EVE Online

Musings on Toxicity

I nonstop hear about player toxicity lately, on reddit, eve online forums, and even in general news. Toxicity towards other players, and towards the developers. Generally it is accepted that player toxicity is bad, or conversely that it is nothing at all, and people should remember it is just a game. I want to bring up a couple of my thoughts on the matter. (I know it is somewhat lengthy and devoid of humorous content)

  1. It is not just a game. At least not for some people. For some people their games and their game egos become more real than real life. It's easy to just dismiss these people with "Get a life", but it may not be so easy. Some people are just too awkward or different to make friends. Some people are just too unattractive to get lovers. It sounds like a joke, but there are many sad and lonely people out there for whom their game world is their main source of joy.

For instance, imagine a role player who had been living in Nairja for a decade, and had built up
an entire identity around being there. Perhaps that system had become to truly feel like a home
to them. Then one day the developers decided there needed to be new content, and boom it is
now a lawless part of Pochven. Many people may have really enjoyed this, and the developers
may have thought it would be good for the game, and maybe overall it was. But for this guy, his
entire world, his self-identity he had created was destroyed. He looks over the internet and
sees the happy posts about this great new content. He looks on official news and sees happy
posts about Trig gear for sale from CCP. He feels unheard and powerless, so he gets on and just
hardcore rants, because he has no other way to express his feelings. He is labeled as toxic for
insulting the devs. But while they might have indeed had their feelings hurt, he lost a lot more.

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Perhaps it is not excusable, but I just wanted to bring up the fact, that for some people in Eve,
and in other games, the game is not just content and not just a game, but a core part of their
life, and by extension, the other players are subbing in for friends, and possibly family.

  1. Which segues into my next point, the idea of toxicity can become toxic itself. Imagine a Goon
    in a similar situation as described above, but instead of roleplaying in high-sec, his identity and
    self-worth comes from being in the Goonswarm. I would imagine that not all goons have
    women upstairs as Brisc and Mittani said for themselves on the last Meta show. And quite a
    few probably don't have good lawyering jobs either. Our hypothetical goon has no girlfriend,
    and he works as a pizza delivery guy. The only good thing in his life, the only thing he looks
    forward to, the only thing he succeeds in, is being in the Goonswarm. Now a group of people
    have declared him and his group to be toxic and bad for the game. They say that he is not
    wanted, he is in fact hated, and the game would be better without him, and that is exactly what
    they intend to bring about. This cannot not hurt this goon's feelings. He is hated by literally 10s
    of thousands of his peers. He is said to be toxic and a bad person who deserves no
    sympathy. He gets beaten out of his system, and is forced back into a single constellation. Other
    leaders speak of forming a permanent alliance to keep his beloved group suppressed. Things
    look very grim. He also starts to feel hopeless, and also feels like the world is going against him.
    So he gets online and rage vents and shitposts all the time. Then the people who are taking
    away his raison d'etre tell him to stop being toxic, he is being an ass, and he is such a
    terrible human being.
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It is not always a good feeling to be in the minority. The majority can go along happy and not even realize your pain. It can make you feel like your voice is unheard, and that you have no control over your life or influence on the world. Anger and resentment are almost natural reactions to such situations. I don't want to excuse rudeness, but I think we should keep other people's motives in consideration.

If trying to get rid of toxic cultures makes us all respect each other more, and to try to consider others feelings when interacting, then it is a good thing. If it is just another pejorative to be thrown at our enemies, to belittle and dehumanize them, with the ultimate goal of silencing them, then the only change it brings is a change of terminology.

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