I played many games when I was young. Feeling different levels of frustration was not uncommon. One game, however, took frustration to a whole new level — DotA. Player vs. player (PVP) games by nature have a tendency to draw out frustration from players, which often manifests in the form of toxicity. Several factors play a part in this.
When I came across DotA, I was about fourteen years old. As a highly competitive teenager, I took my game sessions seriously. Winning is akin to life and death — it defines my competency and place amongst my peers. For games such as League of Legends, Dota 2 and Overwatch, many of the players fall within the teenage or young adults age group. Although games are designed for fun experiences, PVP games can get pretty serious for players of this age group.
In a game of League of Legends, it is common to invest about 30-60 minutes per session. The longer a game goes, the more the investment from the player. Believe me, losing after investing 60 minutes in the game never feels good. Being denied something that you worked hard for is just devastating. Games with lower average play sessions are less frustrating in this sense as the investment required from the player is lower.
Competency level amongst the player’s friends is perhaps the key factor that drives frustration. In a social setting where all your friends are talking about the game and playing together, performing well is correlated to your social status and popularity.
How it all explodes — Losing and toxicity
All of the above factors culminate together when we start to lose in a game. Upon losing, we begin to rationalize why and we often blame our teammates instead ourselves because it is way easier to do so. Whether or not our teammates underperformed usually isn’t the issue. It’s often the losing part that triggers this. As a result, we are inclined to say harsh words in impulse because we’re so emotionally charged — toxic words. Hopefully, understanding this will help us control our emotions better in the future and ensure that our friends are no hurt when playing together. After all, games are supposed to promote fun interactions between friends.