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Talking Out of Both Sides of Your Mouth: A Response to How To Successfully Troll People in Online Games

And we celebrate trolls in MMO's on this site... why?

I'm going to try to keep this short. Try. I know I'm rather infamous for posting epic length articles but I'll try to keep this to a readable length for even the most ADD among you. Oh, I've offended you already? Good. Keep reading, I'll probably do it again.

Recently, GameSkinny published an article called "How To Successfully Troll People in Online Games" By "Ask Erin". I'll save you the details, it basically lays out how to be a self-centered asshole and be celebrated for it by your peers. On the article itself I asked "And this is fun why?" It was promoted TWICE on twitter and both times I asked "why it is a good thing to celebrate and encourage trolling in MMO's." And I never got an answer. I think I know why.

Articles like Erin's, videos of people trolling others, audio files of people blowing up after being antagonized for who knows how long are celebrated as "cool" in gamer culture. Why? Well we have to look at the internet as a whole. Basically, you have a community who can do or say anything they want. You want to say racist things? "So I got banned, LOL! NEW ACCOUNT BITCHES!" Same thing goes for harassing players in world, trash talking, antagonizing people to make them kill themselves ("The Mittani" in Eve Online encouraged people to pick on a suicidal player to "make him kill himself"), zero long term repercussions. At worst, you are inconvenienced as you wait in the corner during your time out cursing under your breath at the teacher.

Meanwhile, in the real world, you're affecting someone else. You're driving people away from "your game" so you can get some "lulz".  In the culture, this makes you cooler than everyone else.  a Rebel. In the real world this makes you a bully. It makes you "that guy". Mostly tho, it makes you all hypocrites.

One thing I see over and over is this message that "gamers are misunderstood" and "it's not fair when we're painted in the media as antisocial jerks" or "That episode of CSI was so totally a stereotype of gamers, I wish they'd get it right.". Then you turn around and celebrate anti-social people who pick on others online. You not only feed into the stereotype but you become it.  If you troll people, if you support trolls, if you love to sit in trade chat watching people being goaded into arguments and fights, if you routinely watch videos of people harassing others online.... Your right to EVER complain about how the media portrays gamers has been revoked.

It's something called "talking out of both sides of your mouth." Saying that online games should foster teamwork and community building goes directly opposite to the notion that it's cool to harass people and make them ragequit because it's funny to you. And really, that's what it is. Trolling is a selfish activity. It's saying that you're willing to make it so nobody is allowed to have fun, but yourself.

One of the last lines in the article is especially telling to this mentality. "You might want to save (these trolling techniques) for pug raids you were about to bail on anyway." This is probably the most selfish thing you can do in a community based MMO. Instead of helping, instead of teaching, instead of trying to make the experience better for all parties, instead of quietly leaving, you instead poison the well and make everyone else miserable for your own pleasure. Nobody gets to have fun but YOU.  "OMG!  UR ALL LOOZERS!  U ALL SUX!" is shorthand for "I'm a diva and since you can't carry me to a win I'm going to belittle you all before making a grand exit trailing my feather boa behind me."

I mean hell, if you want to masturbate go right on ahead, just don't do it somewhere you'll hit me with the end result.

And you do this because there is no punishment. You're not gonna get punched in the mouth (as much as you deserve it). You're not going to have to explain yourself for making someone walk away. You won't face any kind of punishment with meaning.  Worst that happens?  "Oh, LOL!  They kicked me!"  And you can now go to another group and repeat the behavior until you've had your fill.

No, you're happy to know that you can do anything you want, like a 5-year-old child being spoiled rotten by inattentive parents. You know what you're doing is wrong, you know you should tell people to be a community and not be selfish pricks, and yet you celebrate trolls. It's cool to sit on someone's shoulder as they infuriate another player to quit something they previously enjoyed. It's cool to be the bully, for once. It's cool to be the center of attention, even if it's for negative reasons.

This is why I never got an answer. Shame.

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Published Jul. 17th 2013
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