Can the Overwatch Community Calm Its Tits?

There’s a lot of chatter in YouTube videos and in forums about the toxicity right now in Overwatch, and…hm.

You know, friends who were there spin me tales, over campfires while we eat beans out of a tin pot, of a time when Overwatch gamers were hell-bent on keeping the atmosphere tame and friendly. “We don’t want this to be like League of Legends,” people would actually say to each other (and if you’re not familiar with the issues with the community in this groundbreaking MOBA, try dumping six hungry rats into a box and shaking it around).

But those days, season 1 and some of season 2, are long past. We have only faded Polaroids in super-saturated colors of smiling faces, to remind us of how things used to be, before all those ne’er-do-wells came in and messed up our perfect community.

Or not.

The problem with Overwatch isn’t the throwers or the leavers or Gary the troll who sits in a secret cave under your house disconnecting your Internet for minutes at a time (why did you think it only happens during comp games?). If you look at League of Legends, you’ll find it’s not throwers and leavers ruining that experience, either. The problem is us. The nice, normal people.

Those pieces of shit.

Look, let’s not be too hard on ourselves. It’s been five seasons, and we’re all pretty confident we know how to play the game. Which means we’re pretty confident we know how others should play the game as well. And this has led to some ridiculous “universal” expectations of what proper game decorum is.

Prominent Overwatch video personality Stylosa recently gave an example of what he sees as throwing: a Symmetra who posts the same message at the beginning of every game, impertinently declaring that he mains Symmetra and will mute players who push him to switch. For Stylosa, this is a bannable offense. He believes the reporting system should rip this player away from the competitive system for being kind of a dick. “What discourteous and brutish discourse!”  

And let’s consider, for a moment, all the shit that Symmetra main has been through. If someone thinks they can play a mean Symmetra on attack, there’s no rule that says they can’t. Obviously most of us prefer they pick someone more traditional. But it’s still a game. A game whose rules are pretty much programmed in.

Hey, I’m not immune. I’ve been frustrated and angry with people who I thought were crossing the line in how they spoke to me and others, or for apparently not cooperating with how the team wanted to play. But that’s exactly why we need leeway; everyone deserves a chance to be an asshole some of the time, especially in a high-pressure competitive environment.

And when it comes to this obsession with the meta, let’s admit it: We’re snobs!

You don’t have to sign an agreement every time that you log on that you’ll adhere to the meta. If it’s important enough to you that you think it’s tainting the game, you have to find a six-man queue. There are plenty of discords and small online communities where you can find like-minded people. We can’t expect Blizzard to punish people because they’re not burning incense for the capricious gods of an ever-shifting meta.

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