I want to take you folks on a quick walk through our past. Join me wont you?
Let’s start off when the original Xbox was released and the idea of online multiplayer for console gamers was new and exciting. Remember how with the setup fee and the fancy new account with our new fangled GamerTag we were also give a big headset?
I sure do, and at first I wasn’t entirely sure what it was supposed to be used for. Soon enough, I was online with my school chums, blasting away on Halo/Halo 2 while reporting battle stats and instructions via this microphone. Sure, for many who had played on a PC before and had the same level of connectivity, this was nothing new. To me, it was this concept that I thought could potentially revolutionize gaming and how we all played cooperatively.
That dream sure did die quickly.
In many ways, the microphone was both a gift and a curse to the console gaming community. On the bright side, we finally had a vocal approach to strategy instead of typing out long winded commands to our team mates. Though lurking in the shadows, a horrible blight sat and watched on waiting for its time to strike. This blight has gone by many names but I only know it as… Internet Anonymity.
Being some avatar or name online is interesting, handing us the ability to be whoever we wanted knowing we’d never see this person in real life. We could say whatever we wanted, be whoever we wanted. On the original Xbox Live we could even have any voice we wanted! Had we seen the warning signs, maybe the horrible transformation from useful tool to horrible death machine could have been avoided. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
The anonymity began growing as more competitive games filled the mainstream market, player against player matches went from a simple test of skills to something a little sinister. Trash talking because common in the gaming realm (sure every sport/competitive group has this element) and was found relatively harmless at the time. As the years went on, the known lack of fear of repercussion settled into the minds of certain players, who then decided it was time to takeit to the next level.
Fast Forward to now, Xbox 360 lobbies filled with those who can hold microphones get cozy in their lazy boys and get ready for the battle to begin. What was once seen as a harmless game of Capture the Flag becomes a shouting match of “your momma” slams and homosexual name calling.
The main perpetrator of this was none other than the man behind the curtain. Someone who for years had a history of bullying, inferiority complexes, or just those who might have even been bullied themselves. If you listen closely, you can hear one now, screaming his lungs out because somebody “cheated” as his character was disposed of quickly.
I could sit here all day and call people out who have done this or my thoughts on why they do this but that isn’t the point. The reason behind this article is a warning of sorts to the future of gaming and how some gamers may not exactly be thrilled by the new share/social technology on the next gen systems.
Live streaming from your PS4 will be fun and amazing, as would making the network more social oriented. Players like myself enjoy being social with others. Unfortunately this also brings up risks from the same plague that has been found on many a Call of Duty lobby to a World of Warcraft raid group. Unless new security features can find a way to condition this behavior as bad and unwanted, say punish those who are more than one time offenders, the new gaming systems have a higher risk level than we’ve ever been at before.
For my sake, as well as the sake of gamers everywhere, I do hope that we can find someway around this. If we don’t, the next generation of consoles maybe all but ruined for us.