What makes a good loser? : An Ethnographic Study of Toxic Behaviors in Competitive Multiplayer Games

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap

Abstract: Over the past decades, the scholarly discourse of violent video games as a possible influence for aggressive behaviors has gained much attention, primarily relying on the content of such games. This study aims to explore the environment of competitive multiplayer gaming interms of technicality (e.g. game mechanics), social interactions within a video game, and additional resources outside of the game as possible influential factors for toxic behaviors in competitive multiplayer games. Bourdieusian social theory is applied to gain a better understanding of the relationship between agents (players) and the field (competitive gaming) and the relevance of gaming capital. This study is based on a digital ethnographic approach to gain a comprehensive understanding of the gaming environment, and reports on semi-structured online interviews with 14 participants aged between 17-40, to gain insight on players’ perception and responses towards toxic behaviors in competitive games. This study proposes a spectrum of toxic behaviors in competitive multiplayer games, in which actions may be distinguished based on the form of expression (eg. verbal, physical or in-game). Primary findings suggest there may be a causal relationship between a player’s knowledge ofa game and their conveyance of toxicity, regardless of age and gender. The degree of toxicity may vary depending on the player, and is more frequently performed by men. Lastly, toxic behaviors should not be examined in isolation from contextual factors such as game mechanics or social interactions, but need to be further explored as a medium-specific phenomenon.

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