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in-game abuse and bullying in games

Abuse is a phenomenon not limited to just gaming. However, we most often see abuse in-game because everyone is anonymous. Even you speaking doesn’t mean anyone will recognize you, so there’s a large dose of security and ‘untouchableness’ within an abuser’s mind.

It is because of this that in-game abuse nowadays is so prevalent; each game means a different character, pseudonym, anything really. Unfortunately, not enough has been done to combat in-game abuse and stop it from causing psychological and mental damage to frail characters. Hell, even those that are mentally strong will break down under the influence of bullying and abuse. So the truth is, no one is safe from this disgusting behavior. So let’s dive deeper into the topic and discover what all of this means.

In-Game Abuse Table of Contents

What is In-Game Abuse?

In-game abuse is when players take the competitive intent of a game too far. As opposed to playing by game rules, players may begin belittling or insulting other players online. Prominent early examples date back to the first days of Xbox Live when players would insult others via voice chat and use racial slurs or insult another player’s mother.

street fighter fight

Words hurt more than a fist fight

However, in-game abuse is more than that. It’s bullying other players, it’s hurling insults, or making off-color comments, such as telling another person to kill themselves. Moreover, we’ll discuss in-game examples of how players attempt to ruin the experience for others, such as double-teaming, teabagging, or even extending a match to make a losing player suffer. Furthermore, we’ll go over what you can do to prevent or take the right actions against bullying.

Note that this article will not go into “swatting,” as this is more than in-game abuse, but an external, isolated offense. This will also not cover Twitch chat abuse as this focuses more on what happens directly in the game. With that said, we’ll go over the main forms of in-game abuse and bullying in games.

What is Toxic chat in Games?

As mentioned earlier, toxic chat in games goes back to the early days of Xbox Live. Known for racial insults, common online shooting games featured these kinds of chat. Meanwhile, fighting games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat were infamous due to players receiving “hatemail” upon losing.

Hatemail still happens ya know!


However, one of the most infamous examples of the early-mid 2000s occurred over a game of Dark Age of Camelot . One player accused another player of stealing a valuable item while yelling at the top of his lungs hurling every swear word in the book.

Another prominent example comes from Mortal Kombat (2011). In this case, a player named Miracle4ever spammed another player’s inbox with hateful and threatening voice messages over his loss.

In the case of any kind of toxic chat, including hatemail, it’s strongly advised you report the messages to PlayStation, Steam, Nintendo, or Microsoft using the in-game reporting system. In these cases, harassment may be grounds to ban another player and hopefully prevent their behavior in the future.

You might also enjoy reading: Is Harassment in Rainbow Six Siege a Cause to be Concerned?

What is Bullying in Games?

Teabagging is one of the most prominent examples of bullying in video games. In some cases, this is just common, competitive trash-talk and usuaully not a reportable offense. However, for players who may not appreciate it, it can be considered toxic behavior.

For anyone unfamiliar, teabagging is the act of crouching over your opponent’s face repeatedly after you nab a kill in a shooting game. The origin of this act is much more vulgar than the in-game version.

teabagging in games

The ultimate form of disrespect

With that being said, bullying can also come in the form of double-teaming players. In some games, such as Super Smash Bros., players may commonly team up against a better player to help level the playing field. However, other games may feature players purposely ganging up on a single player solely for their own amusement.

Finally, another example would be drawing out a match against a losing player. In certain games, such as Marvel vs. Capcom 2, characters can fly away. Some players would use flying characters to gain an HP lead. But rather than finish the match, the player might fly away to prevent their opponent from catching them, drawing out the match for sadistic pleasure.

Toxic Behavior vs. Abuse

In the case of Bullying in Games, most cases aren’t reportable offenses. In-game mechanics are generally not seen as against the rules. However, the added frustration brings in a noteworthy reputation for a number of gaming fanbases, deeming them toxic.

The R6S community is infamous for being extremely toxic and abusive


That being said, you likely won’t win a report case against someone being mean to you online. However, the best thing to do would be to avoid the player altogether. You can block them in most game consoles and Steam, and it would be the appropriate measure.

What to do if you’re a victim of abuse?

If you can, report the player for making crass statements. If they’re hurling name-calling insults or slurs, all the more reason. Instead of enabling their behavior, report the player’s messages. Talk with friends about it. But try not to go to certain internet forums with it, though. Internet trolls look for potential victims. Cyberbullying is still bullying and can go further than in-game actions Block the player and don’t give them any reason to target you again.

Final Thoughts

People trash talk and people let anger dictate their actions. Oftentimes it happens when they’re losing and sometimes it’s when they’re winning, hence the term “sore winner.” In that case, the player may have been losing, but chooses to respond negatively to their opponent after a win.

Bricky’s legit.


Cases of in-game abuse range from relatively negligible to completely unacceptable. In cases of players saying they’re going to beat you, this level of trash-talk is a common part of competitive communities. In some cases, it’s friendly, competitive banter. Calling someone a racial slur is not. It’s also unacceptable and a reportable offense in most cases.

For players who have bullied others in the past, taking a deep breath between matches can help cool your temper. Some players resort to abusive behavior due to their anger. In this case, regaining self-control can help players avoid abusive behavior. You too can help prevent bullying against other players.

Take a stand, use the report button, and block players when necessary. Don’t encourage in-game abuse.

Thank you for reading our article on In-Game Abuse. What have your personal experiences with online abuse and bullying in games been? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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