The following is a guest post by Microsoft MVP (Xbox) Nori Fox. Read below to see how you can help prevent kids on Xbox Live from turning into gaming bullies.
A Tale of Dragons and Flames
Once upon a time an amazing gaming service called Xbox LIVE came into the world. At its beginning it was the greatest thing that happened to gaming because you could play with anyone…anywhere! It was and is gaming heaven, a never ending stream of competitors for you to try to beat. But as happens to all good things, an evil began to creep in. Abusive gamers, hereafter known as Dragons, had figured out that they could say anything they wanted, no matter how vile, because they could retain their anonymity. I’m sure these Dragons are thinking they aren’t really hurting anyone, they are just venting their rage, spewing flames wherever they go. As adults we know we can boot these gamers from the game, mute them or simply quit and play with our friends. We generally let their flames roll off our backs.
The Dragons, however, forgot about something. Something they ARE burning badly…the kids. Yes, we know they aren’t supposed to be on LIVE but they are and they always will be. Most Dragons are too old to remember shock value; they forget that bullying hurts even when it’s anonymous and these kids don’t forget easily. So what do the little ones do to cope? They do like they always do…imitate. Children learn by example and the example of these Dragons is loud and clear: Spewing flames is cool.
I am fully aware that Dragons are one of the most annoying things about live gaming and that Dragon babies are even worse, but my post today is intended to ask you a favor, and it’s a big one: Please don’t abuse these little dragons back, because I really don’t feel it’s their fault. Not completely…
I realized this one day while on LIVE. There was a particularly annoying little Dragon in my game, spewing flames everywhere. I did my best to ignore it until he singled me out and explained some sexual things he was going to do to me. I should have been offended but he had gotten the terms all wrong…he had no idea what he was talking about! That’s when I realized what was going on. He was simply doing what he’d heard from a big Dragon…and he thought it was cool if he said it too.
When it comes to big Dragons I have no problem turning them over to the enforcement team. But ever since that day, when it comes to baby Dragons, I take the time to talk to them first. I messaged this young would-be pervert and explained that I KNEW this wasn’t him. I knew he had heard these things from older gamers and that if he wanted to really have fun gaming and to build a great friends list…one that even includes girls…that he needed to stop imitating those big flaming Dragons. I explained that it doesn’t make him look cool at all, because the grown-ups who say those things aren’t seen as being cool either.
To my surprise his reply was pleasant. He wasn’t happy being mean but he thought he had to be. How sad is that!? He thought that was how we are supposed to behave on LIVE. I realized that It’s on us…the grown-ups…we are to blame, we created these little flaming Dragons. If we don’t want to deal with the flames, from any age Dragon, we need to not be spewing them ourselves. I did tell the little Dragon that he shouldn’t be playing M rated games online but if he insisted on it he should mute himself and just play. From that day forward I have done the same with many a little Dragon, and hopefully have made the gaming realm a better place in some small way or at least kept some little Dragons from growing into big ones.
The moral of the story is clear and obvious. It’s an old tale told in many ways: “Let peace begin with me”, “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all”, “remember the golden rule”, “be excellent to each other”…it’s all true. Kids learn by example and like it or not they ARE on Xbox LIVE and not going anywhere. I know that there is a lot of anger and frustration involved with playing video games so if you feel you can’t handle yourself, MUTE! Because ultimately we’re on LIVE to slay Dragons, not be one.