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Background

I'm asking this in the context of playing the computer game Overwatch and therefore internet-anonymity as one problem has to be kept in mind.

When I started playing the game I got as soon I had some experience a typical command giving a player who just blamed others for not following up commands and strategies when it wasn't running according to (my) plan.

After a bit of self-learning, I learned that it is important to keep everyone's morale up by pointing out what went well and only pointing on mistakes if they happen repeatedly and might be caused by unawareness of the problem.

I learned that it is important to neither have a team of 6 commanders nor have a team of 6 followers. So I learned to try to grab the commander role as I feel most comfortable with it, but if someone else is not willing to follow I follow his commands to prevent splitting a call following the team.

Also, I'm clearly and neutral communicating (and always trying to do it without any judgement) what I see might be a problem. And if I have no idea I ask the others if they have an idea what actually is causing trouble.

If the response is calm and objective, that leads sometimes to great changes mid game twisting it to our advantage.

Problem

Sometimes others simply deny communicating what they think is going on. And I think most of them are playing in a competitive manner the game as I do as they1 want to win. So why won't they communicate their observations? Instead of at some point just breaking out in blaming some specific player in a very subjective and most of the time even insulting way.

If I'm able to abstract their worries from such statements I try to argue and/or fix it if I agree with the problem. But in a situation where a player just starts to insult me and subjectively blames me for losing the game I feel like I'm losing control of the situation and since this is a typical fight or flight situation where flight would be penalized by game mechanics, I react to it with an outbreak of counter insulting aggression and totally losing focus of the game. (Which I totally hate, as it will take me up to several hours to calm down again.)

TL;DR:

How can I keep control over a before mentioned situation, prevent myself from throwing tantrum and in the ideal case pulling the subjectively motivated offender to mention objectively his point of view instead of figuratively provoking me to flip the gaming table?


1Let's exclude immature players that just play to annoy others or players that don't know better from this assumption

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    You can't say "before mentioned situation" in a tl;dr :s The header for that paragraph should be "Question" :p – Ezenhis Aug 22 '17 at 13:21
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    I think your mistake is trying to point out mistakes and believing others are humble enough to take your advice, follow your lead or think that maybe they're partially to blame for them losing. Communicating efficiently when playing with strangers is really hard. – NotThatGuy Aug 22 '17 at 13:21
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    Sorry but this is a silly question. The problem you're trying to address here isn't part of playing any online game. If someone is being belligerent, you mute them or ignore them. You're not there to engage in psychological evaluations of other players. – pay Aug 22 '17 at 13:29
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    It is worth remembering that anger is a secondary emotion. It is used to cover primary emotions (shame, fear, etc). People react in anger to cover their true feelings. What feels better? Lashing out at someone who fails to follow your lead, or explaining to them that you feel hurt when they don't respect your leadership qualities and gaming skills? – George Cummins Aug 22 '17 at 15:10
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    @dhein What do you mean how am I reading this? You literally said you point out mistakes and take the lead, and people not wanting admit that they're not the best player ever is human nature and explains most of this. – NotThatGuy Aug 22 '17 at 16:15
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While your top line is about trying to understand the source of someone else's anger, this is not actually a useful aim (as with anonymous people on the internet you may never know) and in reality you'd be better off looking at how you deal with others.

Even if you feel anger or tantrum like emotions towards someone who seems angry at you, you know that responding angrily will only make it worse.

So don't respond angrily. Try turning off your microphone if you use one, and avoid messaging, and then just take a deep breath. In the grand scheme of things it is a game. It is unimportant. Relax. And continue playing.

I avoid this type of thing entirely by playing with a group of like minded individuals who dislike trolling, anger, briefing etc. So our group just plays nice ;-)

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    +1 It always helps to join a chat room (or something similar to TeamSpeak) with friends and starting a game session with them, not only does it enhance the gameplay as you're working in tandem but your conversation would be much better too. – Bradley Wilson Aug 22 '17 at 11:22
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    @BradleyWilson: I generally do this. ( I think for any other game so far). But for overwatch it is my impression it takes very long until the players have enough awareness of each other to even start building synergies. I tried multiple times to gather like minded persons I know, or met for this reason, but they always give up after a few days, expecting results within days what was clear to take months. Thats why I went a way, trying individually adept to other players playstyl each game. what a pity... – dhein Aug 22 '17 at 11:34
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"And I think most of them are playing in a competitive manner the game as I do as they1 want to win"

I think this is where you're wrong. People who want to win don't play an online game that gives them a 50% chance of winning no matter how good or bad they play (unless matchmaking is broken or you're the very best/worst player in the world). People who want to win play a game that gives them a 100% chance of winning.

Many many people play games in order to distract themselves, and sometimes to have fun.

They don't care if your style is "better", they got their own style. Their style may be:

  • Try hard to "win" by scoring high on a certain statistic.
  • Mute them all because chat distracts from their fun (I personally recommend that).
  • Blame someone anonymous on the internet whenever something doesn't go the way they want it to go.
  • Troll the chat to make some player mad.
  • Genuinely trying to win by communicating aggressively, then losing their shit when someone tells them to shut up because they are distracting.
  • Etc.

I react to it with an outbreak of counter insulting aggression

Some players are trying to bait you into this, other times you have a bad grasp on the situation and you're actually the one flaming.

Whenever you get mad at an irrational player online, mute them. And if they used a curse word while doing so, see if there's a "report" button.

  • Is it really like that? Are there that many players enjoying to play for ruining the fun of others/reasons not intended by the game? So in such a situation it is unlikely to get any benefit from understanding the other players point? About I'm flaming. It happens rarely. I really communicate very carefully and it takes quite a bit until I loose my temper. And sadly it is unavoidable for me if it gets that far. Is the 50%/100% note direct referencing to Overwatch/my playstyl? or more general? – dhein Aug 22 '17 at 11:27
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    Oh, I don't understand it either, so I don't think it's your aspergers. I'd assume it's because you aren't a sociopath :-) – Rory Alsop Aug 22 '17 at 12:30
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    Maybe i'm a sociopath, i dunno...but eh. As i see it, it's not that hard to understand. Griefers and other trolls exist in large part because (1) some people take themselves, their hobby, and the internet in general way too seriously, and (2) there's something oddly satisfying about breaking stuff. Take these two together, and you have people who enjoy applying pressure to soft targets and seeing what pops. – cHao Aug 22 '17 at 22:23
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    "Chat distract them" ? I have trouble with players that play with others but don't communicate at all. How are you suppose to elaborate a teamplay or change it when it's not working ? – Walfrat Aug 23 '17 at 9:01
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    Well, a good game is like a good story, there's suspense and excitement, like that moment when the opponents pull off a perfect coordinated move but you still manage to escape with only 1HP left after a heroic fight, etc. I played lots of L4D2, and winning is always nice but it's just an extra, the fun is the game itself. Having both teams of equal skill makes it less likely for any team to win, but also makes the game a lot more fun! – peufeu Sep 27 '17 at 17:30
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Keep calm and enjoy the game.

Anger has no one particular source that you can identify online. It comes to anyone, anywhen, and for many reasons. Some users are naturally short-tempered, while others are intentionally trolling or being abusive, and sometimes anger is misdirected towards you and has nothing to do with you or the game actually. Instead of trying to find a source, focus on saving yourself from their insults.

You can mute, ignore, report, or in the worst case, block the user so that you no longer have to hear their insults. Your options may vary based on the platform.

And do not get angry at other users for whatever reason, as it will only escalate matters. Instead, find users who play it cool.

That's how I avoid any potential disputes between players when I play online.

  • I disagree about anger having no particular source; it always has a source, but many people don't (want to? maybe. Can't? more often) recognize where it comes from. Take any decent anger management course and you'll learn quite a lot about it, and how to prevent it. Otherwise, this is great advice, and +1! – anongoodnurse Aug 23 '17 at 0:30
  • @anongoodnurse yes, of course, anger has sources. My idea was to convey that anger has no particular fixed source that you can identify yourself as an online player. – NVZ Aug 23 '17 at 2:04
3

In the specific context of Overwatch, here are my suggestions:

  • In the long run, expect a 50:50 win-loss rate. That is, expect to lose half of the games you play. Every game has six winners and six losers, and matchmaking is supposed to even out skill differences, so this is only logical as a starting point. It is not (should not be) possible to maximize your win rate, except at the very highest levels of play (where matchmaking starts running out of adequately skilled opponents). If you are using win-loss rate as a metric of your skill level, or even if you are just feeling bad every time you lose a match, stop, because losses are supposed to be commonplace.
    • If you want to use something else as a metric, you could track eliminations, objective kills, etc., but many of these numbers are similarly confounded by the matchmaking system. Skill rating does work here, but in the short run it mostly translates to "feel good about the wins and bad about the losses," which is counterproductive.
    • Personally, I prefer to focus on the "small picture" of each game: What was my strategic impact? Did I help my teammates, or make things harder for my opponents? Was I able to hold a choke, or prevent the point from turning over? And so on. I find these small picture ideas more satisfying than looking at big picture numbers. But then, I mostly do quickplay instead of competitive, so maybe this just doesn't work for you.
    • This probably seems unrelated to your question, but too much emphasis on winning tends to be the driving force behind the interpersonal conflicts you are describing. If you cannot dissociate from your losses, you will struggle to interact productively with your teammates; if they cannot so dissociate, they will struggle to interact with you. You can only control half of this equation, but that's better than no control at all.
  • Some of those 50% losses will come from too-strong opponents. No matter how good the matchmaking system gets, it will still exhibit some amount of sampling error, so you'll always have a few of these unbalanced games. The reverse will also happen every now and then, so try to see the easy wins as compensation for these losses. It's important to recognize when this is happening, and acknowledge that these games are most often unwinnable. There is no blame to go around, so just do your best until the game reinstances you, and don't worry about losing.
  • Some of the losses will come from bad teammates. If they are breaking the rules, you can report them, but in most cases, there is nothing you can do about this (e.g. failure to use a mic and communicate is not a ToS violation). Again, sometimes your opponents get hampered by bad teammates instead, so it should all even out in the end.
    • Telling some poor players how to improve won't fix anything, it will just make them angry. This probably seems illogical to you, but some neurotypicals are just like this. They don't like being told what to do, especially when they're in the middle of losing a match. Blaming anyone in reach is an extension of that - the game is telling them that they are not good enough, and they are refusing to accept it. Don't try to argue or engage with someone who is audibly angry or irrational, just mute them and do your best to salvage the game.
    • Some players are quite tolerant of advice and constructive criticism, but unfortunately there is no reasonable way to know this ahead of time, unless you are playing with friends from outside the game. Personally, I don't think helping these players is worth the risk of getting screamed at, but you'll have to evaluate that for yourself.
  • Some losses will happen because you did not play well enough. These are the only losses you can change, so you should focus on them, to the exclusion of other kinds of losses.
    • That does not mean that you shouldn't worry about communication with teammates at all. On the contrary, communication is in the hands of the speaker, not the listener. You should always assume responsibility for being understood by others, even if it seems like they are not listening very well. But conversely, if someone else is communicating poorly with you, there is very little you can do about it from your end, other than asking for clarification.
1

After clarification, it seems you want to know how to not be so reactive to such a person. I can merely tell you what works for me.

I breathe. I actually have learned to stop right when I feel that increase in frustration/anger build and breathe very deeply several times and repeat to myself that I will not give this person control over my emotions. That is what made me have the willpower to want to change this. At some point, I realized I was allowing other people (people I knew and people that I did not) to determine my internal emotions. Now there are times this is warranted. It helps us survive. If some stranger has just punched you, it might be okay to let your internal emotions rise up and hit back. It might be just what you need to get through that situation. Hopefully, though this is a rare thing that you seldom have to rely on your emotional responses for. The rest of the time, we are then having to learn to control them versus handing over control to the emotion.

So you breathe, remind yourself how unimportant this person actually is to your life. Remind yourself you never actually have to interact with them again. You also must be aware that many are likely trolls with the sole intent of loving to see other people become upset. It is then likely more profitable overall instead of attacking verbally to overly assert how unaffected you are by their attempts to bait you. This is easily done by doing things like thanking them when they insult you. If they act confused, thank them for offering their perspectives and helping you learn to be a better player. No matter what they say, offer thanks for it. They often will quickly tire and give up on you as that is not a rewarding, entertaining, nor fun exchange for them. I have so far never had anyone that has the drive to continue on if I just tell them thank you over and over. They give up.

  • Not really the intention of my question, but still +1 as the "thank you" advice sounds promising – dhein Aug 24 '17 at 6:59

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