When we talk about cyberbullying, it often takes two forms: private communication between the bully or bullies, such as a series of emails or text messages; or the public through social networks, where the perpetrator or perpetrators post messages on Facebook walls or community forums, or sometimes fill discussion threads with unwanted, inappropriate, and maybe threatening messages. Learn all about Bullying in Online Games.
There are ways to try and minimize these online bullying behaviours via technology, such as email blocks or filters for the former group, or attempting to block the offending account or at least delete any unwanted social messages for the latter.
But both do require a bit of vigilance, and sometimes an active bullying campaign counts on the victim not being able to keep up with the amount of bullying, especially if multiple bullies are involved.
These feelings of frustration and helplessness on the part of the victim can sometimes add to the challenge from the group, especially if a bully or bullies feel a sense of victory about being able to successfully post a cruel message on a Facebook timeline for “everyone” to see, even if it’s just the victim’s peers.
But there are other opportunities in the computer world for bullies to track down and try to interact with people, such as Bullying in Online Games.
Bullying in Online Games can take many forms, depending on the particular game environment. It could involve attacking the victim’s character in war/combat-based games. It could involve encouraging other players to attack the player as well, or spreading information. It could even involve some technical tricks to mechanically disrupt their playing experience or manipulate the game world. It could involve identity theft and playing as the victim in games where players create their own avatars.
This sort of bullying in online games is for the most part against the code of conduct required before one begins playing most online games, since most games and gaming communities try to create a welcoming environment for current and future players, and a supportive atmosphere to not scare newcomers away forever.
But as bullies also show in the non-virtual world, they’re pretty good at disregarding the rules when convenient.
Bullying in Online Games also can be a challenge to solve – it isn’t as easy for victims to walk away, change privacy settings or close an account, especially if it’s a game where they have a lot of time invested or a developed character.
Here are more details about Bullying in Online Games:
The majority of games now have some form of multiplayer option, where you either play against someone you know or complete strangers.
Some consoles, such as the Playstation, Xbox or Wii, have even created online communities where players can converge and find people willing to play a game together or at least talk about it.
Sometimes players can team up for a similar obstacle, such as clearing a dungeon or military campaign. Sometimes players can team up or be matched up against each other — this happens everywhere from Call of Duty to Words With Friends when Zynga’s algorithm selects an opponent similar to your skill level from anywhere in the world.
The result of this, according to an article in YourSphere (1) is that tempers can easily fray and flare because one player inevitably will win and one player will lose.
No one likes to lose, no matter someone’s age, and most of us have strategies for coping when we lose in person, such as shaking the opponent’s hand and saying ‘good game.’
This behaviour is seen at all levels of sporting events, from Little League games where the players half-heartedly give each other high fives or the professional athletes who sometimes are downright cordial to their opponents.
But in the online world, there is less of this etiquette and sportsmanship required especially if a victory was particularly lopsided.
You may cheer about your easy or eventual win over someone who seemed tough when things started, but they likely won’t be as cheery about their defeat. How unhappy? It depends. He or she could request a re-match, which may not change the outcome if one player is clearly better than the other.
Or they could nurse hurt feelings and frustration, which is even easier in cyberspace because of denser populations and the anonymity of the Internet. In real life at least you can look someone in the eye and shake their hand afterwards, but here it’s easy to curse out a stranger who may have bested you.
Worse, some of these online communities include an audio option so you can speak directly to the other players using a headset. This is handy during fast-moving games when team members can shout instructions to each other.
In bullying situations, though, they can lead to clear shouting and repeated audio insults. A bully can broadcast information about you through his or her network such as commands that encourage other players to attack you.
How can Bullying in Online Games be eliminated?
According to the Washington Attorney General’s public page (2), one option for people who believe they are being bullied is to let someone know.
Just like in the flesh and blood world, finding a responsible adult goes a long way. It can be a moderator who oversees parts of the community, perhaps an employee or a dedicated volunteer.
He or she can assess if a threat or bullying behaviour occurs or give players suggestions. If an admin judge that bullying did occur, the bully could find themselves locked out of the game altogether.
· In online worlds: Some people call them MMOGs, short for Massively Multiplayer Online Games, or MMORPGs, short for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). They’re basically worlds where you can walk around as an avatar of yourself, interact with other players, fight, complete quests or connect with others.
Some people like these styles of games, such as World of Warcraft, for the fantasy aspect, such as pretending you’re a bold adventurer striving forth when your real world life is much less exciting.
Another aspect of the real world that’s been brought into this world is bullying. With literally millions of players from around the world at any moment, you can meet all sorts of people. You can certainly play solo and explore on your own, or meet a few people and join their clan.
Or you can chat up everyone you run into.
In this mix, there are people who like to take advantage of players. It could be a deliberate target that people know or a random stranger.
Characters can be attacked in the game world by strangers. Attacks can hurt their damage points or knock them out/kill them, which allows them time to access pockets for gold/local currency or some items.
Many Worlds of Warcraft enthusiasts are firmly against bullying (3) and say that bullies keep people from thoroughly enjoying the game experience.
However, bullying still goes on. Some guilds do enjoy targeting certain players for the attack, based on the recommendations of other group members.
Responding to Bullying in Online Games is tricky
One initial move is to restrict who can even see you in the game, which will avoid certain players. Or even delete my account and start a new one – this will prevent future problems if your name is targeted.
Another basic strategy is to get stronger than the other players so you won’t be an easy target. Many of the bullies prefer to target newcomers who are less familiar with the scope of the game world. But if you’ve become more of a veteran, you may be left alone.
Calling for help and finding a moderator or other characters can help as well.
One teen came up with the innovative idea of creating a short YouTube video (4). This directly challenges the online bullies who have been making fun of her.
Overall, there are as many reasons for online bullying as there are ways to address it or try to stop it. Online games are also attracting more and more visitors, which makes them an excellent way to meet people. It’s nice when these interactions are positive and friendships are created.
However, as in the world, there are also those interested in you for more nefarious reasons – trying to steal your stuff, or perhaps it’s a personal crusade because of a past slight.
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