Toxic behavior in online games
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Department of Information Processing Science, Information Processing Science
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Online gaming is the entertainment of the masses nowadays as it entertains hundreds of millions of players around the world on daily basis. Along with the popularity of online gaming, phenomenon of toxic behavior has also taken root in those games. Toxic behavior is strongly present in current day online games and very few people are spared from it nowadays. The purpose of this study was to take a closer look into the toxic behavior and how it affects those who actively play online games. This study started by conducting literature review to identify the various different aspects that surround the online gaming in addition to toxic behavior. Different types of toxic behavior were also identified from current literature. The themes that emerged from the literature review formed a backbone for constructing a qualitative interview, the designated data gathering method of this study. Aim of the research interviews was to gather information on how the various different toxic behaviors affect the online gaming of the interviewees who were all active online game players. Data gathered by the interviews was analyzed by conducting inductive content analysis, where prominent themes were brought up for closer inspection and reported in the findings. On a general level, the results of the current study suggested that toxic behavior affects online gaming in a negative way, with very few exceptions. For example, cheating was seen as a behavior that destroys the competition aspect of the game and ruins the game for all the participants, while flaming was often simply discarded as provocation and simply ignored. Tangible toxic behaviors like cheating and griefing were found to affect the gaming experience and flow sensation found in gaming in a very negative way. Unchecked cheating was even found to be a cause for quitting a game for good for some people. The current study found hints of more organized forms of scamming taking place in online games instead of just act that takes place between two players. Even cyberbullying was reported, as multiple stories of players ganging up on single player of lower skill were heard. The current study provides the reader with up-to-date information on toxic behavior in online games and how it affects the online gaming, mainly from the viewpoint of veteran players. Additionally, based on the interview data and the content analysis, a three-tier list on how to fight toxic behavior was gathered for the game developers. Based on the results of the current study some future research actions were suggested. Cyberbullying in online games was found to be one area in need of a more in depth look, and the link between toxic behaviour and flow in online games was found to require further studies.
© Teemu Saarinen, 2017. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.