Rising Above Gaming Toxicity, Smartly

I have always been a proud proponent of video games being powerful tools that can build communities and develop friendships that last for years.

While they can do wonders in this environment, like many things, they can bring out some of the worst of people.

Today we will go over the troubles with toxic gaming and how you can better yourself and your children.

What Qualifies as Toxic Gaming

There has been a lot of discussion about toxicity in gaming. Most of it extends from other gamers who have realized that certain behaviors can be very damaging to the world of gaming.

This damage shows itself how the rest of the world perceives gaming or to newcomers to gaming who are turned away.

This behavior comes from a variety of behaviors, such as Gatekeeping, Griefing, and Poor Sportsmanship. Most of this is shown in online video games, as the impersonal nature of online play can lead many to disregard the person on the other side.

The issue is that while all of these things can be recognized once down, it can be hard to classify them entirely outside of context. There are a million ways to do any of these toxic things, and some of them can even be hard to recognize as immediately toxic.

Let’s try and parse through the issues and find a solution.

How to Recognize The Signs of Toxic Gaming

While this is hardly a definitive list, as said before, there are three major aspects of toxic gaming. They have a variety of signs but all center around when they happen in relation to the game itself.

We have pre-game problems, in-game problems, and post-game problems.

1. Gatekeeping: The Pre-Game Problems

Gatekeeping comes when gamers try to prevent people from playing the game or getting into gaming from the get-go. This often comes from harassing players about their newness to gaming and treating them like they are wrong for enjoying gaming.

A lot of this is often targeted at demographics that some toxic gamers might see as “unworthy” of gaming. One of the most common demographics to be targeted is women.

The anti-women angle of Gatekeeping is an example that helps describe the rhyme and reason of gatekeeping.

For a long time, gaming was seen as a “boy’s only” thing and was even marketing as such. Many gamers grew up with this idea that video games were a boy thing and swore that girls would never be interested.

This evolved into girls should never be interested or even let in, because girl gamers ruin this idea that these toxic gamers saw as an absolute in the universe: video games are a boy’s only thing.

The gamers that don’t see the truth of the matter and refuse to even consider female players as legitimate is a high level of toxic. This often showcases in harsh reactions and harassment when the very idea of female gamers comes up.

2. Griefing: The In-Game Problems

Griefing is the kind of toxic gaming behavior that gamers may encounter the most. This comes from in-game actions that ruin other player’s experience.

It is often represented by focusing on one particular player during the game and doing all in your power to stop them from playing. This can be killing them during the game, removing their resources, and general harassment.

The big defining idea in griefing is how much time one player spends harassing a single player. If the point of a game is to attack and kill other players, then killing a player isn’t a problem.

The issue comes from focusing a single player over and over, often with a personal vendetta in mind. These personal vendettas often come from a perceived slight, even if that slight was not intended or even real.

3. Poor Sportsmanship: The Post-Game Problems

The last and perhaps most recognizable issue is simple Poor Sportsmanship.

It often comes from simple insults or dismissive gestures after a game. This attitude is especially prominent in competitive gaming circuits.

And it ends up boiling down to a “sore loser” idea. A gamer that feels like their opponent’s won because of cheating, dirty strategies, or even just luck. Also, if their opponent had done none of this, the anger from losing could fuel this poor behavior.

How to Intervene

As a parent, or even as a friend or fellow gamer, you might find this behavior in those you care about. It can be concerning, especially as their actions get very severe.

Intervening in toxic behavior can be a real issue. If you feel like the issue has taken to violent levels, then a behavioral therapist may be the best option.

No matter what, the best way to counter toxic behavior is through recognizing it and talking with the person. You can try to explain to them the damage their behavior can cause on other people.

When people often engage in toxic behavior, it showcases that they either don’t see the other person involved as a person with feelings and purpose or they feel entitled to some amount of control over their fellow gamer.

Toxic situations can act as a power trip of sorts, giving the abuser in question some kind of high. The more they get away with this, the more addicted to the sensation they may get.

The key to preventing this kind of behavior relies on understanding respect. From a young age, the concept of respect is a pivotal part of interacting with people daily.

Online gaming makes respect harder because it can be so much easier to forget that there is a person on the other side of the screen when you have no face to prove it.

The important thing is to take your time and reinforce the matter of respect, temperance, and kindness in all things. These things will push anyone, gamer or otherwise, into a better kind of person.


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