Trash Talking and Good Sportsmanship in Competitive Video Games
written by Galactic Geek
Video games are largely played by people of all ages for two reasons: (1) for fun and (2) to compete; sometimes both. Unfortunately, for many people, they lose the ability to have fun because others can take competing too far. When gamers get competitive, they often forget about having fun and will often try to do anything and everything they can to win, including trash talking. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to win (after all, there is not a person in the world who would actively enjoy losing for the sake of losing), it pays dividends to be careful in how it is done, because if done right, the competition can ramp up to unparalleled heights that can never be achieved from talking trash.
Talking trash, in essence, is a negative interaction. Even if a player meant it in good jest, it can still have unintentional negative ramifications towards others. Despite its negative connotation, millions of gamers world-wide make use of it. But why would they do this? The answer is simple: it is an effective strategy. Long before video games were invented, talking trash was used the world over in sports, war, and other similar activities (and still is even now) to get inside of the opponent’s head and cause doubt in their abilities. This in turn, would give the taunting player an inherent advantage. It was used as a way to shake their confidence.
An unfortunate, and potential, side-effect of this strategy, however, is the long-lasting effects and implications it can have on its victim. Even though the trash talking occurred in the limited virtual world of the video game, many gamers may be adversely affected beyond the game session long after it’s over and can, in worst case scenarios, lead to serious stress and depression as a result. It is for this reason that talking trash is considered negative and inherently dangerous.
Instead of talking trash directly to another player, a good idea might be to make a joke about the game itself. Take note of what is in the game and make a pun, for example. If you can get your opponent to laugh, you can still have the same affect that trash talking has by way of distraction, but without the negative ramifications of ruining their fun. In fact, because they will be having fun, they may want to continue playing, even if they lose. This in turn helps solve another problem: rage-quitting – and that is a whole other can of worms.
Showing good sportsmanship is the key to ensuring everyone has fun and is at their best. If you take the time to be polite and show respect towards your fellow players, you may find that the positive benefits far outweigh the negative benefits you may get from trash talking.
The idea behind competition is to see who is the best at something – a test of skill. When trash talking is introduced however, it does not involve skill at all – it involves under-handed manipulation. Rather than resorting to that kind of behavior, however, rely on your own merit instead. If you are truly better than the other player, than let your actions speak for you, not the other way around. If you let your words speak for you and then lose, you will only come off as pompous, arrogant, and/or a jerk. However, if you show good sportsmanship and win through skill alone, not only will you have gained the respect of your opponent, but you just might make a friendly rival out of them. After all, many gamers will agree that a close game is the best way to play. If you win by a landslide, it can be fun and feel great, but if it continues, it will only last for so long before boredom sets in. However, if you win by a large margin, then it will not necessarily feel fair to the losing player(s) and can result in
diminished morale, and of course, result in further losses for them, and less of a challenge for you.
A good way of showing good sportsmanship after a game is to discuss the matchup with your opponent - share tips and advice with your opponent after you beat them. For example, you can tell them how you were able to beat them in the 1st place by (politely) pointing out what they did wrong and how to fix it. This gives you 2 benefits: (1) it helps the other player improve and get better and (2) it forces you to change your strategy and make you a better player in turn. In doing this, your opponent will appreciate the advice and have even greater respect for you as a player and as a person. It is a win-win for everyone involved.
So the next time you play a competitive video game with someone, make a change for the better – do this and you will be surprised at how much better you will become, how many more friends you will make, how much more you will be appreciated, how much more you will win, and most important of all – how much fun you will have. After all, that is why video games were invented! To have fun!