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Male Toxicity in Video Games

by Allison Costa 2 years ago in fact or fiction
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And How it Effects our Youth

Video games - and gamers in general - often receive a bad reputation that is largely unwarranted. As being violent - easily counterracted with such games as Thief, which espouses a non-violent approach, or Mario Kart, or Final Fantasy, which is often characterized with more video than actual game play these days .

But perhaps the worst aspect of video games comes in the form of online play - and the hatred and bile spewed forth by many members of the gaming community.

Many male members of the gaming community.

Popular discourse would have you believing that this discourse is exclusively targeted at women, however. That the male portion of the gaming community presents a united front against women, and women alone.

And this is simply not true.

According to Roger Fogg, “Men can be pretty bad, even against other men. Which is why I tend to avoid competitive gaming.”

This is not an unheard of phenomenon. We all avoid that which causes us pain - it is simply human nature to do so.

According to William Ellis of the Facebook group ‘Maine Video Gamers’, the Game ‘Rust’ became so filled with hatred and male toxicity that he actually stopped playing the game. Not because of the game itself, he hastened to add, but because of the hatred and bile spilling forth from the other players.

“I think a lot of things play into it. Anything competitive is going to have people lose, which breeds anger, which breeds toxicity. “ William continued.

But at the same time, William agrees that there has to be some kind of monitoring system involved.

“I think parents need to take a bigger role in their kids lives, especially when it comes to gaming.” William commented in a recent conversation. “Coming from personal experience, kids are learning a lot of their social practices from their gaming interactions, and a lot of it is toxic, and that’s what they learn, and show others, which keeps that cycle going.”

How many times have we, as parents, become concerned with what our children are learning on the playground? In public? Online? And yet, how many of us have never become concerned with the games that our children played?

These games have become the social interaction that many of our children rely on in this digital age - especially with the coronavirus pandemic.

“Parents NEED to regulate and monitor their children on the internet.”. William continues. And he brings up a common concern for many of us. Children are learning many of their social practices online, especially in this post corona world.

“A lot of them (these games) are designed for mature audiences, so that’s who’s playing, but it’s not always the case.”

We regulate our children in so many things - in the books they read, where they are allowed to go with, or without supervision. Even what friends are approved for contact outside of school. We monitor if events are parent chaperoned, what language is appropriate both in our home and outside of it.

Yet with one click of a mouse, children and teenagers are given access to an entire virtual world where nothing is taboo - where any language, any behavior, is not only allowed - it is oftentimes encouraged by both their peers and those older than them.

You hear constantly about protecting your children from sexual predators online - but not about the dangers of male toxicity and violence being taught to those same children by the very game you allow them to play.

“I feel like the anonymity of the internet has provided people an outlet to be shitbags.” Commented Jon Garrish. “Most gaming being competitive encourages the descent into more toxic behavior”. And this is the behavior that our children are being introduced to, every time they log in to their favorite online games - which means that fighting male toxicity in games is more important than ever.

“It's environmental and a nurture issue, in my opinion”, stated Charlie Coleman. Now in his early 40s, Charlie looks back on the early media he consumed as a young man, and claims he is not surprised that male toxicity is so prevalent in the online gaming community.

“We were never given another acceptable option”, Charlie continues “We were given a set of rules that 'men' had to follow. Aggression, machismo, sports. Don’t be a loser, really - don’t be a thinker, and never express emotion. It isn’t ‘manly’.”

What this is all leading to, of course, is that there is a lot to unpack about male toxicity. Many gamers, like Roger Fogg and Charlie Coleman, feel that they can no longer take part in gaming communities, because they are so horribly toxic. Even early attempts to bring up this issue ended in failure, as it only increased the hatred and bile spilling forth from the rest of the community.

So tell me, readers - how do you see the fight against male toxicity in the gaming community - both online and offlines - going forward? Because if online communities are going to teach our youths so much about life - are going to be such an integral part of their social interactions and growth - something must be done to make it a safer community as a whole.

fact or fiction

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Allison Costa

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