A deep dive into the toxicity in gaming!

Photo by Fredrick Tendong on Unsplash

I'm a self proclaimed gamer and I wear that with pride but these days it's getting harder and harder to admit to others what my favourite pastime is and it's all because of a small but loud group of people in the community.

Lets take a quick walk down memory lane (mine to be exact). One of my earliest memories is playing 'Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex' around 2004, now I was just a toddler at this time but I remember being encapsulated by the colours and this fun animal protagonist and this kick started my biggest hobby to date. So I've been a gamer for over 16 years, I don't often interact within the community but I do always keep up to date with it and I have seen how it has changed over the years.

Now I'm not saying the gaming community has never been toxic, I grew up with Modern Warfare 2 lobbies and those things were brutal, but with the newer generations of gamers something is different.

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Kids are becoming gamers at younger and younger ages as it becomes a more accepted pastime which is great, gaming is a fun way to relax after a stressful day, however this means they're being subject to people a lot older than them who don't care what kind of language they use, therefore the kids start to pick up these words and phrases. As they grow older they follow the same patterns of passing down these phrases and it's a continuous cycle.

Don't get me wrong I'm not blaming video games for kids swearing or misbehaving but I'm not denying it could play into some aspect of it.

The biggest reason I personally believe that gaming is becoming more toxic is because of the internet. Now I love the internet, I couldn't live without it, but we have a lot more access to information than our parents did and we can communicate with people all over the world in a blink of an eye. So how does this make gaming more toxic? Well think back to your own childhood, everyone had their obsessions from dinosaurs to space and as we grow older these develop. With the use of the internet we can talk to people who share our interests anywhere in the world but this doesn't just apply to nice things this also applies to people who think they're better than a certain group of people as well.

There are plenty of people on the internet who share less than savoury views on the world, they're everywhere, you don't even have to look hard and you can find racists, sexist, homophobes, the list goes on and kids are starting to pick up these ideas and believe they're an ok way to think.

So again how does this relate to gaming? Well if you've ever played Grand Theft Auto online or been in a Call of Duty lobby recently you will have probably at least heard someone shooting around racial slurs or sexist comments but what disturbs me is that these voices are getting younger and younger. These people then grow up, probably keep gaming and teaching these behaviours to others.

Like I said previously, I grew up in Modern Warfare 2 lobbies, people have always had a mean streak, anger issues, stuff like that but this is different. These behaviours are so discriminative, you can see girl gamers being harassed online or if someone admits to being a person of colour they get bombarded with hate messages.

I've experienced this sort of thing myself recently. I'll start with the fact that I'm a white, straight male but I was playing Grand Theft Auto online the other week and I had someone out of the blue send me an in game message calling me the N word, it was out of nowhere and unprovoked. Now stuff like this obviously doesn't bother me but to someone else it might. This is when I realised the world is getting worse, to use that term as a negative attack on someone is just wrong and we need to do better as a gaming community to fight this.

So what do you think? Is gaming becoming more toxic? Feel free to discuss below.

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