Competition for the Weak: Trash Talking vs. Toxicity

fa61e6eb_stiener_salty_photoby_josh_stiener

Toxic gaming… Now when you hear the word “toxic”, what do you imagine? It kind of reminds me of the contents residing in Mr. Burns’ nuclear plant from The Simpsons. I will also be speaking on the term “trash talk” because I believe these two concepts are significantly different from each other, and people tend to blur the lines.

Anon+why+are+you+salty+bruh+_546ebda3b193e71a7c6d63869286ea9eBeing “toxic,” is a very common term these days when it comes to online gaming. I’m sure most of you reading this will personally understand where I’m coming from when I say toxic. For those who have never heard of it, then you are safe and are probably living happier than the rest of us. When someone says “Hey, you’re so damn toxic” what is encapsulated in your mind? The optimal hypothesis here would be to assume that an individual was being very abusive, either physically or emotionally, much like any toxic relationship. When it comes to the term “trash talking” it resonates a similar vibe to what competitive language actually is. For example, there is a major difference between someone saying “Bro, you suck” or  “Dude, I fucking owned you” versus someone saying “Your father should have worn a condom” or “I hope you die”. I’ve had people go as far as finding my Facebook account and threatening me before. Do you kind of see where I’m drawing the line here? The first statements, which I will label as “trash talking” should motivate a player to be more competitive and fight those words, whereas the second set of statements are just toxic. In addition, the first statements are not really personal, but the second statements are. Furthermore, the motive behind the two concepts are very different. Trash talking consists of sentences and phrases based on crude humor and being playful/quirky, whereas being toxic is intended to abuse and intentionally hurt someone.

The Tribunal is the judicial system or process of punishing “toxic” netizens of League of Legends. In my opinion, it is a system that fails to acknowledge the boundaries between “trash talking” and being “toxic”.  Although, it has way too many flaws to list I will mention a few. Firstly, people are either way too sensitive these days or their cursors just love pressing the report button, and it seems to be clicked on more than the “play” button tQQhese days. Personally, if someone tells me that I’m bad or I suck, I would find this funny and rather encouraging to just play better than him/her. I ain’t no b****. I would never report someone for something as trivial as that, but most would. Maybe, I’m just old-fashioned. Secondly, the IP rewards system that was previously implemented for the tribunal in order to promote users to judge cases was an epic failure because people were spamming random “innocent” or “guilty” options without even extensively analyzing the cases in order to just to obtain some IP(Influence points). These points are used to purchase specific things in LoL(League of Legends). In result, many people who may have just been trash talking and not actually being toxic were banned unjustly. Thirdly, the chat restriction system is so contradicting to the game’s objective. It’s a form of punishment where it inhibits your mode of communication if you are marked as a “toxic” individual for a certain amount of games. League of Legends is a game that requires teamwork and communication in order to be successful and enjoy it as well. So how does this punishment even resolve an issue? It doesn’t. What’s funny is that you can actually get reported for refusing to communicate. It’s not like you have much of a choice. The chat restriction system is supposed to help you reform to not get punished again, but ironically it actually increases the chances of a player being convicted again. It’s like a criminal coming out of prison only to find that he/she cannot be employed due to a criminal record, and only has the option left to commit another crime in order to survive. The tribunal has been down for the season, but they have recently announced that an improved version will be implemented soon. Yeah… good luck with that.

toxic gamingAt this point it would be impossible to prevent a game like League of Legends from deterring players from being toxic. Bans or no bans they will always come back the same after the ban or with a new account.  To my knowledge, LoL notably has one of the largest toxic communities in online gaming right now. To the point, where it has developed somewhat of a reputation for it already. Transitioning LoL players from being toxic into becoming competitive speakers is like finding a bunch of ant turds in a haystack with a magnifying glass, basically impossibru. A lot of people already say that the League of Legends has a dying community. In fact, I know some users who have quit the game because of this notion. Remember, a community is a fellowship where individuals have shared goals, which is in fact just playing the ****ing game together.This does not mean the game itself is dying because population wise, it is growing, but rather the sense of “community” that is becoming more and more obsolete. To be frank, a lot of these “toxic” qualities that people have also derive from external factors like the portrayal of media, our changing social values, family values, and etc. In fact, I think it also has an underlying relationship to what I talked about in my previous article “The Dark Side to Gaming”. Check it out!

In my opinion, trash talking is an extension of competitive gaming, but there definitely is a visible border line. People should be able to distinguish between competitive trash talking and being toxic. Now I’m sure everyone has had their own toxic moments once or twice, and that is totally understandable, it happens to the best of us, but there are truly venomous people out there that are stored with hate, and intend every violent word ingrained in their soul. All in all, gaming these days really has become the competition for the weak. What do you guys think about these two concepts? Are they different?

By: Kor(Dan Lee)