Overwatch played by over 33+ Million gamers worldwide has recently started coming under fire for its lack of control in blocking toxic and sometimes even downright disgusting/despicable/ and bullying behavior of its online forums and in-game chat.
Currently there have been thousands of complaints about how bad the game chat system has been through the freely provided forum found here: Blizzard – Overwatch Online Community Forum .
One of the more disturbing posts that the overwatch forum team deleted, was when an overwatch forum member became concerned in game, when a group of people on his team started bullying another player and eventually told the kid to kill himself because he was bad at the game.
Yelling, screaming, and arguing is nothing new to the internet gaming communities and is pretty much par of the course when joining an online community the size of Overwatch. But what really has its online users upset, is the lack of response from Blizzard’s team and overwatch developer Jeff Kaplan . The deletion of posts trying to warn them about such behavior is rampant. But Blizzard and Overwatch are doing nothing to curb it. It is as if the company is thriving off of this type of game chat to keep the game alive.
Another huge issue they seem to ignore, is women’s complaints about sexual harassment from other players. Hundreds of thousands of posts have been removed from the forums trying to warn Blizzards development team of Overwatch that they are feeling abused and mistreated by other players especially men. Instead of addressing the concerns of not just 1 women but the hundreds and thousands of women that play they game. Their response is to just delete the posts all together so they lead to a 404 page as if they never existed. Completely ignoring an entire demographic that has in the past struggled to try to show themselves equal in the gaming community. Here is an example of such an instance by the overwatch team which leads straight to a 404 page that once stood where a female group of players was tired of such abuse and tried to report it on the public forum. Instead of being able to link to the post. They deleted it and now redirects.
They were constantly being harassed by male players online constantly requesting to be their friends and asking them out on dates.
Through the utter silence/deletion/ and slowing growth of the game over the past year, players are starting to find themselves new places to play such as paladins and other games where online game chats are not as horrible as the game for overwatch?
So What Went Wrong?
They implemented poor reporting and never followed through fully on bans. Obviously bans are bad for business so you will find these people back within a few days with no real damage done, besides a break from the game. Essentially as the game grew and more money was pumped into the main holding company blizzard. Overwatch relaxed it’s banning and actually removed the avoid list all together. Which was intended for people to stay away from people that were either being harassing or bullying. In some cases people have actually reported that other players “wished they could kill them” if the met them in real life.
Essentially Overwatch the Game bread itself the environment that exists today and blizzard has no word on how to handle it. Or if they even want to handle it. That is not to say other great people do not exists, but the type of people you want to avoid in real life are far more prevalent in the Overwatch game then they would ever be in the outside world.
Between the lack of follow through, inability to block players, and the ability for players to harass you constantly even when you are out of game has started to create fracturing in what should be a solid game for anyone to play. In reality in game matches turn into all out assaults on each other 9 times out of 10.
I have personally have been witness to the this behavior in Overwatch. I have actually heard other players start crying over the game chat and had to leave the match because it was too much to endure for them emotionally.
At what point does this type of game behavior the communities fault? When does blizzard step in and say, we understand there is an issue that needs to be addressed? Currently Blizzards Silence in this matter means they completely support sexual harassment , bullying , and suicide encouragement in a generation where facebook live suicides are a real thing. This type of hate speech is becoming a wildfire all across the internet and blizzard that the game of Overwatch or just pouring fuel to the fire. Kids should not be subjected to this type of speech in a game rated for everyone.
I understand the MSRB can not rate “Online Interactions” but at some point you have to protect the children and even adults from the type of speech from grown men and women in a game which carries cartoon characters and lives in a fantasy world.
Why Not Just Play Offline Or Create Your Own Server?
Blizzard or more specifically Overwatch does not allow for it’s game to be played offline. Even non competitive and modes that are supposed to be fun requires a 24/7/365 live internet connection to even play the game. You can’t even train with a character without being connected to a server with the game which is a article for another day, but there are some major issues with how the game can be played, by people that are intrigued by the game’s gameplay, but want to avoid their online community.
What other issues have caused for concern for in game chat and the online community?
- Request For More LGBT Characters, are downvoted and the people requesting them are made fun of. When it gets bad enough the post is deleted.
- Request For More racially diverse characters, turns into bigotry and racial slurs towards the posters and is downvoted.
If in real life individuals can avoid these types of people through different mechanisms then blizzard should also implement features to allow children and adults to avoid what the community calls “toxic players“. These types of mechanics should have been implemented from day one especially since you know your game will be played by all age groups.
At no point is it ever okay for a grown man to tell a child that they should ever just go kill themselves in a game because that adult is having a hard time in a video game with cartoons. Some of this can be blamed on the individual, but it is also attributed to Overwatch and Blizzards inability to ensure the community that plays the game has the mechanisms in place to create a safe place to play the game.