I get it. Being mean on the Internet is fun. People do it for the “lulz.” The problem is, it isn’t making life better, or in many cases making the game better. Games today are more than just their 1s and 0s. The people who play them are now an integral part of the experience.
Communities are now, more than ever, determining the staying power of a game. Yes, game developers need to make a great game. And yes, developers need to create tools so the community can police those that take enjoyment from spoiling the experience or degrading others in games. Even when all the checkboxes are in place from a developer standpoint, we, the players, still are responsible for making these worlds inhabitable.
Seeing players abuse one another in games is the thing that disappoints me most about this entertainment medium. I see it day after day in a range of activities – player after player just wants to AFK his or her way to victory, or people in chat rooms discourage others due to their race or sexual orientation. I want to believe gamers are the best of the best, but I encounter these poor behaviors far more than I care to admit.
Being awful in a game is bad enough, but the quest to find joy in the pain of others has led to real-world despicable behavior including denial of service attacks, “swatting” (where the lowest of the low send SWAT teams after players), bomb threats, the harassment of players with threats of bodily harm (a problem women in games in particular are facing far too often), and erasing another player’s hard-earned content.
Games are a place and a time. We need to treat people like we would like to be treated. Awful people certainly exist in this world, but in games people use the shield of anonymity to do things they simply wouldn’t do to people face to face. Yes, it is a problem all across the web, but I can turn off Twitter. I can ignore the comments on YouTube. But when you come into my games and make the world a horrible place, you are hitting me where I live. That simply isn’t acceptable. Grow up, and let’s make our game worlds places we all want to be.