Mattchew’s Dota Musings: Moaning on Morality

Anti-Fun

Do you remember the good ol’ days in school, when you were on your soccer/basketball/football/chess team? Don’t you remember when a teammate messed up a play, how you threatened to kill him and his entire family?

What? NO?!

Yet this seems to be the norm in treating fellow players in Dota.

Why do we do this?

And I don’t use “we” lightly. I’m just as guilty as the next person in dishing out the hate.

To better answer this, I think it’s helpful to first analyze a normal, in-person competitive team mentality. When you were on that club in school, likely many of the members were your friends, or you had some semblance of a relationship. Almost everyone had a sense of team mentality- if enough people were getting too down on each other, the entire team would suffer, which also harms the individual. Performance goes down, the chances of winning goes down, and thus the chances of you attaining those warm and fuzzy feelings when you beat a team in a game requiring skill.

I would say that is probably the biggest driving factor of why we treated in-person teammates well. We knew, consciously or not, that if we were too hard on too many teammates, we would suffer. Not only in the game, but out of the game. There was still a social life to be had, and not too many people would want to hang out with someone that was constantly berating them.

So passion and social acceptance are likely the biggest factors of what kept us (mostly) civil during and out of team games. And not wanting to get punched in the face.

But then, what happens when there is an environment that is almost entirely divorced from those two factors? CHAOS AND DESTRUCTION. You can now do the following!:

1) Punch the person in the “face” by trolling or feeding.

2) Tell your teammate how many times you had sex with his/her sister.

3) Go on a mentally raping rampage about how you feel about a teammate’s abilities (I mean, let’s be honest, that Sniper WAS a n00b).

All because there’s no relationship fallout!

And if we’re completely honest, some of us find that fantastically liberating.

Dota is, for a lot of people, a kind of psychological escape from real world relationships. This is not implying  that these people are necessarily lonely in the physical world or have no friends on Dota. It’s just that when you speak to a Dota stranger in a way that you would never speak to a stranger on the street, you’re likely doing it because part of you is always tired of keeping up that facade. Dota provides release (…not that kind of release, Michael Scott).

Some might say this is a good thing. Competitive online games that allow people to act in this way provides a kind of psychological purge. Better that people take their aggression out in a fantasy world than the real one, where damage can be done. In fact, there’s reason to believe video games actually have lowered crime rates (link), and that may be the reason why crime rates have been fairly low during this recession.

That very well may be the case. And, when it comes to violence, I’m glad if that’s reality.

However, I think that treatment of people is in a different category from violence when it comes to this theoretical purging. We’re always engaging with people relationally; we’re rarely engaging in violence. I believe we’re always on the bleeding edge of telling people what we really think in the bluntest terms; and, as a society, we’ve created manners to dilute that speech so there isn’t as many misunderstandings.

When we start to disregard those manners, they atrophy. It’s easier to spill over to that side that doesn’t care how we say things.

And I think that’s really, really bad.

We treat, for the most part, the random person on the street well because we would want to be treated well. If everyone just acted on impulse and passion, we know that would be the crappiest society to live in. And it takes constant work to maintain those “manner muscles”.

Not only for your own humanity, but for the Dota community, treat random pubs as if you were going to see them the next day. Remember that there is fallout when you treat random people harshly, even if it’s not apparent, and even when they deserve it. We don’t want Dota to be the poopiest gaming society to play in, because it’s one of the best games to play.

When all else fails, hit the mute button.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: