Pinpointing an exact time when gaming courtesy vanished continues to elude me. I noticed some early warning signs back in 2000 when I began my adventure in the first-person shooter known as Counter Strike. Up until then, people could only play with others if they all went to the same location and trained their eyes on a 32-inch TV. Online gaming had not yet taken off; a fad that looked to catch on as servers stabilized to house thousands of gamers.
My buddy introduced me to the game by having me sit in the initial area where you start (known as being a “spawn camper”) and working on shooting people who crossed my scope. Imagine Duck Hunt with better graphics. People began to shout at me in the text and on microphone for not moving and being super cheap. At this point, I was new to gaming insults, so they truly bothered me. I took these things to heart. After awhile, I noticed that insults were being thrown around to everyone, not just me. Anyone who made a mistake or missed an easy shot would draw the ire of his or her teammates.
However, I did not really understand the vitriol that exists in online gaming until I dabbled briefly in other first-person shooters, including Halo and Call of Duty. As technology continues to improve and young men and women grow attached to their phones, those attitudes are carried over into the online world. Some of the most horrific insults would be slung to others. People calling others names, sometimes racially driven, screaming, anything you can think of. Picking on others in an online setting is such an easy thing to do; those people will never be caught. The anonymity gives a voice to the formerly voiceless.
How do we fix this dangerous trend that does more harm than good?
For one, treat others as you would in real life. Have you ever walked into a random room with 15-30 people, looked at one in the eye and starting calling them some of the most vile names in the book? That’s the same thing when you play online.
Second, take breaks. I know I get exhausted and irritated after playing a game for so long. Going outside for a walk or a run, or just clearing your mind will save potential threats from leaving your keyboard.
Finally, realize that the game is not real but the people are. You have no idea how one person will take an insult from another. Calling me goofy wouldn’t bother me, but it could bother someone else.
Online gaming is inundated in today’s society. In some cases, you can’t play a game unless you are consistently connected to a server (Diablo 3, for example). 99 percent of the people reading columns on this website have a good heart (I hope it’s 100!). Take that attitude to all walks of your day, including those occasional times you jump into a game with other people.
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