posted by NanaKrustofski,
Dota 2 has the most toxic online community according to a study by the Anti-Defamation League in 2019. Of course, direct insults are meant to be hurtful. But often there are cases of players making jokes or remarks without any evil intend that cause an uproar and get called out. However, there are still voices to defend toxicity as "being a part of gaming" and people should deal with it. 2019 could not end without another mini-scandal: world champion Johan 'BigDaddyN0tail' Sundstein got banned on Twitch for saying the f-word during a stream. The reactions in the community were rather mixed. Some demand an apology and state that he also has a role model function while streaming to a large audience. Others not only defend him for his choice of words, but claim the word and the entire "slur" language was completely normal in gaming and should not bother anyone.

While these are two opposite extremes and N0tail misusing a word once might not cause an apocalypse, one thing is certain: It is hurtful. And it goes beyond a "crybaby special snowflake" attitude, where some people make a fuss out of something rather mundane – it is a fundamental issue.

Discussions are not only sparked when it comes to homophobic remarks, but also about racist jokes. The debate between Henrik 'AdmiralBulldog' Ahnberg and Trent "TrentPax" MacKenzie is another recent example. Bulldog is known for his rather "edgy humour" and obviously does not seem to have any malicious ulterior motive or actual hatred in him. But it is important to note that the humour shared by him and most of his followers is not the standard among society.

While all kinds of jokes and remarks are allowed among a group of persons, as long as all individuals are okay with it, it is a different case when others are involved.

Another important issue is to realize, that it is not the single usage of a slur or remark that is hurtful, it is the fact that affected people face these problems constantly. It is not the one time you read a potentially hurtful message, it is the fact that you have to read it over and over again for years, and each repetition reminds you off all the hardships you had to endure.

Misogynistic behaviour is another burning point, not only in Dota, but in gaming and esports in general (and basically in every aspect of life, like all the other mentioned problems). Over time, you become more sensitive against attacks or jokes. Often, the counterpart does not realize how hurtful the words were and of course they do not know what a person had to endure so far. But this is another reason to hold back critical humour when playing with strangers.

Toxic behaviour, flaming and trash talk – yes, they have been a part of gaming since its existence. And yes, some insults or jokes are certainly funny, but there are also boundaries. Sometimes they can be stretched, but they can also be crossed. And if people are explaining that a certain language and attitude is hurting, it might be time to reconsider your behaviour.

Dota is a public area, so when you play with strangers, it is no longer the enclosed space you share with your friends. People have different values, feelings and opinions than you and your acquaintances. You can continue all kinds of humour in the most extreme ways you want to – but it is also your responsibility that you do not annoy or hurt others with it.

What is your take on toxic jokes?

Photo credit: Keanhotshine