Whether it’s trash talking or teabagging, some people are looking for a nicer online experience. Guess what? We’re not in elementary school anymore. This is digital dodgeball and players like me are aiming for your head.
A recent article calling for safe spaces online has caused quite a stir and for good reason. Safe spaces are for people that need to get away from the stress around them so they can finally relax. That said, don’t expect everyone to create a safe space for you in Black Ops III or League of Legends because your feelings shouldn’t infringe on others entertainment.
If someone wants to play a game where they can walk around and smell the polygon flowers, then play offline. Hell, there are games designed to be just that such as Proteus or Everyone’s Gone to Rapture.
When I and millions of others jump online in Halo 5, Street Fighter IV, DotA 2 and any other competitive games, we’re there to compete. Our fun comes from decimating our opponents. Sometimes that decimation includes an animation to embarrass or a few choice words via voice chat. That’s the price to pay for the adrenaline rush you simply can’t get while playing the single-player campaign. This is not like the debate on dodgeball in schools because when we go online, we're expecting to take some hits.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are lines in the sand that shouldn’t be crossed such as the grief players give to their own teammates in League of Legends. If you’re on a team then you need to act like a team. Trashing teammates doesn’t help the team win, and if anything, makes it more likely your team is going to lose. You don’t trash talk teammates, you trash talk the other team. Simple as that.
Another kind of trash talking that’s despicable is when it’s directed to those in attendance. In 2013, I wrote about Team Impact’s embarrassing behavior at a Call of Duty tournament. Although the screaming at opponents across a table is cringe-worthy, players cannot start trashing people watching the game live. These are the people that make competitive gaming popular enough for players to make a living off of so shouting down at them is beyond disrespectful.
Although I’m putting the onus on gamers, the developers do have a way to clean up their games. There have been multiple instances of Call of Duty players sending death threats to people on the development team, and those are the kind of players a game will have if no one keeps the player base in check. If developers want their game to not be stigmatized then they need to get rid of those players giving these death threats. Sadly, for some companies, the money from these toxic players, who take things too far, is far too valuable to lose.
When all is said and done, those wanting a safe space online can do the adult thing by not going online or muting/ignoring players. Or they can do the gamer thing and actually get better at the game since it’s hard to trash talk someone that’s better than you.