Is mute and report enough?
February 23, 2017 1:36 PM   Subscribe

I play a few online games. Before Trump I was happy to just mute gamergate edgelords and go on my way with headshots, last hits, or lynchings. Now I wonder if that's too much tolerance.

I've started taking advantage of report functionality if it's available, but now I question if this is enough. On one hand, it seems like engaging with these trolly jackasses is exactly what they want. But not engaging also seems like tacit approval. I mean, it's tenpting to just throw my hands up and go back to single player games exclusively, but that solution makes me feel angry. What do you all do when confronted with this type of behavior when gaming? Do you do things differently if such people are on your team?
posted by xyzzy to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're asking my opinion, it's a game, no mater how socially interactive the game is, it's still a game.

What else can you do beyond mute and report? Surely, if you stop and think, engaging facelessly, across an anonymous internet, in a virtual environment where players are running around shooting each other, no less, isn't going to be productive.

These are my thoughts.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:43 PM on February 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Do you want to play games or fight trolls? Play games, gather energy, fight the real fights. Before you mute and report you can let them know on open mic that you're doing so. "Leave that bullshit out of the channel, or you're going on mute" and then just mute and report.
posted by Iteki at 1:59 PM on February 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

What do you all do when confronted with this type of behavior when gaming?

This is sort of an orthogonal response, but: it depends on how multiplayer is actually implemented. For games that are hosted peer-to-peer, or that are solely hosted on a company's servers, pushing back and engaging verbally can be hard and is, I think, better aimed at denying them the implicit approval of the community rather than at attempting to change their opinion on anything. Verbally disagreeing (or disagreeing in chat) and then muting them is about as good as you can hope for; a back-and-forth exchange isn't going to escalate that denial of approval into anything else, and it's going to be frustrating most of the time. Just tell them to cut it out, or disagree, and then mute and forget.

For games that are community hosted, or privately hosted in some form, there's a lot more room to carve out a set of expectations for behavior -- both formally, as server policy, and informally, by making sure that everyone playing on the server is actually on board with a shared set of norms. And, you know, backing that up by kicking and/or banning people who violate those norms. Or, put another way, community-run servers let you run a local reporting process for the company's process. That might mean finding an existing server or community, or it might mean trying to create one, but the second is obviously a lot more work. To a degree, this is about carving out a space away from that kind of behavior, which is slightly orthogonal to your question, but as a long-term issue building up safer spaces within existing games is a helpful step to making it clear that there is both a demand and a need for games as a whole to address these issues. Within an MMORPG context, that might be finding or forming a guild that just does not put up with that stuff.

I've gotten responses from two different companies (Valve and EA) from reports I've filed for offensive content (mostly for racist imagery/text in profile photos/names, because that's easily verifiable) months after I sent them in, which I take to mean that reporting systems are (a) working, and (b) working incredibly slowly. So reporting stuff is worth doing, even if it doesn't seem like it right now, and you should keep doing that.

I've started taking advantage of report functionality if it's available,

You might already know this, and it might not even apply to you, but: if you play anything through Steam, Steam has reporting built in on a per-player basis, not only a per-game basis; other distribution platforms are more of a mixed bag.
posted by cjelli at 2:20 PM on February 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

Flag it and move on. Anything else is feeding the trolls.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:33 PM on February 23, 2017

Don't let negative, angry communication be the only kind of speech out there. Counter with your own message that is more than just against/anti hate. Put speech out there that represents the norm of people being supportive, accepting, and building positive relationships with each other.

I am very serious about this. I remember hearing about a problem with anonymous social media commenting around a college campus (or campuses). This led to horrible, racist, frightening kinds of comments that changed the tenor of the place and made people feel actually afraid. It was successfully addressed by people -- I think professors -- just making time to get on the platform and post positive, more normal kinds of comments that reflected the actual values of most people.

People tend to not put forth the extra effort to post "normal" feelings about things because positive feelings don't feel as urgent to us. They don't make us feel that drive to _do something_ that anger and hate do. That means that an extra effort to actually write and post "normal" feelings and relationships is needed if things are going to be balanced in that sphere.
posted by amtho at 2:35 PM on February 23, 2017 [10 favorites]

I played tons of games online as a young lady over the past 14+years.

If they're overtly horrible, I just flag, mute, report, block, whatever. It's not worth your time. They want a rise out of you.

Sometimes if they're just trying to get a rise, I would screw with them a bit.
-Suck my dick bitch.
Maybe, how big is it?
-8 inches [It's always 8 or 9 inches.]
Nah, that's too big for me. No thanks.

A) They're totally disarmed that I said anything other than "fuck off"
B) They either had to take no as an answer or admit they lied about their penis.

After that they would either shut up, block ME, or keep ranting and I would mute and block.

However, I didn't do it to change minds. I just did it to flip the script on them. They had this roadmap for harassment and I threw a wrench in it. But I didn't do it to change the world.

If there was anything insane, I would immediately mute and or block and report. If there's an area where you can sort of review like you can on Xbox for their reputation, then do that too.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:17 PM on February 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

BF1 player here. i do a team or all message like "that's not cool" so it's not automatically the new normal, and if they continue (they almost always do) I click the report button at the end of the round.
posted by zippy at 5:29 PM on February 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

My fiancee said something really smart about this once. He said, 'some people play online games to have fun; other people play to ruin your day.' And this is 100% true. And yeah, it sucks and there's no getting away from it.

I switched to console gaming, which helped a bit. I play a popular MOBA that on PC has a lot of communication happing-- people both text chatting and headset chatting, but on console nobody talks at all; there's no chat feature for the game. I much prefer playing this game on console because of it (although it has its own problems,) but you can just play and not talk.

Secondly, the way I respond to trolls is to remember that you cannot really fight fire with fire; they WANT to push your buttons-- that's why they do it-- your indignant response is like their Pavlov's Bell. So I don't give it to them. If I do engage, I try to maintain my cool as much as I can, and be as zen and kind in my reply as I can to them. It's soooo tempting to just yell at someone that is obviously awful, but there isn't any point. Yelling and shaming almost never yields a positive result, anyway. Being kind often doesn't either, but, it often disarms people enough-- I've had people apologize to me occasionally after diffusing a situation.

And maybe don't play FPS MOBAs as much (not sure if you do) because honestly, they just kind of breed that mentality, as they are designed to be frustrating.
posted by Dimes at 6:30 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mute and move on. I play a lot of League of Legends, and some Overwatch, and deal with this crap a lot. If I'm feeling annoyed I'll say one disarming comment back in the same public channel they did. Something like "gee you're having a bad day, hope it gets better" or "you're right, I am gay! How did you know?". Then I mute them before I see the response.

I did get some satisfaction though for escalating a report for a nasty person whose in-game name was "H1tler was Right". Got that account completely banned. That felt like meaningful fighting back.
posted by Nelson at 9:24 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

There is no such thing as too much tolerance.
posted by Mr. Fig at 10:27 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

All of the responses here have been very helpful, and I've started saying something in chat before mute and report. My script varies, but it's usually along the lines of, "Reported for racism/hate speech, muted." In one text based game I play, edgelords use statements like these to achieve a win for their character and I've started using game mechanics to guarantee that they lose even if I risk losing my own game. Thanks, everyone.
posted by xyzzy at 7:38 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

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