Now, before you freak out, this is not referring to the gaming community in general; in fact, the majority of the gaming community is absolutely delightful. What this is referring to though is the toxicity and disgusting practices that go on while playing games with other players through online services on home consoles. Much of this seemed to stem in the beginning from Xbox Live in the mid-2000s when it launched, but, it has even infected PlayStation Plus as their online infrastructure has become more developed. Gaming online simply isn’t fun anymore, and for me, this began when I started playing Halo 3 online. It honestly makes me think that Nintendo may have online gaming right, although they need a few tweaks; allow voice chat with friends-only. On other platforms, get rid of general voice chat altogether, because the practices that are shown on both Microsoft and Sony’s platforms are absolutely disgusting.

One of the thing that shocks me is that it isn’t just the pre-pubescent 12-year-olds who are responsible for the endless amount of expletives, harassment (sexual and otherwise), and reprehensible behavior. Many of these gamers are grown men. It’s absolutely sickening and there is no short of sexism displayed. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition actually has a really wonderful setup for multiplayer; there is both a competitive and a casual mode. There are still people playing the casual mode though who will either tell you what a horrible player you are or even go as far as telling you you shouldn’t have been born and should commit suicide (real experience). Casual mode is not meant to be MLG-pro but to be enjoyable for someone like, for instance, me, who hasn’t actually played Gears competitively online for four years and simply wants to enjoy myself. In one match, I was playing Gnasher 2V2, an exclusive mode for Ultimate Edition, and my teammate actually killed me in the first two rounds so he could get the kills against the opposing team. This is supposed to be a team match, yet people are so eager to simply look out for themselves alone to improve their own stats instead of working together, which is what online gaming is supposed to be about.

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As bad as these instances are though, they cannot even compare to what I have experienced and observed in Call of Duty, and recently Destiny on the Playstation 4. The things I went through in Call of Duty I can’t even repeat because it was so profane and abusive, and when looking for groups to play raids with on Destiny things could be even worse. Using LFG (an online system that allows you to find groups to play with for games like Destiny) is a nightmare and playing with randoms is usually an abusive experience, even if you’re a good player. If you’re female, well, it’s an inevitability. This is not just a problem on the Microsoft or Sony platforms, but a problem with the gaming industry as a whole. The sad thing is though, in all likelihood, there is no way to fix this. When people hide behind a moniker they think they can say hateful, hurtful things, and harass people simply because they can get away with it. There are some great experiences I have had online while playing both Playstation and Xbox, but it has been far outweighed by my negative experiences, and I’m not the only one who has encountered these issues.

A part of the problem is the fact that parents don’t pay close attention to what their children are playing or simply do not care, as games like Call of Duty and Gears of War are rated M for a reason: they are not meant for younger audiences. Children don’t have fully developed minds and while they are intelligent and fascinating, they don’t comprehend the consequences of their actions and words; this is a fact of life. It is up to the parents to supervise their children’s behavior and monitor what they are playing, but that just doesn’t happen, and that is in part why we’re in the situation that we’re in regarding online gaming. Retailers are also to blame because in a lot of cases they simply do not care if they are selling these games to those under the age of 17. When I get carded for an M game, I usually welcome it.

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The other reason is the anonymity of the internet. People think they can get away with whatever they want because they aren’t using their real name and there will be no real-world consequences just because it’s online gaming. There’s no accountability. I have been told to kill myself, that my mom should have eaten me when I was born (what does that even mean?), that my family will be murdered, etc. The rest I cannot repeat. It is sickening and disheartening and makes me not even want to play games anymore, even though this is what I do for a living and I love it. It truly makes me think, does Nintendo have it right when it comes to online interactivity on the Wii U?

I do believe that Nintendo needs to be a little bit more lax and allow voice chat with friends in private parties that can act cross-software, much like Sony and Microsoft allow, but I think that’s it. You should only be allowed to talk to people who are on your friends list and only be allowed to use voice chat if you are over the age of 13. It may seem a little restricting, but because of how toxic the online gaming community has become, many people stick to party chats anyway to avoid all the negativity. Nintendo was even considering voice chat with Tri Force Heroes, but because of play tests where players were bullied, they opted for communication with icons instead, which actually worked very well.

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The gaming community has to step up and gamers, developers, publishers, and anyone affiliated with the industry must denounce this despicable behavior. It has gone too far and not only has a horrible impact on innocent kids who are just trying to play a game, like a T-rated title such as Destiny, but kills people’s enjoyment of gaming. What should be a fun experience that brings us closer together as both human beings and gamers is actually tearing us apart. Online gaming is supposed to be enjoyable, not the current nightmare it has become.

  • Aaron blanchard

    Yep, lets stop the foul language while shooting, stabbing, setting on fire and decapitating opponents. You can play multiplayer with mic off and don’t have to listen to the crap, or play splatoon on Wii U if people are hurting your feelings with language. This article speaks the truth about multiplayer language but it misses the mark because somehow the author is ok with chainsawing someone in half, but can’t take a little verbal assault. I suggest getting out your Sega Genesis or give up playing multiplayer because it will never change. And if you let your 12 year old play violent games like Gears of War and think Gaming consoles should implement rules for chat, its not the online gaming community that’s toxic….. its you as a parent. It would be nice if this article was written with some thought behind it, because it ended up to be senseless click bait. Shielding our children from obscene language is impossible, as for violence, sex and murder,etc. This is the world we live in today, get used to it. Or get a Wii u.

  • Walter

    Yes and no.
    I’ve come across vile people in online gaming as well, and I hate dealing with them, but the Sarkeesianistic approach that a lot of companies are taking to this problem is also not the answer.

  • malbhet

    This is what happens when everyone wish for gaming online as a necessity, you all are now exposed to the ignorant fools that plague online gaming, and online only games are even worse because of it! I don’t feel sorry for anyone suffering from harassment on online gaming, because you all pushed for gaming to always be interactive online! If you don’t like being harassed in online gaming then stop playing online games, and play local or single player, oh wait, you can’t do that because to many people in the gaming media defended local and single player being taken out of games! suffer with harassment like the rest of us, and get over it!

  • Curunir

    Wait, you’re playing online shooters but you get offended by foul language? I honestly don’t understand…

  • SuperTidosho

    Welcome to the Internet. It’s never going to change either. I’d recommend another hobby.

  • datdude

    Yeah, I love single player games that give me lore and a great story to get lost in. Multiplayer is something I only occasionally dabble in, and the main reason for that is I really don’t like the online community to determine the quality of experience I have with a game, and that’s what you get with online multiplayer. I much prefer single player any day of the week.

  • DarthDiggler

    Sounds like someone hurt your sensitive vagina online brah. 🙂 (I am teasing) This isn’t online gaming community in any community where people are anonymous you are going to have assholes. Grow a backbone or don’t go online.

    • Stuart Filson

      The last time I had voicechat on was years ago. My last memory was just people yelling nonstop. Gamers have garnered a deservedly bad reputation. Multiplayer has been historically managed poorly, but it’s slowly getting better.

  • Gamist

    Not sure about Xbox Live, but Playstation does have Community Groups and Private Groups where you can join and chat to affiliate with gamers with the same level/interest before starting a game together. You can access it through the PS4; it’s in the menu option where you look for new content for the game or news.
    Also, I don’t game online like I used when I had my team, but the reason for open chat is, I think, for trash talking just like any sport. :/
    Oh, and uh… about the mom should eaten you comment… it means fellatio.

  • John Hughes

    Great article!

  • Joey Lieu

    Tell us something that we don’t know. A game company I used to contract for won’t even hire gamers because they believe they lack the focus to function in a professional work environment. I used to play Neverwinter and MechWarrior online quite bit, but you know what, the barrage of unwelcome comments get tiresome after a while. Every comment now consists of wishing death and cancer on people. Now I get my fun from managing my investment portfolio. Yes, doing personal financing or playing Record Keeper is more appealing to me than sitting through all this shit.

  • imjustascoolasu

    people playing online games choose a hellish reality for themselves. If you approve of this behavior or take part in it, you’re a lost soul hanging out in the wrong places. thanks for the read, i’ll just play games with my friends, something online gamers pretend they have, misery loves company without a doubt.

  • rudeboyrg

    I agree completely. Actually, this is the reason I don’t play online games. I remember my first online gaming experience. In 2001 had a PS2. Connected it online for first time and played Smackdown VS Raw. Back then online lag was crazy so I wasn’t used to it and i was my first time playing. Plus the guy was using a headbut exploit glitch to win which I didn’t find out about until later. After I lost, he said “I beat you”. I replied “Good game. Congrats”. His response ” You suck”. Me: “Yeah. I guess I do. My first time playing. Well good job man. You did well. Congrats”. Him: ” FUCK YOU. GO TO HELL. DIE. ” And that was my end with online gaming. I decided I don’t want to play online anymore. No point in it. A lot of great games out there but waste of time playing online.

  • You nailed it, and it’s a major reason I don’t play consoles and stick with PC gaming. We have a small group of mature gamers (executives, attorney, business professionals) and communicate only over a password protected Teamspeak. With a lot of new games the first thing we do is disable in game voice chat. The text spam is bad enough.

    We have on occasion invited female gamers in our midst as well, though you don’t find too many of them who will actually speak on a microphone and give away their gender. Any smack talk in channel is (almost) always good natured, and while there’s no ban on profanity, it’s fairly well self moderated. We are selective on both what games we play and who we invite into our circle of gaming friends. It makes for a completely different experience.

    That’s not to say everyone is always mature. We’ve had our share of teenage drama every few years and friends have come and gone.