Globally Offensive: Let’s Talk About Abuse in CS:GO

In Pop Flash, a series of insights into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive [official site], Emily Richardson looks past the amazing clutches and crushing defeats to understand the culture and meta of Valve’s everlasting competitive FPS.

This week, I’ll be discussing abuse and toxic behaviour in the CS:GO community. Before we get to it, let me reiterate that I am madly in love with Counter-Strike. It’s simply one of the best team games out there. This piece, however, is meant to highlight one important issue that I think we can overcome.

Abuse in online games is a huge problem. We already know this; we’ve done studies on the effects of anonymity both online and in the real world, we’ve seen Riot’s research into the abuse of the League of Legends community, and we’ve all heard our share of profanities in-game. But why do people flame? In an attempt to figure out if we can improve our community, and if other players even want it to improve, I started thinking about what compels us to get abusive.

To begin, I decided to simply ask: what compels you to flame or abuse others? I brought this question directly to players in-game, in the CS:GO subreddit, and on Twitter. Perhaps, I thought, there’s nobody better to answer than those who flame themselves.

First, I tried asking during matches. I’m one of those people who usually only plays in stacks of four or five to avoid abusive teammates, especially when, as a woman, I attract a good amount of bullshit. Naturally, this venture was a terrifying foray into the minds of my abusers.

“Hello,” I said, tentatively joining a casual game at first. I was met with a volley of responses in a Slavic language. I soon realised they were several people talking to each other, loudly, maybe even… angrily? I politely asked if they spoke any English.

“Fuck you,” they said with a heavy accent.
“That’s great, thanks.”
“Fuck you,” they said again.
“Yep, got that.”
“Fuck you.”
“Okay,” I said, “keep arguing, that’s good.”
Then came more of the unfamiliar language.

“I’m sorry, what was that?”
“He say you gay,” one of them replied.

I didn’t get anything else out of them. I learned absolutely nothing about anything. I tried again in competitive games but the result was more or less the same; someone would be a jerk, they’d scream at their teammates and I’d carefully and honestly ask them to explain their logic. There’d be a long, contemplative silence and nothing else. If I was lucky I might get another ‘fuck you’. Notably, most of the abuse stopped immediately after I’d asked for their reasoning. Interesting!

Next, I went to Reddit. One user was adamant that the block and report system had already fixed the issue, but I just can’t bring myself to agree. Blocking is obviously the best tool for getting rid of harassers, but in a game that depends so highly on communication it just sucks to have to block somebody. And it doesn’t stop them abusing you in the first place. If someone throws one of those incredibly original gendered insults at me, no matter how fast I block and report them, I’m still really annoyed about it.

When I asked people outside of the game why they flame, the response was usually the same – it’s either some kind of retaliation against other people flaming them or frustration with people ‘not playing the game properly’. No one is willing to admit that they flame or abuse before anyone else has said or done something negative (apart from one Reddit user, who declared, “Honestly, I hate people and it’s fun to troll bait”).

I wasn’t expecting everyone to give thoughtful, honest answers to my questions; trolls hide behind anonymity and an in-game persona and won’t readily expose themselves to scrutiny. However, these responses make me wonder; do a lot of flamers honestly think they’re merely retaliating or defending themselves in some way?

Twitter user Daniel Mudd openly admits to flaming teammates but still has the humility to evaluate it. “I get so horrendously toxic,” he told me. “It’s alarmingly common, and very odd that it happens.” I asked him what compels him to get this way. Is it a means of getting what he wants from his teammates, frustration with the game or just plain nastiness? “I don’t flame or get mad to put people down, it’s out of sheer frustration,” he explained. “I generally don’t get abusive and try not to directly insult people, I just get really annoyed, criticise their gameplay, end up back-seating them and start to ignore them. [I] play in ways that don’t benefit them, such as having no issues baiting them or not making calls that would aid them.”

Is it possible that the game’s very design – one life per round, the importance of communication, friendly fire, etc. – exacerbates such behaviour? When asked, Mudd said, “I think one of the big things that frustrates me is the team-dependant nature of the game. No matter how well I play on a personal level, if another player on the team isn’t playing up to standard or making stupid decisions, it can get me killed and hinder the entire team.

“This ties in with the nature of the game – because someone was screwing around and not holding an angle or AFKing or doing goodness-knows-what, you then have to sit for two minutes and continue to watch the person who got you killed. No one likes dying, and dying for something that was the responsibility of another player gets to people generally.”

I asked if Daniel ever resorted to team-killing, team-flashing or purposefully feeding to retaliate, as so many flamers often do. “Griefing using the game mechanics tends to be a huge no-no for me. I aim to play CS:GO the best I can personally, and abusing game mechanics to do this isn’t beneficial to personal performance and generally detracts more from team performance.”

Personally, I find any kind of flaming detracts from team performance. Everyone is too busy grumpin’ and loses their focus. Eventually, I start to feel that the offending teammate doesn’t deserve a win anyway, and I end up playing dangerously for careless thrills instead of diligently trying my best to win. I suspect many flamers know this happens, but they’re still aggravated enough to throw a match in this way.

Another important factor in player behaviour is anonymity. In 1976, Edward Diener presented his famous Halloween study demonstrating how children are much more likely to steal when they’re anonymous and have a reduced sense of responsibility.

The study was connected to the concept of deindividuation, a theory that went some way to explain the violent and impulsive behaviour of individuals in large crowds and mobs. The first to put forward the idea that anonymity was a key factor in deindividuation was Leon Festinger (1952). Obviously, violent crowds and lynch mobs are a far more serious case study, but the concept of deindividuation has, in recent years, been assessed in volatile players online. The anonymity that usernames grant us combined with the reduced sense of responsibility – perhaps relating to the notion that we’re retaliating or justified in our actions because of the way another player behaved – could explain in part why competitive gamers frequently turn into asshats.

A second study, conducted by Philip Zimbardo, amended the famous Milgram’s Shock Experiment and added an anonymity variant. One group of people wore name tags and their regular clothing while administering electric shocks to a woman, while the second wore a hood and had no other identifying features. The second group applied longer electric shocks, thus demonstrating that we’re more willing to engage in anti-social behaviour if not identified. This doesn’t necessarily translate directly to Counter-Strike’s abuse problem – there are a lot of discrepancies – but it’s interesting to think about.

Of course, removing the systems that give us anonymity online has its own risks and I’m not arguing for that. Being anonymous means I can choose to use a gender-neutral alias and play the game. It means racial and other minorities can do the same. In this sense, anonymity is a double-edged sword. Some companies, like Riot, have gone to great lengths to reward positive behaviour and enforce their policies while still maintaining anonymity and player security – something I think Valve could learn from.

Language could be another major factor in the flame wars of Counter-Strike. About a year ago, I moved to Sweden, and awkward dinner parties have made it quite apparent I ought to learn the language. Unfortunately, Swedish is intentionally designed to make foreigners say rude words by sliiiiightly mispronouncing certain vowel sounds. Not that it really matters, because I started by learning useful words like ‘poo’.

Now, being the mature person that I am, whenever I come across a Swede in CS I usually manage to subdue to the rising desire to copy and paste the word poo into the chat a hundred times. On the rare occasion, though, it slips out. Sometimes other things slip out. Sometimes I accidentally call someone a poo-mouth or a butt-cheese. Sometimes my inventive terminology ends up being more offensive than I understand it to be.

Psychologists at the University of Chicago have studied how language affects our decisions. In the research, they found that bilingual people were more emotionally connected to their native language. When asked a question in their second language, people are generally more likely to make a more rational, logical and utilitarian decision. If asked in their native language, people are more likely to be affected by emotional expectations and have a harder time detaching themselves from emotional biases. Somehow, our differing perceptions of and connections to language change how we perceive and evaluate situations.

I think about language specifically because, despite not necessarily fully comprehending the degree to which I’m being offensive or not, I struggle to take what I’m saying in Swedish seriously. I’m so bogged down by all the unfathomable sentence structure, ridiculous spellings and the curious phenomenon of “särskrivning” that if I actually manage to give an insult successfully it is an impressive and hilarious feat. I’m completely detached from whatever I’m saying. A Swedish person can attack me in Swedish and I’ll still manage to be a bit miffed about it, but if I’m the one writing it, it somehow seems less offensive. I simply have no emotional or historical connection with any of the words or their meanings.

On the other hand, we have people who can actually be understood but still don’t fully understand social connotations or how offensive a word is. One redditor I spoke to put it well: “There appears to be two reasons for so much flaming if English is your second language. 1. You are somewhat detached from the words’ social meanings (for example they may just use the ’n-word’ without knowledge of its history). 2. You do not speak the language well enough to provide constructive criticism, so you resort to flaming when someone does something wrong.”

The second point is very relevant. To what degree do language barriers add fuel to the flames? Honestly, I don’t know. I wouldn’t even know how to start measuring it, but how cultural differences affect us and how we give and take offence is part of figuring out why the flamers flame.

Toxicity in Counter-Strike’s matchmaking also causes other issues. It could make new players leave the game before finding any of the wonderful, close-knit communities that many experienced players tend to cluster around. Finding a way to encourage exploration and creative collaboration would make the game better for everyone. Something like Natural Selection 2’s ‘noob-friendly’ servers might serve as a more welcoming entry point for beginners. This could be especially beneficial for women, who frequently quit or avoid competitive games due to frequent harassment.

CS:GO is due for an interface makeover and this seems an apt opportunity to add new community-nurturing features. Although the report and commendation features are in place, there’s very little incentive beyond goodwill for players to actually use them or care about their stats.

If Valve did this, what would you want to see? What do you think would benefit us in terms of community? And perhaps most importantly – is it ‘sneaky peeky-like’ or ‘sneaky beaky-like’? Please leave your thoughts below.

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  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Male DayZ addict, here, 1000+ hours. Slavs, generally, seem to be rather angry. As do the young ‘uns, bless their cottons.

    I tend to find, that if I’m lucky enough to meet someone approaching my great age, and of my own language, we tend to have a pleasant encounter. Obviously, with a game like DayZ, quite a few planets have to align for us even to be able to initiate conversation. No raised guns (preferably not even in your hand), mic ownership (you’d be surprised), and the element of surprise (can go both ways!).

    I think, overall, that DayZ has quite a good community when I look at games like LoL & CS:GO. It’s all relative, of course.

    • King_Rocket says:

      Don’t I know you from the reddit?

      I would agree with your comment, DayZ while not perfect is far less aggravating to play as you have to put up with less “toxic” behavior. Although I wouldn’t just single out the Slavs like that, I think after playing GTA5 with a lot of non English speaking people it seems their only real interaction with English speakers is being told to fuck off etc, so they just wind on parroting back at you when you run into them later. If you can bridge the divide I think most people are pretty cool at heart.

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        I don’t think you know me, but yes, I’ve seen your name around on the DayZ sub!

      • Yglorba says:

        I think that part of it is that a language barrier helps to dehumanize the other person, too. When you can barely communicate at all, it’s a lot easier to just view them as a faceless nobody on the internet, even moreso than usual.

    • holymadman says:

      I agree with you, most Slavs don’t speak English and they lash out at English speakers without any good reason. I know because i am one of them, them filthy Slavs. In recent years i tried to find friends and fellow gamers from my country that speak English and are generally friendly while i distanced myself from past acquaintance’s that did lash out at English speakers and even non English speakers that play badly. I usually try to avoid answering where i am from at first, because i fear they probably encountered some of my fellow Slavs and they will outright think of me as one bitter/angry child/man like they appear at first.

      • Premium User Badge

        DeVadder says:

        Honestly i have mostly encountered this the other way round. Many people with no discernible accent (native english speakers possibly) often become surprisingly angry at everyone daring to chat in another language. And anyone using kirilyc letters sometimes gets flamed for beeing russian. This whole issue however really seems to have a lot to do with where one plays, i am from germany.

      • Niko says:

        Same here, I’ve distanced myself from playing with people from Russia because of commonplace rudeness… and they are often just not fun to play with.

    • Pizzacheeks McFroogleburgher says:

      A good summary of DayZ encounters there.. I feel beyond plain kos there’s little crossover between the csgo and DayZ mindsets. Csgo’s design of frenetic, fixed tactical, precision, team dependant play can engender extreme frustration, a high stress level and leads to the explosive flaming behaviour. DayZ Is driven by trust and fear.. You spend so much time getting tooled up, walking to where you want to go, the tension created when you meet someone is such that most kills are thru necessity via lack of trust (you mentioned players talking friendly while holding or especially raising their weapon, or simply not having a mic…) There are also more sadistic avenues.. Torture, muggings, etc. While csgo engenders almost childish, impatient frustrated rage, DayZ is a window to the full spectrum of human behaviours.. While similarly anonymous, the character you play in DayZ is a much closer reflection of your self.

  2. Hobbes says:

    The problem stems from the lack of consequence in these games for what would be arrestable real world conduct. You can be a jerk and broadly speaking the damage to you is that someone mutes you. As you’re anonymous that’s about all that’s prone to happen. If you’re abusive and threatening in the real world you can get arrested for the same kind of conduct.

    “It’s the internet” isn’t an acceptable excuse any longer in my eyes, if you behave like a jackass and you conduct yourself in a manner that would get you put in a cell for threatening behaviour in the UK, then so should the same long arm of the law apply online, without exception. In the long term, Governments are going to move towards this solution and force everyone to sign up with verifiable metrics which mean that your conduct, no matter what you do, where you do it, will be traceable, and if someone issues a formal complaint, it’ll get tracked back to you, and could have real-world repercussions.

    I’ve always been a great advocate of having a switch which for a single sixty minute window, just for that long, removes all display names and replaces them with -real names- and hardlinks back to a page with all of their posts, comments and discussion made on the internet in a searchable format. For those sixty minutes you’d be able to hear a pin drop as everyone who normally acts as if the law doesn’t apply would suddenly find that they’d be very cruelly exposed to reality.

    It’d be an interesting thought exercise :)

    • real of broccoli says:

      yes let’s completely removes someone’s right to privacy because they said some mean words to you in a game. that sort of extreme behavior is bound to correct the offenders transgressions.

      • Big Murray says:

        That’s an interesting choice of phrase … “right to privacy”. What right to privacy do we have when playing online games? Why should we have a right to anonymity when we want to engage with the CS (or any other gaming) community?

        It’s nice to have a playground in which we can splash about in complete anonymity and do and say the most horrible of things, but we’re past the point at which the internet is a gimmick or avoidable thing. It’s part of everyday life for almost everyone now. And if we want to continue using it, we’re going to have to give these people some responsibility for their online actions at some point.

        • realm of broccoli says:

          that’s a good point actually. it’s good to see we have a clear difference on what basic human rights we have as human beings, in real life or otherwise. thinking that someone should be publicly shamed because they called you a “shithead” or that you’re “super shit at this game please uninstall” is understandable. i would probably be upset too if someone verbally attacked me on the football field because i dropped a pass. even in popular competitive sports there are people who berate each other on the field. we publicly shame them in the media by saying they’re poor sports too! yet, their behavior still exists, still happens, and more often than not appears to be unchanging.

          if “rights” are to be the same in the virtual world as in the real one putting someone in a virtual stockade for everyone to ridicule doesn’t seem like it’s going to help much. in fact, revealing someone’s information because they upset you seems more or less like a vengeful act for your own personal satisfaction. “they said something mean or hurtful to me so now i’m going to make it so everyone can launch personal attacks.” how does that help or correct the personality of the offender? if anything it’s only going to strengthen their toxic behavior and in turn feed into yours as well.

          • diamondmx says:

            I think you’re rather underestimating the depth of the problem. Were “shithead” and “You suck, please uninstall” the worst things said to a player, then yes, thicker skin, sticks and stones and all that shite.

            Thing is, this being the internet, the insults seem to range from homophobic, racist, vulgar epithets in groups of harassing abusers (on the light end), and very specific, detailed and extreme death threats, with posted addresses, phone numbers and names (on the harsh end).

            Perhaps you ought to consider that there’s a problem worth addressing here. Because these anonymous internet assholes can and do cause significant real life harm that only begins at chasing players out of games and communities.

            Some people on the internet deserve to see real life punishment for the level of abuse they offer other people, and it’s in games as well as social media.

            PS: I also believe that a right of anonymity in the internet is a valuable thing, but we need to decide where/if this right should be rescinded.

          • Hobbes says:

            diamondmx gets where I’m going with this. I think he’s sortof grasped the problem, it’s more than just the odd swear word y’know.

          • Luckz says:

            diamondmx and Calvin here don’t seem to grasp that posting addresses, phone numbers and real names of people (“doxxing”) is much easier when you, as you want to, force them to use their real names.

        • Premium User Badge

          Already Gone says:

          There are plenty of Facebook users who are happy to have their real, full, legal names and photographs associated with hateful antisocial bile. A total loss of anonymity would make it much easier for that sort to find their targets (and, in particular, to find minority targets who won’t inspire many defenders) while affecting them not-at-all.

          • Hobbes says:

            And in the UK, those people are finding very quickly that they’re not having such a good time of it any longer :) I can’t speak for other countries. Of course, that assumes it -is- their legal name, photo and whatnot. And that you believe it is their legal name, photo and details on their profile.

            Considering the vast majority of Facebook Profiles are fake…

        • Baffle Mint says:

          Okay, something that bugs me about most of these articles is that they don’t acknowledge the difference between anonymity and pseudonymity.

          Like, I’m not anonymous when I post here. You don’t know who I am in real life (Although it wouldn’t be a huge amount of work to discover who I really am), but you know with pretty high certainty that every post made by this account is made by the same person. If you read enough of my posts you can form an opinion about whether Baffle Mint is an obnoxious person; if I flame somebody I can acquire a reputation. It’s not a rep under my real name, but it is a rep, and the people who run and visit RPS can do things in response to me.

          If I was anonymous, there wouldn’t be any way for me to get a bad reputation; you wouldn’t know which views were mine and which came from somebody else.

          How hard is it in CS to create a new pseudonym? Are people allowed to have multiple accounts? There are all kinds of ways to punish or call out pseudonymous people without knowing that they’re really Martin Smith of 123 1st Ave, New York NY.

          And it’s not immediately clear to me whether the studies you mentioned would still apply to people who had a stable pseudonym. Like I said, even though you don’t know who I am, there’s still a lot of evidence I leave behind by posting under a stable pseudonym that I wouldn’t if I was hiding behind bulky clothes and pushing a button.

          • Baffle Mint says:

            I did not mean to respond to this particular comment.

          • Luckz says:

            If you pay for another copy of the game, you have another account to play on.
            A *large* amount of the player base does this to “smurf”. To have easier matches against worse opponents, or to play with their bad friends rather than high skill professionals.
            Or to use cheats.
            ..or maybe to harass others without fear of being found out?

            I’ve never heard of the last one, honestly.

        • wengart says:

          I just think that is an incredibly bad idea.

          Personally I couldn’t care less about what people say to me online. Literally anything and I don’t care. I’m fine with that. I love that. I love that I can have an online presence that isn’t linked to me. You literally couldn’t find a way to make me feel unsafe or unpleasant online at all. Unless real names were introduced.

          Story time. Back when Battlefield 3 was released I flew jets almost constantly. I was really bloody good. After one particular match this guy tracked my origin profile and sent me some messages and tried to get me banned from some of my favorite servers. Generally did some harassment type things. Now, having real names might have prevented him from doing that, or it could have let him directly find me. Personally I’m fine with him harassing me. Hell to an extent I enjoy it (in the knowledge that I’m good enough to piss this guy off so much). I wouldn’t be fine with him being able to find of who I am.

    • joa says:

      Since when does saying ‘fuck you’ to somebody get you put in a cell? It’s just like kids in a playground.

      There is some extreme online behaviour that needs to be dealt with, I agree with that. But kids talking trash in an online video game is not it.

      • Hobbes says:

        Threatening someone meaningfully in the UK can most definitely get you done, sure as acting like a complete prat in the middle of the road by randomly shouting obscenities at the street (See : Causing a public disturbance).

        *shrug* There’s a difference between jokingly saying it to a friend and the idiots who make bomb threats on twitter and then end up SWATting people because hey, that’s fun right?

        • chope says:

          I got banged up for a flame I done :/

        • joa says:

          The examples in this article is not threatening anyone. “Fuck you”, “Fuck you”, and “He say you gay” is not a threat.

          Yes people should face consequences for the illegal nasty things, but not put in the town stockade for saying “fuck” like you want to have. What’s next we all should wear video camera so our daily interactions is subject to scrutiny by whomever wishes? Whoops, maybe I should not give you ideas.

        • xfstef says:

          but would you put everyone in the same basket ?

          swatters, bomb threat makers or other such morons generally do a much better job of hiding their identity than people who get angry at you for not watching long when you push down mid and call you an absolute idiot when you both get flanked and killed

          I don’t want to pay a fine or have to explain to my boss why I called you an idiot last night in that dust2 match. It’s irrelevant and I didn’t cause anyone any harm except myself for raging.

          Do you see the difference here ???

          Your thought of having an internet police will just end up hurting the normal people more than it would the absolute maniacs who absolutely deserve to be put in their place but will always exist. Because crazy people exist.

          • Big Murray says:

            And LITERALLY nobody has suggested you will need to pay a fine for calling someone an idiot on dust2. I’m pretty sure I’ve asked you this already, but where on earth are you getting that idea from?

            The idea that cracking down on internet abuse will lead to you having to pay a fine for swearing on de_aztec is the kind of scaremongering dross you’d expect to read in the Daily Mail.

        • MrUnimport says:

          “Threatening someone meaningfully” being the operative clause. Face-to-face confrontations are much more threatening than insults tossed about in virtual public spaces. If I’m in North America, is it meaningful or credible to issue a threat of mild physical abuse that I’d need a plane ticket and a private investigator to carry out?

          • MrUnimport says:

            Uh, issuing a threat to somebody in the Old World, if it wasn’t otherwise clear why I mentioned North America. I will be very grateful when the edit button makes its triumphant return.

    • xfstef says:

      Your post made me feel sick to my stomach. Are you demented ? What you wrote here is an insult to freedom of speech and the social, cultural future of mankind.

      The internet IS NOT real life. That’s the whole point. That is why we created it. Your mind is just too fragile to grasp this notion. Either that or you have some of the worst OCD that I’ve ever seen, which makes you the odd one, not me.

      What you are suggesting is basically internet totalitarianism. Everyone should have their real name everywhere ? That doesn’t even happen in real life. Do you go to the store wearing your ID Card as a name tag ?
      You might be trolling and it’s just too late for me to catch on to it. I actually hope that you’re trolling. No sane person could ever wish upon himself to exist in an ideal world of puppets.

      • Aerothorn says:

        Ironically, the sort of ableism and general vitriol you’re slinging is precisely the sort behavior we’re trying to figure out how to police.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          Whoever the “we” is in that post, you’re working to undermine one of the key philosophies of the internet. You could always build your own global communications system where your rather unpleasant police state approach can prevail for all who choose to use it. But you have no right whatsoever to “police” an essentially anarchic, decentralised system built by other people who did, as a rule, cherish absolute free speech.

          • jrodman says:

            I’ve been playing around on this Ineternet thing since the mid-1980s. Assholes getting to say whatever they want with no consequences was *never* a founding principle.

          • Raoul Duke says:

            jrodman, no-one is suggesting ‘without consequences’, but there are some genuinely scary people in this thread who want to criminalise trash talk in online games.

            There’s a world of difference between saying that the people running a given game should have the right to ban offensive speech (of course they should) and saying that there should be real world criminal consequences for such things.

            And you might have been around for much of the life of the internet (as I have), but you apparently haven’t paid much attention to the philosophies which underlie its architecture. A lack of centralised authority and control over content is the very essence of the network. It’s genuinely libertarian in nature, and the patchwork of national laws around the world are a very poor fit for regulating it.

          • jrodman says:

            It’s interesting that you are sticking to your fiction quite aggressively that people want to criminalize trash talk. There’s really no support for that viewpoint, and I’ve read the whole thing. So you’re just kind of loony toons, you know.

          • jrodman says:

            And no, all that twadle about the Internet being fundamentally libertarian is false. Consider that commercial speech was not permitted on the internet for decades.

          • Raoul Duke says:

            I think it’s interesting that you claim no-one is talking about criminalising this behaviour when the very thread in which we are exchanging comments begins with a post stating:

            You can be a jerk and broadly speaking the damage to you is that someone mutes you. As you’re anonymous that’s about all that’s prone to happen. If you’re abusive and threatening in the real world you can get arrested for the same kind of conduct.

            I find it hard to believe your claim that you’ve read all the comments in the thread as a result.

        • BethesdaEmployee says:

          Who are you to police anything? are you people retarded or something?

          Of course you will constantly get flamed and trolled in any forum/game/comments section. Welcome to the internet.

        • xfstef says:

          The vitriol is based upon a feeling of disgust towards the logic of the OP. Namely I consider his view to be completely wrong and dangerous to our society.

          If you want to police my vitriol then you subsequently want to police my right to express my opinions. This is nothing short of totalitarian censorship. Stalin would have been proud of you ;).

          • Hobbes says:

            Except we police such in the real world and that’s not caused the world to break down. Sorry if your little utopia for throwing words around without consequence is about to come crashing down, but it is. Free speech only governs the rights that government cannot interfere in certain basic norms.

            Everything else however is going to slowly evolve towards a more sane methodology and towards more “Moderated” output, because the 4chan mentality of ‘anything goes’ is going to have to go, it’s just the net hasn’t done growing up. Sadly we may see a more balkanised internet coming as a result but hey, that’s the price we pay for dragging it out of the mire. *shrug*

          • xfstef says:

            “Sadly we may see a more balkanised internet ”

            You know what. I don’t like you personally. You don’t like us (obvious racist remark cited above) so why don’t you brits hurry up and vote on leaving the EU already. I’ve personally had enough of your bigotry, arrogance, snark, hypocrisy and outright racism.

            We don’t need you, we’ve handled ourselves perfectly on our own although we went through thousands of years of invasions, cultural mixing and cutthroat diplomacy while you’ve all sat on your ass the whole time and planned how to conquer technologically impaired parts of the world.

          • AyeBraine says:

            Just to clarify – “balkanization” is an established politology term, it doesn’t mean “making like those dirty Balkan Peninsula peoples”. It’s AFAIK something like dissolution into diverse smaller states, with general disorder coming with it. So please don’t be so angry.

      • Aerothorn says:

        Also: freedom of speech has nothing to do with it, because freedom of speech (both in the USA and, to a lesser extent, the UK) is a statement about what speech the government can and cannot regulate. Valve is not the government. Freedom of speech has never meant “the right to say whatever you want in any venue you choose without consequences.”

        • Niko says:

          What folks like that person actually mean by “freedom of speech” is “freedom to be an asshole without limitations and repercussions”.

          • Distec says:

            That’s cute. Given that some people here are arguing that mean words on the internet require some measure of legal repercussions, I think it’s safe to say the issue is a bit more than that.

            I’m a bit tired of people wagging their finger and saying “Well, something must be done about nasty behavior online!” and not really having actionable proposal to back it up; or at least one that doesn’t have disturbingly censorious/authoritiarian implications further down the line.

        • xfstef says:

          If you ban people from using a word then you essentially ban them from thinking it. If you ban thinking then you ban dissent and creativity.

          I do agree however that there are cases when certain thoughts and words are wrong, for example:
          Racism and homophobia generate violence and hate against certain social groups BUT and this is a very big BUT, racism and homophobia are mostly taught ! Religion and nationalism has worked hard at teaching our forefathers to hate each other because of their differences. I am not in favor of prolonging those horrid practices.

          • Professor Science says:

            Did you just say that certain forms of language and behaviour shouldn’t be tolerated, after all? I thought freedom of thought/speech was sacrosanct?

          • xfstef says:

            Oh are we just now starting to understand that every rule usually and most likely has at least one exception ? Took us a while evolution, but congratulations ! We did it !

      • Hebrind says:

        “Free Speech” isn’t protection from being called out on your hateful, toxic bullshit. If you say stupid, offensive things, it’ll happen all the time.

        I just don’t get it. You have the chance on The Internet™ to be anything you want, to be anyone you like. People like you choose to be horrible to one another. I don’t understand it and frankly, I hope I never do. Call me fragile-minded or “demented” or belittle a legitimate medical condition such as OCD, whatever. Just please, please, please let me know if I’m ever playing a game on the same server as you so I can leave it. Ta.

        • newprince says:

          “Being called out” is quintessentially different than being arrested.

          I don’t care if people like yourself waste your day calling others out. Have at it.

          The poster was asking for law enforcement to get involved.

          You have the right to be a jerk and say mean things on the internet, within reason. Deal with it.

          • xfstef says:

            … just like you have the right to do so in real life, within certain borders (being a racist prick is obviously not allowed)

        • xfstef says:

          you want to call them out and have them pay fines or be publicly disgraced or even worse, which in my opinion is just too much

          why don’t you just ignore them … the internet and the games that we play on the internet have a magical function called: IGNORE ! that’s right, it’s better than in real life, where you would have to either knock the other person out or just run away from them if they were getting too annoying

      • Hobbes says:

        Thank you for illustrating my point in perfect clarity as to why we need these legal controls and repercussions.

        Understand, as the virtual world becomes more “real” to more people, the law will catch up, and eventually the whole ‘It’s the Internet, we can do what we like’ is going to go out of the window. Thankfully the very behaviour you’ve just exemplified is on a timer, one I can measure as I watch politicians and judges slowly work their way through the cases of abuse and harassment that are inflicted upon real people through the distant connections of the internet by people who hide behind internet names.

        I sit behind a Tiger avatar to give myself a degree of safety because of this exact reason, because of people like you. Thank you for proving my point.

        • Shadow says:

          I really don’t get this. Would you like there to be real life legal repercussions to someone who’s moderately mean to you on the Internet? In your ideal world, would xfstef be fined or otherwise actually punished for replying to you like he did? If you got into this very same argument in a pub with him, would you call the cops on him? How does that possibly make sense? Am I getting close to the point I should be fined as well?

          Look, yeah, one thing is issuing insistent death threats (not that I would give a damn about a death threat issued to me by a random person on the internet who knows nothing about me) and giving away real, personal information about someone. Another thing entirely is exchanging ultimately innocuous insults over an online game. And what you’re suggesting is applying disproportionate real life punishment for an alleged “crime” which produces minimal actual damage to you. This is something that should be policed within the game, with in-game mechanics. Real life law has nothing to do with it, nor should it.

          If abuse during online gaming is such a huge problem to you that you would champion what’s indeed real life authoritarianism, you should stick to playing less toxic games, with people you trust, or not at all.

          Personally, if I feel a game’s community is too toxic for me to enjoy it, I would hope for the devs to work towards improving matters within the confines of said game, as I mentioned. At worst, I’d simply leave, as there are a thousand other games to play. To advocate “fixing” those problems via draconian real life measures has never crossed my mind. I find it unfathomable.

          • Big Murray says:

            I don’t really understand why people get confused about what is meant when we say that we want the same laws to apply on the internet as in real life. Is someone going to get in trouble for being “moderately mean to you” offline? No, I doubt it. So why would anyone make the assumption that people who want to add consequences to toxic and abusive online behaviour are advocating locking people up or fining them or whatever for being “moderately mean”? That doesn’t happen in real life, so why would anyone think people are advocating it on the internet? We have a system for this already offline … all that’s being asked is that it is applied equally online.

            I never get when people say “real life” anyway. As if we’re living in a fantasy land and none of us are real, just living inside our computers. It’s a sign of the dehumanisation we treat others on the internet with. At some point we’ve gone too far, and we need to let go of this anonymity fixation we have on the internet.

          • Hobbes says:

            Big Murray gets it perfectly, see? It’s not that hard!

          • Shadow says:

            The problem with your arguments, or rather how you’re communicating them, is that your replies are often exaggerated, and then you suddenly moderate yourself and imply “I only want real life law to apply to online activity in the same proportion”. While on previous comments you’ve taken a more extreme stance.

            First you suggest a device which obliterates privacy in a way it’s most likely presently illegal even in any offline case. It’s essentially the ultimate Big Brother system.

            Then for instance there’s your reply to joa, in which you seem to equate being on the receiving end of a ‘fuck you’ or a battery of insults in an online game to being affected by a public disturbance while on the street, implying the same legal punishment must apply.

            Another example I touched upon earlier, you implied xfstef’s behaviour should eventually be legally punished as abuse/harrassment, claiming that “it’s on a timer” and that you need your online anonymity to protect yourself from people like him.

            And then you agree that you only want law to apply in equal measure online? You’re not being consistent. Regardless of what you state plainly in the end, the connotation of your combined comments is a desire to have law not merely apply in online environments, but also be stricter, with harsher punishments compared to analogous cases offline.

            So Big Murray, forgive me if I get confused and communicate disproportionate assumptions when people make disproportionate implications.

            And ultimately, yes, I don’t equate real, offline life to the internet, since you’re considerably more shielded in the latter and often have the means to increase that protection even further. That said, I do agree with applying the same laws everywhere. In equal measure, of course, something that has been stated but not always implied in these discussions.

          • Baines says:

            The problem is probably that people who argue for the same real life laws to be applied to the internet tend to appear to actually want much stronger application than real life sees.

            Other comments in this thread highlight discrepancies. People want punishment for someone who utters a profanity at them, when in the real world there is hardly ever any punishment. A student might get detention for uttering a profanity in class, but a parent and a teacher might hurl profanities at each other without consequence. When you walk into a store, everyone doesn’t immediately know your real name, either. Heck, you can join a pick-up game of basketball with no one knowing who you really are (and no verification that you might even give your real identify if asked), but you have people arguing for public knowledge of online identities.

            And look at some of the consequences that do happen in the real world… People don’t just behave because of the legal consequences that their actions might bring. People also behave due to the risk of illegal consequences. Maybe you’ll be on the receiving end of your own methods. Or maybe you’ll get punched or jumped. In the wrong area or against the wrong person, maybe you’ll get stabbed or shot. Maybe you’ll get stalked or harassed. And actions that would remove internet anonymity wouldn’t just increase the potential of legal consequences, but also increase the potential of illegal consequences. (As we’ve seen years of real world consequences already.)

          • Widthwood says:

            Shadow, Baines – I love you guys. Just as posts got progressively depressing, yours were a breath of much needed rationality.

            Actually, this got me thinking of another parallel between real life and CS, namely CSS Zombie Mod.

            When it was still new and scary and felt REAL and didn’t yet devolve into kid’s playground, it often provided deep insights into human character, when people were put far beyond their comfort zone, and were forced to take serious decisions.

            Like, for example, being chased by a bunch of zombies with some of the people in the group clearly lacking skill. Everyone in the group has the option either try to help them and stay together, or hinder them, maybe sort of accidentally, so that they will be eaten and stop being a potential problem.
            Or another one, a group of humans barricaded themselves pretty good, they are far from being completely safe, but have high chance of making it. Then come a bunch of refugees from other groups, that were attacked and dispersed, and by some miracle managed to survive. Every member of a group has a choice, either quickly disassemble part of the barricade to let them through, with a very slight risk of zombie infection, or stop them from getting in, hoping they will be eaten on the other side as soon as possible.
            Those refugees also have a choice – either politely ask to be let in, and go somewhere else if denied, or actively fight with the group and dismantle the barricade, with a very high risk that zombies will eat everyone.

            In ALL of those kinds of situations, lacking an authority figure (guy with a mic with natural leadership skills and rational thinking) around 80% of people do what provides feeling of immediate safety. Meaning they will try to feed weak members to zombies to remove immediate chance of new zombie appearing near them (but in the long run loose advantage in numbers and weaken the group), barricaded humans will actively stop refugees from entering (even though it only ends up in a fight for a barricade between humans and a very high chance of zombie attach), refugees will dismantle everything in their path in terror, without thinking that their actions will most likely lead to human’s loss in this round.
            And this was not trolling or griefing, just honest reaction to new and terrifying situations, screams in voice chat were not uncommon, and tactics of victory were not yet hardwired into brains – every round was basically improvisation. And also these were not kids – CSS wasn’t very popular among them back then, just your normal everyday people.

            As for the others – around 15% were “kind”, sort of on principle, but dumb or overestimated their skill – meaning they usually helped everyone, but got eaten when didn’t have advantage in numbers. They were also the ones that refused to immediately infect when converted into zombies, especially after those tough moments, and hopefully got banned for breaking the game for everyone.

            And 5%, maybe even less – were the ones you could depend on. They could be 15, or 40, – it didn’t matter. If one of those had a mic – humans wiped the floor with zombies round after round. But even without it – they made their decisions based on situation at hand, not instincts, didn’t just blindly become part of the mob, and saved more round that anyone by a large margin.
            I think, this is what most players thought they were, but obviously weren’t.

            Of course those lines were blurred, and interactions much more complex, but those proportions were the ones that stand out time and again.

            CSS ZombieMod is long gone, what it is now is not even a pale imitation, but I’ve lost count how many times I began to see those same patterns in real life. They are not as pronounced in normal everyday life, and thank God for that – as the more dangerous situation is, the easier it was to control those 80%. Authority figure == feeling of safety, and that what they did cling to. In zombiemod everyone had the same goal, so control was always a good thing (apart from times, when zombies commanded humans over mic with hilarious consequences :) ). In real life – things are a bit more complex..

          • xfstef says:

            @Big Murray: the elephant in the room was that he considered my completely different opinion than his as being vitriolic and abusive … that is the problem

            sure I might have been condescending and I might have asked a couple of questions regarding his mental health but his thoughts on the matter differed completely from mine and thus he considered me a threat, which is obviously wrong and abusive on his part

          • jrodman says:

            It is odd that you are objecting to being called vitriolic while admitting so in the same breath.

          • xfstef says:

            that was an admission of guilt to you ? oh my …

          • Big Murray says:

            Are you getting me confused with someone else? I’ve never said the things you’re claiming I have … I’ve never replied to joa, saying what you claim I’ve said or otherwise.

            I’ve suggested eliminating anonymity, not privacy. If you’re equating privacy with anonymity, then that’s not how things work in the real world either. You can’t go wherever you like and do and say whatever you like without ever having to reveal who you are. If you consider that the “ultimate Big Brother system”, then we’re already living in it.

            I also never implied xfstef’s behaviour should be legally punished. In fact, I’ve specifically said that nobody’s suggesting fining or locking people up for being “moderately mean to others”, because that’s not how things work in real life.

            I’m being utterly and completely consistent, buddy. You simply seem to be attributing things to me which I have never said.

        • Faxmachinen says:

          Sorry, but I don’t think getting SWAT-ed is better than having your virtual persona receive death threats.

          • Big Murray says:

            What on earth are you doing online that you think you’d get SWAT-ed for if your identity was revealed?

          • Shadow says:

            I’d certainly be very afraid to go online or even out of my house if I knew I could get SWAT-ed for something as mild as yelling “I’m gonna kill you” to some random person across the globe in an online game. Who knows what else would be enough to have an international, semi-militarized police force burst into my home.

          • xfstef says:

            @Big Murray: oh but the morons who swat people don’t think like you and I, they don’t rationalize the situation, they are completely mental

            there is no way of fully defending yourself from such people, anonymity does help a bit though by deterring those who don’t have the skill sets needed to find out where you live, to actually follow up on their crazy plans

            also swatters and other such crazies would not be deterred by the “internet police” since they usually know how to hide their tracks

            the internet police would just end up hurting the rest of us because we raged that one time and the person on the receiving end was too emotionally unstable to just say “that guy is being a dick, I’m not listening to him any longer”

          • Big Murray says:

            This is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen. Nobody ever said anything about people calling in SWAT teams for abusing someone on the internet? And yet we have a little sub-thread here with about three people decrying the idea of SWAT teams being called on people.

            What is wrong with you people? Why exactly are you making up things which have never been said?

          • pizzaberger says:

            By the way be carefull of police making the internet worse to force people to want more control over the internet.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          What on earth is it about the post you are replying to that illustrates your point in your mind? You honestly sound so thin skinned that you should avoid any kind of online interaction at all. Instead of demanding that they entire universe conform to your standards, I think you should focus on controlling your own exposure to speech you find confronting.

        • xfstef says:

          “Thank you for illustrating my point in perfect clarity as to why we need these legal controls and repercussions.”

          Me disagreeing with you should be a police case ? Me informing you that your opinion on the matter almost made me throw up should be fined ? Should my friends and family have to bare public shaming because I presumed you might have a horrible case of OCD ?

          Intellectual conflict is the source of innovation. If people never argued with each other we’d still be living in caves because nobody would have had the courage to yell out: OY ! this cave is shit ! I’m moving out !!!

          You might be hiding behind your avatar, but I am not (just google me) and as I stated below, my opinion and me arguing with you would be null if I did.

      • melnificent says:

        But people put a lot of trust in “being anonymous online” but it’s generally not true. People tend to have a username they use across sites that tracks back to their real name Stefan. Anonymity is an illusion, even in Austria ;)

        It’s just the law catching up that needs to happen. Then the police to understand that law, there are still far too many instances of them telling victims of harassment to change their phone number instead of using the telecommunications act to peruse the perpetrators.

        • xfstef says:

          You think I wasn’t aware that people can find out who I am ? I am fully aware and I accept writing what I write here in these comments as my own honest thoughts. I am not here to troll. This is an important issue.

          If I wanted to rage at the OP without anyone knowing who I was I would have cracked open some new account on an anonymous russian email address and written it all by using encryption and via Asia. That would have not helped me make my point. I don’t care if he finds out who I am and where I live.

          I am making a stand in favor of internet anonymity and I’m putting a name and a face (if you google a bit) behind that stand, else it would be considered void.

      • jalf says:

        The internet IS NOT real life. That’s the whole point. That is why we created it.
        Citation needed.

        I’m pretty sure *you* weren’t involved in the creation of the internet, and I’m even more sure that those who *were* involved did not do so in order to create a place that was “not real life”.

        And it is. It has real human beings on it. That makes it real life.

        Your mind is just too fragile to grasp this notion. Either that or you have some of the worst OCD that I’ve ever seen, which makes you the odd one, not me.
        Why are you so hateful?

        Do you really think that is making the internet a better place? Do you really think that this kind of disgusting vitriol serves as a strong argument that “it is for the best if we just let assholes be assholes on the internet with no consequence”?

        The problem we’re facing has nothing to do with “fragility”. It has to do with the fact that people literally have their lives, their “real world” lives, the lives of real actual human beings, ruined on the internet. Because the internet is home to hateful mobs who, under the guise of “it’s not real life, none of this matters” carry out horrific behavior. Stalking, doxxing, death threats, bullying, spreading lies, all kinds of harassment. Coming not from individual angry idiots, but from large groups hiding in anonymity.

        If you get butthurt that some people are concerned about this problem and want to solve it, if you get upset that your “bullies paradise” internet may need to change, then the frailty is on your part. No one elses.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      “The problem stems from the lack of consequence in these games for what would be arrestable real world conduct.”

      Anonymity isn’t the reason, it’s just the catalyst. The reason, as was clear from the article IMO, was a frustration with multi-player games that rely on randomly assigned teams for co-operative win scenarios (apart from the odd person doing it for the lulz, obviously).

      I play CS:GO exclusively in team death-match and encounter a minimum of chat crap. I’ll see the occasional argument between two people (usually resulting from one person accusing the other of cheating or sucking) , but that’s about it.

      As soon as the game relies on a team effort, that’s when the nastiness is more common, and it’s no wonder it’s common in LoL/Dota 2, because team effort is the only way to play.

      I’d say a solution is for these kind of games to focus more heavily on guild creation incentives (like World of Warcraft), and disable chat options altogether in public free-for-all matches.

      • xfstef says:

        I agree. I end up playing every other match type with voice_enable 0, except for mm obviously, since nobody takes those types of matches seriously and 80% of people who play them just troll.

    • schlusenbach says:

      If you flipped that switch, that takes away peoples internet anonymity, you would endanger the health and lifes of millions of people. Openly critizising the government can send you to jail in a lot of countries, if not tortured and killed. Suddenly being forced to a “coming out” can be a big (sometimes life-threatening) problem for gay or LGBTI people all over the world. People talk openly in forums about their alcoholism/drug abuse, mental health problems, religion, government, sexual orientation, etc.. Publishing the real names of these people might have them lose their job, destroy their social lives or kill them.

      The anonymity of the internet is a very good thing and before you flip that switch just to have the satisfaction of openly shaming the bullies, you should really think about what you are going to do.

      Besides: knowing the name of some european who insulted you won’t help you as an american. It’s just not practical to sue people all over the world for being dicks. Yes, it’s the internet.

      I agree that there should be measures to deal with extreme cases of harassment and bullying. There should be help for victims of harassment, there should be ways to deal with the offenders, there should be school programs to teach children about the consequences of bullying and how to avoid it. And there should be discussions about our internet culture. A lot of those things already exist and are being worked on.

      But taking away the anonymity of the internet is the worst thing we can do to deal with this problem. Think about it.

      • Hobbes says:

        Except there rarely is a support network for people who get harassed, unless they’ve a good set of friends around them or they’re lucky enough to work in one of the few professions where by nature they have an in built support network, or they can monetise their victimisation.

        More often than not you’ll end up being thrown to the wolves and that’s that. I’ve watched the results far, far too often, and seen the real life effects, and usually the victim comes off much worse than the perpetrators. Because hey, it’s the internet right? It’s just words, no harm no foul right?


        • schlusenbach says:

          It’s not helpful when you ignore most of what I wrote and then try to put words in my mouth.

          The anonymity of the internet is also a protection against harassment. Millions of people can speak freely on the internet because they are protected by their anonymity. If you take that away, you take their only method of free and safe communication. Have you ever thought about how victims would suffer if their real world bullies could identify and follow them everywhere on the internet? Nobody could ever feel safe, nobody could speak their mind.

          I’m sure you have the best intentions, but your methods are that of a fascist. Think about it. You don’t help people that way.

          • Jediben says:

            And the best bit about online abuse is that you can turn it off. Try turning off people setting your car in fire for being the wrong race, or ignoring the boss who undermines you or the partner who constantly nags or whines or verbally abuses you. If you could walk away from those you would. The internet gives you that option but not enough people take it. Stop being ‘you’ online and be someone else for a happy existence online.

          • Hobbes says:

            Really? Tell that to the teenager who’s permanently hooked into facebook and twitter because they have image issues, and then gets a slew of negative responses. Tell that to the kid who when he opens up his email finds a torrent of abuse from anonymous people telling him he’s worthless and should go kill himself.

            These aren’t theoreticals by the way. They’re real cases that turned into coroners reports.

          • wengart says:

            Think about the women in an abusive relationship who goes to an anonymous online forum to talk to people. Oh wait, she has to use her real name. Lolz so safe.

            Generally repeated bullying of the kind you are pointing out comes from antagonists within their own community. It’s the bullies at school who use the internet to circumvent the purview of adults because the adults lack the understanding to deal with it.

            Anonymity and psuedonymity are, in the balance, boons rather than curses. Adding some real ID crap has such an preposterous number of negative knock on effects. Besides that. People are clearly willing to use their real names to harass people online as can be seen with FB. So I don’t see what gain there is here.

          • Big Murray says:

            wengart: I don’t think anyone ever said that everyone would have to DISPLAY their real names everywhere.

        • newprince says:

          So because some people get doxed and harassed, the answer is to dox everyone? How does this use any logic whatsoever?

    • quarpec says:

      You are a fascist

      • Blad the impaler says:

        Most underrated comment in this entire discussion ^^.

      • joa says:

        Yep. You can make it sound reasonable “oh, its just like what happens in the real world” but its a slippery slope. Soon we would publically catalogue everyone’s actions, there would be no privacy.

        • Hobbes says:

          That already happens, but that’s a discussion for another time. Right now it’s really a matter of the law catching up to where we’re at.

          • joa says:

            I know there is surveillance, but that’s not ‘public catalogue’, that’s just for security agency. I know there is bad harassment and stalking online, and for extreme behaviour like this, fine, bring the law.

            But for just people letting off steam and being stupid in an online game (which is the subject of this article), get some perspective.

          • Hobbes says:

            The problem is that right now outside of specific bodies, surveillance isn’t overly effective. But as I said, legislature is catching up to the internet, and the internet is still in the process of growing up. So over time we’ll catch up with where we’re supposed to be. As fun as the whole “say what you like, it’s the internet” mentality is, it’s going to get packed away eventually, because the Internet is fast evolving into something that governments are having to get involved in on a day to day basis.

            For the bodies who actually -do- the surveillance work mind, they’re amazingly good at what they do, but then the concept of us being anonymous to them was broadly a fiction ten years ago, and it’s been a complete fiction as of around 2010, so that’s hardly news anyways. The only question is when those tools are going to become broadly available for day to day use for general law enforcement and the answer is “Sooner than you think”

      • xfstef says:

        either that or, as I’ve already suggested, he’s got a horrible case of OCD and cannot picture the world without rules and regulations for everything and everyone

        good thing the majority of people are mildly sane, else the world would be a horribly synchronized circus act

        • Hobbes says:

          Neither, and my mental state is none of your business, tyvm.

        • Sarfrin says:

          Nice attitude to mental health issues. Along with using “fancy words” as a dig elsewhere it reveals a lot about your personality. Being threatened by someone having a larger vocabulary than you is an indicator of intellectual insecurity.

      • Hobbes says:

        If I was, this would be a simpler discussion to have. :)

        On the contrary, I’m politically left wing, economically right-wing, and I’ve had the joys of a career which means that in my twilight years, such as they are, I have the broad knowledge of what’s on the road ahead, and little of it comforts me. But that’s as much as this Tiger will divulge, I’ve had a pretty horrific week all told thanks to Nathan Grayson painting a target on my back :P

        • communistdrivel says:

          You really type like a massive cunt :)

          Don’t have the social skills to realise that this irritates people and detracts from your point? I guarantee your made up stories of your knowledge and employment are complete garbage. Most elaborate troll I’ve ever witnessed :)

          • Niko says:

            “You really type like a massive cunt :)”

            “Don’t have the social skills to realise that this irritates people and detracts from your point?”

            I think I need to replace my irony meter, it just shattered into pieces.

          • communistdrivel says:

            That was the POINT. Congratulations!

        • quarpec says:

          “I’m politically left wing, economically right-wing”

          Well then! It’s like people saying they’re AGNOSTIC when discussing religion, which really means they’re boring people without opinions or interesting views and can safely be ignored

          • Hobbes says:

            Somewhat ironically, I am agnostic *chuckles* But I do have opinions on religion. I choose not to discuss them with strangers because I think I’ve demonstrated quite clearly what happens when you put an “opinion” on a discussion medium right here. Good grief people >.>

          • xfstef says:

            Obvious moderate is obvious:
            Make real life laws for the internet, although it is a completely different beast that we don’t yet completely understand and have no hopes of ever completely controlling !!!
            Ban anonymity !!!
            That guy is against my moderation !!! Quickly I must spout out as many fancy words as I can and try to get him lynched by the crowd, although I’m moderately protesting this very action that I’m taking !

          • Niko says:

            xfstef, chill please, no need to get so emotional. Grow a thicker skin maybe.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      But it fundamentally IS different because it’s the internet. If someone issues a “death threat” in a game of counter strike, you know with 100% certainty that they are not serious and that there is no real threat. Compare with, say, a phone call or letter with the same message. You can’t completely ignore context and then insist that’s it’s part of “real life”.

      If we’re going to try to compare this to real life, then CS:GO is the equivalent of attending a private club well known for the extremely abusive language often used by its members. If you find such language troubling, why walk in the door?

      • Niko says:

        “If we’re going to try to compare this to real life, then CS:GO is the equivalent of attending a private club well known for the extremely abusive language often used by its members. If you find such language troubling, why walk in the door?”

        Is there such clubs in the real life you live in?

        • Jediben says:

          Football clubs are everywhere.

        • Kala says:

          It’s the bad naughty swear club, and only the coolest kids get invited.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          Ok, to give you a more comprehensible example, it’s like going into a strip club and then complaining that you find boobies offensive.

          The solution is to not go into the club, not to demand that the strippers and other patrons face criminal consequences.

          • horus_lupercal says:

            What a stupid comparison.

            The raison d’etre of strip clubs is to display boobies whereas counterstrike is meant to be an online shooter, not a way for the maladjusted to scream abuse at people.

          • Niko says:

            Yes, exactly – doesn’t matter what the game is about, rude and aggressive behaviour isn’t a fundamental part of it.

          • Raoul Duke says:

            The point is, whatever the game is ‘about’, the people that run the game allow that behaviour to occur, and you know it will occur. So if you still choose to play it, you choose to place yourself in an environment where you know that the abuse will happen and will be tolerated. Yet people want to act like victims when they do this, instead of being grown ups about it and simply playing something else.

            I’m playing a lot of Dirty Bomb at the moment, and for the most part it is abuse-free.

    • newprince says:

      Um, no to all of that.

      You can be a jerk in public. It’s not an arrestable offense. You can generally be verbally abusive as well, with some caveats. Where it crosses the line is, usually, a physical altercation, although you can’t follow people menacingly, keep engaging with them when they’ve clearly asked you to go away, fighting words, incite violence, etc.

      The nature of the Internet ensures no physical harm, which is a major reason why you don’t see many prosecutions for being a jerk on the Internet. Depending on the country, you can’t go too far in aggressive messaging (the Twitter case in Canada is a good example). But in most cases, even the most blatant “threat” has a bit of teeth taken out of it because the person is not there physically.

      The problem in video games is it’s even one more level abstracted than Twitter. It’s not just the Internet, it’s also within a video game. So as the article points out, the nature of the game lends itself to cause anxiety in some people, who then when they mess up or others they depend on mess up, they lash out at them (and it’s easier to lash out at strangers, isn’t it? And for a misogynist, it’s easier to lash out at women, right?).

      Making this kind of interaction (admittedly a crappy situation) a possible prosecution is silly for many reasons. Courts just aren’t set up to handle this thing, and bringing in screenshots or Fraps videos or w/e to prove your case is just not going to fly for 90% of judges.

      I honestly think that games should not have in-game voice chat. That is, you can use a third party voice chat program, but it’s not a thing offered in game. People will say this makes pick up games hard, but really… pick up games are the place where all this abuse happens for the most part. And pick up games are terrible no matter what you do.

      • Hobbes says:

        Mental harm is fast becoming something that legislature is catching up on, hence a lot of the cyberstalking and cyberbullying laws that are slowly being germinated in a lot of our countries (In the UK we’ve started seeing the first arrests as a result of them already). Granted, I think the snoopers charter is going a bit too far considering GCHQ could already peel away most of the encryption we already use like a can opener on a tin of rotten fruit but that’s a discussion for another time.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          If you are so mentally fragile that strangers saying nasty things in a video game causes you mental harm, you have a duty to protect yourself by avoiding such situations wherever they present themselves. You are like a hemophiliac who demands the right to pay rugby by banning tackling.

        • Hobbes says:

          You’re attempting to ascribe to me something I said generally. Don’t :)

          • Raoul Duke says:

            Smiley face yourself, your sanctimonious posting in this thread doesn’t change the fact that you’re treating the internet like some sort of sheltered workshop where people have no responsibility to think for themselves or to control the content they consume. The simple solution if you find content anywhere on the internet offensive is to choose not to consume it. So referring to “mental harm” doesn’t really take your position anywhere. If people KNOW that there will be trash talk in CS:GO (or wherever), then if they go there and then suffer “mental harm” from the trash talk they experience, who is to blame?

          • xfstef says:

            well you see … lots of “civilized” and “modern” humans prefer to both have their cake and eat it, as the expression goes, essentially transforming us into a society of dull witted cretins who are both not capable and non deserving of thinking for ourselves

          • shadybearfaced says:

            @Raoul Duke

            Ah… Classic victim blaming. If a woman in a skimpy dress drinks a drink with a roofie in it and then gets raped, it must be her fault because she should have *expected* someone to put a roofie in her drink and try to rape her. Right?

            Extreme analogy, I know. But you know, there’s more to it than being “mentally fragile.” There’s such a thing as “depression” which can cause people to be severely affected by nasty behavior directed towards them, clearly it’s their own dumb fault for being so depressed and not simply feeling good about themselves in the first place, amirite?

    • lutjasuki says:

      Your quite wrong that real-line insults, threats and abuse will get you jailed in britain – at least in the context most similar to an online PvP game. Just be near the town centre pubs at closing time. This is an indescribably more threatening and toxic environment than anything you could encounter on-line – but no-one is going to be arrested unless the threats stop being threats and become actual violence.

      It would be an unconscionably monstrous police state that ever would try to vigorously enforce laws against such behaviour.

      The relevance of the communications act it a whole different conversation (where threats made online no longer require credibility to be actionable)

    • communistdrivel says:

      Well that is definitely the LAST time I ever look into a videogame website’s comment section. This is some of the most insane nonsense I’ve ever seen, and the fact that there are multiple people agreeing with you is even crazier.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        Rarely come here and rarely read comments, but this is just crazy talk, can’t believe what I’m seeing.

        • communistdrivel says:

          Good to know there’s some rationality in here. Keep on keepin’ on brother.

    • pizzaberger says:

      Be carefull of police making the internet worse just so that people want more control over the internet.

  3. Bernardo says:

    I have no experience whatsoever in any kind of Multiplayer game, but might be able to contribute. One thing that I noticed was this quote from Mudd:
    “I think one of the big things that frustrates me is the team-dependant nature of the game. No matter how well I play on a personal level, if another player on the team isn’t playing up to standard or making stupid decisions, it can get me killed and hinder the entire team.”
    I used to play Waterpolo, and this was a common problem. We were a bad team, but some players were really good. So they felt the team held them back and started to behave in ways that made them shine but didn’t give us a win or benefit the team. But, because we always played together, and because the majority was there to have fun, not to be supercompetitive, this attitude was reigned in. So I wonder if the absence of this social long-term factor fuels such an attitude.
    Also, our coach was a flamer. During a match, he would stand beside the pool and shout at us, the other team, the referee. Once, the referee banned him from poolside, so he went up a flight of stairs and shouted from there. He was a big, red-haired, Viking-looking guy and could be really physically intimidating. But, after the game, after shouting at us for an hour, he would apologise profusely and extensively. “You know I just do that in the heat of the game, right, guys?” He was the sweetest guy and would never single out someone. All of this, however, was only possible because we met outside of the actual matches and had a shared socal circle.
    I guess what I’m getting at is: compare this feedback to professional gaming teams and see how they deal with flaming, amongst themselves and with others.

    • Zankman says:

      As weird as I find it that someone doesn’t have any experience in MP games, I have to say that your story is very apt and useful as a comparison.

      Yes, the lack of having social relationships over long periods of time with those random players you play online with surely is a factor that contributes to people being… Malevolent.

      • shadybearfaced says:

        Sadly, there’s a counterpoint to this. Some people are just assholes when they play competitive games. I have a friend who’s notorious among my group of IRL friends for turning into the biggest, whiniest twat in a game of competitive CS. Seriously, I’ve seen him start throwing a game and rushing with a knife backwards on the second fucking round of a game because someone was AFK when the game started.

        The point being, some people are just insufferable dickheads that you should basically just avoid playing with, even if they’re great people IRL, totally nice and sweet, etc. (Then again, the guy in this example can be a pretty big dick IRL)

  4. subedii says:

    The study was connected to the concept of deindividuation, a theory that went some way to explain the violent and impulsive behaviour of individuals in large crowds and mobs. The first to put forward the idea that anonymity was a key factor in deindividuation was Leon Festinger (1952). Obviously, violent crowds and lynch mobs are a far more serious case study, but the concept of deindividuation has, in recent years, been assessed in volatile players online. The anonymity that usernames grant us combined with the reduced sense of responsibility – perhaps relating to the notion that we’re retaliating or justified in our actions because of the way another player behaved – could explain in part why competitive gamers frequently turn into asshats.

    That’s largely been my takeaway over the years.

    I will say though, it also varies by community, sometimes quite significantly. It was cool to see you call out Natural Selection 2, because despite also being an extremely team oriented game, I’ve typically found that the community’s very welcoming.

    I remember one match where a new player had joined in and was anxious about taking the commander seat. Someone piped up on voicechat saying something like “No it’s cool, guy’s got to learn somehow”. Following that we all talked him through what he’d be seeing on the HUD, recommending stuff to do, and generally working together to get things flowing (I suspect the opposing commander was also new, since we won this match). By the end, he had a solid grasp of how to work the command seat, and despite the fact that we played at a relatively low level, everyone had a good time. Which was pretty awesome.

    Personal experience is that smaller (but long running) communities tend to be nicer and more welcoming of outsiders, and less likely to rage. It’s the large popular games (and sometimes the occasional “flash in a pan” trendy game of the month) that attract everyone, and amongst those will be a fair proportion of ragers with poor impulse control.

    Even then though there are exceptions. Really, I’m still not entirely sure what it is that causes some communities to become nice, and some toxic. I suspect the nature of the game itself (how easily it lends itself to frustration and long periods where you feel you’re at the behest of other people) is a factor, but it’s not the only one.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      “Personal experience is that smaller (but long running) communities tend to be nicer and more welcoming of outsiders, and less likely to rage.”

      With the notable exception of Haven & Hearth. Although that was an odd case where the cutthroat nature of the game actually complemented the complete lack of moderation, and created a unique atmosphere of what I would call “gentle fear and hostility”. I actually enjoyed it, even though I don’t generally like the idea of an unmoderated online community. Most people roleplayed to some extent (with the possible exception of the Russians, who were a dangerous force of nature to be avoided at all costs), so even though people were regularly total dicks to each other, it was considered acceptable, because it was simply the nature of the world we all signed up for. It’s not the way I want to live my life, but I don’t mind having a game to escape to where trusted friends are the rarest resource. It adds spice to the multiplayer experience.

    • MrUnimport says:

      I think NS2 is like that especially because it’s a niche game and knows it: the reaper’s knock is never far away for such communities, and so they go to great lengths to educate and welcome new players at all times.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    I tend to avoid the games with more aggressively toxic communities, but I’ve noticed that those tend to be the games with smaller team sizes — the MOBAs and the smaller, tactical games, rather than (say) a big 16v16 game of Team Fortress 2. Maybe it’s about having more people to spread the blame around between, or maybe it’s just because they tend to average out their skill levels better, who knows.

    Also, regarding “throwing” the match — I don’t tend to do this due to flaming (I don’t get much of it), but I do tend to do it if the teams are obviously stacked and nothing’s being done about it. Which is to say, I have loadouts that I use to play well, and loadouts that I use just for fun but that will probably not win a match. If it’s clear we’re not going to win and nobody cares about making things fair, I’ll happily spend the round being a complete goof and wait for the teams to reset next map or be auto-scrambled.

    Finally, I would say that I suspect a lot of toxicity is just a learned behaviour from players who got yelled at themselves when they were new. Like hazing, they feel that, since they had to go through it, it’s not fair if the newcomers don’t go through it, or that they don’t get the fun of inflicting it — even if they may not phrase it as such unless hard-pressed. And, also like hazing, the veterans tend to strongly resist attempts to eliminate it, presumably on the same logic.

  6. boba says:

    No, the “this is the internet” does indeed apply. I have a freedom to log on my favorite game and treat people horribly. I also have the freedom to block a person who treats me horribly with two simple clicks of a mouse (in csgo, and it’s like that in most games). That’s how it works. Taking abuse, toxic behavior, insults and general crap from other people in online games is ALWAYS a personal choice. YOU are the one who feels inclined to respond to them and argue with them, hence YOU are the one who has a problem here. Not them, they are dealing with their problems by venting at you, and you are allowing it.

    • colw00t says:

      Rubbish. It is in no way the responsibility of the abused that someone chooses to abuse them.

      • joa says:

        True, but it also is good to learn not to let some assholes get under your skin, just let it be like the water on the duck’s back. When people are so angry that they are talking shit on online video game, this is to be laughed at, not ‘abuse’.

        • diamondmx says:

          So instead of the problem being the fault of the person who’s a complete asshole, the problem is the weak individual who finds repeated abuse to be somewhat upsetting?

          That is the textbook definition of victim blaming. In that you are ‘blaming’ the ‘victim’, quite literally, for being abused.

          • diamondmx says:

            ‘weak’ above should be in sarcasm tags.

          • joa says:

            This is ridiculous extreme reading of my comment. I say simply it’s good to get a thick skin, it will benefit you. You can’t control the actions of others, and there will always be assholes, we all know this, so try not to let it effect you extremely.

          • Jenks says:

            Why are the suffering from “repeated abuse” from the asshole in question? Repeated? Ignore them, or it’s your fault.

          • Synesthesia says:

            jenks, I think most GG harassment victims missed that memo. You should give them a call.
            For fucks sake.

          • Distec says:

            The reality is that people can take steps to minimize or sometimes entirely erase the abuse they receive. Since abuse is an inevitability whenever you spend any amount of time online interacting with others, it’s practical to do so and I highly advise it. It is also probably good to “get thicker skin” and be mentally prepared for it; not because it’s right or just, but because it is arguably healthier than the alternative.

            You can pine for some future where the scales of justice magically and perfectly mete out punishment against the thousands of faceless assholes you will never encounter again beyond that day, or you can deal with it like every other person the planet does

            But it’s good to see that one can point out something so simple and obvious and still have multiple posters accuse them of victim blaming. Bravo. Let’s just run that term into the fucking ground, why don’t we.

          • jrodman says:

            Sure, except for the part where they specifically blamed the victim for being the cause of abuse?

          • Distec says:

            I was specifically replying to the comment thread leading from joa’s, where I don’t see that sentiment expressed. I was particularly rile by what I saw as others putting words into his mouth in regards to victim blaming.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        So someone who knows for sure that players of a given game are frequently hostile and abusive has no personal responsibility to avoid that game if they find hostility and abuse upsetting? Can they also complain when they go to action movies that the violence is upsetting, and when they go to porn websites that the sex is upsetting?

    • subedii says:

      That’s how it works. Taking abuse, toxic behavior, insults and general crap from other people in online games is ALWAYS a personal choice. YOU are the one who feels inclined to respond to them and argue with them, hence YOU are the one who has a problem here.

      Soooo… you’re the one initiating the toxic behaviour, but they’re the one at fault?

      OK, actually let’s sidestep that for a second and potentially open up an actual discussion here.

      So if you’re playing a game with a decent report system, and you get banned, or moved to Low Priority or (whatever the equivalent is that all the ‘toxic’ players get sent to when they behave in that fashion), are those players reporting you taking away “your freedom” as such? Are the game devs? Are the game devs doing something wrong by moderating to control such behaviour? After all, it’s the other person’s fault.

    • gritz says:

      Just replying to say that I’m blocking you. And to illustrate how wrong you are despite my exercising my “personal choice” to block you, your comment was not pre-blocked. I had to suffer your bullshit wrongness before my “choice” became valid.

      • thefinn says:

        Just as we suffer yours. Amazing how that works, but of course, your shit doesn’t stink right ?

    • Big Murray says:

      Such an attitude places all the consequences of bad behaviour online at the foot of the abused, with no incentive for the abuser to not engage in such behaviour.

      In real life if someone is being a dickhead to people in a bar, the cops don’t show up and say “well he’s clearly being a dickhead and abusing everyone, but it’s your personal choice to be here in this bar, so we’re going to do sod all”.

      • Stupoider says:

        If everyone in real life had a mute button handy, they wouldn’t hesitate to use it.

      • xfstef says:

        when you start comparing the internet to real life then you are completely in the wrong

        you don’t “live” online, it’s not physical, it’s not real … you can’t be directly harmed and if you consider yourself harmed by something or someone from the internet then the problem is with you

        stop trying to make the internet into real life, it’s not, it will never be

        • Slazia says:

          What’s the difference? Why are interactions on the internet different from interactions in real life? The fact that you might be physically harmed? Is that it?

          The people on the internet are just as real as the people you see every day.

          • xfstef says:

            “Is that it ?” …. of course it is. Would you rather be offended or dead and offended ?

          • Distec says:

            The people are real, but the entire forum and method for interacting with others is… uhh… completely different and in very significant ways.

            That’s why comparisons to “irl” are stupid. It’s why a a person getting in my face and calling me a pussy has more weight than ten people in a Counter-Strike match.

        • Hobbes says:

          Right, tell that to the people who get driven to suicide due to harassment online. There’s plenty of newsworthy incidents of cyberbullying being recorded in the press as of late.

          I think you need to perform a reality check, because your way of thinking is clearly behind the times.

          • xfstef says:

            Ah yes ! The “people driven to suicide” argument. I consider it void in this discussion.

            People who kill themselves just do it. Sure some specific things might trigger it sooner rather than later but at some point someone who thinks about suicide will eventually do it, no matter the trigger. Those individuals are mentally ill. I wouldn’t try to rid the internet of negativity just to protect them, I’d ask people to be more involved and caring with each other so that the persons who are thinking of suicide are identified faster and given help.

        • Big Murray says:

          What do you think this is, then? Who do you think we are … electronic voices created by The Matrix to make your internet time more interesting?

          Every single person here is a real person at a computer. Unless you can justify why us all communicating digitally means that this “isn’t real”, then this IS real life.

          • newprince says:

            Are you serious?

            The Internet:
            You can close your laptop and go to the market, and never open your laptop again. You essentially don’t exist on the Internet.

            Real life:
            You can’t do anything to not exist except suicide.

            Can people really not see the difference?!

          • Big Murray says:

            So if I tell someone to go kill themselves, I can just close my laptop and me telling another human to kill themselves never happened? It doesn’t exist? And if that’s flipped, I close my laptop and other human beings haven’t told me to kill themselves? It all ceases to exist as soon as you close the laptop?

            That concept requires an almost frightening level of dehumanisation, to believe that other people on the internet don’t really exist.

          • wengart says:

            I tend to agree that the, “but irl” is kinda silly. Sure we are all real people, but I have no idea who you are. I’ll close my laptop and that is the end of it. This is a conversation that, “but irl” I wouldn’t ever have.

            Anyone mode of communication allows us to interact with each other differently. Some person physically getting in my face and calling me a fuck is a lot worse than an entire CS:GO team telling me to go kill myself (not that, that has ever happened). All things are not equivalent.

            I am not going to take anything offensive you say to me outside of this conversation. You could literally type “wengart go kill yourself, you are worthless” and it would literally do nothing to me.

            You also keep bringing up the suicide bugaboo. However, all of the “internet bullying -> leads to suicide” events I have seen were instigated by people that the bullying victim knew. They were fellow students or neighbors who used the internet as a vector for attack, probably because adults are less likely to understand it. They weren’t random internet people.

          • jrodman says:

            Modes of communication ARE legitimately different.

            The phone is different from meatspace communication. One-on-one in private is different from a crowded room. Letters are different from television, and various forms of online interaction are different from the printed word.

            HOWEVER, all of these are legitimately real life, and all of them require some baseline of civil behavior. Those who deny their responsibility just because they are using TCP/IP are basically crypto-psychopaths.

          • wengart says:

            I agree there is a baseline. Question is where is it.

            For me personally, it would be doxxing. Before then its all fair game and I don’t really care.

          • jrodman says:

            Uh, if you believe that it is permissible for you to engage in any other activity towards other humans online besides mass-dissemination of contact information, then you are either completely delusional or a bon-afide sociopath.

          • xfstef says:

            It isn’t real because the person attacking you is most likely not real. It’s an avatar. A fake. There is no substance behind an entity which I do not know.

            A normal person should realize that some internet guy telling them to kill themselves is irrelevant. He doesn’t truly know you, you don’t know him. There is no contract or verbal binding between the two of you. Trying to fight such people, or take them seriously is like shadowboxing. Just don’t do it, don’t give them the pleasure and you’ll stay sane while the attacker will either get bored or get angry himself that his methods of hurting you failed.

            Oh are we talking about someone who deliberately makes hundreds of fake accounts just to keep at it ? Well that is a psycho and then you should obviously be able to report it to the authorities, although if the guy has the necessary knowledge to hide his trail then you will never truly find out who he is and no law will make it possible to find those sort of people. Psychopaths do the same thing in real life all the time, it’s not the fault of the internet that psychopaths exist.

          • jrodman says:

            Your entire argument rests upon the denial of reality. I’m not sure why it’s so important to you that you must pretend that other people on the internet are not real people, but it appears to be either disingenuous or pathological.

            Best luck to you.

      • amblingalong says:

        In real life if someone is being a dickhead to people in a bar, the cops don’t show up and say “well he’s clearly being a dickhead and abusing everyone, but it’s your personal choice to be here in this bar, so we’re going to do sod all”.””

        Sorry, but is this a joke? In real life, being a dickhead to people in a bar is not grounds for the cops to do *anything.8 And if you call the cops because someone calls you rude names, at the very least they’re going to be pissed that you wasted their time.

        I’m all for working to end threats/harassment/bigotry online, but this comparison is totally inane.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Yeah, it’s a pretty terrible comparison.

          Because you’re acting like a dickhead, the cops don’t show up, but the guy who runs the bar will kick you out and not let you back in later, the people you were a dickhead toward are going to ostracize you…the point is there are consequences, but getting the metaphor completely wrong really ruins the point.

          • wengart says:

            The games that are “bars” generally don’t have a offensive player problem. All of the games I;ve played that have a regular location to gather (a server) and a regular group of player (community that can ostracize you).

            A game of LoL or CS:GO is more like some guy yelling out their car window at you. Which happens pretty often. Small group of people that will likely never meet again with no common gathering location and no common community. Odds are you will never play with a player more than once.

          • Kitsunin says:

            I’m not usually locked in a room with the people I drive past for half an hour…but if that’s the case, you still might ram them or key their car later, if what they said is offensive enough.

        • Premium User Badge

          Phasma Felis says:

          Uh huh. Try walking into any business, yelling insults at the people there, and refuse to leave when asked. Go on, see what happens. I’ll wait.

          • amblingalong says:

            Yes, good point, if you totally change the scenario my response doesn’t apply any more!

            Reading your posts is starting to make me empathize more and more with the flamers.

        • Big Murray says:

          Tell you what, we’ll do an experiment … you go to a bar, get a megaphone, and start yelling abuse at everyone. Focus especially on calling all the women derogatory names … we want this to be authentic.

          See whether your belief that the cops won’t get involved bears out.

          • xfstef says:

            Since the internet and games almost always have an ignore function this argument that you are making is void. If you start doing that in a bar and refuse to shut up or leave then there obviously needs to be a way to get rid of you.

          • Niko says:

            That’s an impressive feat, repeating the tired old “don’t feed the trolls” adage in so many comments.

    • Quinnbeast says:


      TAKING ABUSE is a ‘personal choice’.

      DISHING OUT ABUSE is ‘dealing with problems’.


    • Synesthesia says:

      Nope, wrong. Also a dick.

    • xfstef says:

      It’s interesting how someone calling you names in an online game is an abuser and everyone hates on them but if that same thing would happen in real life and that person would “abuse” a person in power and then get thrown into jail then everyone would be up in arms and protesting in favor of freedom of speech.

      quite interesting …
      you shouldn’t make fun of someone who is defenseless but you should of someone powerful, thus provoking him/her

      soooo we as a society accept and embrace abuse and violence against those who are more powerful than us and hate it when the abuse and / or violence could be aimed at a normal individual just as ourselves…

      we are all acting in the interest of ourselves and the group that we are a part of

    • Kala says:

      She isn’t taking away your (or anyone’s) power to be a dick. She’s just asking why you’re being a dick in the first place.

      So YOU ARE THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM doesn’t really answer that question.

      • xfstef says:

        there are hundreds of reasons for someone to suddenly be a dick and most of them are based upon our primal instincts and how they sway us to deal with various life situations

        some people do it more than others, some barely ever do it

        some people do it all the time and start getting dangerously close to causing us real physical harm. these are the people we need to worry about because they are obviously crazy and unfit not only for the internet but probably also for real life

        • Niko says:

          Ugh, maybe let’s start blaming it all on instincts, really? There’s more than enough of that stuff on the internet, when people rationalize behaviour by some misguided notions and misconceptions, e.g. the whole “alpha male” concept used by people with little understanding of the actual and relevant research on it.

        • SuicideKing says:




          UR FULT YA!

          • pepperfez says:

            “PRIMAL INCRONGT” is making me giggle uncontrollably.

          • Sarfrin says:

            I’ve come back to this thread a day later and this comment still made me laugh. Well played!

        • xfstef says:

          I’m not blaming it all on instincts. There are various situations and various people. Are you even reading what I’m writing at this point ?

          • Hobbes says:

            Considering the vast majority of what you’ve posted thus far has been made up of personal attacks, vitriol, straw men, non sequiturs and a rambling statement that everything can be reasoned down to human instinct and that basically all humans are still essentially apes in a shirt (which, by the way, most behavioural psychologists, profilers, data analysts and so on that I’ve worked with would say we’ve left behind since the invention of well, fire, just a minor point and all that…) I’d say you’re doing a pretty stunning job of getting most people to ignore you on your own.

            I know after your performance here I will be once the dust settles. :)

            The sad part is the people who are up in arms about their precious “privacy” and “freedom of speech” and yes, I’m going to use air quotes for those, like you, don’t even realise that you’ve *already lost that* several years prior. Just because you have the freedom to type words and put them up on forums as and when you wish doesn’t give you the freedom to type whatever you like or do whatever you like on the net any more. Certain things -already- get the authorities interested, and the boundaries where that applies are gradually, bit by bit, becoming tighter and tighter. You’re just too blinded by your own short sighted desire to preserve what little you can label with a few simple words that you’ve not seen it happen already. *shrug*

            Anyways, we’re done. Keep fighting the good fight, I’m sure you’ll make a difference.

          • xfstef says:

            “Considering the vast majority of what you’ve posted thus far has been made up of personal attacks, vitriol, straw men, non sequiturs and a rambling statement that everything can be reasoned down to human instinct and that basically all humans are still essentially apes in a shirt ”

            Personal attacks ? I attacked your take on the situation and what you proposed as a fix for it since it makes no damn sense.

            Vitriol ? I agree that I am sometimes condescending, but the situation warranted it and I’d hardly consider that as being aggressive.

            Straw men ? Which arguments didn’t you make that I apparently tried to refute ? Give examples maybe ? Or are you just throwing in everything you can into the discussion just so you sound like the one who is more informed.

            Non sequiturs ? Again ? When ? give examples.

            Rambling statement about human nature ? It was hardly rambling first of all and secondly tell your psychologist , sociologist, whateverologist friends to stick their papers up somewhere dark if they truly believe that the last two thousands years or so of recorded history showcased completely civilized and changed homo sapiens from those that presumably lived hundreds of thousands of years ago. Are you kidding me ? There are still cannibalistic tribes out there, right now ! as we speak ! How can anyone truly believe that without the knowledge and the ability to effectively teach it to our offspring, the human beings would naturally nice and civilized.
            I hate it when someone quotes a paper and then completely shuts off their brain to the reality around them just because they either refuse to believe that some “specialist” could have been wrong or are too mentally lazy to look into the matter themselves. Believe and don’t doubt was also a long running favorite with the christian church, Mr. Agnostic.

            At this point I am almost certain that you just a troll and I will end my discussion with you as it will only bring me anger.

  7. colw00t says:

    In my experience it seems to be some sort of combination of innate competitiveness, the reduced perceived “realness” of the interaction, and the lack of consequences.

    The worst flame I ever got was in World of Warcraft, when my raid leader, a person I had had pints with offline, reacted to me needing to cut my attendance down for a couple of weeks with a torrent of abuse culminating in “all you’ll ever be is a washed-up divorcee who couldn’t even kill himself properly.”

    He apologized, via phone, later, but I’ll never forget that moment and in fact our friendship pretty much died right then.

    I think a lot of this is exacerbated by the language construction “IRL” as if the internet is a separate space that doesn’t consist of real people conversing with one another.

    • Jediben says:

      Well it sounds like WOW was your primary (and only) reason to have interacted, otherwise you would not describe him as a raid leader but a friend. As soon as you are less use to the raid process than you were it adversely affected that environment. I can understand him being annoyed, but the only reason he was able to be so personal in his attack is because you have shared too much with strangers. If the worst he could come out with was “man you are a shit tank anyway” you wouldn’t be half as upset.

      • jrodman says:

        From the above it is quite obvious why he is not considered a friend.

        • Jediben says:

          News what I mean us that he made the mistake of treating a relationship based on a shared activity as a friendship and thusly provided more information and emotional attachment to the individual than the actual relationship warranted. Because he did not actually know the person rather than his capacity as raid leader, the raid leader role (whose raid was weakened and from his perspective was being let down) was able to utilise the excess information (remember that kids, only share those nude selfies with those you trust!) To devastating effect.

          • jrodman says:

            I understood the rest just fine, it was just that one weird part I responded to. Sorry if strange.

  8. dsch says:

    Cf. road rage. The fact that you are somewhat shielded in the car and behind the wheel makes you feel freer to express or act out what would normally be suppressed.

    • gritz says:

      Except that road rage often comes from a place where a genuine threat to life and limb can be felt.

      • pepperfez says:

        Not usually, though. It’s usually about being slightly inconvenienced or shown up and thinking the absolute worst of the person who did it. The threats to life and limb typically come about as a result of the road rage.

      • Distec says:

        Road rage can come from having a shitty day at work and being stuck behind somebody on the highway going three miles below the speed limit. I don’t think its cause is typically rational, no.

        (Verified by myself and I think any other person who regularly travels on a US highway)

  9. Jim9137 says:

    Why people flame? Because they are human and are unable to make rational decisions.

    In my experience, most ordinary (“sane”) people overemphasize their sense of control over their emotions. This is absolutely not the case. In stressful situations – which could range from losing a game, yelled at or even just a fiddly mouse – people lose self control. There is nothing rational about this, the way people lose control and the reasons why they do it are wholly individual. The phenomena has been long observed in games such as poker and chess, where people “tilt” in wholly different fashions – another flips the table, the other slowly succumbs to self-accusations. That is the individual response. Most people afterwards have huge problem in discerning why the act certain way, a reason why asking people will yield at best nonsensical and at worst, utterly misleading answers.

    Another fact to consider is that people are amazing at fooling themselves. They have to be, to survive. You have retain some sort of control when the society tends to offer you very little, to stay “sane”. A study was conducted over a game of Monopoly, where the other player was ridiculously handicapped against the other. Still, the player with all the benefits and extra starting money and extra rerolls, attributed his win to his individual skill. This means that it’s always easier to blame others than to look for the fault in yourself. Brains don’t operate on logic, they operate on a mix of emotion. A purely rational mind is typically either sick or just a mirage.

    Unfortunately team based games usually reward rational, calm play. Games per se reward rational, calm play. You will not find a game that you beat by doing the most unsensical, illogical thing but you do it by your sheer power of your emotions – therefore, in teambased games where everyone is supposed to be on the same page, you are very often punished. This leads to a vicious cycle where you are punished for being human, and then your reactions cause other people to gain emotions, and this emotional energy can then feedback straight into you in form of flames. It’s not even wholly external – I’ve seen people lose games even before they’ve started playing. They’re doing the whole flame war inside, before exploding at the slightest contact.

    It’s also very unfortunate that human mind is so misunderstood. Emotional stability is not a fixed state, it’s a sliding state. Some people have a better base line than others, those are the ones who do not flame. Others explode at slightest contact and start behaving in fashions that wholly undermines their skill. And very often these players are very good at the game, because they are emotionally invested to try and be the very best – simultaneously, that emotion also works against them. You could say that these people are irrational and you would be right; but ironically, they are irrational because they are trying to rationalize their situation. They are good players, but they still lose. It is at this point where they fail to see their emotional outburst as an actual problem, so they simply look for “rational” explanations elsewhere. They don’t look for the irrational solutions – such as that they just lose sometimes, or that they are actually playing bad by playing good. F. ex. a good carry is an excellent farmer and itemizer in DOTA, but even better one is one who helps the team. Sometimes a great KDA ratio doesn’t mean you were the best player on the team, but the one who set you up all the kills and died all the time is. But numbers are rational.

    So not only have you all that to worry about, but then you have the question what to do, or rather, what to feel when your team is losing the game? Blame the team. Blame the opponents. Tell everyone to do x and then die. It’s the easy, quickest response you can think of. It externalizes the blame, it removes the emotional turmoil, and it helps you make feel sane again. Again, ironically, it in truth does the opposite, but it sounds logical. Best way to diffuse emotion is to just accept it, focus on something else and move on. How many people are even aware of that? And how many people actually have practise on it?

    Team based games are the worst. So many things could go wrong, so many stressors and emotional variables. You are forced to bond with bunch of people who are all on the edge, and you have nothing but your mind deluding itself to work with. Like, when it comes to actual game performance, after all that other mess, actual game skill comes very low on the things that influences your play.

    And that’s why people flame. Remove logic, add crazy, press join game.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Thanks for the well thought out response, it was an enjoyable read.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    There is another use of flaming / trolling, although maybe not applicable in this exact context where you’re specifically talking about abuse from teammates.
    In games where your opponent can talk to you and vice versa, flaming may put the opposition off their game.
    Anger can lead to a lack of focus and concentration, giving your opponent a distinct advantage. I know, ‘cos in the past I’ve been the target and perpetrator of such tactics myself.

    • pepperfez says:

      Which is an independently sufficient reason to punish it, since ability at verbal abuse has fuckall to do with ability at competitive video games.

      • Premium User Badge

        Mungrul says:

        Did I mention anything about how I feel about it one way or another in my post?
        I raised it simply as another talking point, not as a trigger for outrage. The overarching point is that as it is an effective way of winning, in an unmoderated environment, such tactics will always be used by those looking to win.
        I believe that the only way to ensure it doesn’t happen is to implement strict restrictions in online communications, such as those in the Souls games or as practiced by Nintendo in their online games.
        Myself? These days I try to avoid online competitive environments precisely because of how they make myself and others behave.

        • Distec says:

          Eve Online involves meta gameplay that often involves boring, enraging, or otherwise demoralizing your opposition. It is a considered a sign of victory when your opponent stops logging in, or visibly begins fielding less numbers/pilots. Now granted, these are typically full campaigns of propaganda, shitposting, and in-game actions; not totally akin to calling the opposing team cocksuckers in order to “throw them off”. But you are right that this kind of behavior can be considered as part of a strategic whole in some cases.

          How that behavior should be dealt with is a separate matter. I’m generally loathe of it, but I won’t deny there are certain games and players who appreciate a hands-off approach to that kind of thing. And it’s worth remembering that even Eve has standards and rules for abusive behavior that goes too far.

        • pepperfez says:

          Sorry; to be clear, I didn’t mean to attribute any positions to you.

  11. PseudoKnight says:

    If you ask to be matched with strangers, you’re going to have a hard time. This is why I don’t play games with matchmaking and prefer community dedicated servers. (like with NS2, which I love) Yes, there’s still hostility at times, but half the people know each other enough that it mitigates it. (as long as you find a decent server) When I played some league matches in CS, that’s where I met the most hostility.

    (I played a lot of CS 1.6 and CS:S, but I’m not a fan of the focus in CS:GO on weapon drops, match-making, and fewer tweakables… feels more generic and less of the fun that I knew from previous games)

  12. anonzp says:

    I remember the early days of multiplayer when no one was around to hold your hand and pat you on the back and say dont worry honey itll be better next time. you got the fuck over it and moved on to the next game

    now i get banned in league for telling someone that they suck

    this nation of crybabies is pathetic.

    • JimmyG says:

      Do you realize that you are, in essence, “crying” about a “nation of crybabies?”

      I don’t mean to annoy you, but a little perspective goes a long way.

    • UncleLou says:

      Why would you tell anyone they “suck” in the first place? Embarrassing lack of sportsmanship.

      The whole thing the article described is actually the reason I stopped playing mp games. Not because I feel insulted, but because it’s too unpleasant to realise I share a hobby with so many immature adolescents.

  13. sharkh20 says:

    I actually love the angry competitive nature of these games. There is no better feeling than just owning a person who is talking shit and making them leave the game without having to say a word back to them. I have played some form of CS since 2000 so perhaps I am just so used to the toxic environment of competitive mp games that I don’t see it as a problem. Actually, it probably taught me to not let people get under my skin. In harsh environments you can either break or learn to deal with it. Anyway, games just wouldn’t be as fun without that sense of good and evil. There is a lot of that with real sports as well. People love a good villain to hate on.

  14. Be_reasonable says:

    I never name call, insult, or yell at people. I don’t abuse or flame people. However, I openly admit to throwing games and otherwise making it really difficult for my team to win or play the game if I am sufficiently harassed. There’s only so many racial slurs I can take without getting my own enjoyment off of ruining their experience by throwing the game.

  15. Stargazer86 says:

    I think a lot of it has to do with the types of games you’re playing. FPS, MOBA, RTS, they all have a major competitive element to them. Chalk in the necessity of teamwork and it becomes a ripe keg of troll power ready to blow, especially when it’s smaller team-oriented games where one person playing badly can wreck the chances of winning for everyone. Now, in something like Planetside 2, there’s still plenty of trolling with people blowing up friendly vehicles, purposefully stalking and team-killing, and general asshattery, but in my experience it’s not as directed, vicious, and vitriolic as it is in games like CS:GO. I believe that simply stems from the sheer scope of PS2, with more people to pass the blame around upon the flames and hate spread out across a whole faction rather than being directed at one person.

    I don’t think I’ve ever trolled someone. I’ve gotten mad and frustrated and expressed my frustration in perhaps not-so-polite language, told people they suck and such in no uncertain terms, but I’ve never been the type of person to just hurl out lengthy derogatory insults and tell people to kill themselves. There’s being frustrated at poor play and then there’s just being an out and out jackass.

  16. xfstef says:

    wow … this is … I have so much to say to you … did you grow up in bubble ? did you grow up ?

    I seriously have no idea what there could be here to analyze and discuss. It’s all very … VERY simple:
    Human Nature

    That’s right. It’s in our genes. We are BY FAR the most aggressive specie on this planet. Have you googled the torture methods that humans have developed and used throughout our history ? Have you learned nothing from our recorded history ? Do you grasp the concept of capitalism ? It’s all just a big race, a big contest. Being competitive and aggressive is what got us here in the first place and no matter how many doctorates will be written about it and how many people will protest against it, it will never change. Unless you find a way to forcefully pacify the general population. What a wonderfully dull and culturally morbid world that would be …

    You and many others seem to be very scared and ashamed of the way that people act online but none of you seem to get one little detail: Where else would you have such aggressive individuals act out their frustrations ? If they shouldn’t and couldn’t do it in games, where nobody gets hurt, then where ? Society is evolving although humans are not (genetic evolution takes hundreds of thousands of years) and this is a man made solution to buffering a whole lot of aggression, especially found in older children, teens and young adults. Do you know what teens and young adults used to do one thousand years ago ? They’d roam the continent bent on killing and raping everything that happened to cross their path. Do you honestly believe that a couple of decades of (arguably) pacifism can change hundreds of thousands of years of evolution down the path of violence ?

    I don’t know. Maybe it was your upbringing or your western idealist thinking that made you ask yourself why people are assholes but for me things are as clear as they can be. You brits have a strange way of showing your aggression anyway. You try to hide it and you probably think that you’re succeeding but it’s really obvious when you’re trying to get back at someone or vent out your anger. It’s a more perverse way of doing it in my honest opinion. If you go to an eastern european country and someone has a problem with you, you’ll generally here them say nasty things about your mother for about 5 minutes and then they’ll cool off and move on, and as “nasty” as that may be for you, I prefer it a lot more than a fake smile or some snarky comments which generally don’t do their job and leave you still wishing you could somehow harm the other person.

    So I don’t want to go too much on about the obvious difference in perspective that you have compared to many other people, regarding verbal abuse. Let’s get a bit on subject shall we ?
    Counter Strike has a bad community. Um … no. From my experience CS:GO has a great community when compared to LoL or even DOTA2. I’ve had people send me death threats, troll the whole match, feed the whole match or just generally not listen at all in LoL and DOTA2. That has never happened yet in the 260 hours that I’ve played CS:GO. Sure occasionally you get some russian or turkish teammates that don’t speak one word of english and you can essentially consider the game lost but I don’t see that as a problem with the community. I embrace diversity and I’m sure that games help bring us together. Sure from time to time some kid joins your team and he either never listens or when you give him advice he starts getting angry and abusive, but these are not serious issues. I’ve never had serious issues with a player in CS. No one went out of their way to troll me or be extremely abusive. Even if people are abusive, I just mute them. We might lose the game, but at least I can concentrate on playing my best game. A lot of the times that that happens I actually end up winning because CS:GO is easier to carry if you’re good, at least on the lower ranks.

    TL;DR: I moved from LoL and DOTA2 to CS:GO because of their horrible communities and I’ll never move back. Humans are assholes and no amount of studies will change that. Words are just words. They only hurt if you let them.

    • pepperfez says:

      Do you grasp the concept of capitalism ?
      This is the part where I cracked all the way up and couldn’t finish reading.

      • subedii says:

        No kidding. I’m picturing Ayn Rand yelling obscenities into voicechat right now.

        “This is an ECO ROUND you *&^%!”

      • Synesthesia says:

        ditto. Hilarious.

    • JimmyG says:

      Call me naive, but I tend to cringe whenever someone uses “human nature” — a concept eternally amorphous and ineffable, akin to a scientific word for “soul” — to excuse crappy behavior. But then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s human nature to write comments as condescending, disorganized, and ill-informed as yours, and I ought to just embrace it. I’m just glad I wasn’t around before the internet, when murderous teenagers roamed Europe like some sort of droogish Glanton gang because they didn’t have any anonymous channels to break their social contracts.

      Sorry to spit a bit of venom, but I really don’t like the way you’re talking down to Emily and suggesting that she, I dunno, implicitly seeks to lobotomize the masses to keep culture boring, or something. To actually engage your argument: attributing abusive behavior to a natural thirst for competition, as you do, completely ignores the fact that CS:GO is already competitive. You’re working in teams to set/defuse bombs, guard/rescue hostages, and shoot the enemy. If abusive verbal behavior is a way for humans to let out their natural aggression, wouldn’t that just be the nonessential icing on the competitive cake?

      • Stargazer86 says:

        Good to see I wasn’t the only one who immediately thought of Clockwork Orange when they read the OP’s post.

      • xfstef says:

        You are both naive and the one who is badly informed. Human nature is backed by hundreds of social experiments and biological studies. You comparing the expression to “soul” is clearly offensive to anyone who has worked in any scientific domain.

        Yes I might have been condescending towards Emily. I’m sorry but that was how I knew best to react at 3 am on a hot summer night. All the factors around me influenced me to do so, including my upbringing and my genes just as yours prompted you to come to her aid.

        • SuicideKing says:

          It’s 3AM on a hot summer night here as well. I turned on the AC to make it comfortable. You could have a taken a similarly rational decision to maybe, you know, turn the AC on and get a good night’s rest. That way, you’d be the usual pleasant self that I hope you are, and replied to Emily politely and calmly in the morning. Just a suggestion for next time. ;)

        • Kala says:

          So you can only cope with heat by being condescending (…not an especially evolved response to temperature*) cause ‘human nature’?

          …nothing to do with your own personal choices and flaws? It’s just genes and there’s nothing you can do about it?
          Sounds awfully convenient tbh. (as well as a reductionist and simplistic take on human behaviour…).

          *Note: This does possibly explain the question posed in the article, though. Maybe people are actually just being asses on the internet in a misguided attempt that it will keep them cool when there’s no air conditioning.

          **Further note: It’s ass hot here, and given most of the UK doesn’t deem air conditioning necessary, due to our national weather of year round drizzle, I don’t have any. I do in my car, but it’s broken. Just like my desk fan. So if any of my post sounds condescending; it’s the heat. I’m trying to cool down.

          • Hobbes says:

            Interesting thing to add, this is effectively a forum with a delayed response mechanism, not an instant chat. You have to press the button to commit words to the net. That means you have to actually apply conscious thought to what you type. Now I am quite happy to stand by my opinions by virtue of my background, knowledge, experience, yada yada. You may disagree with me, you may throw insults if you like (for all the good it will do, you’ll simply be proving my point the more vitriolic you get). But it does bear out the concept of the abusive nature of the net at times.

          • xfstef says:

            Stand on what ? As far as I know that’s all just boasting. I didn’t make my assumptions based on “professional data”. I made them on the observable world around us. Have you been out there lately ? Maybe you should put down your books from time to time and actually observe what goes on in the world, yes the real world, not the internet, that doesn’t count !

            Now I’m not saying that all of this information that you’re apparently citing (I haven’t seen one link or author name from you) is completely false. Sure, ok, maybe homo sapiens have slightly evolved a bit towards working more together rather than fighting each other. Did that make a difference when the internet appeared ? I say no.

        • xfstef says:

          The point was not that I cope with the heat by being and asshole. It’s obviously not a method of cooling off. The point was that given a certain situation not everyone will be able to act as responsibly and civilized as possible.
          Also my personal life choices and flaws obviously do influence how I relate to other people both on and offline but genetics have also had a say in it since most of my flaws also run in my family.

          • Kala says:

            Then nothing involving human behaviour can be shrugged off as purely ‘human nature’ as it’s obviously more complicated than that.

            Obviously it’s not an effective method of cooling down. Obviously I was being facetious.

          • xfstef says:

            It’s not ALL related to human nature (or genes or however you want to call it) but it is ENOUGH so as to make social behavior dependent of it.

    • Niko says:


  17. SexualHarassmentPanda says:

    Counterstrike has always been this way. The nature of the game-play makes people curse in frustration, sometimes directed at you. It’s like this in many other games as well, but unless you’re just now getting into online gaming you should be used to this by now. There is a small percentage of people who act like this way, and if you can’t learn to ignore them you end up embarrassing yourself by writing a silly article like this. They aren’t going away anytime soon, and you won’t be converting anyone with this piece. Votekick and mute buttons exist for a reason.

  18. Theboredfish says:

    I’m generally good at FPS games, and pretty solid at most fighting games. I tend to troll people who are already pretty angry at losing or by calling out their inadequacies. I’m not rude when I do it. I don’t resort to name calling.

    There are two stories that come to mind.

    First I was playing CoD back in the day, I think I was MW2, Might have been Blops. They’re all the same game for the most part (they are my guilty pleasure, however). One player and I are fairly evenly ranked in the end of a match. He has a slightly better K/D, Maybe 2 or 3 less deaths, but we had the same number of kills and I had a handful of assists more than he did. As soon as the match ended I congratulated him on a job well done, and mentioned how surprised I was that I beat him.

    “What the fuck are you talking about?”
    “I have more points than you.”
    “Shut the fuck up, My K/D is way better than yours.”
    “No, you misunderstand me! You did great, I was just trying to tell you how surprised I was that I beat you.”
    “Shut the fuck up, you don’t know what you’re talking about”
    then he left the room.

    Another game, which I know was in MW2, several of my friends and I changed our clan tag to ‘TRTL’ and were using the ‘Riot Shield’ and ‘Blast Shield’ and running around as a group pummeling the enemy team to death. Another ‘Clan’ joined our game and worked us over the first round. I switched to game chat to listen in on them in between rounds.

    “Man, I’m going to drop a nuke on their ass! They don’t know what hit them last round”
    “Yeah, You get it, it’s like Turtle, they’re all trying to use Riot Shields”

    I switch back to Party Chat and tell my group to use the weapons that we are all best with and we clean their clocks the second round. I jump into Game Chat after the match.

    “Hey, I thought you were going to drop a nuke, I’m a little bummed, I haven’t seen one yet.”
    “Man, Fuck you.”
    Then they quit.

    Basically if they quit due to something I say or do, I count it as a win. I’m probably not the nicest person.

    • Big Murray says:

      For a lot of people, the other person quitting the conversation for any reason is the only thing that they classify in their heads as a “win”. It’s the mentality which means endless YouTube flame wars, with people who have clearly and horrifically lost an argument continuing to respond way after it’s finished, because as long as they get the last word it means they save face.

      It’s childish, really.

    • Frank says:

      Sounds like you’re in it simply to ruin other folks’ enjoyment, which is not simply childish (as Murray said), but downright sociopathic. I would stay the fuck away from you, IRL or in a game. You sound like exactly the type of person to graduate to worse forms of abuse, like stalking and doxxing someone to get a better high (since eventually getting folks to quit a game won’t prove to be enough).

      Anywho, thanks for telling your story. It brings up the important point that no amount of legislation or social engineering will save the world from sociopaths.

      • Stargazer86 says:

        What exactly was wrong with his story? In the first instance he was simply congratulating someone and got a rude response. Granted, it’s difficult to percieve the nuancs of conversations over the internet, so the other person may have taken it as a sort of dig at them rather than praise. “Oh, I’m just so surpriiiiiiiised that I beat you.”

        As for the second, his group was screwing around in game. He went to check on what the other team was saying about them, heard the smack talk, and decided to actually play for reals which allowed his team to win, then he hopped over to tease them about it. That’s hardly sociopathic behavior. Childish, maybe, but certainly nowhere near the level of sheer derogatory violence that some people tend to spew out, or the dumb crap and exploits people do to ruin the game for everyone.

        • Frank says:

          His second story would fit right in among the recreational activities described in A Clockwork Orange. He’s formed a gang whose sole means of entertainment is making sure others don’t have any fun. It started with using a tactic that only worked because he had a coordinated team (that riot shield thing), and then, when that wasn’t enough to make his opponents ragequit, they just went all out.

          What happens the next time, when his team can’t dominate their opponents even when trying their best within the confines of the game? Or when they’ve done this for the nth time and need a new high? Well, they find a new way to dominate people, that’s what happens. Trolling in games is just a gateway drug for some people.

          Organized groups of thugs who don’t use hateful speech are a worse blight on the world than isolated individuals spewing bile. In many (most?) cases of serious bullying, it’s the treatment of the group more than the particular words individuals use that causes the greatest harm.

          • sharkh20 says:

            The difference being that people can just leave the game if they aren’t having a good time. They aren’t getting tied up and raped.

          • Theboredfish says:

            This is a much different reaction than I was expecting. I don’t consider myself a Sociopath, though I doubt that most true Sociopaths do. This is the first time that anything I’ve done has been compared to ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and I think most people that know me would laugh at that idea.

            I don’t aim to run everyone’s enjoyment. I congratulate people on good shots and plays in Rocket League and issue the customary ‘Good Game, Well Played’ when it’s due. In the first story, I was probably a little unprovoked, but I still feel his reaction was unwarranted and hilarious.

            In the second story, the team was talking shit, unaware that I was listening, and was upset that shit was talked back.

            I may be a little childish at times, but most people are.

            Thanks for reading and taking the time to reply, though! Sorry we can’t be friends.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      Regarding the first story: Honestly, I think some people are so unaccustomed to spontaneous compliments from strangers online that they assume they must be an insult that they just don’t “get”.

      Maybe they even react with double the hostility — both for the presumed insult, and for the attempt to trick them into not seeing it (or out of frustration for not understanding it).

  19. MirzaGhalib says:

    I am so glad that you have written about this and hope that you and others continue to do so. I once played a game against a guy who sang racist songs to my teammates at the conclusion of the match, and it seems every time we play there is at least one openly racist player who abuses my teammates through voice or text chat. I’ve often wondered as you have what compels these players to engage in such toxic behavior. One thing I’ve noticed is that the toxicity has a severe psychological toll on my team when we are the victims of the abuse. Sometimes the effect makes us more determined to crush the offending player in game, but just as often the toxicity affects us so detrimentally that we bungle the next few rounds as we attempt to counter the toxic player. Sometimes the entire match falls apart because of the abuse. Luckily, I only queue with players who laugh at our mistakes rather than tear each other apart for them, so abuse within the team has been a non-issue for me. Anyway, I wonder if some of the toxic players might be engaging in that behavior as a kind of head game to throw their opponents off.

  20. asadlittlepotato says:

    Human being behind computer screens are strange, strange creatures. Mayhaps some view trolling simply as a form of stress relieving game? I’ve encountered situations where flamers seemed downright gleeful about the havoc they were causing, possibly alternating between giggling hysterically and smirking maniacally.

    I generally find the practice of online verbal abuse too absurd to even begin to take offense. It’s like reliving some sort of twisted childhood nightmare link to

  21. Oreolek says:

    I am a Slav and I never use obscene language.

    I love Counter-Strike but the Source and GO community is toxic, especially for a casual gamer. It is hard to find a non-competitive match without cheaters, hackers or just immature people (lots of children, by the way) who speak only in foul words. The competitive matches in CS:GO are a heaven because people are more serious about them but they are closed now for casuals (people with < 3 "experience" RPG levels), which is another problem in itself.

    Frankly, I'm not very frustrated with language in popular games because I can just shout SHUT UP in my mic when the flame gets too hot. In my experience, everyone knows the F-word, so naturally it's a "good" English dialogue starter. Many people don't know any other words to say so they expect you to listen for the intonation because it just might be you're being congratulated (as in "good b—-").

    I think Counter-Strike has a lousy teamwork. It assures you that you don't need to communicate if you want to win, you just need to be the best or the luckiest player. (You also need to buy lots of crate keys) You don't need to be nice to other people, you can just shoot and shout. It degenerates the game into a foul circus, and the hacks degenerate it even worse.

    I can't recommend CS:GO to a noob. The original Counter-Strike has a much better community. It is a den of lions and you will be killed by them in no time but they are nice and professional about it.

    I want to compare this with another game, Guns of Icarus Online. It's English-only with no translations and it has a much smaller community. My point is, you cannot play GIO without communicating, your team has to work together to move the ship and it's much easier with a mic. People can't get the personal thrill, they can't compete with each other for the best player place, they must communicate so they don't abuse each other. In effect, the community is much more nicer. (Counterpoint: GIO has no hacks at the moment that I know of).

    TL;DR: I think CS doesn't force the players to work together or to be nice to each other, so they aren't. I think CS doesn't force the players to know English, so they don't bother. In the original CS you'll meet much more pro players who are good people. If you want a nice online game focused on a strong teamwork, I recommend Guns of Icarus.

  22. Freud says:

    On the walls of Pompeii they have found lots of graffiti.

    “Chie, I hope your hemorrhoids rub together so much that they hurt worse than when they every have before!”, “Epaphra is not good at ball games.” and “Samius to Cornelius: go hang yourself!” are some examples.

    We’re not that far removed from being feces flinging primates. Young males are usually idiots and doesn’t waste an opportunity to show it.

  23. Wings says:

    I have to confess it’s a guilty pleasure of mine to abuse flaming and raging in MOBAs. I do this very rarely but If I just barely beat an opponent in a fight early occasionally I’ll say something innocent but leading in /all chat. For example, “Wow, I’m not sure what you did, but I can’t believe I won that…”, “Are you new to that champ/hero?”. Then I wait for the opponents team moral to degrade and fester. Sometimes I’ll have to goad more. I find flamers are amazing tunnelers and generally have an exceptionally poor grasp of what actually happens, they can be fed dubious information easily.

    Usually though I come to the defense and support of people getting flamed, even my opponents. I wonder from which angle I’m instinctively trying to balance my karma.

    • Wings says:

      But I closed my italics… I’m sure I did… didn’t I? Edit button gods… why have you forsaken me?

  24. ArtyRPS says:

    “Fuck you,” they said with a heavy accent.
    “That’s great, thanks.”
    That is wrong response on abuse because it’s passive-aggresive and it doesn’t prevent flaming. In my experience constructive messages could make flaming less, when you don’t response to abuser directly and use voice chat for tactic negotiation or describing situation. When there is constructive dialog with other teammates there is no room for abuser usually, and somebody should start this dialog. Sometimes I’m trying to make a point for abuser that he is doing harm with flaming, sometimes it helps. If any of written above doesn’t work I just block abuser and (if there is no teamplay with other teammates) concentrate on improving my solo skills that could help in another game. There is no bad games in CS GO because every game teaches you something.
    Sorry for my english, it’s not my native language.

    • Big Murray says:

      That last part about every CS GO game teaching you something is so true.

      I learn a new way that people say the word “nigger” every time I play.

    • jrodman says:

      1 – responding to abuse with mockery, derailment, sarcasm, or defusement (it could have been any of those), is not passive aggressive. Passive aggressive is to aggress by inaction. For example being ineffectual at cooking dinner as a way of taking revenge against a slight. This populist use of “passive aggressive” barely has any definition, but an attempt to undermine without being directly attacking is not what the term means at all.
      2 – If the goal is to actually have a conversation with people about their views, simply talking about only the game isn’t going to acheive that end.
      3 – It’s not clear the context of that conversation. Was it an environment into which the author went specifically looking for information as per 2? I can’t tell. Can you?

  25. Babymech says:

    This article is ridiculous and should be retracted, or at least heavily edited to raise it to RPS ‘standards’. Swedish is not very scatological; ‘poo-mouth’ would not cause anyone offense as much as confusion (the same would go for insults based on sex with relatives or animals). An even-handed, properly researched journalistic effort would have disclosed that Swedish is all about the genitals and hell and damnation.
    QED (video link).

    Also, avoiding särskrivning is a sign of a sound and robust mind exercised in accordance with principles of rationality and precise communication and I would thank you not to malign it.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      I don’t know if särskrivning has an equivalent Danish word but it’s a very real phenomenon and I would happily exile anyone guilty of it to a tiny island with only a black board and a style guide for company.

    • pepperfez says:

      Swedish is all about the genitals and hell and damnation
      Ah, a nation of good Lutherans.

  26. atowncalledbastard says:

    Man, there’s a whole lot of folk coming up with extremely elaborate reasons why being an asshole isn’t being an asshole in this thread.

    • Big Murray says:

      The internet has allowed an entire growing generation to feel like they’re the only ones that matter.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      And there’s a whole lot of disturbing authoritarian stuff where people advocate criminal sanctions for some random trash talk in a video game instead of the time honored sticks and stones system.

      • Niko says:

        How does this “time-honored tradition” work on the Internet, I wonder.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          You’re not familiar with the children’s rhyme? You simply ignore the idiots. It’s what I do. I’ve never felt that a 12 year old screeching at me online is actually going to do any of the things he threatens. Just ignore it and move on. If you can’t, you probably aren’t mature enough to be online.

      • Big Murray says:

        I’m curious about where you think people advocated criminal sanctions for random trash talk?

        • pepperfez says:

          (1)Nothing anyone says on the internet ever goes beyond random trash talk.
          (C1)Therefore even explicit, detailed death threats made on the internet are only random trash talk.
          (2)Some people have advocated criminalizing explicit, detailed death threats made on the internet.
          (C)Therefore, some people have advocated criminalizing random trash talk.

          Logic is fun if you get to invent you premises!

          • P.Funk says:

            The internet and connected devices have become a primary means of meaningful communication in our culture. People have committed suicide from that things said to them via texting and chat. It has long ago stopped being reasonable to merely treat whats said and done on the internet like its some sort of irrelevant sandbox.

            Its not to say I agree with criminalizing things in a blanket way but one can’t walk around day to day life making death threats or calling people making death threats. Why is the internet somehow exempt?

          • SuicideKing says:

            pepperfez was making a sarcastic remark at Raoul Duke and others like him.

          • Raoul Duke says:

            I see that answering posts by completely making up their content is also fun.

          • Hobbes says:

            Well Raoul, you have been inventing Straw Men for me right from the word go, so yeah :) You kinda deserved that.

          • Raoul Duke says:

            Still sticking with the smiley face + sanctimony approach, how’s it going for you?

        • Raoul Duke says:

          Have you actually read the rest of this thread? There are numerous people suggesting that “real life” laws should be enforced against people talking rubbish in online games.

          • Hobbes says:

            No, I’ve been suggesting equality of laws, if you behave in a threatening or menacing manner on the net, you should have the same laws applied as if you were behaving as such in the real world. There’s nothing difficult to grasp about that. The reality is that’s -already beginning to become law-, as much as you might not like it, several countries are finally beginning to wake up on this particular topic, so, feel free to keep raging and making logical fallacies, I’ll just sit here and chuckle quietly :)

          • Raoul Duke says:

            I am starting to suspect you have no grasp on how real life laws work.

            If a friend of mine borrows something of mine without asking, I might say “I’ll kill him/her!” This is on one level a death threat. On another, much more sensible level, it’s nothing of the sort.

            99.9% of the ‘abuse’ that happens in online games is in this category. It might be obnoxious, but no-one (reasonable) actually feels threatened.

            It would be an extraordinary category of abuse in an on-line game that would move out of the “obviously not really threatening” zone into the “sufficiently serious that a non-insane person would legitimately feel concerned for their safety” zone.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        Same as it does in real life, you ignore the person saying the bad words and move on.

  27. Frye2k11 says:

    The trolling phenomenon has gotten a lot of attention from academics lately and I love reading about it.

    Statistics dictate that on average there is (guesstimated by me) 0.8 players in a full cs:go match with some kind of violent personality disorder. Even more if it is the case that those people are over-represented in the gaming community. Which would not surprise me, because face-to-face human interaction is far more scary than online interaction for reasons mentioned above, reinforcing bad behavior because the internet allows them to release their anxiety without consequence, because it obviously gives relief to release bottled-up anger.

    If you can slip into a different persona at will when you are on the internet then that is atypical human behavior. The vast majority of us would not be capable or be sufficiently self-aware not to vent at strangers.

    Oh and : I know how severe anxiety feels and I understand why it COULD make you be a troll.

    • Baines says:

      Slipping into a different persona at will seems to be an ability that many humans use in their daily lives.

      People will often act quite different depending on where they are and who they are around. People can and do strictly police their behavior in certain situations and certain groups, while acting more freely in others.

      I would honestly suspect that at least one person has written a paper claiming it is a requirement for large functional societies.

  28. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Why do we always ignore the single most obvious answer to this question? Its about that greatest of taboo subjects – wanting to feel powerful, when life makes us feel anything but.

    We live in an enormously unbalanced culture. We go to school, and learn to be “good” – good academics, good pupils, then later – good workers, good team players. We all have a boss and we all have superiors, and we know that if we want to keep our jobs, feed our families, not have to have a disciplinary hearing or maybe even go to jail, we have to reign in all the mounting pissed-offness that constantly being “good” requires us to stuff away. Boss is a jerk? Tough, you need the money. Your co-workers are irritating and boorish? Its just banter. Lighten up. Neighbours always playing loud music? How much stomach do you have for asking them to turn it down again?

    To me the online environment is like the pub or nightclubs on a Friday. We all want to believe we are above the kinds of people who start fights, those guys who just want to go out and have a ruck with someone – anyone, “just because”. Our culture positively encourages us to deny and pretend that none of those impulses exist at all. But they do, because we are human. We may be scared enough of consequence or otherwise enlightened enough not to throw punches in public places, but there’s just occasionally that little bit of our personalities we’d rather convince ourselves we don’t have that creeps out when we get drunk. “I don’t know what got into me”. Nothing got into you, its always there. Whatever you want to call it – Jung’s shadow self, the dark side everyone has, but we don’t want to look at, because of what it says about us.

    In an online environment you don’t have to let that guy push you around or knuckle under to what someone tells you to do. You have a gun. There’s no real consequence, socially or physically. In fact, you know what? You can BE the bad guy. You can be the jerk, rather than being on the receiving end of the jerk. And it feels way, way better. Maybe even exhilarating? In short, online abuse is a safety valve, an outlet for all the anger. Not everyone is like this, as for most people guilt and empathy usually intervene. But if you are angry enough and don’t need to see your victim’s face, or are just plain slightly psychopathic, that’s not an issue. You could even blame them, for being “over-sensitive”. After all – you have to put up with it too, right? And so the cycle continues.

    Please note this is not advocacy for behaving this way, and it says nothing of the fact that its just creating new victims even if the abuser feels better. However I do think that society as a whole has this massive capacity for denial of the obvious, especially when that obvious scares us. Shame (and the anger it makes us feel), power and social status are taboo subjects which we don’t want to discuss in public. Its gauche. Maybe others feel it makes us look whiny, weak or jealous. So its so much easier to look at a scientific study, to intellectualise the problem and give it a fancy sounding name like “deindividuation”. Why not ask the next question – why do we all have so much rage built up in the first place, ready and waiting for deindividuation to allow us to release?

    • Big Murray says:

      I think that’s part of human nature. It’s not a surprise that there’s a huge anti-feminism movement on the internet, where all the males who feel anything but powerful get to take out their frustration that society in general disadvantages females.

    • Geebs says:

      I completely agree with the parallel you’re drawing there (especially in the UK, people love their Friday night violence), and I tend to think that random assholes on the Internet can’t “abuse” – the significant online bullying occurs between people who actually know each other.

      I’m not sure that it’s entirely justifiable to complain about the problem being intellectualised though – the aim there is to invent new ways of thinking about a problem, rather than just acknowledging that the problem exists and leaving it at that.

      Counter-counterpoint: sociologists are generally a bunch of mindless jerks who think that coming up with terrible passive-aggressive bullshit like referring to another human being as “toxic” or “problematic” is in some way helping, and think that insinuating bias in another discipline conclusively wins arguments.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Hi Geebs, totally agree, I think the science is extremely important. My gripe was more the way non-scientists can get hold of an intellectual concept and it allows them to not have to look at far more basic truths. I guess my point is there is a bigger common enemy, which is the insidious aspects of our culture, and ourselves, that we choose to ignore because we are powerless to change them. Not that I am an ardent follower of Freud or Jung (though they have some useful ideas) but defence mechanisms take many forms – in online aggression, its displacement. By grabbing hold of scientific studies, its intellectualisation. I may not be able to control this phenomenon that frightens me, but I can give myself an illusion of control by convincing myself I understand it. I don’t think we should look to science to explain something that needs to be understood through honest self reflection, that way it always stays “someone else’s problem”.

        I am losing a little proportion and sense of scope here I will admit, but its one of those topics that presses a button for me.

    • MrUnimport says:

      >You could even blame them, for being “over-sensitive”. After all – you have to put up with it too, right? And so the cycle continues.

      The rest of your otherwise lovely post aside, I just want to clarify here: you’re surely not implying that everybody who doesn’t take deep personal offense to internet verbal abuse participates in it?

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Thanks for the compliment. To clarify, I am referring to an attitude I have come across frequently from those who do like to do it, though my experience of that view comes more from a workplace perspective. You are right that it is not a blanket statement.

  29. bill says:

    I have never played online mutiplayer (except some Quake a long time ago) so I actually have never experienced any of this.

    Therefore, I have some basic questions:
    – Is this more common with voice chat, where people can say things without thinking.. or is it just as common when people have to take time out of playing to type it into a chat channel?
    – Has anyone encountered any females doing the same thing? My mental image is always of angry men/boys
    – Is it more common from specific nationalities?

    I think the points about anonymity/groups are important, but pretty well known.
    the things about non-native speakers were more interesting. I find that a lot of non-native speakers can be a lot ruder and stronger in the other language, partly because they don’t care so much about social nuance and consequences, and sometimes because they’ve picked up words and phrases from the media and are using them without consequences/awareness.

    Finally, it seems to be that abusive language has always been a core part of male team sports, and tends to be tolerated, if not expected / encouraged / celebrated.
    Are there any sports movies where the coach doesn’t abuse his players with insults?

    • SuicideKing says:

      -Happens with chat too, imo, but typing in the middle of a gun fight usually gets one killed so it’s less. Plus it can be ignored, and profanity filters exist for text. Definitely more likely to happen with voice.

      -I’ve rarely ever encountered a known female player online. Once that I did, I remember she retaliated a bit, but was a part of clan and played really well, so most of the retaliation/defense came from her team mates or other server regulars. She her retaliation was in her gameplay, really – pretty much decimated the other side (with her team of course). Never known a female player that initiated anything negative.

      -Never played with strangers over VoIP (I mean, unless you count the first few times I played with the Arma group I play with, but they’ve always been excellent) so I can’t single out nationality.

      Also, note about sports – in football, racist/homophobic slurs or general indiscipline can get you a yellow/red card, or in some cases, a season or tournament ban.

  30. Stevostin says:

    As usual when there is a problem you go nowhere if you don’t define it accurately. If some of the things you consider like “abuse” would never ever be committed by some of the person you consider like “abuser” it’s pretty clear you can’t get one siolid answer to the question “why do you abuse” and need more words.

    For instance there are taunts (provocation, sometimes seen as real player skill, and used even in pro sport to defeat the moral of the opponent). Taunt are here to stay unless forbidden because as good taunt skill help you win, they’re a part of the game (whether someone has an inclination for them, or is more sensible to them is important in context but it’s not even needed to understand why taunts are here to stay).

    Then there is “car frustration”. The same way people instantly become a different person behind a wheel, you can expect the stress of getting thrown in a relatively hostile environnement a stress generator that most, if not all, will handle with a bit more naughty word.

    There are complaint against the team. Sometimes super legit btw, most of the time testosterone dictating that you can’t support being ridiculed and have to blame… something… fast (do girl have that too ? I think they do but not as bad).

    Then there is just the ones who play to do things they can’t in real life. I know a guys who’s gamer identity is so tight to being a dick. You may think you’d hate him except if you’re in the same room than him when he does this it’s lightly you’ll get caught in his genuine, children like laugh. It’s all in good mood, even funnier by playing it awful. It’s not mature, no, but hey. We’re playing videogame to start with. Moreover the guy at the other end may very well be in the same mood and it all becomes a rap battle. Now of course if you lack the humor (say, because you’re a girl) it may look super ugly from the outside. Doesn’t mean it is.

    Then there are the people with problem. The guys who are genuinely racist, sexist are not the worst because those tends to be unesecured teenager who gets better when they grow a bit. And you have a few, a minority but not a tiny minority, who does have behavior problem, psychological condition etc. Those are different and when you know them you may want to cope with them because you want to help. What’s clear is that IRL those behaviours, at least when critical, don’t make it to team sport as much as they do in a video game.

    Once you’ve listed all this kind of specific issue, is there anything left for the general “why do people abuse” question ? I think if there is we have to make sure the behavior in question doesn’t fall in any of the above. That’s where we know there is this specific issue and by knowing what it’s not we can start to make progress at understanding it.

    That being said I for one doubt there really is more to it. First, I don’t see that much abuse. I see a lot of “OMFG noob team”. That’s someone who thinks everyone but him is a noob. There is no mystery to me in this. I do see a lot of “OMFG game sucks/imba.” which is basically more of the same. Sometimes I see “X, bastard, stop raping my ass” which I genuinely enjoy when I am X. I do see a lot of “Y is a cheater” which is 90% more of the same and 10% wtf bastard is indeed a cheater :) I do see the occasional racist (most of them anti russians, but everyone gets it) which I always report. And true, when someone admit to have twice as much X chromosoms as the other guys in the room there seem to always are a few idiots ready to embarrass the rest of the male audience.

  31. Bull0 says:

    Definitely sneaky-beaky like.

  32. ansionnach says:

    I’m playing Ultima Underworld 2. Had been looking forward to playing it since it was released, really, but didn’t have a 486 back then. Played the first game circa 1999 and it blew me away, still does. Got stuck in it but went back and finished it two years ago. Amazing game.

    Started Underworld 2 a year and a half ago but stopped playing it. Haven’t been as enthused about it, even though it is very good. The music can be terribly dull, but some of it is great. Even though UW2 reviewed better back in the day I think it’s very evident that it is a much inferior game to the first one. Both Paul Neurath and Warren Spector have stated that development was terribly rushed, Spector stating that it took a mere nine months (link to

    While there are no real issues in the fully-patched version, level design is far more simplistic than in the first game (some of it being bone lazy). It does have some very interesting ideas, particularly the spacey world, but there are a lot of mazey, annoying bits too. The mage exam comes to mind here. What makes it worse is that there’s no way to skip the exam once you’ve completed it… and you may need to go back there a few times.

    The addition of Lord British’s castle and all its NPCs is a bit of a backward step, particularly since there’s largely nothing to do there… but then sometimes there is, so you’ve got to wander around talking to everyone regularly just to make sure they’ve still got nothing to say. This part of the game should have been better-developed (so you could properly investigate happenings in the castle) or dropped completely. Some NPCs are unaware of events that have taken place (e.g. Zogith being unaware of the deaths Zoria and Dorstag in The Pits of Carnage). There are lots of other little things, none which would be considered a bit deal other than they show that the game wasn’t as much a labour of love as the first one.

    Anyway, I’m really enjoying UW2. It’s still much better than pretty much every other first-person RPG I’ve played (like the Elder Scrolls games), but a bit of a disappointment compared to the first one. You could say it’s the classic sequel done right (bigger, with some graphical and other improvements, but really just more of the same)… except it isn’t as consistently inspired as the original game (with some phoned-in bits). Since the graphical improvements are minimal and the hype machine has long died down around these games, I can’t see any justifiable reason to claim this is superior to the first game. I’d encourage anyone who does claim this to go back and play both of them back to back.

    • ansionnach says:

      Not sure how this comment ended up here – hadn’t even loaded this page!

    • Big Murray says:

      The online abuse you get in Ultima Underworld 2 has been off the rails for years. We need to crackdown on it.

  33. MalarkeyInc says:

    Though I am typically loathe to point to evolutionary psychology due to its tendency to naturalize gender difference, my wife (a professional research psychologist) recently sent me a link to an article studying precisely hostility in first person shooters, as it pertains to gender. I don’t know how kosher it would be to post a link (though I’d happily do so), but the findings are roughly thus:

    It is low performing males, males who are visibly low in the rankings, who are most vicious and aggressive towards a female-voiced player. Higher performing males, on the other hand, are comparatively welcoming. And low performing males are generally ingratiating to higher-performing male-voiced players, even as they are hostile towards the female-voiced players. The evolutionary explanation is that the presence of women threatens to disrupt/reorganized the established homosocial hierarchy, and it is the lower-ranked males that stand to lose most (or, rather, believe they stand to lose most) in this restructuring. Higher-ranked males are less threatened, as their skills remain relevant and their social standing relatively unaffected, making them far more amicable to female players.

    The researchers behind this study propose that this model can be extrapolated to almost any competitive environment dominated by men (the modern tech industry, for example). This hardly explains flaming in general, but it demonstrates both the presence and some of the reasoning behind the hostility women face when trying to ‘break into’ these male-dominated competitive arenas.

    • Big Murray says:

      If links aren’t allowed, if you could at least tell us what to Google that would be great. That study sounds fascinating.

      • Niko says:

        A few outlets recently wrote about this article. It’s called “Insights into Sexism: Male Status and Performance Moderates Female-Directed Hostile and Amicable Behaviour”.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Not so sure how this lines up with experiences in games. I’m pretty sure that some people just have problems with anger and find it harder to deal with their anger if they get frustrated or drink heavily.

      But you have people who are really good at games and their bar level for frustration can be much lower than the average person. Some slight thing happens to them that is out of their control and they can really go off the rails. But maybe these people are also more likely to be on private mumble channels and they are tearing their team mates apart to entertain their friends instead of on a public channel.

      I think that personal character is more of a guide than skill, anonymity or gender.

    • Widthwood says:

      Too many variables to generalize like that.
      In CSS I noticed that bottom 25% are usually the calmer ones, unless it’s a skilled player having a bad day.

      My explanation would be that they simply don’t give enough fucks and just have fun. Not sure how evolutionary psychology fits into this :)

  34. Little_Crow says:

    I suspect there may also be a link between the size of the player base and the amount of abuse. I wouldn’t say that there are more assholes the more popular a game is, but maybe that smaller communities are just more respectful of the game they love – and have a bit more self interest to retain new players.

    You mention NS2 which I play pretty frequently and has a tiny playerbase (300 or so active players at a time) compared to the behemoth of CS, and honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard a personal insult directed at anyone. There are angry questions about a particular tactic being used, or the lack of upgrades, etc – but never what you’d call flaming.

    I exclusively play on a couple of servers (Wooza’s) so my experience of the community as a whole may be limited. But, a female voice is not unheard of, and always goes completely uncommented on. I think the game is on the wane, which is a real shame, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

  35. ironman Tetsuo says:

    We like to judge ourselves by our intentions but others by their actions, this causes a disconnect between the way we view our own behaviour compared to others even when the results are similar. It’s why cutting someone up driving was a sincere mistake but being cut up is evidence the other person is an inconsiderate arsehole out to ruin your day on purpose.

  36. BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

    I always figured a game like CS:GO generally attracts people like this because they’re so focussed around being competitive. They’re competitive games, so attract competitive people, people who want to win, and they show their distaste when they lose by lashing out at whoever’s closest. That first example is one of the reasons why I always mute people on the rare occasions I play online. It often deteriorates into decyphering someone’s message through their clipping, stuttery, echoey microphone, only to find all they’re telling you is you’re a fag who should slit his throat. Though said muting is more because of how ear-gratingly unpleasant they are to listen to, than because I find what they say hurtful.

  37. BethesdaEmployee says:

    Gurl gamer’s first time on the internet

  38. P.Funk says:

    Given the research on deindividualization that comes from the hooding of the head I think its high time we stop letting riot police hide behind their riot gear. Those buggers get up to some astonishing stuff when they’re in full battle dress.

  39. Holysheep says:

    Slavic players on European servers ARE idiots. When you can’t grasp the simple concept of ping and the importance of picking close servers, and then keep speaking your language anyway, it’s an envidence, they are morons.

    Which is kinda sad, as they’ll ruin the image of the smart ones, who’d pick proper servers, or, if they have a proper ping, speak English instead of moonspeak.

    • Widthwood says:

      Ummm… You do realise, that Europe borders with Russia and ping times are usually in the same ballpark? And different regions inside Russia are often larger than whole countries in Europe, meaning I can easily have larger ping to some Russian servers than European.
      Just refreshed servers CS – in sub 50 list I have Polish, Italian, Latvian, Swedish, Hungarian, Czech servers, lots of .EU ones. And I don’t even live near border.

      Laggy Russian players might simply live in farther regions and have high ping times to EVERYTHING, including Russian servers.

    • AyeBraine says:

      Thanks, having my language put in the same category as Japanese is a compliment in itself. And you doing so while coming off as a total xenophobic asshole is a reassuring sign that both Russians and Japanese can safely count themselves complimented even further by not living up to your standards.

  40. SuicideKing says:

    Can’t speak about CS:GO – but my time with Arma’s community shows that yes, generally, some anonymous ones can be usual internet asshats but the clans and groups can be quite nice.

    Folk ARPS is excellent and very well behaved with each other, ShackTac seems the same, and I’ve yet to play with Onion Gamers but they seem to be similar too. We have people from OG and 1Tac who play with us at FA, and everyone’s very friendly and helpful.

    But I guess that’s the point of this all – Arma is a team-based game, isn’t competitive in the same way as CS, the players in a clan/group know each other (because of forums or non-play interaction over TS or Skype) and the age group is generally over 20. Heck, quite a few of FA players are parents at this point, so the level of maturity and self-discipline is much higher. And since none of the existing players are jerks, no newcomer imitates bad behavior.

    I’ve only been playing with FA since March, but I already recognise people’s voices, for example, or know/remember where they’re from, where they stay now, what they do for a living, have a rough idea of age, etc. It’s a pretty tight community, yet no one’s hostile to newcomers.

    That seems to be the case with Arma communities in general, as far as I’ve seen. So I guess it’s more of an issue in games like CS. Used to play America’s Army and Halo:CE at one point, and it wasn’t all that bad (generally because their in-game comms used to be limited to text chat which could be quite easily ignored).

    A possible solution I think is for players to stand up for someone receiving unprovoked/uncalled for flaming, though that takes a lot of guts (and in games like CS, better/experienced players will have to lead the way as they’ll probably be taken more seriously).

    • Hobbes says:

      To be fair, ARMA has around seven different keypresses you need to remember simply for the process of unholstering your gun, bringing it up into the right aiming position, looking down the sight, disengaging the safety, and making sure you don’t accidentally look down the barrel of the gun before you pull the trigger. That tends to shake out a lot of people right away *playful*

      • LMN118 says:

        True, but then DayZ, DayZ Epoch and all the other mods brought in a significant number of people into those games who are like that. The very nature of the DayZ games appealed very much to these people. Which is one of the main complaints of the Arma community I believe. They had a relatively solid, helpful community with a large influx of, to use the American term, asshats.

        Most games are essentially team based games and I find it prevalent on game types these days. Some games handle it quite well, the developers realise they can’t eradicate the problem so they give other players the tools to address it.

        You should expect some banter in competitive gaming, but there is banter and then there is abuse. It’s an important distinction.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Haha, maybe. At least, Arma 2 was too opaque for me – but Arma 3 doesn’t have this issue – aim down the sights is simple right click (like every other game) and there’s no safety to unlock. :p

        On the flipside, that inherent complexity filters the asshats so that’s actually quite good.

  41. tixylix says:

    Why don’t you just get the fuck over it? I’ve never come across anyone being abusive to me in a game… why? Because I don’t reply back or invite them to do so. Any ways, I find it funny, just give smack talk back.

    You cunts are the same ones who whine on about Dota 2 being so harsh……….. NOPE! I played it for the first time the other month and haven’t had a single persons shout and moan at me.

    • LMN118 says:

      Case and point on the development of toxic communities. Can’t say anything constructive so lets swear and abuse a lot how mature and civilised.

    • Hobbes says:

      The prosecution rests, m’lud.

  42. jrodman says:

    The above comments about WOW made me think.

    In World of Warcraft, whenever someone did something unacceptable, I would call them out on it. If someone said “LOL FAG” in my raiding party, I would object. If someone started getting nasty in accusing the other raid members of incompetence, I would steer the focus towards positive improvment, and insist that critciism be done civilly.

    And when playing with random internet jerks, a lot of the time they would respond with mockery or insults. And I would just instantly leave the party.

    It was so refreshing being able to just depart from any real unpleasantness. More games should feature this option. In Burning Crusade times it even enforced a level of civility. Finding another geared server-top-class healer at odd hours was going to take them at least a half hour of sitting around.

  43. LMN118 says:

    I wouldn’t want any legal repercussions for much of what is talked about here.

    In real life such instances are usually handled in two ways. Any random abuse directed at stranger usually has a threatening overtone in which case the Police are usually involved. Secondly, in most cities I know of in the UK, including my own, if someone spoke to another person in such a way, such as tixylix did above to the group in general, they would get their head to play with.

    The problem of gaming toxicity is there are no repercussions to any hostile action which in its way increases the frequency and size of the problem. Either legal or physical, so you have a fairly large body of people who wouldn’t dare speak like that to real people face to face being allowed to say what they like.

    I don’t know about anyone else but I play games to relax, to have fun, hence why its entertainment. It’s bad enough losing a match because a team mate is face rolling the keyboard but the grief that comes afterwards generally pisses me off.

    So do I want legal action involved, no not really. Do I want the basic ability to hide chat, mute players and report truly abusive people (not the ones who occasionally say fuck off) which at certain point leads to them being banned. Yes I do.

    Generally from an abuse point of view the further East you go in Europe the worse it gets. Wargaming games in particular have a lot of racism towards certain groups. DayZ Russians always tended to either be arseholes, hackers, dupers or all of the above. They essentially had a KOS rule from our group.

  44. SuperP0RNstar says:

    Interesting article. I did feel it concentrated on anonymity too much. If you called a black dude the n word to his face he would beat the crap out of you, whether you wear a mask or not. It’s the lack of consequence that reveals peoples true nature and most people have a nasty side we do not often see in public.
    Hopefully voice recognition tech will stop some of the foul behaviour over the coms in the future. Currently your best bet is to find a nice clan or group of friends to play with.

  45. geldonyetich says:

    I think a lot of it comes from MOBAs. Being groused at about how you failed to hold your lane can drive any tween to regard being a jerk as the norm in the field of online game communication.

    That said, yeah, Internet anonymity + lack of accountability = license to be a jerk.

  46. VitalMoss says:

    I’m just going to make one big post about how I feel about this, rather than try to reply to individual posts.
    TL;DR Punishment has never been a viable fix to human behavior. At worst it exacerbates it, and best they wait a bit before doing it again. Censorship, regardless of content, is still censorship. Valve can do as they wish, but to get government involved is poppycock.

    Whenever I play a game, reply to a comment, or talk to someone online, I generally act in a similar way to how I do in real life. This is primarily due to the fact that I’m a very honest person, and I hate bullshit.

    Granted, I have become toxic in some games, generally involving already toxic players, immature players, and people playing on servers that only allow them a minimum of 135 ping. I will get angry, I will act against the interest of my team, and sometimes I’ll start to insult them.

    Now, there are extreme examples of toxicity, of threats and racial hate-speech; but what people fail to understand is that in a lot of places, it’s totally legal to say these things. The UK does not and should not have authority over what US citizens say online. The decentralized and anarchic nature of the internet (yes, that’s an accurate description of the internet. Regardless of how you feel) allows for near limitless information. However, some of that information (Speech, Articles, Comments) will be hateful and awful. I may not agree with what they say, but they still have the right to say it. This ensures that mob opinion doesn’t suppress ideas that are genuinely different but helpful in the long run. If we give people the ability to choose what we say, or rather, what we can’t say, then it becomes a slippery slope of “Well, what do we find offensive today?”

    I understand that sexism and racism can push women and minorities away from gaming, or other communities. But when you put yourself in a community, or message board, or game, where there is that kind of content, then you need to take the necessary precautions to defend your own anonymity (or pseudonymnity) and thicken your skin. Best case you speak to an admin or moderator and get it sorted out. Worst case you find somewhere that accepts you.

    Team games inherently have a toxicity problem, because you depend on people you don’t know for the most part. We need to find ways to reward good behavior, not punish bad.

    All punishment does is create an air of tension between the offenders and the moderating parties. By rewarding good behavior, or at least passively encouraging it, offenders will slowly change their behavior.

    • Hobbes says:

      Which sounds all good and well in theory now, but the long view is that it won’t hold up as technology becomes more pervasive and more critical to our day to day and social function. Hence why lots of people in lots of boring offices are indeed cooking up laws which will slowly balkanise the internet. Sad but true. How long we have this lovely anarchic net? That’s where my knowledge moves from ‘knowing’ to guesswork – but best estimates are two decades (we’re already at IPV4 exhaustion, and there’s a few suggestions being mooted that IPV6 would be an awesome way to tie peoples’ accounts to their own unique address thus making them permanently trackable).

      It’s the long view I’ve always been interested in, and the long view is that the internet which says “We can say whatever we want and mostly get away with it” is already being eroded, and as time progresses, that erosion is going to accelerate. Law will catch up and eventually we’ll see parity between virtual space and realspace.

    • Big Murray says:

      “I understand that sexism and racism can push women and minorities away from gaming, or other communities. But when you put yourself in a community, or message board, or game, where there is that kind of content, then you need to take the necessary precautions to defend your own anonymity (or pseudonymnity) and thicken your skin.”
      Women and minorities have been thickening their skin for decades.

      At some point we just need to go “You know what? We’re just ignoring the problem by telling people to grow thicker skins”. Telling people they need to grow thicker skins is simply a way of trying to ignore a problem. Like when you have a kid who’s bullying loads of people at school, and your solution is to tell the other kids that they need to grow thicker skins instead of dealing with your goddamn kid being a bully.

      • MrUnimport says:

        The wonderful thing about the internet is that it’s a realm of pure words, and never moreso than in public ad-hoc gaming lobbies. That’s why threats and insults carry less weight when delivered in a completely nonphysical environment. I think one would have a hard time convincing a judge that words spoken from one continent to a total stranger on another meets the legal definitions of assault or harassment.

  47. Big Murray says:

    Isn’t the elephant in the room here the fact that the companies which run these games don’t do anywhere near enough to tackle the toxic environments in their games? If companies started paying for community support to actually be a thing so that admins could police toxic behaviour in servers, then this would go a long way to helping this problem.

  48. haenkie says:

    Even though people are still treating CS like it’s a game, it’s not. CS is a sport. If you ever played any teamsport you know how toxic players can get when there’s winning and losing involved.

    That said: I never get toxic in games anymore. Probably because I’m old and have played cs for 10 years now. I don’t mind the kids swearing or the russians not communicating. As long as there not cheating, I’m okay with it.

    • Shandy says:

      It may now be a sport, but not all it’s players are professional; if I played amateur cricket or football, I’d expect a moderate amount of sledging, but nothing to the levels that a lot randoms take it on-line. And in a professional football or cricket match, you’re telling me calling someone gay or telling them to fuck off has no consequences?

  49. Shandy says:

    The “internet is not real-life” argument is false; it’s not real in the same way a letter or a phone call isn’t, and I wonder how many of all the people commenting here would send someone they didn’t know a letter or make a phone call to someone else telling them to fuck off and that they’re gay? I know I wouldn’t.

  50. Ricsiqt says:


    In my response, I would like to part the article in 2 pieces. There are no distinct borders, the second part starts around you getting into the reasons of flaming and the studies.

    Now, to get to the first part, it is wrong on so so so many levels.

    “Abuse in online games is a huge problem.” Why exactly? We are not talking about people tracking other people, then threatening them repeatedly and ruining their lives by contacting their real life friends or employer. We are talking about someone telling another person, that they are a fucking scrub, and that they should uninstall the game. How is this a huge problem? If someone is this sensitive, maybe they should just block everyone at the start of the game.

    “this venture was a terrifying foray into the minds of my abusers.” OMG. This sentence is literally worse, than any of the abuse i have ever experienced in CS. It is degrading the words “terrifying” and “abuser” in just 12 words. How would this be terrifying? And calling any player you ever met in CS an abuser is literally disrespectful towards people, who have actually been abused in their lives.

    “in a game that depends so highly on communication it just sucks to have to block ” Really? Unless you play on a top team, (which you probably don’t do, given the fact that you know little to nothing about the community), communication matters little. You can win a game without ever talking to anyone in any way up to the pro level.

    Now to the reasons:

    I personally flame people (pretty hard), because they suck at the game, or don’t care about it. I don’t want my time wasted by some idiot, that doesn’t want to actually play the game as it is intended. Everything after the interview with the guy from Twitter makes little sense. It’s like ignoring the elephant in the room, and trying to go for the smallest details. To give an example, it’s like trying to determine, why a train got derailed, and calculating the strength of wind and the humidity of the air, instead of noticing the fact, that the whole rail was blown up.

    People flame, because they want to let steam out, because they are competitive, and because they know, that it is a controlled environment, where they can’t hurt anyone, since they can be blocked.