Hello all! As always this group is a safe place and a source of useful information when it comes to cyberbullying and online abuse. Today, I thought I would reiterate some coping mechanisms when gaming. We're paired with leading charity Cybersmile so please visit their website for more information and support. And here's a little badge you can display on your profile/social media to show you're a #cybersmiler and against any form of cyberbullying.
But onto the coping mechanisms!
Responding to abuse can be effective so long as you don’t mirror the behaviour and end up retaliating with abuse of your own, as this usually ends up escalating the situation and it also makes it difficult to see who is at fault.
Firstly, letting someone know that you feel they are being abusive may be enough for them check their behaviour. In a team environment it also lets other players know that there could be an issue.
- If you feel your being abused or unfairly treated, say so. State your case and move on.
- Keep it short and sweet, let them know you are here to play the game!!
- Don’t ever take abuse personally, they don’t even know you!!
- Humour can be a great way to defuse situations and could help the abusive player to calm down and regain perspective.
- Use this as an opportunity to let players know what behaviour you will not accept.
- Let them know you will contact site administrators and report abuse if it continues.
- Try to steer the chat away from the issue. Chat about something random just to break the thread of negativity. This can make other players realize you’re human after all!!
If you do respond to someone who is abusive you should also keep a record of your communication. This could be a screenshot or recording of the conversation. This will help if you need to provide evidence of the abuse to site administrators/moderators.
You may wish to respond with a counter narrative – what it is that has offended you and why, and what you intend to do about it etc. Try to be as objective as you can – you don’t want to be seen as being abusive yourself.
“I just say, ‘that’s not cool’ and leave it there. I draw my line and if its crossed I let them know, and if it carries on I just laugh at them and get on with my game, I’ve got no time for idiots!”
“Something I’ve found therapeutic is to type it out, wait a second and then just delete. It’s because in that pause I take a deep breath and remind myself that the only way the game plays out from there is either with more baiting because it got a response or an extended back and forth over which one of us is wrong – more typing, less time playing.”
One way of dealing with potential abuse is to avoid it. Turning off or muting all communication and chat facilities. With some games it can be difficult to find this function so you may need to search around to find the player options for in game chat and messaging.
- On screen chat – check options for muting, minimalizing, disabling or hiding on-screen chat.
- Messaging – if the game has a messaging facility you can alter your settings and receive only messages from friends, or block/mute all messages entirely. Check this before you start playing each game.
- Headset chat – check player options for muting or disabling audio chat.
Once you have found out how to manage your comms with other players it will be up to you to choose if you wish to openly communicate, just listen in or block completely.
“I just turn up my headset, which streams their audio from my TV and into the headset only… then I just put the headset in a drawer… I don’t have to listen to their cr*p then and can just enjoy the game without the smack.”
“Most games for me is usually just gl hf then gg or rage quit. Occasionally you’ll get someone trying to make friendly chat or some idiot BMing, but that’s when the block function comes in handy.”
^^^ Has this advice got you feeling lost? ^^^ Visit our Gaming Terminology page to get your head around the lingo.
Control and Perspective
If you are feeling uncomfortably emotional, stressed or anxious because of abuse or bullying then you will need time to regain control and gain perspective on the situation.
You will firstly need to remove the cause of the stress, which will mean taking action straight away. Depending on what type of gaming environment you are in will determine which of the following you will need to do.
- Headset chat – turn off the chat and take the headset off. You don’t need to respond or defend yourself even if you feel like you should. If you want to continue playing then you could listen to some music instead or relax in the quiet of your surroundings
- On screen chat – Turn off the screen text and take the time to decide whether you want to carry on playing or not.
- Take a break – Do you really need to finish this game? Is it the end of the world if you leave? No, of course not. Finish what you need to and take a break. Get a drink, read some comics or a book for 10 minutes, chat with someone, watch TV, relax and get your perspective back. You may decide to go back to the game and evidence any further abuse, you may decide to carry on playing without any comms for a while or you may decide to respond or report them, it’s up to you. The most important thing to do is take the time to calm down, and then you can decide what to do and how you want to proceed.
- Exercise – this could be getting up to make a drink and having a good stretch or going for a run, it’s up to you. Physical exercise produces endorphins, which help the body to reduce to levels of stress and pain. Getting some exercise really does make you feel better and can provide you with a boost.
Once you have managed to take your self away from the cause of the problem you will be able to begin to regain you perspective. This process will enable you to think far more clearly about the situation and assess it properly.
“I mute and hook up to some tunes if things start to get out of hand. I’ve only left a couple of games, when the abuse took over the gameplay and then it just wasn’t worth staying.”
“If I think I need a break I take my dog for a walk. Gets me back to myself and I always get a big thank you from the dog!!”
Who do players seem to totally lose control and start abusing each other? Here is a breakdown of what makes people go full tilt and what you can do to stop yourself from losing the plot.
Emotions are very powerful things that can make us feel wonderful and happy or desperate and depressed. It is how we control, or regulate our emotions that determines our behavior, and how others perceive us. Recognizing what triggers emotional feelings of anger, is the first step in being able to stay in control when you start to feel angry or threatened.
Everyone has them and in gaming there are many that can provoke an emotional reaction. Bad game play, rejection, loss, threats to status and ego etc are all perceived as threats that can trigger emotional responses causing people to attack or feel that they need to defend themselves in some way.
When people over react and start ranting, this is a sure sign that the person feels threatened in some way, the initial emotional response has taken control and the person has literally lost control. The need to right the wrong or regain status takes over completely and all perspective is lost in a desperate fight for survival!
You may not know what will trigger someone else to loose it but you can at least recognize loss of control in others and begin to regulate your own emotional responses as well. Here are a few tips that you can use to keep yourself in control when the red mist starts to roll in.
The term “fight or flight” is also known as the stress response. It’s what the body does as it prepares to confront or avoid perceived threats. It is this response we need to look at and begin to manage. The first step in regaining control is to calm the body down and one of the best ways to do this is deep breathing. Deep, controlled breaths allow oxygen to flow around the body, helping you to relax, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.
You can do this for 5 or 10 minutes sitting comfortably at your computer or you can create a special relaxation spot where you can go and calm yourself.
Be the Boss!
You may not be able to control how your emotions react to certain situations but you can control how you respond to them. This is the key to gaining control of emotional urges, recognizing the trigger, being aware of the emotion urge and finally, responding to it appropriately. You are in control of the last part of this process and this is how you will end up behaving. Don’t be a slave to your emotions, be the boss, let them do their job and you do yours.
Use this time to gain perspective on your situation and assess the threat appropriately. Will it matter in a month’s time? Will it mean anything at all in a year? Are you really at risk? Was it the point of feeling angry? Does one bad game mean everything? Do these people really know you?
Shifting your perspective can help you to create thoughts that dispel the belief that you are under threat. If you believe that you have done nothing wrong and that others are at fault then you can feel good about your situation despite what others believe.
Get your perspective back on track and then you can think about a more positive outcome from the experience. Each time you handle a situation differently, without losing control, you will gain more confidence in dealing with emotions.
“Life is too short to get all worked up over a game. Keep cool and block the morons, it’s the only way.”
“I don’t rage anymore, it’s just not healthy. If I really need to say something I will mute my mic and go for it big time. Letting it all out without anyone getting hurt is great, and I usually end up laughing at my own rant!”