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.
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.
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.