Inspired by discussion here. Toxic players don't create toxic games. Toxic games create toxic players. About a year ago, I wrote up a comprehensive report on why Overwatch's community is such a...
Inspired by discussion here.
Toxic players don't create toxic games. Toxic games create toxic players.
About a year ago, I wrote up a comprehensive report on why Overwatch's community is such a shitshow. Give it a read if you're at all interested in why game communities turn toxic, or if you're curious why Overwatch didn't stick longer as a phenomenon.
(At this point, with Overwatch now past its prime and usurped by other games due in large part to reasons I described there, I'd like to also offer a nice fat 'I told you so' to actiblizz. I didn't want to stop playing...)
The baseline question was this: Overwatch has great representation, an entertaining formula, and good messages. The game is super fun to play on the surface, and offers hundreds of hours of unique new experiences. So why is it so easily considered to have one of the most toxic competitive communities out there?
There's no explanation or reason for why naturally toxic players would gravitate towards the title, stick around, and infect the rest of the community. Nothing about Overwatch would indicate that it was going to somehow filter out the worst of the worst and keep them for itself, and that's because - bumbudaaa! It didn't.
Toxic players didn't infect Overwatch; Overwatch created toxic players.
The same things can be said for basically any other huge competitive game on the market, with CS:GO, LoL, and DOTA2 being the easiest examples. Their communities are all total swamps.
Despite this, there is virtually no game on the market which properly addresses the root cause of community-destroying toxicity: the game itself.
I'd rather not repeat myself because that above link will do a better job of going in-depth and can be applied to a lot of games, but the baseline problem is this: games catch and ban bad apples, but do nothing to stop those bad apples from forming. Failing to realize that parts of an otherwise amazing experience are fundamentally frustrating, the focus and blame is put on the players for reacting (see above thread) in exactly the way the games are designed to make them.
Chief among these issues? Games demand teamwork, cooperation and a community voice, but do nothing to facilitate them. Games that are designed to be fun casually will be frustrating competitively - and vice versa. Toxic communities will not form where every style of play is catered to, which is sometimes balance, but often a fundamental disconnect between what the game was built for, what's actually promised, and what the player's trying to get out of it.
So, I'd rather send the discussion in the other direction, which is why I posted this here. Rather than blame the community, it's time to look for solutions from the actual people responsible.
(To be clear: yes, there are assholes in the world, and yes, they play games. But the idea that the culture has only just now soured to a patch of racism and misogyny is laughable to anyone who grew up playing Xbox Live. It's been blown completely out of proportion by a fundamental discontent with games themselves, like further kindling on a fire, driven mostly by competitive culture.)