You’d expect a game based on selfless heroes ridding the world of evil-goers to have somewhat of a reflective community, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Overwatch on PS4 remains a toxic environment for gamers and perhaps the worst of all platforms.
The sole purpose of playing video games is to have fun and enjoy yourself. Whether that feeling comes from solving complex puzzles, landing a 32-hit combo, or sniping a head-shot while falling from a ledge. Games should prioritize an experience where everyone involved can be entertained, free of hassle. Competitive games, however, reveal the true nature of some of its players in the worst way possible.
Imagine this, you and your randomly matched team are fighting the good fight in a first-person-shooter when suddenly the course of the battle starts to turn in favor of the enemy squad. Despite your best efforts in digital warfare, your team ultimately loses the game leaving some of them at a loss for words — well, at least polite words.
These select few individuals are a fascinating bunch. Upon seeing the big red text of ‘DEFEAT’ lit up across the screen, they quickly look for their teammates’ usernames. They do so not because they wish to express their sincere gratitude, but instead to flame, harass and sometimes to pin the loss entirely on one (or more) player.
Something along the lines of “If it wasn’t for so-and-so we would’ve won. So-and-so sucks. I did nothing wrong. I had to carry this garbage team,” is what I imagine goes through these players’ egocentric heads. Regardless of how ‘poor’ a player performs, absolutely no one should be subjected to ridicule and malice.
What they can’t, or simply refuse to, comprehend are the other variables that factored in the outcome. For instance, communication, movement, strategy, map awareness, adaptability and survivability are all necessary skills to be a well-rounded FPS player. You may excel in pointing-and-clicking, but that won’t be enough to save you from every situation.
This might come as a shocker, but maybe, just maybe, the other team was overall just better. And instead of your teammates underperforming, maybe the other team outplayed yours to the point where individual skill level was trumped by pure team coordination. Like I said before, there are too many variables and exchanges in a course of a match to pinpoint the blame entirely on one person(s) or instance.
The Console Curse
Nevertheless, the PS4 Overwatch community would probably rip my argument to smithereens while declaring me the scrub of all scrubs. If you guys aren’t already familiar with Overwatch, it’s an FPS with some MOBA elements fused together. With its colorful and diverse amount of playable characters, Overwatch is extremely addicting and exciting to play.
It has gained worldwide popularity as a thriving esports title and is currently in the third season of its professional league. Having said that, I wish I could praise the player community in the same manner. After playing the game for nearly 2000 hours, I have received hateful messages for all kinds of reasons.
Mind you, I don’t consider myself a bad player, if anything I would label myself as average to above-average. My highest skill rating achieved in competitive was grandmaster and finished at 4075. Due to Overwatch’s lack of team chat on PS4, players resort to expressing their hate-filled angst directly towards the player via direct messaging. And at that point, the responsibility to take countermeasures shifts onto Playstation customer service, which is usually a hit or miss depending on how severe the message was.
Humanity’s Last Hope
I enjoy reading fan (hate) mail, so these types of messages usually don’t phase me. The insults are sometimes colourful and creative, but most of time they are cheap shots that contain extremely offensive slurs. I’m a mature gamer who won’t enter a mental breakdown after getting flamed by some random internet low lives, but imagine if the recipients were someone more fragile, like a child.
Given how Overwatch is rated T for Teen, we can assume there is a good portion of players who are 13 or possibly even younger. It’s revolting, irrational and hardly ever comes to a benefitting conclusion.
At the end, if you’re going to play Overwatch competitively on PS4, I suggest you disable messages from anyone outside of your friend’s list. It’s natural for people to expel their most heinous thoughts when upset or angered, but it appears as though gaming, especially Overwatch, is the easiest outlet for toxicity to manifest.
Always remember, there are somethings you can and can’t control. A loss in a competitive match of Overwatch should be the least of your concern. Just try your best and move onto the next one. Lastly, for those of you daring enough to embrace the fan mail, I commend your thick skin and good luck in your future matches!