Toxicity is hitting different games and, by extension, competitive communities. Toxic behaviors include: insulting players, shaming newcomers, endless complaining, and trying to shut other people down. So let’s talk about toxicity, and find a way to address this issue.
As a fellow Smash Bros. player, the community I reside in carries a diverse set of opinions. Toxic people bleed in from time to time, but the friendships that form from the need to get better persevere. Recently, issues of toxic behaviors have come up in major tournaments, and it’s time to talk about it. This will be coming from the perspective of a Smash 4 player hoping that the message spreads through the different esport communities.
Smash 4 is on a low point of its lifespan as a competitive game. Despite this, there is still a devoted community that keeps on cheering along with hopes of the game surviving Smash Ultimate. A roadblock has hit recently, as Bayonetta is dominating the competitive scene. As a direct result, frustration plagues players that miss their good old pre-DLC Smash 4.
With this in mind, players are reacting very poorly to the situation. Bayonetta players are pressured, and even booed after winning games. It appears the community is trying to shun them into dropping the character. In reality, the behavior is not only angering Bayonetta players, but the player community as a whole. Most top players are supportive of the characters their fellow Smashers decide to pick. They get hit with a different kind of frustration as they see the behavior of their community.
Games serve as a way to unplug and flee from the stresses of normal life. As toxic behavior hits the communities created by such experiences, the damage becomes apparent. A lot of players are contemplating quitting the game, and others have already taken the step. After Shine 2018, VoiD announced his retirement along with CaptainZack, this year’s Evo runner up – a massive hit to the game as a whole.
As a community, we should foster new players when they come, yet at times, we tend to push them away. Calling lower players “scrubs”, and laughing at their faces does not help the community at all. Nor does shaming and booing higher players.
How to Improve
Instead of inflating egos, we should give back to the community and spread good vibes along the way. Any kind of harassment in tournaments should be unacceptable.
As esports move into the mainstream, our players do not have the same amount of protection as traditional sports players have. So in most events, approaching players is fairly easy. Instead of telling them what pisses you off, consider taking a moment to congratulate players, tell them what you think is both good about their play style in addition to possible room for improvement. This energy gives much needed support to players regardless of their skill level. Just put yourself in their shoes: they train for months for events that can change their careers for the better or worse. All this pressure can break down even the highest caliber of players as they face the titans in the scene.
Whenever you are going to lash out at anyone think about the golden rule: “Treat others how you want to be treated”.
Keep others accountable as you enjoy your game. Watch out for vulnerable players that are shamed for their character picks, or even lack of skill. Make sure that your community becomes aware of the problems that toxicity brings into the mix. Make sure to do your best to impact other players positively, breeding healthy competition along the way. This is our job as spectators and as players. Nobody should feel like they need to quit something out of fear of harassment. Their talents should develop naturally as time ticks.
It is the community’s job to make their game grow. My goal here is to spark discussion in the different scenes, and hopefully bring about some change along the way.
You can also follow Dio @DioReyes_