Between working full-time, having a house to look after and a dog to serve, I find my gaming time has significantly decreased over the years. That being said, I am still partial to a few ‘pick up and play’ games in my evenings and downtime.

So how does the video-gaming community interact with novice gamers who do play but can’t dedicate all their spare time to playing? Or to children who are new and learning? Or anyone who doesn’t match up to the ‘expert’ players?

Well, my experience is a bit of a mixed bag if I’m honest.

For the most part, I play Overwatch on the Xbox (hate all you want) and most of the time after winning games, I receive some lovely messages congratulating me, wishing me luck in my next match and even the odd friend’s request. However, on the flipside, think nasty messages, accusations of ‘throwing’ (purposefully losing a game), and then add in the occasional threat of reporting and that about sums up my inbox.

Even though I do receive a various array of messages (completely dependent on how I play), the guys I play with rarely ever talk about ‘nice’ messages they received – instead I always hear about the toxic heckling.

For example, my nephew – who is six, also plays overwatch from time to time. I wouldn’t say he’s amazing, but he’s got some characters nailed for sure! That being said, my brother has had to deal with some extremely nasty messages from teenagers and full-grown adult gamers who are expressing anger towards my nephew’s gameplay – and it’s not like they all hold their punches upon discovering it’s a child playing either!

When I was a kid, I was terrible at games, died all the time, couldn’t work out buttons and constantly went the wrong way, so why can’t teenagers and fully-grown adults cut children or new players some slack when they are still exploring and learning?

Nearly every contact on my friends list who I play with regularly has had to deal with similar incidents, where ‘gamers’ are being nasty purely based off gameplay and nothing else. It doesn’t even need to be a competitive game for them to be negative.

I do not believe the gaming community is completely toxic, but I do think gamers tend to express anger far more than gratitude and they generally don’t handle losing very well. Sometimes all it takes is one horrible comment to ruin someone’s day, or worse. Whenever I play online now, I mute everyone except for those in my party chat – I’d rather be obnoxious than listen to all the negativity.

On a slightly different note – what tips do you have for dealing with negative messages? I personally love to kill them with kindness and shower them in hugs, hearts, and kisses. I find they give up quickly as they don’t have much to fuel a response.