Toxic behavior and attitudes is one of the more shameful elements of online gaming that drag down the experience. As developers struggle to address this issue, the cult BBC series Black Mirror is bringing this issue to the forefront with its recent episode “USS Callister.”
The episode initially seems like a Star Trek homage but soon reveals itself as an online fiefdom over which an angry and insecure dev at an MMORPG company rules. He’s been stealing his coworkers’ DNA to recreate them as characters in his game so that he can possess and dominate them. As the episode progresses, we see that the captain’s brand of toxicity comes from trying to control his environment and resisting any inclusive change.
“This is an idea that’s particularly ironic in the world of sci-fi,” Rolling Stone writes, “which is all about imagining potential futures in which anything is possible. Daly, on the other hand, builds himself a world that is incredibly constricted, based on his devotion to a retrograde narrative. Does any of this sound familiar?”