Grumbles and Mumbles: When did people stop enjoying multiplayer games?

Grumbles and Mumbles is a monthly op-ed from Carlo Coloma, Editorial Lead for In this series, he’ll be discussing issues and trends in gaming that he feels strongly about.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I love playing multiplayer games.

There are few things I enjoy more than beating other people while gaming, especially since I wouldn’t consider myself an elite gamer by any definition. I’m simply a guy that enjoys pitting his skills against other people around the world, and I’ve come to accept that I’m not going to win most of the time.

I’ve been playing different forms of multiplayer games online for well over two decades now. My first foray into online gaming was the original Quake, where I remember playing on my Singtel 56K dialup connection and trying to get by on 300+ ping.

I remember those times being some of the most fun of my life, probably because it was the first time I took a multiplayer game seriously, and also because I was just a little kid at the time.

It started with Quake, but once I got a taste of battling with other people, I never stopped. The games and genres changed all the time after that, from Ultima Online, to Starcraft, to Counterstrike, and more, but my love for multiplayer never went away.

What baffles me now, though, is why every multiplayer title that I now play is filled with toxic negativity. Gaming is supposed to be an escape from reality, a way to unwind, especially with things like Covid-19 keeping everyone at home.

So why does it feel like most people I encounter while gaming online these days aren’t even having fun? No one seems to be able to take a loss well, or even tolerate small mistakes from their teammates.

How is this normal?

I come across toxicity in all sorts of forms. One of the reasons I tried to get into DOTA 2 and League of Legends in 2020 was to try something new, as MOBAs were definitely not my strong suit. I never even got around to playing any ranked games because people were being douche bags or throwing games (AGAINST AI OPPONENTS) when someone made small mistakes.

Now I get that in a ranked game, where you’re basically locked in for another between 30-45 minutes, you might have a reason to rage. But it’s strange to see people lose their minds in co-op multiplayer against AI.

I’ve also played World of Warcraft on and off for 15 years, and tried to get back into the Shadowlands expansion when it released late last year. I normally get back into WOW for a good 2-4 months before leaving again and getting bored of the gameplay loop, but after taking a break since the Legion expansion, I expected to stick around a bit longer.

Instead, I was done in five weeks. Sure, the gameplay loop simply became too repetitive, but the bigger reason was that I simply didn’t want to deal with random people anymore.

The sheer number of people that hurl abuse at their party members for stupid reasons was too much. It’s even worse that the main culprits were the ones who would make mistakes and cause group wipes, then blame everyone else when they end up dead after ignoring dungeon mechanics or not communicating in battlegrounds.

And before you tell me to get a guild, I do play with a good one, but I have odd hours and often have to play in PUGs for Mythic+ content, because it’s hard for me to always schedule playtimes. I only did raids with the guild, which alleviated a lot of problems for that particular section of content, but M+ is what I enjoy most.

The one game I’ve played continuously for the last year is Call of Duty: Warzone. That gameplay loop is something I really, really enjoy, but it’s also another one of those places that are full of negativity.

It’s also the most egregious example, mainly because you can hear other people’s microphones after killing them. I’ve been told to kill myself, called every cuss word in the book, and even simply heard unintelligible screams.

I’m not going to lie, hearing the rage when I beat people in Warzone gets me going, because it’s hilarious. My question is, why do so many people bother playing games when it seems that they just cause stress and anger?

It boggles my mind, because I turn 36 this year and still look at gaming as a hobby to enjoy, not to lose sleep over. I simply will never understand how people feel the need to log on just to act like assholes to everyone around them.

To close things off, I thought I’d share a compilation someone made about Warzone ragers.

Some of them are clearly an act, but others honestly seem to get nothing but stress from playing games like Warzone. What’s the point?

How do you feel about the toxic culture that surrounds all forms of gaming? If you’re one of those ragers, why do you even play? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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