MOP reader Tyler sent us a tip over the weekend that keeps bothering me. According to a post made on Facebook this weekend, a World of Warcraft player took his life over in-game bullying. I haven’t been able to verify whether it truly happened, but I can verify that the replies to the thread about it were just as toxic as the toxicity that allegedly led to the tragedy itself, with people victim-blaming, insulting those with mental disorders, inserting antique arguments about the efficacy of report-and-ignore, inquiring as to the victim’s loot drops, and suggesting that they themselves “need to step up [their] trolling game,” presumably because nothing’s funnier than suggesting your trolling is sub par since you haven’t managed to get anyone killed yet. If you’re a giant asshole, that is.
“I have never understood why the MMO community is so eager to bury its head in the sand about stuff like this,” Tyler lamented. “Even the people who do admit that in-game harassment, hate speech, and the like are actually a bad thing never seem to actually do anything about it. This is something we should be raising hell about. […] I stopped caring when I realized no one else cared.”
I know people care. There are even people in that toxic thread shouting down the monsters. But I do acknowledge that every article we do on toxicity spawns more toxicity against people trying to solve the problem, and some days it feels like we’re getting nowhere. Maybe we’re approaching the problem wrong: We often debate what studios should do. What about the rest of us? How can individual MMO players combat toxicity? What do you do yourself, beyond the bare minimum of report-and-ignore?