Toxicity in the gaming world!

Toxicity in the gaming world!

The gaming culture today has expanded exponentially with many people from India as well taking it up as a professional esport More companies are...

The gaming culture today has expanded exponentially with many people from India as well taking it up as a professional e-sport. More companies are willing to venture into games and we already have several companies who are associated with major game developers working on some truly massive games.

But there is a huge problem that is associated with online gaming. It is an immensely toxic environment to be in. Toxicity is a constant in online games. It manifests in many ways: Racist trash-talking in the latest online shooter, explicit comments when a woman enters voice chat, and bullying teammates over perceived failures are all rife. One cause of the toxicity is the anonymity of gaming platforms. Without consequences, people are free to hurl abuses, sexually harass, or otherwise be awful members of society. Many people find such behaviour entertaining, gaining attention by acting out. Others simply let their rage bubble over, declining to filter critical commentary.

And the fact that major demography is of male gamers, it acts as a huge deterrent for a woman to take up online gaming. The problem isn’t isolated to the older generation, but even the younger gen which is growing up in an environment where the media is more female-friendly act out and hurl abuses at other players.

The toxic environment that online communities have was recently brought under the spotlight once again when James Stevenson, the Community Director of Insomniac Games, took to Twitter to express his distaste and displeasure with the way fans had treated the developers of Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 made by Insomniac Games.

The game was released on September 7, 2018 and was an instant hit. It featured a gorgeous view of NYC with the map being almost lifelike. A strong story, amazing voice cast and a plethora of amazing Spider-Man suits made the players extremely happy and the game got mostly positive reviews. Excitement got amped when Insomniac announced an additional storyline called ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ as bonus content which would be released in three parts. The release of each part released many more new Spider-Man suits and fans were begging the company to release the Sam Raimi costume from the Tobey Maguire trilogy.

Officially the company had made a statement that they were not working on that suit and that’s when toxicity rose its ugly head. The developers started to receive death threats, abuses, rape threats and more. And ultimately, the company released the suit as a bonus feature. Fans of games across the world felt that the company had bowed down to the pressure but as many experts including the community director himself said that such things didn’t happen overnight. The company had planned on that suit and was keeping it as a surprise, probably as a holiday treat but the situation became so untenable that the company had to release the suit early.

Insomniac Games naturally did not bow down to the pressure but was working on the suit in the pipeline, but it goes to show the damage that fans can do when their expectations aren’t met. Not just in games, but everything in life, it's impossible to make everyone 100 per cent happy. There will be different opinions, various perspectives, and general "not my cup of tea" responses - and that's OK. Not every game is going to suit people’s fancy, and that is also OK.

What's not OK is threatening a working professional over not getting what you want. It's more than having a sense of entitlement because you paid for the product or service and have a "I'm-the-consumer" attitude. It's about being a decent human being at the end of the day and treating everyone who comes online to play in a decent and respectful manner.

- Pratap Pranay

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