Critical Hit – Competitive Communities

Every week I take a swing at an aspect of the gaming industry that really gets on my nerves. This week I take a look at gaming communities; more specifically those that surround competitive genres such as MMOFPS and MOBA games.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time engulfed in these communities, playing everything from League of Legends, Call of Duty and Football Superstars to Battlefield 3, Dota 2 and FIFA 13. Despite the huge differences in the games themselves; they all share what I consider to be some of the worst communities in gaming.

Practically every multiplayer game in today’s industry involves a winner and a loser, but what makes these games attract such hostile players? League of Legends is probably a prime example of what I’m discussing here. The game is filled with “Smurfs”, the nickname given to max level players that create new characters to pound on newbies, and despite the fact this is a well known practice; new players are still treated like dirt. Even when your entire team is fully aware that half of your opponents have the experience of 500 games behind them, they still moan like crazy when you make a very simple mistake.

Stepping to a completely different genre, FIFA 13. I’ve been playing the Ultimate Team mode for some time now, and the complete idiocy of the behavior I experience is shocking. When losing a game 3 goals to 0 my opponent starts passing the ball to the goalkeeper and running around the field before kicking it off the pitch. When winning 4-0 by half time; my opponent suddenly loses internet and the game is void. When I compare these to my own actions, I’m left bewildered.

Although comparing reality to a gaming community is near enough insane, playing games like these really don’t improve my opinion of the human race. In reality we’re forced to face the responsibilities of our actions; but in a virtual space it goes unchecked. So when given the opportunity to be exactly who they want to be, without remorse or fear of repercussions, people behave like complete asshats.

What experiences do you have with overly competitive communities? Even with the massive improvement in gaming over the years, developers have zero control over the only aspect of gaming that doesn’t seem to evolve; the players. Do you have any ideas to reward fair play or decency in the online space? The Tribunal in League of Legends works to an extent but what would more would you like to see as a player?

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