Toxic Overwatch players are making Jeff Kaplan sad


‘If you’re a bad person… we don’t want you in Overwatch’

“Toxic behaviour” is the troublesome gremlin of modern video games, particularly when it comes to online play (in fact, it’s almost entirely attributable). In team-based games the fallout, both against and among team members can be pretty disgusting and very offensive, especially in the “heat of the moment,” right?

The latest Developer Update video for Blizzard’s arena-shooter Overwatch features game director Jeff Kaplan addressing this type of behaviour, which is particularly prevalent in Overwatch‘s competitive mode, where ranking score is apparently a matter of life and death. The video itself doesn’t have any particular game news, it’s simply a plea from Kaplan, who seems very sincere, for people to just, well, not be dicks to each other.

Jeff does address Overwatch‘s recently updated reporting system and current plans to inform players whenever their report has seen action, but the majority of the video is him preaching that crappy behaviour simply ruins everyone’s fun. Jeff also goes on to say that it occupies staff time, who could be working on designing cool content for the game, rather than tweaking cheat prevention systems, or monitoring in-game report software.

It’s almost sad to see how much it clearly disappoints Kaplan that many players cannot enjoy the colourful, friendly-looking and generally light-hearted shooter without having cancer wished upon them, being told to kill themselves, or suffering racial abuse or other forms of verbal hate.

He’s right, by the way. Rude and hurtful behaviour in online games is upsetting, redundant, damaging to gaming’s reputation, and negatory to both the victim, other players who corral the drama, and ultimately the community and lifespan of the games themselves.

Life is pretty dang difficult. Every day brings new challenges and problems to overcome, as well as many strangers who can often be rude or discourteous to us as we go about our business. Do we really need to be bitching at each other during our free time as well? Especially whilst engaged in a hobby that means so much to all of us and provides a form of escapism from that, often draining, daily grind.

Of course it’s a problem that will never go away, none of us are naive enough to believe it can be eliminated. As Kaplan states in the video, there is no “magic patch.” But if we could cut back on even a quarter of the abuse that players receive, just for indulging in games for fun and entertainment, not only would it make gaming look more honourable as a whole, but it would raise that level of fun and entertainment for everyone involved.

This video’s message may be in vain in the bigger picture, and you may find Jeff’s (and my) comments overly-optimistic, perhaps unrealistic. But regardless, they’re sentiments that bear repeating.