Back in May, I wrote a piece here on why I was tentative about playing DOTA 2.
One of the main reasons I was leery of joining the MOBA fun was the numerous reports and personal experience of unnecessarily toxic players, people who filled every lobby with rage, and condescending anger.
Months later, this article is still sparking a great deal of discussion in the comments and I want to get at the heart of verbal abuse in games, along with some other points I’ve seen made regarding the current state of online abuse.
“It’s part of every game, get over it”
One of the weakest arguments I’ve heard for defending abusive players is also one of the most common. Whilst you can always find someone acting like a dick in an online game (or anywhere, for that matter) this does not mean it’s inherently part of the game; I can’t think of an online game that actively encourages you to abuse fellow players.
Even if there was an actual majority of players being abusive rather than just a very vocal minority, that doesn’t mean that it’s OK or acceptable. In professional real-life sports, players who are being abusive get a fine or official warning. Why? The officials want to send a clear message that bad behaviour is not acceptable nor is it welcomed in a competitive gaming environment. Consider this: If abuse is an acceptable part of games as a whole then why does Microsoft, Riot, Blizzard and many other game companies issue punishments for being abusive?
“There’s a mute function, use it”
Pretty much every game nowadays has some kind of mute or ignore function built into the game due to toxic players or trolls. In fact, most social interactions online have a form of ignore/block/mute so that people acting like pricks can’t bother you any more. When a friend of mine read my DOTA 2 piece, he told me that the game isn’t that bad, providing that you ignore and mute everyone else as quickly as possible.
To me, it seems ludicrous that you’d have to do this in order to enjoy a game. It’s admitting that the abuse you would otherwise receive makes the game unbearable! It’s also a huge hindrance in games where communication is necessary to lead a team to victory. At best, it makes it difficult to strategize a push for the win, and at worst it can make playing the game impossible (especially at lower levels of play where newer players don’t know what’s going on). Mute functions are a necessity so that someone spamming music or screaming down a microphone doesn’t bother you, sure. You can also block someone constantly spamming text nonsense… but this does not give you an excuse to act like a prick and abuse other players.
“It’s OK to abuse people if they’re new/are obviously bad”
This is a path of thought that a few comments in my original DOTA 2 article that seems particularly ludicrous to me. One commenter that brought this point up was “Ryan”:
The only time in my experience where I see [someone being abusive] is when someone doesn’t even know how to play the game, buys random items and [dies repeatedly]. One way to remedy this surprisingly easy problem is to learn the game and practice with BOTS or AI, read guides on specific heroes and the mechanics of the game. It takes a matter of days to learn [DOTA 2]. So if you start a [DOTA 2] game 5v5 online completely fresh, you deserve to be [abused].
Now look, I understand how frustrating it can be to have a brand new player on your team. It can be especially annoying in MOBA games as every time they die, they give the enemy team more gold which makes them a much bigger pest. I’ll also agree that practising the game and reading guides will make you gradually improve in the game.
However, I disagree with spending days of study to learn everything in a game before daring to set foot in a game with human opponents! Whilst everyone enjoys winning a game, there aren’t that many who are willing to do so at the expense of having fun. That’s why people still play games, right? To have fun?
I mean, I’ve not seen a game tell players that it’s for pro players only and that you really should spend a few days in study before beginning to play it because you might inconvenience a few players. Players who, by the way, are more than able to help you out (assuming, of course, that they have actually been playing longer than you and aren’t just talking out of their arse in regards to how
5UP4H 1337 ‘skilled’ they are) but decide to instead be abusive because hey, you brought this on yourself. Besides, no one gets a game on a whim and tries it out just because it looks good, do they? They obviously put all their thought into buying a game and then look up everything so that they can play with the utmost efficiency on Day One. Fun is irrelevant. Enjoyment is irrelevant. There is only 1337|\|355 ‘skill’.
“Don’t jump in the deep end if you haven’t learned to swim.”
Sorry, lost my train of thought. Ryan continues:
If you start off learning a sport, lets say swimming, you would never win versus Michael Phelps or even an average swimmer for example.
So, if you are placed in a swimming relay race and it turns out you can’t even float, your team will definitely be angry with you. They tell you to go for training, and learn some new techniques and that eventually, you’ll improve.
The analogy falls apart a little bit here. Players in games aren’t ALWAYS playing a game at a competitive level; remember the whole ‘fun’ thing I mentioned earlier? Also, this discussion was about new players in particular. You’re not joining a competitive team, failing to float and having your team mates get angry at you, you’re trying to get in the pool to start learning how to swim but getting met with abuse when you reveal you can’t tread water. My whole point before was that people are not being helpful to new players because they’re electing to abuse instead. So telling someone to “learn2play,” or to uninstall, or to kill themselves is hardly saying that they should probably go for some training to help them improve.
. . . [People] should learn that in online games, being flamed for being a noob is natural and [they shouldn't] take any disrespectful or intolerant remark too seriously. Instead, heed any advice they may give you and learn how to be INDEPENDENT and improve.
A better solution is for people to not make intolerant or disrespectful remarks at all. If they’re not meant to be taken so seriously and everyone knows this because it’s only natural to be toxic towards new players, why do people who, surely, want new players to improve so they have better team mates decide to be abusive anyway? Again, my point is that many players do not give advice and are only abusive towards newbies.
In regards to players being independent and improving by themselves, wouldn’t that necessitate that they play in games against human opponents with other players? You can read up as much as you like about a game and even play against AI, but nothing is an appropriate substitute for playing against humans. The vibe I get from this kind of logic is “You need to improve in such a way so that you become a useful tool in my games to ensure my victories but you shouldn’t play with me in case you ruin my game or my chances of winning”.
The truth: Abusing players is a always futile
Being abusive to players is not necessary. It doesn’t help them to improve and it doesn’t make them want to continue playing. The selfishness shown by those who think it’s fine to abuse other players is the real culprit in why people don’t enjoy or have difficulty winning public games. This is true in almost any team-based title, be it in DOTA 2, League of Legends, Call of Duty, Team Fortress 2, World of Warcraft or Spiral Knights. Team games, people. Your teammates will respond better to positive reinforcement rather than death threats. And, in the long run, helping them improve will make the game better for everyone online.
Oh, one more thing contributed by draak:
The reason Dota 2 is a frustrating game for new players is because it is inherently difficult…
…Dota 2 is a very easy game at its core.
Which is it, and what’s that got to do with abuse?!