OP-ED: Trash talk in video games is fine, when did gamers get so soft?

Banter has always been a part of video games, so naturally woke activists want to see it purged by creating player codes of conduct.

OP-ED: Trash talk in video games is fine, when did gamers get so soft?
AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
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Trash talking in video games may be about to become a thing of the past if some people have their way. Industry giant Microsoft is taking notice of the ongoing issue of ‘toxicity’ following the alleged harassment of a female Twitch streamer who was demeaned for her gender while playing the company’s latest game, Halo Infinite.

Gamers are used to trash-talking their opponents and even their teammates in online video games. It’s a staple of the online gaming landscape — when you kill an opponent in a video game, you squat over them and call them names. It’s a form of ritualized humiliation and it’s one that most gamers are either used to, or enjoy participating in as part of the experience.

It’s a competitive thing.

Following years of complaints by mainstream newcomers to the gaming scene, woke activists have attempted time and again to “rectify” the situation by introducing player codes of conduct — mostly by whining a lot to game developers about their online competitors, and have largely received the support of game journalists who’ve amplified their voices.

A new complaint from a female gamer named “Grenade Queen” has drawn industry attention, with Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley condemning harassment against her.

Quoting the female Twitch streamer, Blackley stated that her negative experience “wasn’t the future for @xbox live we envisioned. As a community and with the help of @Microsoft, this needs to be highlighted and stopped. It will take teamwork between players, devs, console manufacturers to change this and it’s time. It’s past time.”

Blackley was joined by Halo Infinite developer Will Waltz, who put on his shiniest helmet to say, “If you are a woman and you are harassed while playing halo, please let me know and I will personally do everything in my power to make sure the harassers are banned for life. I am bloodthirsty and fed up. Sexism and misogyny have absolutely no safe harbor on Xbox.”

In the original tweet, the streamer remarked, “No woman should have to deal with this if they’re having 1 rough game against decent people.” The streamer later shared a screenshot of an apology from the players who were less than kind towards her.

Some gamers responding to the situation posted a video of Grenade Queen behaving just as badly as the male players who gave her a hard time in Halo to point out that the streamer was just as capable of being toxic to her opponents as the players she faced.

In an interview with Axios, Blackley said that “not enough attention was paid to the problem” of gaming toxicity when he was part of the Xbox team, that the team “should have known would develop.”

“That level of toxicity really skyrocketed as more of the human race got online, and the spirit of 'we are pioneering this' vanished entirely,” he told the publication. “It’s gone from bad to pure evil over the last two decades.”

Blackley insists that Microsoft and PC gaming giant Steam should “simply pop the bubble” and “clearly state that there is a problem” with toxicity in video games. He says that it hasn’t happened yet because publishers are afraid of alienating their core audience — a reasoning he calls “ludicrous.”

“I think it’s hard to make that decision in the boardroom because of fear that it somehow alienates the 'core' audience,— he said. “This is of course ludicrous. They are limiting audience size and therefore profit by making huge numbers of potential paying customers avoid their platforms.”

As a solution, Blackley recommends that video game publishers place “marginalized people” in positions of power, “and let them use that knowledge for good. It just makes practical sense, in addition to sending a power message.”

In other words, Blackley believes that those in charge of developing, designing and programming video games should be hired on their outward characteristics and not their merit as software developers, game designers and programmers.

Blackley’s penchant for hysterics notwithstanding, the online gaming community has only gotten more well-behaved as the gaming community has gotten more diverse over time — with the only complaints coming from woke leftists who’ve found a myriad ways to discriminate against others and promote political ideologies in otherwise apolitical spaces.

At the end of the day, the complaints about the state of online gaming are inversely proportional to the problems that exist in the space.

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