It’s no secret to many people that the internet has become the breeding ground for hate and vitriol that we all hoped it wouldn’t be. Just take a look at the recent stories surrounding Microsoft’s recent twitter bot going a little ‘Hitler’ after less than a day on the online, to tell that the internet can be a pretty dark place at times.
This has never been more evident than when you’re a new player trying to make your way in a toxic gaming community. Games like League of Legends have a reputation for the way they treat new or inexperienced players, and fan bases like Sonic and Call of Duty have long been held as places of perversion and contempt (respectively).
It is not often talked about just how bad toxic communities can actually be for games, and with the new release of Dark Souls III shining a spotlight on some of the less desirable aspects of the Dark Souls community, now seems like a good chance to talk about it.
Games like Call of Duty have a hell of a negative reputation, and while this is at least partially due to the business impact that COD had on our industry, it is also due to the fact that COD‘s fan base can be described as ‘troublesome’ at best. It’s not exactly a secret that online matches in COD usually devolve quite quickly into racist or sexist slurs and hearing 12-year-olds scream words they don’t understand at total strangers because they’re beating them at a game they shouldn’t even be playing. Thanks to the aforementioned fan base, Call of Duty is simultaneously one of the most played and most ridiculed games of the past few decades, basically it’s the Justin Beiber of video games.
Now we move on to the more current issue, Dark Souls III. The game has been out for a few weeks and it doesn’t take long to find many, many forum posts of people blasting others for being bad at the game, or for asking if there are trainers or mods that make the game easier. Now I’m not going to try and discuss one way or the other whether the game should stay ‘pure’ or should try and add easier modes for people who want to try and play the game but feel like they can’t. What I am going to say is that whether the ‘Git Gud’ mentality of most players is supposed to be taken seriously or not, it does actually influence some people who play the game, and that has a chance of driving away players who genuinely might have made it through the game with encouragement or hell just a little bit of advice.
So why am I bringing this up? Most people who play games regularly know that communities online can be awful, and that sometimes a game you love can come with a fanbase that you hate. What do I hope to accomplish by writing about this? Well, honestly I’m a great believer in the ability of individuals to change things, so my purpose here is to ask those who are part of the toxic element of our hobby to try changing how they act. When someone asks for help or a trainer in something like Dark Souls III, try explaining why you think a trainer would ruin it and give them advice to get past that boss they’re stuck on, just encourage them to try and keep plugging at it before settling on cheating. Instead of screaming obscenities at random strangers when you lose (or do well) in a match of COD, try just taking the game with a pinch of salt, say nothing at all or better yet congratulate the winner if you feel like you can. I’m not saying this will change things over night, hell it probably won’t change anything at all, but at the end of the day trying to do something is better than ignoring the problem and hoping it sorts itself out.