A reminder that Overwatch should be the friendliest shooter ever

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At its best, Blizzard’s Overwatch is the place I hope to wake up in when I die, die, die. A superspy sitcom that just happens to be a sublime entwining of FPS and MOBA, it has gulped down more of my free time than any other game in the past five years. It’s also the game where I never speak to anybody, rarely accept a party invite and seldom spend longer than half an hour in ranked play. Some matches, I even try to avoid eye contact. Overwatch’s community has become notorious for abusive behaviour, and while I’m not convinced it’s any worse on this count than, say, Destiny or Call of Duty, the toxicity is completely at odds with the design, which makes it all the more jarring.

Overwatch isn’t just a brilliant shooter debut from a studio hitherto celebrated for Orc huts, Zerg rushes and 24-hour raids; it’s a flawed act of redefinition, a stab at changing the ethos of a genre famously inclined to wallow in its own malevolence, especially now that serving the often-toxic world of eSports has become a publisher priority. It does this not by trying to start afresh, but on the contrary, by diving back into the history – melting down venerable FPS playstyles, archetypes, guns, quirks and themes, and moulding them into something more hopeful and inspiring, with reference to Blizzard’s vast back catalogue of MOBA heroes and RTS units. It is designed, however naively or cynically, to be sunny and welcoming where shooters like Black Ops 3 are awash with macho despair.

There are the obvious checks to anti-social behaviour, like the way the medal system downplays the almighty K:D (kills:deaths ratio) in favour of team-oriented feats like spending lots of time near the payload, or restoring an eye-catching proportion of your team’s lost health. There are the spawn rooms, match-bridging safe spaces where a multitude of loose props, Easter eggs and defaceable surfaces foster a spirit of whimsy, at least when people aren’t cussing out the Hanzo player or teabagging the defending side through the door.

These chambers have a practical role within the map architecture – forcing your way out of them or keeping the other team bottled up within is a vital phase in every escort match – but they’re most valuable as opportunities to unwind with and take the measure of comrades. Some of my fondest memories in Overwatch consist of standing in a ring with my team, exchanging emotes and one-liners while the enemy Genji peers in like a hungry Black Friday shopper.

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Heroes are where Overwatch’s reworking of the FPS really comes into focus. Each is a cunningly transmuted mixture of influences from pop and gaming culture, sending familiar concepts in unfamiliar directions. The cast aren’t just appealing reworkings of cliches like the femme fatale sniper or the crusty German knight – they’re statements about shooter playstyles that extend worldwide and date back to the 90s. Junkrat’s ability to use his own landmines as launchers, transforming a ghastly camper into a really nasty skirmisher, channels Quake’s rocket-jumping. Soldier 76, famously, is the hard-bitten Modern Warfare dudebro equipped to dish out mid-range automatic fire and explosives, his Ultimate ability a parody of the “aim-bot” hacks that first appeared in Counter Strike. Having Soldier around lets Blizzard ease in players accustomed to dreary military shooters, even as his lack of a distinct strength subtly makes a case for diversity in more ways than one.

Other characterisations take aim at how competitive gaming has flourished and, perhaps, soured as online has become ubiquitous. Consider how Blizzard has baked “prosumer” toxicity into the game in the shape of Doritos-chugging Starcraft celeb D.va, a hero who plays to win, never loses gracefully and was originally designed to operate as a hyperactive battering ram. D.va is a study in abrasiveness – her legendary Ultimate activation phrase even pokes fun at player resentment when developers tweak their favourite classes – but she’s also a teenage girl who has fought her way to the top of a male-dominated scene. She encompasses the rancour of ranked play, but she’s also something to aspire to.

Ditto Ana, a re-imagining of the aloof elite sniper as protective grandmother, and Tracer, one of the biggest lone wolf jerks you’ll ever run into and one of the few queer characters to appear on a game’s boxart (a fact that was, admittedly, revealed or retconned into the lore only months after release).

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If these personas are inspiring and provocative in themselves, they’re even more intriguing when their ability sets lock together. Overwatch’s teamplay design often feels less like an abstract question of stats, more the act of elaborating upon backstory chemistry. The sense is of strong personalities in synch rather than just movesets that compliment one another. Among the classic pairings is rocket trooper Pharah and angelic burst healer Mercy. By herself, Pharah is essentially a very angry piñata, easily picked off by a hero like McCree unless she catches the other team out from the side or rear. With Mercy gliding behind her, overclocking her launcher and patching her up, she’s a regular end-of-level boss.

The thrill of tanking potshots aside, having Mercy around is entertaining for Pharah players because it gives you a tacit bonus objective – keep the healer safe, by staying aloft during crowded encounters and manoeuvring near pillars and roof edges. For Mercy players, meanwhile, riding Pharah’s coat tails is fun not just because you’ll usually live longer, but because you can enjoy the spectacle of combat from above. I’ve yet to play a shooter that encourages such a rapport so beautifully – small wonder that “Pharmercy” is one of the fanshipping community’s favourite match-ups.

Similarly, the brilliance of buff Russian tank Zarya’s ability to cast shields on players, adding any incoming damage to her power reservoir, is that it establishes a one-to-one intimacy. For those brief energy bubbles to be effective – both in terms of your ability to dish out punishment, and helping your comrades survive – you must keep a close eye on allies and anticipate exactly when they’ll be in hot water. When you’re playing Genji with his Deflect skill on cooldown, and Zarya pops a shield on you just as you’re hooked by Roadhog, the relief is heightened by the awareness that somebody has been watching over you throughout, ready to step in. It isn’t just “good team comp”. It’s Big Sister coming to the rescue.

As with the heroes, the maps are a change of tune for a genre that is a little too enamoured of muck and misery. Overwatch’s premise of a team of vigilantes roaming the Earth in search of things to shoot is, of course, deeply suspect: you could argue that it is a more insidious celebration of interventionalism than the likes of Battlefield, because its universe is so utterly charming. But it does, at least, portray the nations of the “developing” world as more than a pile of bombed-out buildings. Most video game recreations of Iraq are wastelands derived from Gulf War UAV footage, hopeless warzones fit only to serve as CryEngine tech demos or places where all-powerful Westerners learn Hard Lessons about ethics.

Overwatch’s Oasis map, by contrast, is a futuristic garden paradise dotted with beehive structures and robot butlers. Its African level, the savanna-side metropolis of Numbani, is a gleaming field of skyscrapers and holograms. There is much to criticise about these interpretations, which – like the game’s preposterous unlockable outfits – lean on racial caricature and the mercenary blending of “ethnic” motifs, but their utopian appearance at least goes against the grain.

So why, given the breadth and elegance of Blizzard’s attempts to reinvent its genre, does Overwatch’s community have such a reputation for strife and bigotry? One explanation is that, in opting for a more inclusive cast that, moreover, straddles a whole cluster of design trends and priorities, the game has made itself a platform for the games industry’s on-going, multi-faceted culture war. Characters like Tracer or Symmetra, an autistic Indian woman armed with a homing beamcannon, have become touchstones in clashes over representation and the competing claims of pros and “casuals”.

The pro/casual divide has really come to the fore in recent months, thanks to controversial changes to Mercy, Overwatch’s premiere healer. Her new Ultimate trades the ability to resurrect any team member within a small radius for an overall boost to her attacks, agility and abilities: she can still resurrect players, but only individually. This has done away with one of the more controversial Mercy behaviours – sacrificing your team on the altar once your Ultimate is charged so you can swoop in and revive them for a potential Play of the Game, much to the aggravation of both sides.

In the process, Mercy has also become more of an offensive character who needs to stay close to the team’s damage-dealers and tanks to be effective. The overall significance of this is to heighten a tension between hardcore players, who tended not to pick Mercy, and less able or skilled participants for whom big team resurrections were a relatively easy way of contributing to a win. Suddenly, Mercy is one of the heroes people pick first, and any player who can’t stay alive in the thick of it is badgered to change character.

You could make the case that Overwatch is, above all, an expression of growing pains. Where older shooters have begun to sink into themselves, rediscovering the past as they strain for relevance in the present, this is a game that embraces a transition from a creative community dedicated to prosumer power fantasies to a community that is more, well, communal. You could compare the game to “solarpunk”, that younger cousin of cyberpunk which doesn’t just linger on the decay of networked capitalism but envisages a world after it, a world of green cities, sustainable diets and, as far as I can tell, everlasting arts-and-craft fairs.

Similarly, Blizzard’s game aspires on some level to be a post-shooter shooter. Its intro movie, in which enlightened ape Winston bellows “someone has to do something!” amid scenes of death and destruction, rings pretty hollow as a narrative justification for the ensuing slaughter, but can be read as a call to action the rest of the designwork struggles to answer.

101 Comments

  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    People are fucking awful.

    • SaintAn says:

      Blame the developers. They constantly ignore the community so the community is angry that there is no communication and that they don’t have a voice.

      There are a ton of changes the players don’t want that ruin the game, very little content is made for this already barebones game, and tons and tons of microtransactions available for a limited time forcing players to buy loot boxes or have to wait a year for a chance to get them again.

      The profits Blizz makes don’t go back into the game to fund more content, quicker content, to hire PR people to communicate with the community, or even new items to unlock in the base game, but right into Blizzards pocket. They made over a billion USD last year and microtransactions have only got worse since last year. They don’t even expand the events, just rehashing the same stuff with new microtransactions on top of the old ones.

      They remove content they spend time working on without warning or reason, and when the players that love those game modes and spend all their time on those game modes try to communicate they are ignored. Like all I played was CTF, and the queue times were always pretty fast and the people that played CTF were there because they were having fun to it was a great community in there, so Blizz removed it for no reason one day. Then they released a new few deathmatch modes, then removed the fun one of those shortly after release. When they removed CTF they removed my joy of playing, so I only play during events now miserably grinding out loot boxes for this game I don’t enjoy anymore because CTF is gone, because I don’t want to miss out on any skins because I still have hope the game will get better, even though all evidence points to it not.

      BLIZZ PROTECTS HOMOPHOBIC PEOPLE AND BANS LGBT PEOPLE ON THE FORUMS AND IN THE GAME. Even if the LGBT people aren’t breaking any rules they ban them and just say they were trolling since that covers anything. They let homophobes run over every LGBT post saying the same homophobic shit then the mods remove the LGBT posts almost every time and do nothing to the homophobes while banning LGBT people that speak up. Most posts are just taking about what people would want from LGBT characters or characters that could be LGBT or those kinds of things.

      And fans sure don’t get help from the gaming media because the media are afraid to damage relations with Blizz or Blizz fans and so they post lots of articles that are the equivalent of ads and propaganda with very little actually calling out of Blizzards BS, their poor business practices, their ignoring of the community, etc, though they’ll sure as hell blame the fans, like here, then post 20 articles in a month about Blizz games. It’s sad when the media works for corporations instead of the people. Even sadder when people believe what they post.

      So the community is angry and toxic for a reason. The devs and mods of this game are horrible. That’s why the game is dying. Queue times are noticeably longer, and everyone except the Reddit fanatics are angry and tired of doing the same modes over and over. With the crushing toxicity becoming more and more common. And people rarely even say GG after matches anymore or talk like they’re having fun playing.

      • Kasjer says:

        I think it’s more related to demographics the game is targeted at, than Blizzard actions. Getting angry because your favourite gamemode got canned (especially in game for which you’ve paid and in which community cannot set up custom, dedicated servers) is normal, but being a jerk to fellow players because of this is just childlish behaviour.

        Regarding LGBTQ issues – I don’t follow the forums of this game but if what you are saying is true, that’s definitely not right on side of Blizzard. What I find ridiculous, though, is people even discussing/arguing about this in the first place! This is a game where you shoot people in the face. How their sexual orientation/gender identity even matter in this context? You know, for psyhically mature people, a human is just human – gender, sexual preferences or lack of them is not important unless they want to get naughty with them. If I have no issues working with lesbian colleague and having gay manager (in previous work), why should I care if fictional character Tracer is queer? This adds nothing to the game. This doesn’t impact gameplay. At all. Why people are even discussing this?!

        Regarding microtransactions – this is just a company exploiting people stupidity. Skins, emotes, poses – they are all useless, additional filler material that doesn’t impact gameplay. If someone is stupid enough to care about all of this and spend their money on – well, I don’t see why company shouldn’t exploit it. Personally, I don’t get the craze (and fury) over limited time seasonal events which allow you to acquire unique “loot”. I’ve played TDM/CTF arena shooters for 15+ years (from Quakeworld to Quake Live and several others in between) and in majority of them it was generally accepted rule that everyone plays with client forced brightskins/player model (that fits hitbox best). You didn’t have to, but this gives better clarity of action. No one was playing virtual dress-up to look cool. We let our skills speak for themselves. And I don’t care how your virtual doll looks like, I play to shoot you in the face. The same goes for weapon skins in other games like CS or Quake Champions. Why would I care about how my gun looks like? It shoots the same no matter it’s yellow or black. Actually, why would I want to have viewmodel enabled AT ALL just to obscure part of my fov?

        Regarding amount of content – I think that Overwatch is updated fairly regularly. It does have healthy amount of maps and Blizzard is releasing new classes/tweaks every now and then. Most of fps games I’ve played in the past used VERY limited map pool (Aerowalk, Blood Run, DM3, DM4, DM6 in QW for example or The Edge and Tokay’s Towers in Q2, Deck 16 played to death in UT) for competetive play not because there was low numbers of maps available, but because certain arenas were better tweaked and offered superior gameplay. And you don’t change the shape of football field just to introduce variety…

        While there was always some amount of toxicity, communites formed around these games were largerly great. One of fondiest memories of online play of mine are mixed TDM games with Boys and Girls from Quakeworld.nu forum.

        So, no, I won’t blame devs. It’s up to the players who form community how they are for each other and on what elements of the game they focus on. If they are jerks to each other and get obsessed over useles cosmetics jumping out of slot machine, this doesn’t have anything to do with developer studio of the game.

      • LeahFleming says:

        Google pay $97 per hour my last pay check was $4500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 14k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy. Click Here And Start Work

    • LagTheKiller says:

      I, Rogal Dorn agree. Peaople are awful. If there is competetition there will be toxicity period.

      Also did author spent last 20 years as choir boy? The only way to make everyone polite is to root impolite. (Stalinism reference) And if you are roasting 27 lvl genji main for (25 needed for rankeds) throwing and not taking another champion id rather give u a medal instead of ban. If the blizzard starts banning toxic players there will be none left. Sometimes u play to win or to vent emotions after long day. We are all half toxic. (The other half is salty).

      Also soldier ult is not a joke on aimbot. It is aimbot. And its not even remotly funny. Oh and in the release trailer black and french “heroes” try to rob and then run.

      And it is not solarpunk. Its nobledark. After dark times humanity survived thru the power of frendship and heroes and trust and suddenly in Africa there are utopias of since (nobleDERP)…..

    • brengrad says:

      Blizzard worked hard to ban cheaters and break cheating software. It show’s mostly there isn’t much cheating in the game. Tho it still occasionally happens.

      On the other hand Blizzard did next to nothing to combat the toxicity and bad player behavior. A prime example was shown clear as day when one particularly nasty troll was highlighted. He had a few hundred reports and had for all his toxicity only been muted a few times.

      Anyone remember that Simpson episode where Neds beatnick parents can’t seem to get their son to behave.
      Neds Mother and seemly blizzard’s Philosophy to dealing with the problem.
      “Yaah you gotta help us doc We tried nothing and were all out of ideas”

  2. Eightball says:

    The article never develops an argument to support the article title. It sort of just seems to assume that shiny maps and sticking it to those DARN WHITE MALES (u mad white boi???) will lead to a videogame promised land.

    • Sui42 says:

      It’s just saying the Overwatch was designed to be friendly, but that it’s not. This isn’t a flaw with the article. It’s just highlighting how gamer culture is often toxic. Because, y’know, it’s full of angry 16 year olds, so yeah.

      • Lacero says:

        I’ve never played overwatch, but what the article seems to consider “friendly” look like examples of how people can’t be really effective without trusting a stranger. That would obviously cause conflict.

        I wonder if it’s worse than mobas because of the power growth, there’s no levels in overwatch right? In dota people can always try and get rich enough and high level enough through their own skill that they don’t need the bad player to win.

        If overwatch is flat power like tf2 I can see the forced cooperation making people even angrier when it doesn’t work. There’s nothing else they can do about it except get mad.
        That would be a design problem to me.

        • LexW1 says:

          Overwatch’s toxicity is nowhere near as bad as DotA2 or LoL or even HotS (which is designed as a “friendly” MOBA), so that theory doesn’t work.

          • PiiSmith says:

            From my experience Overwatch is worse than other shooters. Battlefield, CoD and for crying out loud those kids in CS:GO are behaving better than a lot of people in Overwatch. So it is bad. That all these MOBAs are even worse is bad to hear.

          • Corb says:

            This is competition. This is why you have people trying to bring axes and knives into football(soccer) games, this is why there are riots, this is why so many people hate american football fans. Competitive sports fans are horrible people and anywhere there is competition, these people will flock there and be at their worst.

            Esports is no different, just look at the vitrol each one produces and no one knows how to control and change that. They’ve been trying for years with dota 2 and still haven’t figured it out. This is a social/people problem and I don’t think there’s anything you can do with game mechanics/algorithms to fix it.

      • Eightball says:

        I’m not sure it even establishes that it was supposed to be “friendly” – it’s a game where a half dozen people try to murder a different half dozen people, over and over again. Making the murderers more diverse or having the murders occur in well-lit maps doesn’t really change that.

        If it’s just saying “gaming culture can be toxic” we can put it in the pile with the other billion articles stating a lazy truism.

      • MrUnimport says:

        If they wanted it to be friendly, they shouldn’t have designed it after a MOBA. No amount of sunny African maps and blandly happy characters is going to change that.

        Also I think this might be the first time I’ve heard Overwatch characters referred to as “inspiring and provocative”.

        • LexW1 says:

          Relative to other games, and yes that’s an incredibly low bar, they are and I can’t see much of an argument that they’re not.

          I mean, they’re diverse in more or less every possible way, and not merely in a sort of token away, and it’s not just a “not while males” way, but in a “Not everything is about USA/Russia with Japan/Europe possibly also considered” way, which is rare in a lot of games, especially Manshoots. That is inspiring, in the sense that it makes you think about ideas beyond the norm, gaming-wise.

          But yeah is it a low bar? It’s a low bar.

          I dunno how it’s “designed after a MOBA” though – it has a lot more in common with TF2 and other team-based, class-based shooter than MOBAs. There’s no leveling, no equipment and most maps don’t have lanes or pushing or the like.

          • MrUnimport says:

            Overwatch sure doesn’t introduce me to new perspectives (except perhaps robot-racism) or other cultures. It’s just sort of nonspecifically international. Who owns Lijiang Tower? Who cares? Why are we fighting there? Doesn’t matter. I don’t think its international cast with a blend of ethnicities is a bad thing by any means, but I don’t think it rises above tokenism in any meaningful way. It’s representation in the barest possible, American mixing pot sense. It’s about skin colour, little flags, and random ejaculations in one’s native tongue. The game isn’t worse for having these things, but I don’t want to give it undue credit for being progressive.

            Which brings me to my next point; I’m a little bit ticked off by the author’s implication that S:76 is a ‘training wheels’ character for less enlightened dudebros, to be ‘eased in’, with the unspoken suggestion that anyone who knows better is playing a more ‘diverse’ class with a gun that doesn’t look like an assault rifle. In this ‘multi-faceted culture war’ it seems like everything has to be placed in one category or the other: ally or enemy, beacon of progress or symbol of atavistic bigotry. 76 isn’t in any disadvantaged group (besides perhaps the elderly) and he’s vaguely an army man, so the other association takes over: he represents ethnic homogeneity, military interventionism, Call of Duty, Mountain Dew, so on and so forth. Playing 76? Must be from That Category. Don’t worry, you’ll be enlightened soon enough through the magical power of characters yelling their catchphrases in German or Spanish or Russian.

            Bleh. Sorry. Regarding the MOBA thing; yes it’s more like TF2 than any MOBA from a gameplay perspective, but I think you’d have to be blind to discount the MOBA influence. Big cast of heroes, each of them with threeish powers on cooldown, everyone gets an ultimate, heavy emphasis on teamwork and close coordination between small teams. What’s most important to the discussion at hand though is the MOBA mentality Blizzard has been hoping to cultivate; everyone’s a pro in training, everyone has their competitive rating to worry about. Every game has a spectacular ‘play’. I think the social expectation and pressures generated by this pseudo-pro (prosumer??) mindset are what cause Overwatch toxicity, alongside other factors identified in a post somewhere further down, like short, repetitive matchups with strangers taken from the big huge pool of everyone who’s online.

        • Ragnar says:

          But isn’t that assumption – that MOBAs are inherently toxic, and anything designed after a MOBA is thus going to be inherently toxic – highlighting the problem?

          The games aren’t designed to be toxic. They don’t reward toxic behavior while punishing decent behavior. It’s the people that make it toxic. So what is it about the people that play these 5v5 competitive games that causes the community to become so toxic?

          Is it the team size? The cooldowns on abilities? The requirement to cooperate for success? The individual and unique heroes replacing generic roles, or those heroes being sub-divided by role such as Attack or Tank or Support?

          Personally, I think it’s a combination of unique heroes and the requirement to cooperate for success. It’s much harder for a particularly skilled player to carry a team, thus leading to frustration with teammates. And the unique characters cause people to become far more invested than they otherwise would (I don’t remember ever hearing, “I main engineer”), while also becoming frustrated when they can’t play their chosen character or when they perceive someone else playing that character poorly.

      • Tritagonist says:

        “Overwatch was designed to be friendly.”

        By having chat across the match, including with the opposing team? That’s the kind of stuff Blizzard yanked right out of World of Warcraft because it was all sorts of terrible – 14 years ago!

        Matches that, in addition, are drawn from a huge pool of players meaning that A) there’s no server admin and B) there’s no server community of regulars as in the old days. The first also has the effect of the action-reaction becoming obscured. If someone was behaving like an ass in an administrated server, he’d be kicked immediately. People would notice. In Overwatch, and many other games these days, someone can anonymously and silently file a report which may or may not be looked at next week by someone who may or may not decide to do anything with it. It’s very obscure. And then there’s the limits on hero characters. “LET ME PLAY SOLDIER U SUCK!” was heard repeatedly during my time in the Overwatch free weekends.

        There’s very little about the design of Overwatch that’s going out of its way to help people be more friendly and social.

    • Kolbex says:

      lol u def mad

    • Vegas says:

      I usually skim the first couple paragraphs of stuff I read online because content writers have abandoned the inverted pyramid structure and the lede is usually in the third paragraph or so, but I skipped like 12 here before I finally got to:

      “So why, given the breadth and elegance of Blizzard’s attempts to reinvent its genre, does Overwatch’s community have such a reputation for strife and bigotry?”

    • Niko says:

      “Because, y’know, it’s full of angry 16 year olds, so yeah.”
      I’m playing Overwatch somewhat frequently and the majority of toxic people I’ve seen aren’t 16 year olds. It’s men over 20 years old.

      • Viral Frog says:

        As a man over 20 (26 to be exact), I can confirm that people my age, or within 1-3 years + or – of me, are some of the most toxic players I’ve ever encountered in online games, period. Though as my comment below points out, I don’t think OW has any sort of toxicity issue at all outside of comp. I don’t play comp. I play for fun, not to rage over ePoints.

        • tnzk says:

          Can I also just say that as a former gamer (a guy who frequently lurks on gaming sites as a hobby but doesn’t play games), this angry male stereotype is kinda a video game community thing.

          I’m not saying men in other parts of society are angels, but what this article is referring to is a type of antisocialism that breeds quite well in this specific community. It’s as if the antidote is to eat a Snickers and literally walk outside the front door.

          At least it worked for me.

          • spacejunkk says:

            Young men are more likely to commit crime, get into car accidents or take their own lives than any other demographic.

            There’s something going on there. Maybe it’s biology. Or culture. I’d be surprised if it was video games.

      • LexW1 says:

        It has been ever thus.

        It was that way in 1998, playing Quake. If someone was REALLY throwing a wobbler, chances are it was a 20-something. It was that way in 2001, playing DAoC – the worst outbursts I ever saw were all twenty-something guys. Same for WoW, in every era of WoW from 2004 to 2017. Someone has a massive toxic abusive outburst? Someone engages sustained toxic behaviour (i.e. abuse, harassment, etc.)? Almost certainly a 20-something guy.

        Teenagers do get upset more easily, but they also don’t continue the behaviour in the same way. Usually they ragequit and when they come back they’re perfectly fine and polite. Whereas Capn’ Toxic Twenties may well be a complete jerk for hours, leave, and come back to be a jerk some more.

        • drewski says:

          It’s interesting actually, I feel like a teenager might troll you the whole game but as soon as it’s over it’s like you never existed.

          The long term, can’t let it go toxicity does seem to be an older person thing.

    • literarylottie says:

      I fail to see how anything the article describes as part of Overwatch’s design philosophy is about “sticking it” to white men. Unless you think the very presence of diverse characters is somehow prejudiced against white men? Because if so, then you’re very much part of the “toxicity” problem.

      • Eightball says:

        How else to read the line about Soldier 76?

        • All is Well says:

          As some sort of vague praise for Blizzard’s supposed send-up of the stereotypical protagonist of the modern “realistic” military FPS? I’m not claiming any sort of knowledge on the actual subject itself (I haven’t even played Overwatch), but only in a really roundabout way could you interpret the line about Soldier 76 as somehow being related to a criticism of whiteness or maleness.

          • Eightball says:

            What do you think the author meant by:

            >Having Soldier around lets Blizzard ease in players accustomed to dreary military shooters, even as his lack of a distinct strength subtly makes a case for diversity in more ways than one.

            How does making “the white guy” class have “no distinct strength” make a case for diversity “in more ways than one”? What do you think the author really means by that? It sounds like a dog whistle to me.

          • All is Well says:

            That line is taken from a paragraph detailing how Overwatch takes tropes or characters from other contexts and repurposes them. The author explicitly states that the characters, among other things, are “statements about shooter playstyles”. The adjectives describing Soldier, and the sort of game he features in, are “hard-bitten Modern Warfare dudebro” and “dreary military shooters”. In this context, the way Soldier’s lack of a distinctive strength makes a case for diversity, is reasonably understood as him being both a commentary on how these games are run-of-the-mill and uninteresting, and a subtle encouragement for Overwatch players to play as other characters, and thus divsersify.

            Obviously, the way he makes that case could also be by serving as commentary on white maleness, as the standard military FPS protagonist *is* a white male. I don’t think that’s really excluded from the list. Taken in context though, the author seems to understand Soldier more as “sticking it” to the dull, identikit video game hero, rather than white men in general.

            Anyway, even if that *were* the case, and Edwin had explicitly said that the white, male Soldier makes a case for more racial and/or sex/gender diversity, that’s literally only a single line in a paragraph discussing several other characters in an article detailing several ways in which the game is designed. Do you really think that this amounts to the thrust of the article being “Overwatch is about sticking it to white men so why aren’t the players nicer to each other”?

          • Ferno says:

            Just wanted to support what All is Well said. It’s literally a comment on how the soldier playing the bog-standard shooter style doesn’t have any glaring strengths (or weaknesses) which encourages you to diversify your playstyle by swapping to other characters who may excel in the area you like. You have to be coming in with a lotta pre-drawn expectations of the article to read that as anything else.

    • Rindan says:

      Wowa. Projection much? If that article points to “white males” as being a problem, I appear to have missed it. Is a game simply being colorful and diverse enough for it to be to be a screed against white males for you? You need to be a wee bit less sensitive.

      • Eightball says:

        What do you think the author meant by:

        >Having Soldier around lets Blizzard ease in players accustomed to dreary military shooters, even as his lack of a distinct strength subtly makes a case for diversity in more ways than one.

        It’s a classic dog whistle.

        • GeoX says:

          How cruelly RPS oppresses you with its burning hated of white males. Maybe you should go away and not come back?

        • Fomorian1988 says:

          It takes a special degree of dedication to turn a paragraph specifically talking about play-style diversity into an attack on white cishet men.

          Seriously, folks. Try to comprehend what you’re reading.

        • Rindan says:

          You think that someone subtly advocating a little more diversity in video games is a screed against white males? I think the author meant that he likes games with a little more diversity in it. Why does this opinion upset you? Are you upset by the presence of non-white dudes in a video game? If you actually upset by someone saying they want a little more diversity in their video games, you should find a therapist to work through your issues, and maybe find another website it. Someone is going to mention that they like to see diversity in video games and trigger your again, almost certainly.

  3. TaylanK says:

    At odds with design? Are you sure? A game where you lose roughly 40-50% of the time even if you play really well is a recipe for frustration and lashing out. Not saying people are not awful, but design also has a lot to do with it.

    • Atlas says:

      Isn’t that how matchmaking is supposed to work, though? If your win/loss rate is 50% then you’re being matched with people of equal skill. A higher win rate might make you feel better but that means someone else is getting matched out of their league and having a miserable time playing a round they can’t win.

      • Faxmachinen says:

        The problem is that “the ladder” is something you’re supposed to climb, but Overwatch makes that an excruciatingly awful experience. As your rank increases, the rank of the rest of your team decreases to compensate. Your advancement depends only on how well your team does, not on your individual performance, so of course you resent your idiot teammates who can’t hold the point for two fucking seconds while you respawn. Fuck. I hope they all die of horrible diseases.

        Ahem. What was I saying? Oh yeah, I don’t play Overwatch anymore.

    • Kollega says:

      Fun fact to ponder: I really like playing Titanfall 2, even though my skill against other Pilots is rubbish and I do lose a little more than half the time. Why? Because – here’s one of the reasons – when I lose, I and my teammates have the chance to attempt a high-stakes escape, and thus save face to some degree while also earning some consolation bonus points if we do manage to “get the hell out of Dodge”. You won’t believe how much of a difference that makes.

  4. Xzi says:

    This isn’t even close to the first online multiplayer game with a colorful, happy aesthetic that’s been drowned by a flood of toxicity. It happens to every online game now, but it’s usually not apparent for several months after initial release.

    • Pogs says:

      Sadly yes because the decent crowd get put off and move on so the toxicity becomes more concentrated.

    • Shadow says:

      From my perspective, it’s an inevitability with any competitive multiplayer game of this kind. The game doesn’t significantly change over time, save for the occasional new map, new character, character redesign or sporadic temporary event. It gets supremely repetitive, and gradually weeds out most of the “normal” players. What’s left is mostly the devout, which I’d say have a reasonable chance of being obsessed, addicted and competitive to the point of being toxic.

  5. DeepSleeper says:

    I mean, I guess?

    Except Splatoon exists.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Correct! Splatoon is the actual, extant game that this article froths itself into a lather to hypothesise. It’s a game that balances teamwork with individual prowess, boasts rounds short enough not to overengage the emotions, and has a central mechanic (painting) that allows ways to contribute to a match that don’t involve excelling player to player combat.

      You have reachable goals and something to feel good about even when your k/d is in the toilet and a new game and a fresh start is never more than 3 minutes away.

      More importantly than any of that though: it doesn’t let you talk to strangers. And I thank the maker of all squids and kids that it doesn’t.

      But I’m not sure I accept the article’s premise. Are we really certain Blizzard wanted to make the friendliest shooter ever? The pixar-fidelity visual and hugely diversified cast convinces me they were aiming to make the shooter with the broadest possible appeal, yes, but I don’t see how selling lots of units necessarily translates to rolling up your sleeves and trying to drain the swamp of online toxicity.

      I actually think that so much of the game’s welcoming image being superficial, and unrepresentative of the minute to minute experience, belies a cynicism at the heart of Blizzard’s ‘polish to an incomparably dazzling sheen’ approach.

      • April March says:

        I think you hit every single point you made in the head. Very well put, I agree completely.

      • Crafter says:

        Some people still go out of their way to be annoying in splatoon 2, like tea bagging you after a death. That’s extremely rare though and by design the game does not let you do many toxic actions.

        Otherwise, a couple of non-ranked rounds of splatoon are usually a pretty relaxing experience.

        If I compare this to the friends I have seen playing at Counter Strike Go and yell at the screen every 10 seconds, it is a world apart.

        Even if you forget the social aspect, there are dozen of game design lessons that other shooters should take from Splatoon.

      • MrUnimport says:

        Hear, hear.

      • DeepSleeper says:

        Thank you. You said just about everything I wanted to say but couldn’t actually find words for.

  6. mitrovarr says:

    You might want to also mention that Mercy’s changes made her so overpowered that she attained (and still has, I suspect?) a 100% usage rate in competitive play.

    The balance, which has recently gone from the merely poor to astonishingly bad, is probably the source of at least some toxicity. A lot of characters, perhaps half of the roster, are fundamentally weaker than the others. So people lash out at people playing those characters (referred to as ‘off-meta’) while people tend to resent players who play only heroes viewed as overpowered or excessively forgiving to play (look at the hostility toward Mercy and Genji mains).

    Personally when the ridiculous Mercy buffs came through, I gave up on the game and its terrible balance, at least for now. Been playing lots of Paladins and Stellaris.

  7. shinkshank says:

    It’s not half-shooter and half-MOBA, damn it. It’s not even one sixteenth MOBA. Overwatch doesn’t have a single gameplay feature that TF2 doesn’t, and if someone calls TF2 half-MOBA I will fight them.

    I’m gettin’ real tired of everything getting stuck together into an ever-shrinking group of descriptors because we’re apparently collectively afraid of the people we’re talking to not understanding what we’re talking about. Anything with a cast of characters with different abilities is a MOBA, anything where you level up is a roleplaying game, and anything that’s hard is Dark Souls. This Steam Tag description convention has to stop.

    • Viral Frog says:

      This 100%. There is nothing about Overwatch that even vaguely resembles a MOBA. And certainly nothing about TF2 that does either. Overwatch is, at it’s heart, a TF2-alike. OW is in no way a MOBA at all.

    • BooleanBob says:

      The contents of its loot boxes are randomly generated, so maybe Overwatch is actually a roguelike?

    • Someoldguy says:

      Oh I dunno. He uses “prosumer” like we’re supposed to know what that means in relation to video game players when all the dictionary says is “A person who buys electronic goods that are of a standard between those aimed at consumers and professionals.”

      Of course it may just be that I’m a couple of decades out of touch with video game jargon. Like calling lots of things on the PC Metroidvania games when neither Metroid not Castlemania ever appeared on the PC so the nomenclature means almost nothing to me.

    • Crafter says:

      ah, thank you.

      I have never played Overwatch so I have always thought that it was some kind of TF2 clone/incremental evolution.

      After reading this article I thought that the game had to include minion lanes or at least towers..

      I don’t see how it is a MOBA then

      • FunkyB says:

        It’s not a MOBA, but characters have abilities so managing cooldowns whilst fighting is important and something you didn’t have to do in TF2.

        Also, the charge on your ultimate abilities is the “economy” of a team. The Ubercharge of your Medics in TF2 works the same, but in Overwatch everyone has an ultimate and charge dictates the flow of a properly played game.

      • Imperialist says:

        Well, i guess its a MOBA if you ignore the trappings of the genre itself. It is multiplayer, its online, and its a battle arena. However, i believe it regarded as a “Hero Shooter” by most people. There are definitely similarities, despite there being no minions or towers, there is a cast of wildly diverse, flavorful and fun-looking heroes, based on archetypes, with a range of abilities and some inane attempt at world and character building to give context to your battles. It stands to reason that it is merely an evolution of the genre, taking the things that people like and mashing them up with a different genre to appeal to both crowds. If it was all about minions and towers, i guess you could say Titanfall is a sort of MOBA.

  8. foszae says:

    As if have a bright, shiny mythos made people be generous, accepting, and forgiving. Doesn’t work for religion nor capitalism, nor would it work for competitive shooty-bangs.

  9. fray_bentos says:

    I outgrew online MP games about 15 years ago.

  10. Disgruntled Goat says:

    Finally, an article about Overwatch!

  11. Horg says:

    My experience with Overwatch only lasted until the beta ended (the game didn’t click with me), but I can broadly put down all toxic matches to 3 design problems; small team sizes, randomised matchmaking as the dominant game play type, and the over large selection of heroes combined with the hard counter design philosophy.

    Team size is fairly self explanatory. A bad player will stand out more in a team of 6 than a team of 12, and it becomes more difficult to accurately match make with smaller groups. The wait time for a game is shorter, but the overall experience may suffer as a result. Nobody likes being on the wrong end of a curb stomp. If Overwatch generates an imbalanced game, toxic behavior is the misplaced expression of frustration.

    Randomised matchmaking, in my opinion, is a poor replacement for the server browser based experience of similar titles like TF2. Players tended to form communities around 1 or a few servers, playing with mostly the same people fairly regularly. Sometimes these servers were moderated, but even the ones that weren’t had culturally imposed self moderation. If you see the same group of people each time, you behave better around them becasue bad behavior could have future consequences. Randomised matchmaking eliminates the self regulating behavioral check that server browser communities helped to create.

    Finally, the hero problem. This one is also fairly simple to understand, the game is built around countering your opponents hero picks as the only penalty for swapping is losing your ultimate charge. However, players tend to favor one role or a small pool of heroes (or classes for other games) over frequent role swaps. Arguments will arise over who should swap, personal prejudice creeps in when someone picks ”off meta”, and the contribution of certain heroes isn’t immediately obvious leading to arguments over effectiveness. The 6 player team size exacerbates this problem compared to similar titles. In TF2,for example, you could reliably expect enough class diversity to get a balanced team in the majority of games without any prompting, simply becasue there was enough space on each team (usually 9-12 slots) for every class to represent. Overwatch doesn’t give teams that flexibility and enforces an unintuitive swap based meta. In my personal experience this factor alone caused more arguments than anything else.

    In conclusion, toxicity in Overwatch has little to do with ”the games industry’s on-going, multi-faceted culture war”, or any sort of expression of ”hardcore” vs ”casual” infighting, and is predominantly down to a few design problems that sacrifice quality of life for convenience.

  12. satsui says:

    I was wondering what the hell the article was about as I never see this, but then I forgot that I automatically turn off voices and my mic in every game unless I am with a friend. I have no desire to hear what anyone has to say.

    The games are much more enjoyable this way.

    I’m also terrible, so someone is probably calling me names and saying I’m a failure for I know. I don’t hear it, so I don’t care.

    • Premium User Badge

      magnificent octopus says:

      I’m also terrible (I am naturally bad at shooters, even though I enjoy them), so I stay out of the competitive matches entirely. Even with voice chat off, I’d get yelled at over the text chat. Quick play is generally less toxic, in my experience, and I usually play with friends, which means I know most of my team anyway.

      • Hartford688 says:

        Good approaches :)

        And I’m rubbish at shooters as well, though I enjoy them. Quick play and voice chat off works well.

      • DeadlyAccurate says:

        You can also click “P” and turn off text match and team chat (or Ctrl + Shift + C to turn off all chat). You have to do that every time you start playing, but it lasts until you exit.

    • Viral Frog says:

      I never mute voice chat and pay pretty close attention to the team/all chats. I still don’t understand where the claims of toxicity are coming from.

      Edit: wait, I think I figured it out. I don’t play competitive. I’m an above average player but I play for fun, not to rage over rankings.

      • DeadlyAccurate says:

        It’s definitely far worse in competitive, but some people get unduly angry in QP even when it’s obvious the team is trying its best. I’ve gotten frustrated at times (a pocket-healing Mercy will make me furious), but I never, ever complain inside the game.

  13. Viral Frog says:

    I’m just curious… where is the toxicity in Overwatch? I find it hard to believe that my experience with the game has been nearly 100% positive while so many other people claim that the game boasts a largely toxic player base.

    I can’t even remember the last time I ran into a toxic player in OW. I see some people get salty sometimes, sure. But rarely ever to the point where I think, “man, this person is a jerk and is ruining everyone’s experience with their toxicity.” In fact, I can only actually remember one experience with a person that made me feel that way in OW and that was during beta.

    Not trying to call anyone a liar. I’ve just definitely never had a similar experience with toxicity in OW as others have. /shrug

    Edit: I don’t play comp. So maybe that’s why I don’t see any of the toxicity.

    • FunkyB says:

      I know, I think the same, except I do play competitive.

      Every so often you see someone moaning, but as an example I played 5/6 games last night and literally the only “toxicity” I saw was someone text chatted “noooob team” at one point. That’s it.

      Every single video game I play has cockends being cockends in it, Overwatch is certainly no worse.

  14. Ergates_Antius says:

    Any game in which your success is largely based on how well the rest of your team play (rather than your own efforts) will generate frustration.

  15. Chromatose says:

    Just because a game features a broad colour palette and characters that smile gormlessly while shooting people doesn’t magically make it friendly. Overwatch’s toxicity problem is very much a byproduct of Blizzard’s bid to appeal to the esports crowd and competitive multiplayer more broadly. Esports just seems to inherently attract bad actors, as evidenced by the fact that almost all notable tournaments have recently been plagued with accusations of rigging, doping, DDOS attacks and are generally just rife with foul play.

    Examples of online communities that are actually friendly tend to form predominantly around PvE-centric games and other game types that are far more focused on fostering camaraderie through the mechanics of the game itself, rather than just taking a competition-focused shooter and plastering a friendly Pixar-cribbing aesthetic on top.

  16. ggggggggggg says:

    it has a reputation for toxicity because its a highly competitive team shooter where you can’t win as an individual and always need a good team. so if you start losing the first natural choice for lots of people is to blame their teammates. its the exact same problem TF2 and every single moba has and it will always override everything the developers try to soften it up with. that’s it.

    if anything, a lot of the softening features can make things worse at times, because they draw in a greater playerbase of non-competitive people who are then put in matches with people who like winning.

    • MrUnimport says:

      TF2 benefits from having teams that are a little over double the size, so it’s harder to pick out and blame anyone in them. Nobody is the lynchpin because there’s more than two people doing each role.

  17. zulnam says:

    Oh boy more Overwatch opinion pieces. Haven’t seen that on the internet in at least two days.

  18. April March says:

    All these people explaining what are the bad design choices in Overwatch that cause toxic behaviour would be interesting if toxic behaviour didn’t exist in literally every game. A game could fill you with an sense of everlasting connection with all beings in the universe and celebrate every match with flawlessly performed oral sex and people would still manage to be toxic on it.

    • ggggggggggg says:

      well yeah, but some games definitely seem to generate way more toxicity than others, and it makes sense that highly competitive team games would create the most. people trash talk in shooters and troll in mmos but i’ve only ever really seen people truly lose it over this new generation of intense drawn out esport things

    • Tritagonist says:

      What is toxic behaviour? Chat first of all. So disable it. Heroes of the Storm has a great communication wheel that covers 95% of all that needs to be said in a team-match: I’m going here. I need help. Focus on defending here. Help me advance here. It works great.

      You can still be annoying with such a wheel by spamming; so limit the number of messages. Put in a cooldown. Be generous to allow for cases of panic, but make it so that someone who makes a few quick pings then has to be quiet a bit longer than someone who only makes one call.

      People can sabotage games by ‘giving up’. So kick them for being inactive or away from other players, i.e. where the action is.

      There’s a lot that can be done to suppress the most obvious and annoying examples of toxic behaviour. Not everything, but a lot.

      If some kid is raging at his screen, it doesn’t become toxic behaviour until I see it. So take away his ability to find an audience.

      Failing that, encourage others not to act like this. Announce it to the entire match that a person is silenced or kicked. Make everyone connect cause and effect. That guy who was raging like a lunatic is now removed and banned for 24 hours. Set examples.

  19. Simbosan says:

    Maybe we just need to go back to basics to understand the toxic behaviour.

    These are games about shooting, killing, beating other people. Why are people so surprised that they turn toxic?

    PvP games are toxic, without exception. PvE games are by and large collaborative and non-toxic. When you introduce PvP to a PvE game, guess where the arseholes are to be found? In the PvP zones.

    I don’t play PvP, the company is lacking in quality

  20. Slaadfax says:

    A competitive environment brings out a lot of passion in people. Passion in turn can lead to strong emotion. Without personal drive, social pressure, or consequences of any kind, strong emotion can result in bad behavior and lashing out.

    I understand that toxicity manifests itself a fair amount within the sphere of game culture, but it doesn’t seem very different than other manifestations of people getting angry and saying terrible things on the internet. Just look at any social media discussion on politics or religion.

    Sure, there’s also the people who don’t require strong emotion to display bad behavior, but that’s seems to be just a heavy embracing of the “no consequences” mentality. If I had to guess, it originates in an almost willful denial that people on the internet are in any way “real.” You don’t need to have empathy for non-real people.

  21. Dogshevik says:

    “Overwatch should be the friendliest shooter ever”

    Totally beside the point. It´s still a shooter.
    – competetive game – repetetive game
    – you play with random strangers you´ll never meet again and for only a short time
    – opt-out communications instead of opt-in
    – no age check and cute-fied graphics don´t trigger parental alarm bells either
    – sanctioning is delayed and in the hands of a faceless, corporate 3rd party

    This is like a perfect recipe. There is the wrong kind of stress, you are provided with a ready and helpless audience for stress relief, which is quickly replaced, which eases objectifying and negates any risk of peer pressure building up and finally the potential consequences are far away and disconnected from the actual game experience.

    Heck, it is the same old story as with any game of that format. It certainly doesn´t require all this verbosity. You journalist types should have had time to make a flowchart by now.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Pretty sure aimbots existed before Counterstrike.

  23. CynicalPleb says:

    “Some matches, I even try to avoid eye contact.”
    hahaha fucking what ?

    Also I doubt it is the variety of characters that are bothering players or making them toxic if only for the fact that no one gives a fuck about the Lore in Overwatch or the cluster of pixel’s gender.
    Most people just want to play fun and effective characters.
    In my experience when playing hero of the storm the only time people get salty is it you are being a shit player who is dragging the team down.

    So I dunno what the big fuss around overwatch is…

    • LexW1 says:

      “Also I doubt it is the variety of characters that are bothering players or making them toxic if only for the fact that no one gives a fuck about the Lore in Overwatch or the cluster of pixel’s gender.”

      Thousands and thousand of art pieces on Deviantart and other sites, and millions of posts on various forums and other social media show this “NO1CUR” attitude is completely gibberish. Tons of people care about Overwatch’s lore, and tons of people care about the characters. Blizzard succeeded there.

      However, you are right that it doesn’t “make people toxic” – but the article isn’t saying that. It’s saying the juxtaposition between cute character, maps, and so on and general, diverse, positive(ish) characters and people screaming abuse and being jerks is quite surprising, and it is.

    • ancipital says:

      Well, sweary, borderline abusive “I can’t see the problem” posts might just be a dead giveaway.

      Plot twist, you’re the murderer.

      • CynicalPleb says:

        I doubt I am the “murderer” since I simply never communicate with team unless it is to say “gg”.

        Look i am not trying to be a dick but what am I missing here ?
        If someone is being a dick just mute him, if they are purposely trolling you just report them and they will be matched with other trolls.

        In games there will always be that moment where you make a dumb mistake and someone will call you out just ignore them. They arent worth your time and they arent obligated to be nice to you.

        But then again I am an Abusive Pro Gamer 360 No Scope Badass so what would I Know.

  24. Nouser says:

    You cannot simply design a game to have a welcoming community. Player community is something that begins right after release date and builds over time.

    Also, let’s be sincere, nobody cares about the lore.

    • LexW1 says:

      You can design a game that is likely to have a more positive, less unpleasant community, though.

      However, step one in that design is:

      1) Make the game coop, not PvP.

      That is also the biggest and strongest step. Add ANY element of PvP in, even if the PvPers can’t communicate with the other side in ANY way and toxicity starts to seep in because the levels of stress it push people that way. L4D is a good example here – compare levels of bad behaviour in PvE L4D, and L4D where there are players playing some of the zombies. Bad behaviour in normal L4D was pretty rare. In the PvP kind? People got vastly more shitty.

      Probably the best community I’ve ever seen for an MP (not MMO) game was, bizarrely, Mass Effect 3. I played hundreds and hundreds of hours of ME3, across a lot of added content and so on.

      How many times did I see people get actually abusive, let calling each other unpleasant names and so on? Once. In hundreds of hours. I was playing largely with strangers, too. I did see people get “a bit stressed” at other times, but was “GET TO THE CHOPPER!”-type stuff not “OMG U FUCKIN NOOBS FUCKED US”. I never even saw people get abused for playing dumb classes (because some were really dumb). A few times I saw “Please don’t bring underleveled characters into Platinum sigh”-type stuff, but even then it just wasn’t abusive, merely mild passive-aggressive stuff.

      So anyway, you want a good community, go full coop for starters.

  25. MerchantofBenis says:

    What is ‘toxic’ even supposed to mean?

    • LexW1 says:

      If you’ve played many online games, you know exactly what it means, even if people pretend that they don’t.

      It means abusive and unpleasant behaviour, particularly of the kind which tends to get worse and worse and worse, or to provoke similar reactions from others.

      I’d say it’s “needless” but that should go without saying. Most toxic players though take “needless” to a sort of next level, where they start abusing, demeaning, and shitting on people at the absolutely drop of a hat. It’s like, if, at a party, you accidentally spilled part of some stranger’s drink (when drinks were free and freely flowing), and they launched on a massive tirade about what a piece of shit you were and how you needed to commit suicide or whatever.

      IRL, they’d get thrown out pretty much instantly. Similarly, if they were at work, at a non-shitty workplace, they’d get severely sanctioned or fired. If they were at the gym, they’d get their membership cancelled and be banned. At school, they’d face severe consequences, and depending on the level of behaviour, might be suspended or excluded.

      But online well… apparently it’s fine to do this fairly regularly, and any consequences are “restricting free speech”, even though all you were doing was screaming the N-word and faggot at people for 15 minutes straight.

      • MerchantofBenis says:

        What’s funny to me is that many people seem to be using the term as shorthand for any sort of negative experience in a game, including yourself advocating for co-op. I can attest to being called out for being ‘toxic’ whilst playing a game normally and not doing anything that might be construed as insulting besides for coming out the winner.

        So disregarding abusive behavior which is almost completely avoidable as every game I know of provides options to mute other players, it seems that many of the ‘toxicity’complaints are related to the inherent fact of competition that somebody is going to lose.

        Well if that’s toxic then just don’t take part in the competition.
        I’m sure you’ll continue to focus on the verbal and textual abuse angle, but many of these complaints seem derived from people being upset that they have to share a space with others who are more serious about winning.

        • All is Well says:

          Your complaint about how people are making a fuss about nothing would be a lot more compelling if you’d come out and said just that, instead of posting a vaguely rhetorical question about what the problem is, and then proceeded to ignore the very explicit answer, insisting that what people *really* mean is simply “any sort of negative experience in a game”, as if that were a real complaint people were discussing.

    • Premium User Badge

      Skabooga says:

      I searched high and low, and I think I found the answer:

  26. Fincher says:

    Give people the option to play without chat or voice chat. In fact I think this exists in a lot of games these days.

    Personally I feel that the benefits of chat far outweight the negatives. I have met far more fun people who I have gone on to play other games with through in game chat than I have met idiots. If I was restricted to some chat wheel only then I would never have felt interested in adding people to my friends list because you might as well be playing with AI.

  27. JKnaperek says:

    When you take an active approach to using the block button, two things happen. You eliminate, over time, the toxic players’ ability to affect you, leaving you with only well-intention-ed individuals. And secondly, your leaving those toxic players, to hang-out amongst themselves.
    If you’re a toxic player, and you’re not getting the attention you crave, it’s likely because individuals have taken an active approach to leaving you by yourself.

  28. upupup says:

    Reinvents the genre? Post-shooter shooter? Seriously?

  29. cpt_freakout says:

    While Overwatch tries its best at inclusion and positive reinforcements of competition, it doesn’t go far enough, and the result is a mixed bag of a community that can be as friendly as it can be hostile. What you’ve described is a positive aesthetic, but the medals mechanic, for example, prevents inter-team slamming as much as it promotes intra-team slamming.

  30. PiiSmith says:

    The real problem is that success in Overwatch is 100% team dependent. As a single player you can not win match, you can not carry them to victory.

    Your tank is chasing after lone players rather than pushing the cart / capturing the point and protecting the team? Your healer buggers of to chase a player back to his spawn rather than healing the rest of his team? Nobody seems to care about the objective, but all are chasing kills?

    The matchmaker will not bring a working team together, with whom you like to chat and play, but rather a random assortment of loners with no interest of playing together. Match making does not work in objective based teamwork focused game.

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