Why Bother Being Toxic?

Games with a competitive mode can bring out the best or the worst in people. Our innate need for domination and validation that we are the best at something can be fulfilled through video games. This leads to tricky scenarios however where many get addicted to the thrill of a win and the only way they can view a game as fun – is by winning. I agree winning is fun, but often we lose sight of the fun in order to secure a win at all costs.

I had a friend of mine suggest to write this article on toxicity as he is fed up of encountering this from MOBAs and other online game genres. I know many of us have experienced or even been a part of this problem at one point or another. Toxicity can start for many reasons, it can start when we get frustrated with our teammates or at our performance in a match, it can start when you haven’t had a good day or someone triggers out a response from you. Regardless of how it starts it’s important to point out that being toxic does not help yourself or your teammates at all. Spending all of your rage and time into making someone feel bad because they missed a skill shot or accidentally walked into a trap isn’t a constructive way to make sure they don’t do it again. If you are constantly picking on others performance it lowers your concentration and makes you prone to your fair share of mistakes, I have seen numerous players get picked off trying to flame teammates and start fights instead of putting that energy into making an actual comeback.

Just recently I lost a ranked game because our Illidan listened to a very abusive Sonya on our team who was criticizing his build. He was going to take On the Hunt but due to Sonya chipping away at his confidence he wound up choosing Metamorphosis. Because of that we ended up lacking some important CC for their high priority assassins and they rolled us every team fight. Despite us telling Illidan to just mute the Sonya and get on with the game he just couldn’t bring himself to do it and felt the need to defend himself. Sonya spent the entire game typing about how we were all the worst and as a result had zero impact on the game, turning it into a 4v5. Its games like these where I wonder what is the real point here of being negative. Both sides had their say but no one wants to end it there, the haranguing has to continue until the end of the game and sometimes even well past that point.

It’s unhealthy and unjustifiable, generally you start up a match and everyone wants to win: you have the same purpose in mind. Yes, sometimes there is a troll who gets his kicks out of trying to bait a reaction out of you all by their obvious griefing tactics. Everyone has those games and they are sadly unavoidable – but here’s the thing, don’t focus on the troll and band together with your remaining teammates, yes you may still get stomped, but you may not. HotS is a game that rewards teamwork, use the enemy team’s fascination with the troll to your advantage. Even if you still lose, report the offender at the end and move on. By not playing into the troll you actually ruined their game and that’s a personal win you get to walk away with.

Believe me I know how rage can get the better of a person, I have been guilty in the past of criticizing the Nova’s and Li-Mings on my team (those are my mains – how dare they suck with that hero is something along the lines of how my thoughts went). But nowadays I just say why bother, yes I still can get annoyed, but I don’t spend all my time and effort specifically targeting out that person asking why they’ve missed the last 10 Snipes despite skilling into Snipe Master.

Firstly, it isn’t going to help them in fact it’s just going to make them feel worse and not really change my disgruntlement. Secondly I don’t know this person – maybe they had a bad day, maybe their hand is cramping up, maybe they haven’t realised they need glasses and just can’t see what they’re doing. I don’t know what’s affecting them, but maybe it’s a genuine reason. Thirdly, now that I’ve openly insulted them good luck getting them to try to listen to my calls. If I really feel the need to say something then I make sure I keep it constructive, “Hey I’ve noticed you’ve missed the last few Snipes, I have also noticed you aren’t using Pinning Shot before you try Snipe them. Try this combo since slows their move speed first, it should give you an easier time.”

By avoiding being toxic you save a lot of time and effort spent pointlessly trying to give yourself the illusion that insulting others is somehow making you feel better. You can also focus your efforts on trying to better yourself and carry a team. It’s so simple right?

Winning is fun but winning should not be everything, learning is equally important and you learn more from your defeats than your wins. If we can shed the need for total win domination in games but keep the desire for it, that’s all we need to become better players in the long run. We want to win to the best of our ability, not win at all costs. Playing to win is the tool not the purpose in itself.

While we’re also talking about avoiding toxicity we should perhaps touch base on unsportsmanlike behaviour or “salt”. By belittling the enemy team because you dislike losing or because you felt like they didn’t deserve to win and sending out hate to your opponents, it falls into the same category of toxicity. Learn to respect opponents to begin to improve your attitude towards opponents. By acknowledging that they got you this time, but next time you’ll have them, keeps the competition fresh and your spark to win alive. No one enjoys being outplayed but keep an analytical mind about it, question yourself was there anything you could have done differently to change the outcome or how was it that the enemy team beat you, was it tactics, strategy or timing? There are so many ways you can become a better player if you keep an open mind about your losses and it takes the sting out of losing.

Lastly, I know there is a small percentage of people out there that just can’t seem to reduce their anger and stress when they lose no matter what they try. It’s tough but it may be time to set boundaries and be firm with taking a break after a loss. Tilt streaks happen when your stubbornness to force a win outweighs sensibility and logic. A rule a lot of competitive players have mentioned in AMA or interviews is that if they lose 2-3 games in a row they know it’s time to take a break. Go derp around, have fun in a non-competitive mode and come back energised and ready to play at your peak again to get a win happening.

So the next time you see that ETC whiff a Mosh Pit – before you go keyboard warrior on him ask yourself, is it really worth it?