Earlier this week, the team responsible for updating and maintaining Overwatch released a new “Developer Update” video. This wasn’t the typical video game update though. Instead of discussing new features and bug fixes, the video instead focused on the ever-increasing amount of “toxic” behavior in the community. It turns out that cheating and verbally abusing other players doesn’t just affect the people you’re playing with, but the game as a whole.
The speaker in the video, Jeff, revealed that having to constantly work to curb harmful behavior has had a negative impact on development. That instead of creating fun new modes and features, they instead have to spend their time punishing cheaters and the like. To round everything out, the developer called upon each member of the Overwatch community to think about the impact their behavior can have on the fun of others as well as themselves. It was basically a plea to the players to play the game fairly and have a little compassion for their fellow players. If you ask me, this video is amazing. It’s amazing that something like this is now seen as necessary. What’s even more amazing is that it kind of is.
(Video by YouTube channel PlayOverwatch)
So called “Toxic” behavior in online gaming is nothing new. It’s been around ever since gamers were given the ability to play and talk with total strangers on the other side of the screen. There are several games that are infamous for the sheer nastiness of their communities, League of Legends being a prime example. It’s become accepted as the norm, something we all need to deal with if we’re going to play online. Does it really have to be that way though? Is really okay for a game’s online community to be so bad that the developer has to come out and plead with them to play nice? I don’t think so.
Seriously, why can’t we just play nice? Why do so many of us have to be so serious about something that’s supposed to be a fun little diversion? I’m certain that part of the reason is rooted in our very human desire to win and show-off our skill, but I’m also certain that that’s no excuse. A very large portion of the people playing video games are adults in terms of age these days, and adults are supposed to be able to overcome their knee-jerk emotional responses, see the bigger picture, and react in an appropriate way. Cursing someone out because they pic the wrong character or aren’t playing very well isn’t the adult thing to do. Cheating isn’t the adult thing to do. Making fun of a developer in the comments of their video asking for a measure of civility, calling them overly-sensitive or lazy, is not the adult thing to do. It’s the exact opposite.
Toxic behavior isn’t fun for anyone. It’s not fun for the victim who’s getting cheated or yelled at. It’s not fun for the people having to listen to it. It’s not fun for the developer who has to waste precious time and resources trying to prevent it. It’s not even fun for the jerk doing it because the most they can get for their trouble is an empty win and a rotten attitude. So why don’t we do something about it? How about we all answer the Overwatch team’s call for more positive action in our online games? We have everything to gain and nothing to lose by doing so. All it would take is behaving like the adults we already are.
How do you feel about toxic behavoir in online games? What do you think should be done?
Image by Flickr user: KniBaron (cc)