Detoxifying the Community

Welcome to the world of virtual reality.

Here, you may live your wildest dreams: wield magical powers beyond your imagination, obtain the strength to pulverize your sworn enemies and battle for control of gorgeous landscapes. Join your comrades in waging campaigns of cunning, stealth, and glorious crusades.
For a mere cost of your self-esteem and potential exposure to constant disparaging comments and actions directed at either yourself, your mother or even your entire ancestral tree.


Side effects may include:
Nausea, mental delusions, headache, fatigue, mood swings, water retention, dysphoria, and increase in irritability and stress level. Dota 2 (replace with your own competitive multiplayer game) is not for everyone. Consult your doctor before use.

The Community

It is not uncommon to receive snide remarks on the internet.
But when you log into a video game, especially when the player is less than competent, derogatory remarks are to be expected. Even more so in incredibly competitive games in a Multiplayer online battle arena (MoBA) and similar FPSes. When tensions are running high, the mud that gets slapped around is enough to warrant the M rating.

Detoxifying the arenas

Perhaps themselves sick and tired of wadding in a toxic slump of hatred, racism, narcissism and misogyny, the wardens of the arenas raises their ban hammer.
And in comes the mute bans.

Most MMORPGs and MoBAs already have this feature implemented, promising communication ban to players who have proven themselves to be overbearingly rude to others. Recently a huge amount of Dota 2 players have found their accounts being mute-banned, leaving us to wonder whether Valve is being too strict on communication issues or if Dota 2 players are really that despicable. A player’s account, when flagged as disruptive, will have their communication privileges revoked temporarily for time periods ranging a few days to months.

A fairly welcomed move, albeit seen overbearing by perpetrators. That being said, the problems persist – because at the end of the day, some people still get away with the ban system failing to catch them or playing with secondary accounts. And while the vulgarities have decreased, there is still hostility in the air. General The unfriendliness and forced co-operation between teammates leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

The Hearthstone method

The latest TCG card game that has been sweeping the market in a blizzard of its own – HearthStone.
This Warcraft® series “spin-off” by Blizzard offers players one of nine epic Warcraft® heroes to play as, and then take turns playing cards from their customizable decks to cast potent spells, use heroic weapons or abilities, or summon powerful characters to crush their opponent. While all of the game elements borrow entities and audio files from the main games in the franchise, notably the third installment in its Real Time Strategy series: Warcraft® 3 – The Frozen Throne, the game have been simple enough to jump into while still remaining difficult to master.

Interestingly, this time Blizzard isn’t going to give (or take) chances with player communication. Unlike in World of Warcraft where players are to report another for spamming or similar communication abuse, or in Warcraft® 3’s “squelch” options for annoying players, Hearthstone prevents players from communicating.

It’s not a bug, nor is it a DLC-only feature. Hearthstone is designed so that the 2 strangers whom find themselves locked into a match through the systems will never be able to communicate through text. Players will not be able to chat during a game with anyone that is not on their friends list. However, players are provided a variety of emotes for basic communication during the games. These voluntary emotes that can range from threats to congratulations are short quotes that heroes can speak during a game.

Furthermore, players can prevent all types of communication – including emotes, by right-clicking their portrait and selecting the ‘Squelch’ option.

Viability in other genres

For the record, I personally loved the absence of chat-based communication in hearthstone. It helps with the pretense that every opponent I’m playing against is a respectable, intelligent individual which otherwise might show in some crude remarks, or those who find it harder to express themselves without the help of verbal tone.

But it could not be less obvious that in team games, where some of your teammates are bound to be a stranger from somewhere around the internet, a chat-based communication system is essential to successful, co-operative game play. And yet, players are seen “abusing” the feature and altogether making the game that pushes players to break boundaries with better insults and creative comebacks.

Stepping up

Not to say that Valve isn’t doing a terrific job with their attempts to keep the uncivil at bay – I thought that the “over-active” ban/mute hammer was one of the best features to ever dawn the game itself. Thing is; in games that require a hefty amount of communication, teamwork and co-op strategising, taking away the tools of communication can have a great impact on the game outcome.

Many advocates of the mute system would say that these ill-mannered players got what they deserved, and until they learn to speak and act proper they should be penalized in the best way possible.
Thankfully, muted players still have access to some communication through pinging the map, and using a list of semi-automated chat responses provided by the system.

But still, what can we do to fully disinfect this noxious, fetid pile of hate-chat?
At the end of the day, no matter how potent a feature that is implemented stop someone from being a complete asshole to another, it doesn’t change things. It’s like alcohol – being drunk doesn’t exactly make you an asshole – it just peels away your social mask(s) and reveal your deepest secrets and lay out your terrible ideas to be judged by the world. And that’s who you really are.

Dear readers,

Your game mechanics can only do so much to promote better behavior.

And if, as I hope, you are not satisfied to simply complain, rant and then conform. Let’s not wait for the next patch to take us to the promise land, where each and every sentence is like a part of a rainbow, but to become a pleasant player yourself. I’d wish to spare you the civics and moral class if I could, but this article needs a proper conclusion. So bear with it, lol.

We should be treating everyone with respect and courtesy, giving them the benefit of doubt – think of it as a small act of social charity if you may. But if I want the world to be better, I think I should try to act in the ways that best reflect how I wish the world was.


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One thought on “Detoxifying the Community

  1. I completely agree with you about Hearthstone. I love the lack of communication options. I’ve even found the majority of players to be extremely polite, with a “Well Played” sounded out any time you make a good move or when the game comes to completion. And if you want to talk to a player about the game you’ve just had, because it was brilliant, fun, a good match or even if you just want to ask a question about one of their cards, you merely befriend them and speak via the IM system. I can imagine that the number of emotes will be increased in a patch further down the road, but for the moment, this current system works wonderfully for me.

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