The Daily Grind: How do you handle general chat in your MMO of choice?

    
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We should really have prepared.

In some games like World of Warcraft, you have the dedicated general chat channel. In other games, you just have people shouting so that everyone in the zone can hear them. But in all cases, you have a giant supercollider of people talking at one another, the single greatest concentration of meme-based dialogue and spiteful chatter you are likely to find, and a general sense that you are wading into a space wherein conversation goes to die. Welcome to general chat.

For some people, general chat is just so incessantly toxic and unpleasant that the best way to deal with it is simply to shut it down ahead of time and never even think about talking with people there. Others live for the conversations (and arguments) occurring there and can’t wait to see how each new game’s chat culture shakes out. Still others turn it on or off depending on individual zones and culture. So how do you handle general chat in your MMO of choice?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Arianne Symons

Decided to make an account for this question. General chats are a sore spot for many, and understandably so. Trolls have always been common and you get a lot of unsavory types.

But to me I could wax lyrical all night about the friends made and sheer amusement I’ve gained from them through the years. From the first foray into the unknown as a child, asking where mankriks wife is to random discussion seen about the merits of peas over green beans in the little hours of the night while grinding for some item or another. Even recently when lockdown was first announced the sombre attitude that most people took and condolences given to those affected was heartening.

I try to do my part and defuse toxicity when I see it as well but I will admit that nowadays I’ll always have general chats in their own tab. I often like to play music in ff14 and I’ll take part in general chat and mentor chat between songs, for example.

I’m a bit old fashioned, though, in that I don’t tend to use guild discords much. I have discord for speaking with close friends and the servers are often stifling to me in how fast the chat goes with links, memes, etc. (Granted I join far too many.)

I might just be a relic of a time when mmos were focused on being social but I love general chats.

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Sarah Cushaway

Haven’t played anything much for quite a long while, but general chat usually goes off. Exception is LOTRO or EQ2, but SSG has been messing that up so badly since last spring I don’t really feel like bothering to get back into it. DB isn’t much better. Sadly, those games are over for me.

SWTOR, WoW, BDO, and Rift (surprisingly) had the -worst- general chats I’ve ever seen in a game.

ESO wasn’t great either. FFXIV is rife with passive aggressive weebs that try (and very much fail) to hide their toxicity. I only hopped onto those general chats to ask a question or advertise I had something to sell in my inventory (ESO especially thanks to their jank lack of AH).

EQ2 and LOTRO were ok, but I suspect that’s because the communities are much smaller and older, so less prone to trying to start trouble in chat.

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kjempff

Toxicity in general chat never really bothered me much. Maybe the games that I play helps in sorting the worst and also I don’t get offended or involved in those conversations.
Pick and choose what to reply to and I kinda developed a filter that skips uninteresting stuff..mostly I don’t read general chat much either as I am busy playing the game and chatting with those near me (group and guild).

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Zero_1_Zerum

I don’t play an MMO if there’s not some way of hiding general chat. It’s as simple as that.

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LaValley Thomas

I largely ignore it, if someone is asking for help and I am quite sure I can help them I’ll reply, but usually via a whisper.

Raleigh-St-Clair
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Raleigh-St-Clair

General chat? I turn it off if possible, or move it to another tab that I never open. There’s nothing – absolutely nothing – the randoms on my server could say that would interest me in any possible way. Indeed, I don’t know why more people aren’t like me on this. I think it’s FOMO; they really think something interesting will happen and they’ll miss out. But spoilers, guys, it never does. Ever.

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Peregrine Falcon

I’m usually talking on Discord with my friends while playing MMOs, so I minimize the chat window. Not because I care about “toxicity”, but because I don’t want something that I never use taking up screen space.

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starbuck1771

I treat it like any other chat to be honest. The truth is if you can’t handle the toxicity you shouldn’t be playing multiplayer games because there is always going to be toxicity even without chat. It’s part of dealing with other player’s.

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NeoWolf

This is, hand on my heart one of the most genuinely saddest things I’ve ever read.

That some gamers have become so over exposed to toxicitiy that they have become desensitised to it so much so they view it as the acceptable and appropriate norm..

heartbreaking and a perfect example of just how much games are failing to police thier communities behaviour in game and ensure people abide by the ToC’s and CoC’s they ALL agree to when making thier accounts :(

Just because its all you’ve known doesn’t make it okay, or normal or even remotely acceptable and its perfectly okay to WANT better, and you SHOULD want better.

Apathy is a very slippery slope of a mindet to have for anyone.

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Sarah Cushaway

Agreed.

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starbuck1771

I never said it was acceptable but in the end what can you do? Even in FPS games you hear kids who haven’t even hit puberty using foul language and everything, I am a realist. On the internet period people really don’t care about others feelings or anything because they are anonymous.

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NeoWolf

Hey Starbuck, wasn’t attacking you personally dude, was simply making the point that that mentality of well it’s everywhere, nothing we can do, so just ignore it and get on with stuff is EXACTLY why this problem with toxicity exists in the first place. that mentality is effectively the permission for it to happen because no one objects and that apathy is as I said previously a VERY slippery slope to have.

I get no one wants to have to deal with it, no one wants the problem to exist or more importantly be THEIR problem. But by doing nothing about it, you create the situation and environment where it is allowed to keep happening.

The “what” you should do, is the same as we should ALL (and hopefully DO) do and that is to say, it is not acceptable, report it and the offenders when it happens..make it abundantly clear to the developers it is NOT okay.

Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum as they say,

First, it requires people to step up and say “hold on this is not okay, we expect and want better” in enough numbers that they take notice, after all, they cannot address an issue they are unaware of IS an issue, and secondly, they need to be fearful enough of the consequences financially OF NOT addressing the issue that they will do so.
These may be games but we are all consumers in what is effectively a service industry and we are FAR from powerless.
They want our money and they cannot afford to alienate us and risk losing it, we have a voice, but a voice means nothing if people don’t use it because they think nothing can be done or will be done.

If people act or behave toxic, report them, no exceptions, every time. Enough people doing that whenever it happens, games companies are going to take note and start treating it seriously because the message this is not what we find acceptable will have been sent.

The toxic people not caring about our feelings or anything because of anonymity doesn’t entirely extend to MMO’s because people have accounts with real identities and payment methods attached they may be anonymous to US but they are not anonymous to the games companies, which means they ARE accountable IF held accountable, which like I said means it falls to us to makes sure these games companies know full and well we do not think toxicity is acceptable and that it falls to them to ensure it does not remain.

However the “What can I do”?, let it be someone else’s problem approach, screws us all and allows it to exist and continue. We have a voice, we have power as consumers through our money, we just ALL need to get in the habit of remembering to use it and reminding companies of that fact.

It falls to us to hold THEM accountable so that they hold the toxic people accountable otherwise apathy will be the doom of us all..

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Rndomuser

You can actually do things about it, and you should, even if those people do not verbally attack you. Such as using reporting tools, or even stopping giving the company which developed this game any money if they do not provide reporting tools for offensive behavior and playing something else instead. It is always your personal choice of how you want to deal with such people and you can keep ignoring them instead of doing anything else, just be aware that same people who say bad stuff will be encouraged to continue doing so or do much worse things, including things in real life (for example hit you in the face if they don’t like something about you), if people will just tolerate their behavior while saying “what can you do?” instead of actively discouraging it using all available tools.

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starbuck1771

Point of fact not all games have those types of report functions. For instance SWTOR only has spam and harassment report functions. On top of that most MMO’s are ESRB rated T or M for a reason. https://www.esrb.org/ratings-guide/

EmberStar
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EmberStar

It constantly baffles me that people use “this game is rated M for mature” as an excuse for behaving in the most immature manner possible. Bars are full of alcohol, alcohol makes people more likely to be stupid and rude. Everyone knows this. If I went to the local bar and started to behave with even a *fraction* of the “maturity” of some people in general chat, I’d have a police escort out of the building and probably be banned from ever setting foot there again.

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starbuck1771

Just like most people who play online games know what they are getting by playing online with random strangers. If the ESRB were to actually rate online interactions all games would have a A+ rating.

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Sarah Cushaway

You kids might not believe it, but back in ye olden days, general chats weren’t that toxic because a player would get blacklisted pretty damned fast.

Solo-centric quest hub grinders changed all that. No one needs anyone to help them with stuff, so everyone is as toxic as they please without any accountability.

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starbuck1771

But this isn’t the olden days. We have to evolve with time. Otherwise we may as well still be using dial-up and rotary phones.

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treehuggerhannah

I really don’t think that having a high tolerance for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. is a necessary or positive quality to participate in a multiplayer environment.

Maybe we just need to define what we all mean by “toxicity” more clearly?

EmberStar
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EmberStar

If you want to swim in the verbal sewage of the Internet, that’s your business. You have NO RIGHT to imply that anyone else should be required to do that. And putting up with the sexism, racism and homophobia that runs rampant in even *heavily* moderated chat should NEVER be the default.

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starbuck1771

However it works the other way around as well.

Celestia
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Celestia

Move it to its own tab, and never look at it again.

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LITF

I leave it on, sometimes participate. I treat it as an open free for all, where you can have an open conversion with someone. All the trolly stuff is just a noise/entertainment – I don’t really care if anyone thinks that AC/DC is not the greatest band in the world (example used to avoid more touchy topics) and it doesn’t offend me, since my identity and life is not centered around an opinion of some schmuck on the internet.

I hold firm belief that one should never take anything said online too close to heart or too seriously. Many people WILL say things they don’t even believe just to provoke a reaction and if you provide them with satisfaction – good job, what a good little tool you are. In a sense it’s a social mini game where some players try to provoke reactions of those with ever thinning skin. And oh boy the skins’s growing thinner with each passing year. I think flipping out because someone said something in a videogame chat is absurd and if you do it you should sit down for a minute and reevaluate why are you so invested in some random persons opinion (which is likely not even genuine).

Now that we are over the nasty part, let’s talk about the rest. General chats are what brings more “social” into MMOs, and not having one in my opinion is just furthering the stifling of social aspect and moving further into “single player” MMO area which as you could’ve noticed contradicts itself a tiny bit. I think the trend of desocialization in modern MMOs is a symptom of our modern societies sickness: stagnation of open discourse, increasing sensitivity, in-group vs out-group thinking, pursuit of “emotional comfort” with complete disregard of confirmation bias and echo chambers it creates. Social games after all are a reflection of the society, stagnation and preference to play only with vetted people is a mere reflection of increasingly polarized, self-righteous, sensitive, prone to groupthink reality.

I find comfort in that group chats still exist and there are still people out there capable of keeping their calm in the face of opinions or things they don’t agree with, capable of agreeing to disagree, capable of telling basic trolling from genuine opinions and ideas, willing to help same people they just argued with with game advise or information. These people are surely rare, but you can still find them in general chats. I also think just skimming through a general chat is good training for some people to keep their composure and cool, while for others it can be just good fun or source of useful information about the game (like world boss spawns being called out, or advice given to others you didn’t know you needed to see).