Anonymity and online gaming: the "toxic" player

If you ever played an online game, whether it was a platform based shooter like Call of Duty or Halo, to popular MOBA games like League of Legends or DOTA 2, you most likely have come across a "toxic" player. While the general definition can vary from person to person, but the general consensus is that it’s an incredibly rude person who will most likely use inflammatory language, otherwise known as the "I f’ed your mom" guy.

Why do people act like this? This stems from internet anonymity. The idea of cyber bullying and the mysterious veil the internet provides. While this is an issue all of its own, it is worth talking about in the context of gaming.

While not always the case, run of the mill cyber bullying is a premeditated action, adding the element of gaming can enhance this. In competitive gaming, adding the adrenaline can make even the most mild mannered person can succumb to creative (or lack thereof) name calling. I consider myself a laid back person/gamer, but every now and then if I’m playing League of Legends I find myself saying in real life, or rarely in the in game chat, things that I wouldn’t normally say, and I can get away with it because it’s such a fleeting moment without any real punishment.

This topic can explore anecdotal evidence, psychological analysis of why things like this happen, or even if it’s really a problem in the gaming world at all, and it’s just some friendly and competitive smack talk and that people are just too sensitive.

  • I would really find things that argue both points of view for this topic. Yes, being anonymous has something to do with the slamming, but what else goes on in a person's mind in these types of scenarios? – BethanyS 9 years ago
  • There are definitely psychological reasons behind this. The level of accountability someone will face is absolutely a factor involved in how an individual chooses to act. Also, because they don't have to physically seen the person they are hurting, it is very easy to dehumanize and distance themselves from feeling any sort of empathy for the victim. – krystalleger 9 years ago
  • It might be beneficial to explore anonymity on the internet outside of gaming to help support your argument. So long as the potential exists for anonymous comments to exist after any medium within the internet ( youtube videos, online articles, image sharing galleries) there usually will be, with any luck, the toxicity you are describing existing. If you need help thinking of examples of this, consider the online website for a local community newspaper - if anonymous commenting is possible, you quite frequently find all sorts of nasty, hateful, ignorant comments from people you are quite sure would never act that way in your local supermarket. A specific one I am thinking of is 'The Eagle Tribune' of Northern Massachusetts... I welcome you to go take a look for yourself. Just go look at some puppies and cute kittens afterwards. – TylerBreen 9 years ago
  • I would be very, very interested in reading this article after the idea is flushed out. There are a lot of factors and different games bring different kinds of toxicity. I've definitely been exposed to a plethora of toxic players in several MOBAs, FPSs, and other games. While those are usually verbal (or typed), there are even ways to grief without text or voice, such as picking on one player, repeatedly taunting them, endlessly squatting, etc. It would also be interesting to decide and explain whether or not there is a difference between toxicity and bad sportsmanship. Does toxicity stem from that? Are they completely separate? Food for though. – carp000 9 years ago

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