When did I become so old and cynical? I should be enjoying the last years of my twenties, rather than waving a cane at those darned kids.
There's a certain elitism within any subculture, but taking Penny Arcade's 'Wad Theory' (normal person + anonymity + audience = total wad) online gaming can be more of a frustration than a joy. The release of the '119th or so' update for Team Fortress 2 on April 29, 2010 caused the trolls to get mighty hungry, which begged the question: when did the sense of netiquette vanish without a trace?
Innuendo, jibes and general idiocy can be fine among friends in jest, but parading around online and boasting of mighty (though ultimately superfluous) gaming deeds to a community of strangers just makes you sound like a complete arse. For example, introduce a tiny medal awarded purely on when you first started playing TF2, and the elitist trolls rise up like a foul stench as if the "achievement" has any real value at all.
Having waited patiently for that download to complete, I joined a public server and received my medal only to be greeted by someone making a crack about 'another runner-up'. I shrugged and got on with playing, but as more 'runner-up' prizes were issued, this particular person became incessantly vulgar and personal towards others.
Which makes me wonder; why? It's one thing to be proud of a particular skill, but to verbally attack people based on your own imagined superiority is needless, and detracts from the fun that gaming is supposed to bring.
When you're calm and rational, this sort of behaviour is irritating but tends to go through a personal filter; and is ultimately ignored. But how many of us boot up a game when we're feeling agitated wanting to unwind only to encounter the exact sort of behaviour we hoped to escape from? That's when it becomes a problem for the rational gamer.
Unfortunately, some trolls know no bounds. There have been those who take their vitriolic antics to extreme levels; harassing parents of teens who have committed suicide, or died because of avoidable situations. Often these are anonymous people, never having known the families or victims, adding to the pain and suffering of those left behind to deal with the loss. Situations like these are the epitome of cowardly malice, they defy all sense of empathy, reason and logic.
These personas don't always stay online, and trolls should be aware that there are consequences out in the real world. They should be mindful, however, that outside the security of their bedrooms, behaviour like this isn't met with empty threats but often with a monumental beating. Or worse if they aren't so lucky.