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Public Service Announcement: Online Gaming Etiquette

*Suits up, sits on obligatory white chair in an all-white room, puts on Best Morgan Freeman Voice Mod*

So, lemme tell you a story.

Once upon a time, I hated playing online games. I liked sticking to single-player adventures, avoiding the masses like they were teh plague.

Because a lot of them are.

Sorry, getting to that. Anyway.

I would only play online with friends on my team. Strictly people I knew, and when the party was done, back to single-player offline goodness for me. This went on for years.

Like, so many years, that it only changed last year.

In Summer of 2015, a beta popped up on Xbox Live for a little game called Smite: Battleground of the Gods.

At the behest of my Dudebros, I downloaded it, and we played together. We started off in Co-Op, because holy shit it’s terrifying at first when you’ve got no idea what is even going on. We played almost everyday, finally working up the nerve to play Versus Mode against other players. We really enjoyed the game- our Three-Man team was Artemis, Zeus and Ah Puch; four-man added Ah Muzen Cab. Eventually there was a fifth, who played as whoever the hell, whenever the hell.

He had the advantage of a LOT of knowledge already being out there, joining much later.

We played through the beta’s duration, each of us buying the Founder’s Pack to get every God ever released for the game. We continued to play over the months, collecting Diamond Rank characters, picking and learning new Gods, gaining confidence when the game handed us a random God and said, “go kick ass.”

Now, I’ve got two Diamonds: Zeus and Medusa; a VII Bastet; V Aphrodite; IV Bacchus; a bunch of IIIs, several IIs, and a ton of Is. I have every God mastered, save the one that came out two days ago (SKADI IS THE BOMB DOT COM, PEOPLE).

In short, I know what I’m doing.

This part leads into the point of this post. I play in a group of all guys. I’m one of only a handful of lady-gamers we have around. My gamertag is clearly female in nature, and I’ve had the same one for over a decade. Recently, I have had an utter shit-ton of flack in-game from random strangers. In April alone, I have gotten a hateful/sexist/scathing message from a random player almost every single day of the month!

What do these messages say?

Some ask for Kik chatting or sexy pics or offer dick pics. Others bitch about my performance– which I can promise you, in all but ONE of these messages, I outperformed the person. Some complain about my gear choices.

If you haven’t heard it already: I have been playing this since it existed on Xbox. I know how to build anything, especially a mage. I keep up with item changes and updates. I know what I’m doing.

The problem? No one else on my team gets these messages.

No matter the situation! Just last night, I got spammed by a guy who wanted me to get more DEFENSIVE ITENS, as he said. The problem?

I DIED THE LEAST. MY MALE TEAMMATE (IN PARTY WITH ME) DIED THREE MORE TIMES THAN ME. I OUTPERFORMED IN ALL AREAS BUT ONE, WHICH THIS RANDOM GUY BEAT ME BY 200 PLAYER DAMAGE.

Did he message my party teammate, leaving disparaging remarks about how much he died, or his gear, or anything at all? Nope.

I used to bite my tongue, promise not to feed the trolls, report/block them, and move on. But they aren’t holding their tongues- why should I anymore? I sent a well-worded message, as I care about my online reputation, then reported and blocked him.

I am utterly SICK of how people act online. What makes anyone think they have the right to private message someone to say anything at all, much less to simply be a dick to a stranger? And why am I the only one getting them?

I don’t like making anything about gender. I am female. I like being female. I love my guys. They are my tribe. But not a single one of them is receiving messages like this. Over all these months of playing Smite, two of them have received one message each. I’ve received more than that since the beginning of April!

Why, people, why? Why is that okay? And why me in particular as the only target? Why not everyone else? I’ve checked and verified this with other players– they just don’t get the same treatment, no matter how much worse they perform, or any other variable.

So, this post is all about Online Gaming Etiquette. It can be summed up in one of my least favorite, but most accurate phrases:

Wait no.

Don’t have anything nice to say? Don’t say anything at all.

* Please DON’T take to the Xbox message center to spam people for ANY reason, especially if you’re just trying to be a dick to a stranger. And seriously, don’t pick on a chick because she’s a chick. Don’t be that person.

* Please DON’T constantly ping on your teammates when they are not playing the way you want. You are different people on the same team- learn the MMO adage of “Don’t piss off your healer. You’ll end up face-down in the dirt.” And if you decide to behave this way, don’t be surprised when they don’t help you anymore. You are not entitled to that.

* Please DON’T berate your teammates or abuse in-game chat systems. Seriously, rarely ever is someone legitimately trying to perpetually steal your kills. Again, same team, people. Now, if they’re following you and clearly trying to, then tell them to knock it off in party chat or in-game chat system, however you’re connected, but don’t be that guy. You are capable of civil conversation.

* Please DON’T join a team-based game, just to quit out on your team or be a jackhole to them and not help. Seriously, why are you even playing a multiplayer game, if you’re going to either not help or intentionally feed? Especially if you go to great lengths to make sure your team knows you’re not going to help.

I don’t want to have to quit Smite because of the obscenely shitty environment it has these days (just like everything else really), but I will, because holy fuck it’s stressful and infuriating. Most people play games to escape the stress and strain of daily life. Please, please don’t ruin that for them. The online gaming world– hell, the online world in general– is incredibly volatile. Please don’t be a part of the problem. Help foster a positive environment for you and your fellow humans. We never know when the alien overlords are going to come for our butts, so we should ban together while we can.

Until next time, please be kind and rewind, kids.

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