toxicity in Gaming

In gaming, toxicity often manifests when a player loses control, resorting to on-screen or verbal abuse. Recognizing and addressing these toxicity types is crucial for fostering a healthier gaming environment.

1. Griefing

In the gaming world, griefing emerges as a deliberate effort by players to disrupt and annoy others through activities like cheating and intentional frustration. Recognized universally as toxic, griefing can be reported to game moderators, with resolutions varying based on the gaming platform. Originating in the late 1990s, griefing predates the current era of multiplayer video games, representing a persistent challenge to a positive gaming experience. Unlike cheating or hacking, griefing involves playing the game in a socially unacceptable way, making it a unique facet of bad gaming etiquette within the broader spectrum of toxicity in gaming.

2. Hate Speech

In the context of toxicity in gaming, hate speech is a detrimental aspect characterized by abusive language, including racism, antisemitism, anti-Muslim sentiments, misogyny, and anti-LGBT abuse. This toxic behavior can manifest through both verbal and written means in in-game chat facilities. Game developers and platforms take hate speech seriously, providing reporting and support facilities, with most codes of conduct explicitly banning such behavior. Players are urged to promptly block, mute, and report instances of hate speech, as this form of toxicity has no place in gaming. Addressing continuous hate speech may involve saving evidence for potential legal action, emphasizing the need to create a gaming environment that upholds inclusivity and respect.

3. Flaming

In the realm of toxicity in gaming, flaming is a disruptive behavior where players lose control and use insults, offensive language, or swearing to attack others. This hostility can occur on-screen or through in-game chat, creating a toxic environment. Flaming involves aggressively targeting individuals or groups with verbal abuse. Research indicates that as players spend more time gaming online, instances of flaming tend to increase. Those who engage in flaming express aggression more intensely than in other communication settings. To address flaming, players can utilize tools like blocking and muting, while reporting procedures provided by most games and online platforms are essential for curbing this detrimental behavior.

4. Threatening

Within the landscape of toxicity in gaming, threatening and aggressive behavior is deemed highly toxic, violating the terms and conditions or code of conduct for the game. This type of abuse extends to threats against one’s life, descriptions of violent or sexual acts, and even threats of physical torture or real-life attacks. Similar to hate speech, it is crucial to report any threats to game admins or moderators. Threats deemed ‘credible’ or ‘of a serious nature’ may also be considered a criminal offense, highlighting the severity of such actions. Threatening behavior in gaming encompasses a range of actions, from threats to someone’s life to describing violent or sexual acts, emphasizing the need for vigilant reporting and awareness to combat gaming toxicity.

5. Discrimination

Discrimination manifests as unfair targeting based on age, gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, or religion. This abuse impacts individuals belonging to historically marginalized groups, hindering their authentic participation within the gaming community. Addressing discrimination is crucial for cultivating an inclusive gaming environment that values diversity and acceptance, promoting a space free from prejudice and bias. The fight against toxicity in gaming requires collective efforts to eradicate discrimination and ensure a welcoming atmosphere for all players.

Effects of Toxicity in Gaming

Effects of Toxicity in Gaming

Toxicity in gaming has severe consequences, leading to depression and, in extreme cases, even suicidal thoughts among players. Studies reveal a significant number of players quit gaming due to toxic behavior. Alarmingly, women often experience more toxicity, discouraging their continued participation and potentially influencing career choices in technology. Initiatives like Raising Good Gamers aim to empower youth for respectful interactions in online gaming. Encouraging an upstander culture, where gamers stand against toxicity, is crucial for challenging harmful behaviors. As gamers, fostering moral reasoning and advocating for a toxicity-free gaming environment becomes our collective responsibility.

How Toxic Is the Gaming Community?

Toxicity in gaming is a pervasive issue, with players often rationalizing it as a normal part of the gaming culture. Unfortunately, this toxic behavior is contagious among players, and exposure to previous games increases the likelihood of future toxic acts. Studies show that 72% of multiplayer gamers have witnessed toxic behavior, while 68% have experienced it firsthand. Notably, more experienced players are prone to engaging in toxic and abusive behaviors. Despite ongoing challenges, there’s a positive trend toward fostering supportive gaming cultures, with game companies implementing measures like clear guidelines and zero-tolerance policies to combat toxicity.

Toxicity in Gaming Statistics

While video games offer positive impacts on well-being and cognitive skills, the prevalence of hate and harassment in gaming remains a concerning reality. A 2020 survey of US gamers aged 18-45 revealed alarming statistics:

  • 81% of online multiplayer gamers faced some form of harassment, indicating an increase from the previous year.
  • 68% experienced severe abuse, including physical threats and stalking, affecting approximately 45 million US online gamers significantly.
  • Games noted for the highest prevalence of harassment encompass DOTA 2, Valorant, Rocket League, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
  • Within the group that encountered harassment, 53% experienced targeting linked to factors like race, ethnicity, religion, ability status, gender, or sexual orientation.
  • Identity-based targeting was reported by 25% of Asian-American gamers, while disabled gamers faced harassment at a comparable rate of 25%.
  • Jewish gamers (18%) and Muslim gamers (25%) reported harassment based on their religious identity.
  • 28% of harassed gamers avoided certain games due to their hostile environments, indicating the tangible impact of toxicity on the gaming community.
Bekir Diri
Bekir Diri

Bekir Diri, founder of Atlas Localization, studied at Trakya University, Department of Translation and Interpretation. He gained industry experience with his MA in Translation Studies in Istanbul 29 Mayis University, with his thesis titled “Turkish Issues in Game, Mobile Application and Web Localization”, while also improving himself in the field. He also lectures about Translation Technologies, Project Management and Localization in Istanbul 29 Mayis University.

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