I want to talk a little about about toxicity in gaming, and particularly, in the e-sports industry.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a gamer. I enjoy playing videos games of various genres. From FPS’s, the puzzle games, to RTS’s. I’ve played all types of video games, and enjoyed them to various degrees. However, esports are a completely different ball game. I never got into watching esports until started playing Starcraft II.
However, throughout my experience in gaming, I have found that all gaming communities have one thing in common. They have some players that are rude, arrogant and utterly dismissive of other players’ skills. I’ve previously talked about entry level when it comes to hobbies, and I believe that argument perfectly applies here too. And due to lack of accountability, the behavior is fairly widespread. I’ve been on the receiving side of the hate too. Take it from me. I was one of the top players in Soul of the Ultimate Nation, an MMORPG. It’s not fun.
For me, I couldn’t care less about a troll in a video game. Words, at the end of the day, are just words. They are meaningless, and mean even less when coming from some random person on the other side of a computer. However, they do reduce the overall quality of experience of the game.
I don’t follow a lot of games in terms of the esports scene, so perhaps it may be a little different depending on the game you follow. However, I’d like to hazard a guess and say that it’s not. I follow the Korean Starcraft II scene very closely. I enjoy the high level of play. What’s more, I enjoy the respect that players have for each other. It doesn’t matter whether they are teammates, or opponents. You can see that these players respect each other and respect their skill.
However, not all professional Starcraft II players share that mentality. For example, Nerchio, a Polish player is one of the most toxic professional Starcraft II players out there. Over the years, he has constantly whined about game balance. He has also straight-up insulted other professional Starcraft II players. And the fun doesn’t stop there. He strongly advocated that Blizzard should not allow Koreans to participate in Starcraft II tournaments in Europe, while claiming that Europeans could go toe-to-toe with Koreans.
If you’re not familiar with the Starcraft II scene, I’d like to shine a little light on the matter. Koreans dominate the Starcraft II scene. On average, they play on a much higher caliber than their North American and European counterparts. So, while Nerchio’s argument had merit, his claim that Europeans could go toe-to-toe with Koreans was one based on pure arrogance. He has constantly insulted and lashed out at other Koreans in the scene as well.
When I watch professional Starcraft II, I don’t really mind who wins. Until there is a game with Nerchio in, where I vouch against him. People like him ruin the overall experience for other players in the scene. For a scene that is fairly tight-knit due to the small player base, a person like him damages the reputation of the game. I believe his behavior should not be encouraged.
But, he still continues to participate in tournaments. And that’s not unjustified. He’s a good player. It’s a shame that extreme toxicity overshadows such talent. But, at least there is some karma in this universe. During the WCS circuit, which leads to Blizzcon and a $700,000 prize pool, he was eliminated in record time by Rogue, a Korean player. The first game ended in five minutes, which is very short for a Starcraft II game. The second game lasts 15 minutes, with Rogue behind most of the time. However, Rogue played better in every single way to Nerchio. Rogue showcased his mastery of the game, and sent a clear message home: he was just better.
It was great watching that cocky, toxic player getting his dreams crushed:
It’s one thing to make friendly jabs at fellow teammates. The Koreans do it, but they’re all in on the joke. But a lack of respect has no place in a community like Starcraft II, or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. I’m glad that Nerchio lost. I’m glad that his dreams were crushed, and I hope it keeps happening until he gains some semblance of humility.
It might seem spiteful on my behalf, but respect is a very important value for me. I extend respect to everyone I meet, regardless of their social status, gender, or race. And there’s no reason not to. Watching someone like Nerchio disrespect other players annoys me greatly. Hopefully, after he’s put in his place by better players, he might learn his lesson. From my experience, he won’t, so I’ll just have to settle with the looks of disappointment from him instead.