Saturday 30 September 2017

Gaming Therapy: Using Dead by Daylight to Let Go of Approval Seeking

Gaming Therapy: Using Dead by Daylight to Let Go of Approval Seeking

Written by Casey Douglass

For a long time, I’ve kind of avoided playing online multiplayer games. In large part, this was due to the chance of running into toxic people who always seem to know when to turn up and ruin a good game. I know that a good proportion of people playing games are absolutely fine and lovely, but the ones that aren’t... really aren’t. By this, I don’t mean that I don’t like being beaten by them at whatever the game may be. I might be many things but a sore loser isn’t one of them. In fact, I learn more from losses than I do from wins, so I value what they can give me. When other players lose however, you sometimes need a dustbin lid to hide behind, as there will be quite the number of baby toys flying your way, often with dog shit and other lovely items thrown in for good measure.

It’s just banter you over-sensitive noob!

Yes, sometimes it is just banter, but banter has become a word that is used to excuse some stuff that really isn’t okay. You know when some gobshite spouts something stupid or ignorant in the media and gets slated for it, and all the “political correctness gone mad” brigade appear when they are sanctioned for it? The people that think freedom of speech means freedom from consequences? Well imagine coming across a foul-mouthed keyboard warrior who thinks death threats are just ‘banter’ and you might see the angle I’m approaching things from. That isn’t okay, and I don’t think most level-headed people would think so either.

I have an anxiety disorder and other health issues. It means my fight-or-flight system is extra sensitive, always ready to pump adrenaline into my body at the merest sign of threat or conflict. The moment I see something aimed at me that is harsh or nasty, my body is already reacting and it’s too late to stop that rush, even if logically I can dismiss whatever the words mean. Bodies are tricksie. After the FoF adrenaline rush, my fatigue level hits the roof and I have the pleasure of at least fifteen minutes of a racing heart, tense muscles and other lovely side-effects. I’m used to this, I get through it and it doesn’t scare me. It just really sours whatever I was doing. With this in mind, avoiding any kind of confrontation helps my mental state, but of course, you can’t live that way forever.

It’s just a username / avatar you cry baby twat!

It’s funny how much meaning and connection we feel with our digital selves. Even if we join a game service, create a nickname, and are able to game without ever having to enter any more information, the moment someone insults us, we still feel it, even though they, and we, are just two, probably quite silly sounding, nicknames above rocket cars / warriors / sport players or whatever.

When we make our nickname on a new game or service, it is ‘us’ in a way that logically, I find hard to pin down. I guess it becomes the filter through which we interact with said game, and someone bashing you via that name, rather than your own real name, doesn’t do much to blunt the attack. Then again, our real names are only labels given to us (or sometimes chosen later by us) too. A nickname is just another label we choose to latch on to. Logically, people know it’s just a nickname and that the arguer or troll knows nothing at all about you, but they still find themselves reacting to the bait, whether by getting angry and arguing back, or getting wound up and irritated.

Where does Dead by Daylight come into things? You suck and your writing is bollocks!

A lot of toxicity seems to come from the way that different players have different ideas about how a game should be played. Add this into the four Survivors Vs one Killer dynamic of horror survival game Dead by Daylight, and you have the perfect beaker to mix up a lumpy, salty dose of conflict. You only need to read the first page of the game’s Steam forum to see the kind of topics being raised: Killers giving up because of Survivor behaviour, Survivors complaining that a certain killer is OP, posts moaning about camping, pallet looping and tunnelling, the list could go on. I know this kind of thing happens with any kind of competitive game, and it can sometimes help the developers balance things if they are truly amiss. Dead by Daylight is particularly interesting though, for the ways that people play and the reaction these get from those on the other side.

The developers of Dead by Daylight, Behaviour Digital, seem quite liberal when it comes to the actual rules of the game, I.e. don’t do x or you will be banned type stuff. These mainly fall into the no hacking, no griefing and no sending abuse type things, but as far as how a Killer or Survivor plays, you can pretty much play how you like and do what you need to do to achieve your goals. As a Killer, that means if you need to camp your prey, you do it. As a Survivor, if you have a Killer on your tail that you can’t shake, you can loop around walls endlessly until one of you gets bored or makes a mistake. I think that’s more than fair, but it seems a good number of people don’t.

I’ll still beat you however you play, after I’ve fucked your mom hahaha!

I play as Killer mainly, but I do spend a lot of time as a Survivor, as I find both sides of the game enjoyable. The chat window at the end of the game is tremendous for touching “good game” sentiments, uneasy silence, or enough anger and bile to piss anyone off. Put it this way, as a Killer, if you have a bad game for some reason, such as failing to sacrifice anyone, you will often get “gg” at the end, or mocked with “ez” etc. If you had a game where you dominated and thoroughly beat them, at best you will get silence, at worst, a whole heap of abuse. That’s if they are all even there. As a Killer, some players will disconnect from the game the moment you are about to hook them, to deprive you of the blood points you’d have made by doing it. Thankfully the game does punish disconnects and awards the Killer enough “goals” to still account for that loss, but still, how very petty.

What it boils down to is this: if you play as a Killer and don’t play how survivors think you should play, you are the worst human on the planet. I don’t mean to say all Survivors think this way, but the vocal teeth-grinders I’m talking about here certainly do, and they will let you know it. I play my Killer role in what I feel is a sporting way, because that’s how I like to play. If I hook someone early in the game, after a quick look around to see if anyone is hiding behind a wall waiting to rescue them, I will often leave the area, as there is every chance of catching them again later. If another Killer decides to hook someone and stay very close in the hope of capturing any would-be rescuers, they are more than allowed to do so. Tactics vary, but what the take away lesson seems to be is: use whichever tactics you want to use and play how you want to play.

Killers are easy mode you wankstain! Fuck you!

As a Killer, if I play the way the Survivors want me to play, it’s no fun and not really fair on me. I don’t expect a Survivor to offer themselves onto a hook just to help me, so it’s only right that Survivors don’t expect me to go easy on them or allow them to run rings around me. Right?

So my options were: only play as a Survivor where you get less abuse, play my Killer in a way that will please the Survivors and so avoid the abuse, or play my Killer in the way I choose and change how I frame the abuse. I went for the last option.

I decided to write down any abuse I got and convert it into a Wall of Saltiness. You can read about that here, although the Wall isn’t complete yet, it’s just about the idea. Instead of avoiding abuse, looking at with humour and the satisfaction of a game well dominated, serves very well in taking the sting out of anything that is said. It’s quite amazing how, if you can do it, re-framing something you don’t like into something that you are hunting for with a purpose can actually help. Even in the week or so that I’ve been salt-prospecting, my attitude to the insults and abuse has changed in a positive way, which I think can only be a good thing.

Get cancer and die!

Well-done, you’ve made the cut and are heading to my Wall of Saltiness! Hazzah!

TLDR Summary: Being clear about how you would like to play and re-framing online toxic comments into something fun can help take the sting out of playing with unpleasant people.

Thanks for reading, and have fun in whatever your game of choice is today.