Most gamers reading this article have encountered gaming toxicity, or less likely were the cause of it. And to any future gamers, if nothing is done, it is highly likely you will encounter it too. I, for one, have encountered it in a variety of games, and can confirm others at Y.A.C (Yelling at Children) have as well. The different reasons people are toxic differ from person to person: some for the fun (or cruelty) of it, others because they are mad. But no matter the reason, the effect it can have on people has the possibility to be dangerous, or at the very least very demotivating. However, toxicity is not unstoppable. If enough people know what to do and stand up to it, we may get rid of this plague to video games.
Even though most people are not toxic, there are those who ruin the fun for everyone else. These people differ from the more stereotypical high-pitched children, to carefully calculating, revenge-seeking adults. Whoever it is they have a reason for doing it, even though it may seem like they do not have one. A variety of factors cause this, the first is anonymity, or more accurately the online disinhibition effect. Which relates to the fact that they cannot be physically hurt or known for their online actions, which allows people to be crueller with almost no real-world consequences. There are other ways people may become toxic, one of which is social pressure. With so many people being toxic in different gaming communities, it can make some people assume it is normal. And in order to fit in, they will do it as well, causing it to “spread”. So, the more people being toxic there are, the faster it spreads. Which causes more people to be toxic, which causes it to spread faster, etc. If this cycle doesn’t slow down anytime soon, we can have an (even worse) disaster on our hands.
While toxic people are not often a serious problem, they can cause some dangerous problems to certain people. Mostly, toxic people are just annoying. However, it has the possibility for more dangerous things. According to a study done by Anti-defamation league in 2020, roughly 81% of online multiplayer gamers aged 18-45 who participated in the survey experienced a form of harassment. The majority of harassment related to their gender, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation or skill level. 68% of them reported more serious harassment, such as physical threats, stalking and sustained harassment. This harassment can be so toxic it makes people stop playing certain games altogether, just in the hopes of avoiding it. Additionally, harassment affects them in real life too. With it causing a decrease in motivation and social interaction and an increase thoughts of depression and suicide. This is not good, but there are ways to counter it.
Although there are a lot of toxic people in the world, people have the capabilities to stop them. A trick to stopping it is… to say something. I am not kidding. Saying something as simple as “stop being toxic” has the ability to help. But not many people really do, for a variety of reasons. One of which is it beginning to be thought of as “normal” and so people do not feel the need to report it. I will ask everyone reading this: Have you ever reported or confronted someone for toxic behaviour? For those who said yes, keep up the good work. But most people reading this probably have not really done so yet, myself included. With toxicity, ignoring it will not make it go away. it will just make more people think it’s normal, and so it will spread, and spread, and spread…
Until more drastic action is done to counter it toxicity will remain a curse to gaming, ruining what is a really great entertainment form. But with awareness of the true dangers that toxicity can cause if left untreated, and game creators putting in more features to counter toxicity in various ways, games may be able to stop the spread of this plague and even begin to get rid of it once and for all.