Toxicity in online gaming is easily one of the biggest stories of the year, particularly in Overwatch, where Blizzard has been focusing its anti-toxicity efforts with such persistence that it’s almost become silly. And yet here we are, with the problem unsolved and a whole lot of people sure it’s unsolveable or content to direct victims to just “ignore” it.
So how bad is it? Eurogamer collected clips of female gamers and streamers being harassed via voice chat in Overwatch and toted them to BlizzCon, showing them to attendees who agreed to be interviewed about their reactions and their own experiences. Forewarning if you’re going to watch the video below: The clips are awful and will make you angry once you realize they aren’t parody. The worst part? Most of the men and women Eurogamer interviewed basically all have that same stony look on their faces that I currently have on mine because it’s par for the course – and it’s just the misogyny brand of toxicity. The video doesn’t even touch on racism or homophobia.
“That sounds about right,” said one woman after watching the clips. “That’s pretty common.”
“It’s sad, but that’s what happens to pretty much every every female who plays a video game and has their voice up,” another points out.
“I’ve learned over the years just not to talk in games and just be kinda silent,” says a third.
“I would love [more than] anything for people to look at Overwatch and think about the amazing talent and the amazing game that we all have to play,” remarks a dude clearly stunned by the clips, “but unfortunately this attitude really takes away from what is a beautiful and inspiring game.”
In one of the clips, another player on the team calls out harassers and tells them to knock it off, but attendees point out that while that’s great, it’s uncommon. “I get that you don’t want to start a huge argument in there, but I also feel like if no one says anything, it just feels like, yeah, it’s totally cool to lay into her like that,” explains an interviewee, who gives a few examples of how she’d like to see gamers stick up for each other to fight toxicity in the moment itself – in fact, multiple people argued that men have a unique ability to influence toxicity in other men.
“If they’re not confronted about it, they’re just going to keep doing it,” one man says. “They’re going to assume it’s OK.”
“We have to police ourselves. We have to make sure that we are the community that we want to be.”