Unsolicited Insults

The more things change, the more they stay the same. When your spare time has involved playing with joysticks for as long as I have, you will have come across unsolicited insults for your hobby at least a few times in your lifetime.

Other kids, parents, teachers and sometimes even partners have had a few digs at this blogger for spending time, perfecting his universe-saving techniques. (I know that my skills will be used to save the universe when Planet Earth gets invaded). But the thing that makes me angry is the new trend of getting insults from fellow gamers. Online. It’s naivety on my part to project certain characteristics on people that share my hobby. That they like the Big Bang Theory. Hate Eastenders. Have bookmarked CNET in their Firefox 3.5.7 browser. Or even IE6, at a push. And that they would respect gaming accomplishments. Considering how prevalent these types of messages are, I feel a little naïve at being surprised that this trend exists.

It would take a sociologist to try and classify all the various different types of unsolicited insults that get produced. There are the messages that laugh at your high score. Or your gamerscore. Or my personal favourite, the ones that ask why you play games in the 3+ age range. From a fellow gamer! Yes, friends and neighbours, we now have gamers that turn their nose up at fellow gamers for playing games that aforementioned gamers feel are not ‘proper’ games. I really wish that this watermark moment was documented in some fashion. The day that gamers set up some sort of geek hierarchy. All the conventions that have been learned in terrible american high school dramas, translated into a digital landscape. Jocks, losers, and nerds are now gamerscore whores, PC modders and Wii gamers.

But the reason that unsolicited insults annoy so much is that it has shattered the notion of an online community. The thought that the online world would be full of people that share not only your hobby, but could also be your online compadres is destroyed with each text message laughing at your 1000 gamerscore points in Avatar, with each voicemail message telling you to go and get a life and get laid and with each picture message showing sights only a urologist would find interesting. The future I imagined online gaming would be, when I imagined a concept like XBL as an 8-year-old, being very different to the reality, annoys me.

It goes without saying that the online arena is not a complete disaster. The online world can be a beautiful space, letting like-minded people meet each other. It’s the perfect antidote to unsolicited insults. Remember this, next time your inbox pings with an insult from a gamer like Toyne1. In the words of a man who defuses conflicts on a daily basis, look after yourself. And each other.

P.S. Just before this needed to be published, I remembered another instance of unsolicited insults. I remember I got stuck in a Lego Star Wars game and thought asking the YouTube community for help would help me. Big mistake. Over 10,000 views, 27 comments and about 20 insults. *sniff*

Last five articles by Victor



  1. Asthi says:

    Hehe first comment on your first post ;)

    But to your topic… As I’m not really an online gamer (my experiences with WOW discouraged me quite a lot) I cannot relate to it from first hand experience, but I can understand you frustration at it. It might even be an age thing. Younger gamer generations never realy experienced the thrill of joy you got your first two-player game for the SNES and they assume that they are the best.
    Minorities are the most intolerant people around, which is not only true for goths and the like, but also for gamers.

  2. Justbiglee says:

    Congrats on the post vic, you make some valid points about the now segregated “gamer” class of people, maybe I am one of those snobs you speak of and I had an epihany Inspired by your words, decided that I will change my ways from now on.

    Then you mentioned the wii.

    Hate is a powerful emotion

  3. Rook says:

    It is terrible that there exists people online who will send abusive messages, whether it’s for asking for help, or not taking being beaten at a game well, or simply because of games you’ve played/score you’ve achieved. There is absolutely no call for it. If you don’t like something that shouldn’t lead to abuse. Petty minds for petty people I guess.

    Whether it’s playing games online or real games in the real world (I’m told it exists outside somewhere), I have always taken the attitude that playing someone better than yourself at something is a great way to help improve your own abilities.

    It’s a learning experience, not a loathing experience.

  4. [...] Now click here to go read the rest on http://www.gaminglives.com [...]

  5. Lorna Lorna says:

    Loved this post, and sadly, so very true. The wastelands of Xbox Live and some of the absolute arseholes which plague it are one of my top gaming hates. Rook makes some great points about pettiness and the fact that it is a chance to learn and share.

    As a general rule, (and sadly, a necessity being female), I never open any unsolicited voice messages or pics and have told various senders that, which often seems to leave them bemused. Many were no doubt innocent but some of the senders upon explanation, seemed to at least understand my reasons.

    Ultimately Live is a great place while being equally vile and downright nasty…if we are drawing parallels to life, as Victor so perfectly did with the high school anaolgy, then Live strikes me as a city…with its no-go areas, havens of serenity, and blocks of cliques, characters, and communities…

    Certain gaming servers of well trodden gung-ho shooters, such as COD and Halo being the litter strewn ‘mean streets’ and chalk outline districts, where you are lucky to get out unscathed without harrassment or abuse. The bright and bubbly Viva Pinata multiplayer arenas resemble parks where families go and the occasion thug comes in to pull up plants and cause trouble, but ultimately offer a peaceful haven. The abandoned factory or warehouse areas where souped up cars tear around tracks in driving games, with the occasional overclocked idiot or macho moron there spoiling for a fight. The list is endless…

    Basically though (this should have been a blog in itself – doh!) it is as wonderful and flawed as a city all at the same time but it perfectly mirrors life – just that the nasty folk from the real world who have found an escape from manners and decency in the form of the internet/Live, haven’t yet learned that online, we are all still plugged into the real world as well as the matrix, so should be afforded the same courtesy and respect.

  6. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    As you know, I’m not really much of an online gamer so I’ve never had the misfortune of having to deal with dobbers like that. I recently opened myself up to abuse though, by posting my gamertag on the Trials HD developer forum and had a few people add me since so we can play each other’s custom tracks – looking forward to that!!. Whether I’ll end up with decent people or not is another story, but that’s where the power of deletion comes in handy :D

    Perhaps one day you can explain the schematic image though… I’m still lost :)

  7. Ben says:

    This is probably one of my biggest gripes with online play, and something I just don’t ‘get’. When it boils down to it I am a very sore loser, will generally sulk and be miserable until the next win comes along, although I suppose a bit of moody residue from that loss still lingers.

    That said, I’ve never once been inclined to hit the voice button and start sprouting absolute garbage towards the other person, and it baffles me why people think it must not only accomplish something but the feeling of superiority it also gives them.

    I gave up listening to the likes of Halo online just for that reason, and while I did end up talking to some nice people through the game it’s just not worth the risk of some complete nut job coming along and ruining the fun factor. It’s why I like MMO’s so much, fair enough that genre of players has its fair share of whining babies (just read any official forums for clarification of that) but at the end of the day you end up logging into the game to be greeted by a dozen or so “Hey mate, hello, /bite” from guild mates and friends, you spend till the early hours of the morning just talking and more often than not laughing yourself hysterically to sleep. It’s that feeling of community and friendship that makes the genre so powerful in my opinion.

    I think people just like to moan and rant, they’d moan if the sky was Periwinkle blue and not Powder Blue if they could, and of course the age old Penny Arcade comic about anonymity speaks volumes.

  8. Kat says:

    I get the worst insults from my “friends” *sniffle*

    Blindin’ Blog Batman! x

  9. Pete Pete says:

    I’ve never had unsolicited insults over XBL……. CSS Servers are a little different but then the one I play on most I can just kick and ban the perpetrators so it’s never an issue!!

    I’m usually more sorry for the folk that do these things as they are either stupid (and therefore can only resort to insult and namecalling), jealous of the big score you have (I’ll never experience that phenom lol), lonely and projecting their own needs in insult, or so socially inept they really think it’s ok to send random messages like that and get no consequences in return!

    I don’t know if XBL have a “Report Abuse” function but if they did, I suspect that would be abused too by people who’ll start reporting other people just to cause trouble!!

    As Lorna said, it it very much like and e-city and therefore bound to have complete morons and a-holes dotted about!! :P

    Great write Victor!!

  10. Victor Victor says:

    Thanks for the kind comments, people.
    Unfortunately, unsolicited insults are not age-related. They span the whole spectrum. In online terms, you get babies and pensioners insulting you. But you are right, minorities seem to be the most intolerant of them all. You’d hope there would be more solidarity. But no.

    My internet bro. Thanks for commenting. But remember these wise words. “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you”

    I have become resigned to the fact that it is, what it is. Considering that the online gaming arena is quite young, you have to have hope for the future. Perhaps, manners will be back in fashion again soon. Consider that the father of the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee himself said that in the early days, the internet was only used by intellectuals. And there was virtually no difference to the level of vitriol found on messageboards used by professionals and the XBL messages sent by imbeciles. I am not quite sure, but I think that shows progress. Perhaps.

    The mistress of metaphors and aphrodite of analogies. If we consider that gaming is an addiction and that for us to get the purest and best high, we have to visit the scummiest, filthiest and most anti-social parts of our gaming city, it can almost be said that all the abuse is our fault :) Viva Pinata and the like only give you a sugar rush. The true connoisseur needs to have a naked flame. And a tea spoon hovering above it and a nondescript brown liquid bubbling in the tea spoon. That sort of product is what you only get in games designed for 18+. It looks like the problems of unsolicited emails will stay with us for a little while longer yet.

    I’ll be pleased to read the comments from fellow TrialsHD experts. I can’t imagine that they will give you unsolicited insults. Trials seems to foster a much nicer community, that would appreciate the effort that a superb track requires. Creativity is appreciated a lot more than raw, brute skill. In my minds eye. We shall find out soon.

    I hear what you are saying. And I am the same way.

    Think of it less of as unsolicited insults. More as my very special way of telling you that I am glad you are on my friends list.

    Count yourself lucky. An unsolicited insult invokes a special piece of gamers rage in me. I can feel something vital throbbing in my temple, anytime that happens.

  11. Rook says:

    MarkuzR will get unsolicited abuse as soon as his new Trials friends try Fumble Runner. :D

  12. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I can never remember which track is which… had to go watch the video to see :) That’s an easy track ;)

  13. James says:

    This sort of thing totally turns me off online gaming. The volume of abuse abuse and aggression that gets blasted into my headset when I dare to venture on Live just reminds me why I don’t participate more often. I think folks find it that much easier to release an unprovoked torrent of venom when their target is at the end of a cable 3,000 miles away. For some, bravery is directly proportional to proximity.

  14. Victor Victor says:

    Bravery directly proportional to proximity? I like that hypothesis. And I can confirm that is 100% correct. I remember back in the days of Xbox 1, my housemate played FIFA on on XBL. My housemate was from Cameroon and had a distinctly non-english accent. That was all it took to set of non-stop abuse for the length of a complete football game. A game of two halves? Not on that day.

    The joke of it all is, I gave my friend the nickname Mr T. And not because he was afraid of flying. If that guy would have dared to have made that joke in person, I would have actually pitied that fool. But nevermind.

  15. Greg Greg says:

    Fab post, and as so many others have already said absolutely true. For my part, I was luck when I first came on Live in that I did so with a bunch of friends that I had developed through a forum and so the worst I usually have to sustain is banter (or one of Sly Reflex’s infamous paroxysms of sweary hate, but its all done with love ;))

    That being said, there are as Lorna points out certain games which just seem to bring out the worst in people, and Halo/COD seem to fall squarely into this category – my first experience of abuse through Live was an American gamer on Halo 3 telling me (apropos of nothing at all in the lobby BEFORE the game) that he was going to take a shotgun and ‘rape me up the ass with it’. My all time fave though has to be a guy on Bad Company, who actually sent me a voice message telling me not to steal ‘his’ tank! Needless to say I couldn’t resist sending him one back telling him I never saw his name on it :P

    Unfortunately, wherever a group of people gathers, there will be dobbers (thanks Mark!) and this is a true of online gaming as it is football matches, pubs and anywhere else you can think of. All one can hope for is to have enough friends to offset the morons. And a working mute button.

  16. Pete Pete says:

    lol Markuz has a good tale of the Bravery/Proximity measure :D

  17. Helicon says:

    But remember these wise words. “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you”

    Lee is, by his own admittance, one of those you speak of, and I myself get continuous ribbing and insults due to the fact that I too, a gamer now for 30 years, dare to play the ‘Reliant Robin’ of the gaming world – the Nintendo Wii.

    His belief that the Wii is for the casual gamer, may or may not hold truth, but one thing is for certain – the very console he fears, has already started to shape his gaming future……

  18. Victor Victor says:


    That is just about the best interpretation of the warblings of Yoda that I have ever read. Maybe that guy was not as crazy as I thought. I’ll have to let him know this.

  19. [...] different ages, it was Xbox live as advertised! You’d have a good time with none of the hate that Vic discussed in his last post. After that night the majority of those people new people you accepted friends requests from would [...]

  20. The Preacher says:

    Well, I feel a little chastened, considering my open delight at your playing Hannah Montana the other night Vic. In my defence, I’d laugh at a full grown man for liking anything to do with Hannah Montana; not just for playing the game. And it was of course harmless banter, rather than genuine derision. But it is worth considering… I wouldn’t laugh at someone for playing a Lego game. I’d be fairly annoyed if someone was abusive towards me for playing a game considered childish. I was frequently, back when all the PS2 and XBox owners were laughing at the Gamecube’s titles. And yet I was still so titillated by seeing you playing Hannah Montana that I had to giggle about it at you over Live messages. Hurm.

    My main argument I suppose is that I only did it because it was you, and because you were just hunting achievements, rather than actually enjoying the game. You admitted as much at the time. If you’d genuinely been having fun with it, I’d have been less openly amused about it. I’d still have been giggling, but I’d have had more respect for your right to enjoy whatever you damned well please. I don’t understand playing bad games that you’re not really enjoying just for the gamerscore. I never have, and I doubt if I ever will. I don’t personally give a monkey’s stuff about getting achievements in games I adore; I only have a single complete gamerscore on a game, and it’s an XBLA arcade game rather than a full retail title. Out of maybe 90ish games. I understand a lot of people feel more compelled to get achievements than I do. But I don’t understand the desire to get more at any cost.

    Does this make me a hypocrite? I don’t honestly know. I’d hate to be laughed at for playing a childish game I was having fun with, but I laughed at you for doing so just to boost your gamerscore. All I can really say is, it was mere jesting, similar to what we’ve done to each other many times by this point, and I’ve never done it to anyone else; certainly not to random people I don’t even know. But I still feel a little guilty about it now, having read this.

    I’m sure you’re deliberately trying to prise the moral high ground back prior to your next attack on me for buying yet another silly avatar costume. But it’s worked, if that is what you’re up to, and I salute you for it. A worthy foe indeed, playing your tactics on the knowledge of my having an intermittent conscience.

  21. Lauren says:

    You make a good point..those kinds of comments are somewhat rattling when your fellow gamers are the ones delivering…I’ve heard a few but seeing as I’m a female, I don’t get it a lot. But when I do, it’s just plain annoying. Next time someone tells you to get a life, tell them you have three extra lives and ask if they need you to spare them one. (:

  22. IrishPauly says:

    After winning a game of poker I got a message from the guy in 2nd saying ” you suck you only played when you had a good hand”.

  23. LeonBelmontX says:

    This is one of the reasons I rarely ever bother with matchmaking on Xbox Live. You never know who you’re going to get.

    I think before online gaming actually came about, I also thought it sounded great. But then – that’s because I naively believed that the majority of people who played games were like me – people who loved games, were generally nice people and didn’t seek out conflict. In a way, I felt as though I was part of a group of a niche of the population, and that in some way online gaming would bring those people together in a way that we could enjoy gaming together.

    But the reality is that gamers do not just include your harmless “gaming geeks” such as myself, but a selection of all types of the human species. Sure, some people act differently to how they would in real life, but you still get your loud people, nice people, selfish people, quiet people, and ignorant, intolerant arseholes. And when they all just get lumped together in a matchmaking session, with other players only being able to see your “avatar” or in-game representation, people tend to forget that real people are behind them, misunderstand their actions, or simply don’t care. For instance, I’ve had times when my controller’s battery has died. From my perspective, it’s a perfectly innocent mistake – yet that doesn’t stop someone sending me a message saying “WTF ARE YOU DOING!?RETARD!!11″

    I think the worst one for me is first person shooters. The idea of said game is generally kill or be killed. So why do I recieve hate mail if I a) beat them,or b) get beaten? I’m not sure what other outcome was expected of me, but when I win with modesty I don’t see the same respect when the tables are turned, some snotty kid “teabagging” me in an online equivalent to “happy slapping”.

    I think the problem is, as with real life, generally the nasty, aggressive people are the loudest and most noticeable. I’m sure that there are plenty of nice gamers out there – but it can be hard to notice them amongst the voice-chat insults and hate mail. That’s why I always try and send a “good game”, or such message when I play someone who isn’t an ass.

  24. [...] mother known as Victor was making alot of noise on twitter about something he wrote on the internet here I figured I’d give it a read. I was working at the time so any excuse not to do what i get [...]

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