People in online gaming communities have a wide range of personalities, outlooks, and behaviors — the same as in the “real world.” Making distinctions between toxic behavior and friendly interactions can be tough for new gamers who aren’t used to the culture. A few bits of advice can save a lot of headaches later down the road.
Online gamers will inevitably come across players whose behavior can be quite confusing. Without face-to-face interaction, it can be hard to distinguish truly negative individuals from people with harmless intentions who use sarcastic humor. I make decisions based on what’s acceptable for me without crossing my own comfort boundaries.
Ideally, playing video games should be stress-free. If I don’t feel like trying to dissect a person’s intentions, I can always ignore them and move on. There are no rules to communication, so sometimes you can simply ignore someone enough to get through a game and then never interact with them again.
Trolls — people who intentionally joke around in mean or disruptive ways — are always a hassle to deal with. Depending on the game, trolls can cause major problems and ruin your gaming experience. If it’s the type of game with no penalty for leaving the session, I try to just avoid these people to the best of my ability.
Unfortunately, the best way to handle aggressive trolls is sometimes to just get through the session and then report them afterwards. If enough like-minded people report the same individual, you can usually get them suspended or banned from playing that game online.
At the end of the day, a troll is ultimately just out to be annoying, but they’re only as bothersome as you allow them to be. (Read more about leveling up your gaming skills.)
Hackers — who can break into accounts, disrupt systems, and access personal information — are the most prominent threat in online gaming. Anytime someone says that they can hack my account, I just try to get away from them quickly unless they’re definitely and obviously joking. Most gamers don’t actually know how to hack regardless, but there is always a chance that they have some method that could be dangerous. I prefer not to take the chance, so I just ignore them — but ultimately, hackers are in control.
I always have some type of secondary security measure enabled on any accounts for the sake of safety as well. Any sign of a person with harmful intent is usually my signal to get away from them as quickly as possible. Blocking them is always an option, but if they’re skilled enough to find an address, they can figure out a lot of ways to get around being blocked. Avoiding contact and reporting users is the best way to handle the situation every time.
Distinguishing trolls from hackers isn’t easy. A trolling individual almost always says the same things as a hacker. I usually take it upon myself to just be safe and avoid both for the sake of the unnecessary risk.
Most children won’t be able to make educated decisions about whom to trust, and they may be inclined to share sensitive information. Parents can tell their children not to communicate with anybody online and then check the inboxes for any new messages. Parents moderate communications and can ask children for context for anything, for instance gaming terms, they don’t understand.
The odds of getting into any actual danger online in video games are extremely low, but precautionary measures are always a good idea. It’s important to stay on the safe side by avoiding contact if you’re not sure, and keep focused on having a positive experience.
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