Dealing With Toxicity In Your Gaming Community
Gaming and gaming communities are about developing as a person and connecting with like-minded people. There’s no place for toxic behaviour in either of those causes! But the truth is, toxicity is all around us, especially in the anonymous world of the interwebs. I met with a friend and fellow gaming community leader, Alictron, to chat about dealing with toxicity in gaming communities and we came up with some pretty awesome insights…
The root of it all (great article Alictron linked)
Before we begin, let’s be specific here. When we say toxicity, we really mean being negative and/or disrespectful. So we’re not talking about trolls or ragers (although ragers can lead to toxic behaviour). As Alictron mentioned, “unfortunately tone of voice and body language are lost when it comes to writing something out. I think this is one of the biggest hurdles to combating negative behavior — as the saying goes, 60% is body language, 30% is tone and 10% is actually what you say.”
Set out your code, treat as guidelines
Make sure your code of conduct for members of the group interacting with each other is clear and readily available. Make sure new members are aware of it, and that you remind everyone else of the code on a regular basis. There’s no need to go on like a broken record, but a friendly reminder every now and then doesn’t hurt. Also — something, something, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, you know — the Pirate Code — more like guidelines than actual rules. Why? Because sometimes rules don’t account for every situation, that’s why people say they’re made to be broken!
Alictron added that, “cliques can contribute to a toxic environment. The best way to deal with them is to encourage involvement, and getting more experienced (or veteran) members to spend time with the newer people”. It could be worth spending time reviewing your code of conduct, and playing with the wording so everyone feels welcome, because it may be the first impression someone gets of your community.
Bring offenders aside, don’t make it public
People say stuff, it happens, they get upset and they go too far. Before reprimanding someone you should take them aside and ask them to tell you their side of the story. Sometimes just listening to someone calms them down and gives them a chance to think clearly. Other times it’s just worth hearing about what they’re thinking so you can better assess a situation and learn how to both fix it, and avoid it in future. Alictron from our gaming community leader support group ‘The Co-op Guide’ puts it nicely — “offer to help rather than just give it.” You may be able to use your new found information to build your code of conduct as well!
Give them a chance, and help them improve
If you’re dedicated to dealing with toxicity in your community, this helps everyone in the wider community too! Teach them about how you cope with anger and stress, then see how them respond to assistance. Go over scenarios with them. Alictron reminded me in our talks about toxicity that, “people are different behind the screen”, you‘re probably not talking to a monster, just a person having a really rough day.
If all else fails, let them go
Sometimes, you run into people who cause nothing but trouble. If you’re at your wits end with them, don’t be afraid to remove them from your gaming community. While this should be a last resort, you need to show the rest of your community that they shouldn’t demonize someone for a single incident and encourage them to treat each other with respect. You can’t build a community by being a fear mongering and totalitarian leader. It is important to make sure everyone in your community feels safe and welcome.
If an individual is really out of hand, there may be cause to contact authorities. Make sure you have correct evidence and that you are on ethical and moral grounds, and be sure to refer to your code of conduct. But avoid making these things public and causing a group pile-on.
- Never lose your cool
- Understand that toxicity will always be something you need to address
- Stay positive, and you’ll encourage a positive community :)
Alictron had this to say in closing: “From experience, I have found often at times members (with a little guidance) tend to be the best for policing negative behavior”. In other words, try and build a great community that will help you fight toxicity!
What tips do you have for encouraging a safe and welcoming community?
Happy connecting, and Game On!
Theo // Community Manager