This post was inspired after the problem during a demonstration of the game Killer Instinct at E3 you can read about that at the Mary Sue.
Trash Talk is practically a staple of online video games. Even in, what some might consider, the most mundane situation people still feel the need to talk smack. Now friendly trash talk is not in itself a bad thing, but when trash talk diminishes the importance of larger issues it is something to be discussed.
Some trash talk makes use of innuendos to imply double meaning, while other trash talk is very direct and brutal in its implications. Trash talk is kind of like Your Momma jokes in that it is meant to elicit a response from the other side to get them to mess up. It is about the insult, tearing the other side down to build yourself up.
I personally do not get the idea of trash talk, but that may partly be because of the violent nature of it. Trash talk seems to take over the game itself, it is not about the game, but about who can bring the other person down more.
The nature of trash talk is not alone in video games. In any competitive situation people will try to psyche out their opponent and raise their own spirits. If you hear what any sports fan, one who is not even playing the game, is yelling at the players on the field you might be appalled. It is something that does not get recorded and then played out on a larger scale.
Now imagine you are playing a first person shooter and you are playing against a bunch of other people you are in the thick of a crazy fire fight. Your adrenaline is pumping and you’re possibly cussing and then you get the kill. You then scream out some insane comment about the other player and either how you killed them or just that they got beat. (I will not even attempt to decide what would be said because I cannot even think of good trash talk).
Usually the trash talk is extremely violent often sexualized and usually about being violated in some way. You just overpowered the other side whether it be an individual or a team you overpowered them. You snuck behind enemy lines and you scored the goal, kill the enemy, captured the flag, etc.
The difference between the video games and other forms of competition is that many people just surround themselves in that world. I guess with sports you can kind of do that, but you are still the spectator. Some of the people playing these games will spend all their spare and sometimes not spare time in these worlds. Now obviously not everyone trash talks, but if you spend your time constantly trash talking and being around the violent conversations and telling people your gonna “f@#$ them up” it just does not seem the most healthy.
The group mentality can set in if you are surrounded by other people who are thinking the same way. It can lead people to start saying worse and worse things or trying to one up each other. They can feed off each other and it can become who can create more shock value. If you do not have someone calling people out about what they are saying then it can just build. If we do not comment on the fact that making comments like “you like that yeah”, “I’m gonna beat you so hard your ass is gonna be black and blue”, “lie down and take it”, etc.
Outside the Game
Now obviously everyone who uses trash talk inside a video games does not make the same comments outside the game, but there are some. It is interesting to meet someone who will trash talk to your face and not just online. They are willing to say all those things to your face and act like it is no big deal. There is a difference between someone saying something online, even if it is actually the audio, but when they are sitting right next to you it is a little odd.
I am not saying there is a correlation, more that the person was probably like that before hand. The problem is no one has either called him on his language or he just does not care. The reason that the nature of trash talk is important is because it is indicative of a larger culture. The fact that we say these things in the first place – that that is where the brain goes when thinking in these situations – is problematic.
Just think about what candidates say to each other during an election. We as a culture tend to not talk nicely when we are in competition. We say it’s alright to say terrible things to other people and to tear others down. Then we wonder why trash talk in video games tends to show the worst side of humanity.