It is the unfortunate nature of community on the internet that toxicity seems to be an unavoidable aspect of it all. People get angry, either because real-life spills over into their online time or because they are the type of person who derives joy from trying to make other people miserable.
Gaming is no exception and can be almost famously toxic in certain areas. The lengths that companies need to go to keep toxicity in check can often mean that they simply don’t do it or try and do it too late. This is further complicated by the fact that they simply do not have authority over all the places that community members gather. On the modern internet, entire dens of toxic gamers can exist and feed off each other.
In short, gaming can be super toxic, so let’s take a look at some communities that are unfortunately famous for just how toxic they can get. We would also like to point out that this article is not aiming to condemn all members of these communities. An important thing to keep in mind is that what connects all these games is success and the size of their playerbase, so any toxicity within those groups will feel amplified.
League of Legends
League of Legends is a game that rose to prominence in the wild days of esports when things were a little looser than they are now. When prize pools were barely enough for teams to feed themselves, and sponsorships were a far-away dream, Riot Games were proving that a game that only needs 6 buttons could actually be hyper-competitive. This was a perfect storm of chat toxicity, as everyone wanted to be the best, but nobody wanted to admit their own mistakes.
League of Legends would eventually become so bad that it would become a meme, and Riot would eventually step up with all manner of mechanics like chatbots and Tribunal and other such things, but by then, it was too late. League of Legends slipped beneath the grimy, toxic surface of the swamp, and no game would ever match it when it came to being played by seriously angry and repressed people.
Dota 2 is yet another MOBA, and no matter what anyone tells you, it is just as bad as League. It has all the same problems as Riot’s Game; they are merely available on Steam instead of giving people a reason to download a new launcher.
Probably the most interesting thing about the toxic elements of Dota 2 and League of Legends is just how toxic they get when discussing each other. Both would paint the other as the ultimate villain in gaming, failing to comprehend that it’s a case of two Spider-men pointing at each other.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Rounding out what is, essentially, the top three, we have Valve’s first-person tactical shooter, CSGO. Now, this is not to pick on Valve. It is just a case that they have made some incredibly successful games that have garnered huge communities. Where you have large groups of people, you have toxicity.
CSGO once again suffers from being hyper-competitiveness but adds in a couple of wrinkles of its own. Up first, hackers are reasonably common as people are happy to hack, get banned, then pick up another copy on sale on a new account. On top of that, sellable skins create a definite case of the haves, and the have nots, which can lead to a lot of smack talk when people don’t perform well but have clearly dropped beaucoup bucks on a skin.
Call of Duty
With some games, you look directly at Youtube as a reason for the overt toxicity that can be on display. When the whole idea of recording gameplay and putting it on the internet was really starting to blow up and become the influence scene that we know today, Call of Duty was right at the forefront and was creating some of the biggest stars at the time.
The problem is that a lot of those stars were basically giant man-children, creating content that was essentially them bullying children. Drama was common, as it is very important that you let something simple like a casual play FPS match spill over into real-life drama, and for a while, the Call of Duty scene would become a clown car of neer-do-wells and dumbassery.
One would think that with Blizzard’s efforts to have at least some mild form of diversity in the game, Overwatch might not be so bad, but it’s still a first-person shooter, a competitive game, and has a chatbox, so you know where it went. Probably one of the most damning indicators of Overwatch’s toxicity is that professional players have quit, citing community hostility and toxicity as the reason they wanted out.
ARK: Survival Evolved
Of all the “start out on a beach” survival games, ARK is easily the worst for toxicity. Part of this is that it’s a game where only the twisted can survive among all the bugs, and most of the player based has been driven mad over the years by the power they have accrued compared to newer players.
As much as I love the Battlefield games, the community can often leave a lot to be desired. Things were cast in stark contrast as members of the community went into a bit of a meltdown because a world war two shooter contained people of color. What followed was portions of the player base engaging in a large degree of racism while EA went with a very tone-deaf “Best playerbase in the world” advertising campaign.
When discussing Fortnite, it is very important to peel the two different layers of the playerbase apart. On the one hand, people are just trying to have fun and enjoy the game, while on the other hand, people seem to derive their fun from screaming down open mics during Team Rumble matches. It is also important to separate valid criticism from pointless hate. Fortnite is seen as a young person’s game. Many older gamers feel the need to show their lack of maturity by endlessly attacking it, simply adding to the toxicity around the game and making themselves look like hypocrites.
Minecraft really feels like it shouldn’t be toxic, but it’s one of the few games where other players can destroy years of work. People will happily go onto servers that players have spent years building, creating, or surviving on, and attempt to simply destroy as much as they can.
Every fighting game, ever
I’m throwing all the fighting game communities under the same bus because toxicity seems to be a cultural problem across the genre. Despite providing us with some of the greatest competitive gaming moments ever, fighting games will also give us some of the worst ways the players will treat each other. Once again, the inherent competition seems to bring out the worst in people, and angry gamers who are perhaps a little frustrated in other areas of their life seem to not worry about the things they say when the violence is strictly pixelated.