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Once I’d asked the question over verbal abuse in game, it was only right and proper to turn the mirror around. When I did, I wasn’t expecting the response that was given:

For starters, far fewer people shared this post on an equal amount of exposure. Does that say something about the people I follow, or people in general?

This Poll’s really hard to adequately quantify, not simply because of the realisation (as I discussed in the accompanying Twitter thread) that one person’s abuse might be considered as another’s joke. The fact remains it is far less likely, despite the anonymous nature of the Poll, that people will stand up and admit fault. For the record, and in the interests of transparency, I’m in the Yes column. I can name several incidents where it happened, and I’m not proud of any of them.

A surprising number of people were also willing to quantify why they voted yes: in the main their anger resulted from being abused themselves first. It is incredibly hard to ignore abuse when it happens, and to defend yourself… well, I think everybody’s probably been there at one point or another. Is it right? Probably not, but you really cannot blame anybody for defending themselves.

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I watched a Dev remind people that berating others in a competitive environment is a waste of time only yesterday: this problem never goes away. It seems to get worse during School holidays and public breaks. It isn’t just confined to LFR or World Questing. Basically, at anytime, somebody has the potential to be an abuser, and by definition that means there’s someone taking the other end of their ire. Is pretending it doesn’t exist a good idea? Absolutely not, and dealing with it is not simple either. However, as players you can limit or mitigate the damage if someone has a go at somebody else by stepping in to deflect the damage.

This, for me, has been the biggest transformative effect I’ve been able to have when working in random groups. Making a point to say hello, thanking people for good healing or tanking, complimenting thoughtfulness and making sure if someone’s being a dick you don’t add to it but rather point out their shortcomings in a constructive and non threatening/confrontational way. All of this is possible. You can become a non toxic gamer, but it takes a phenomenal amount of work and thought to do so. It is absolutely worth it.

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There’s also a lot you can do to prevent abuse too: come prepared, don’t pull if you’re not a tank, don’t assume ‘coz you’re top DPS you can do WTF you want… and the list goes on. The key, in the end, is understanding it takes two people to create an abusive dialogue. If someone randomly attacks you for no discernable reason? This is your reminder that does just happen in this game regardless of how hard you try. However, if your ‘abuser’ makes a valid point, you could have something to learn. The complexity of online gameplay means that sometimes the answer isn’t what you think it is, and is far more grey than the black and white you see.

The best thing to remember in all of this? It is only a game. Warcraft is not worth the grief some days, and absolutely the best thing you will ever do for yourself in situations like that is to walk away. If you take yourself out of an abusive gaming situation, your abuser is effectively neutralised.

The situation then becomes yours to dictate.

One thought on “The In Crowd

  1. I’ve adhered to the “be nice to others and they’re more likely to be nice in return” policy since I started playing WoW. However, a few things may be in my favour for, in the majority of cases, this actually working.

    Firstly, my first experiences of WoW are coloured with who I met in-game at that time – and I met and then joined (in a guild) a really nice, friendly bunch of people. I can imagine if someone had a different experience, their whole viewpoint may have been set at a different angle.

    I’m getting on a bit :P I have the life experience to understand that sometimes people are just shit. Or having a shit day. I also know that some people are lovely, until they get behind the keyboard and feel they’re free to take out anything they want on other “invisible” people.

    I have two teenage boys myself and quite frankly I’d hate to play the games they play, with them. Their language is awful and unnecessary. And I do attempt to get them to moderate it, but apparently their entire peer group (playing those games) seem to be the same. I’ve had interactions in-game with the younger players and a lot are the same, albeit in a milder form. So perhaps it’s just seen as “normal” for a certain age group?

    I keep my pug interactions to a minimum. I don’t like the chance that I’ll end up with one or more random people who are horrible, so why put myself in that situation? More often than not, random groups are generally friendly, or at least non-aggresive; but one aggressive, rude person can ruin how I feel for an entire day or more, so why open myself up to that possibility?

    I know several people in-game who actually openly refuse to pug AT ALL simply because ignorant people have been rude and abusive to them (or to others in a group with them) in the past. It colours their entire game-play and actually restricts how much they CAN play, especially this expansion where there is so much that involves going into dungeons. There is then a knock-on effect for them .. they start not wanting to pug, then they lose confidence in grouping up at all, even with guild members, then they withdraw from interactions completely .. then they realise it’s an MMO and what’s the point of going solo …

    Those who cause these problems have no idea how much of a negative impact they’re having. I hate it. My only hope is that their attitude in-game is somehow also reflected in how they interact with people “in real life” .. and that at some point someone is going to take exception and punch them on the nose :p

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