Editorials Overwatch

Overwatch’s Avoid As Teammate Feature Is A Positive Move Against Gaming Toxicity

Video games and indeed games in general, have been responsible for countless hours of joy, new friendships and overall good times. However, there is a subset of gamers who let their not-so-great side come out and act, to put it bluntly, as arseholes. This is quite common nowadays with the plethora of online multiplayer games that forces gamers of all types into close-knit matches, with very little control over who you get stuck with.

Talk to anyone who plays games on a semi-regular basis and you’ll most likely come find a story where toxicity has become incredibly apparent. This is paramount in all its forms from abusing someone if they do not know how to play a character, use a specific weapon properly, or play a particular strategy, to the non-verbal behaviour that prevents other players from enjoying the game. Even in the very latest AAA multiplayer game that has released, being Sea of Thieves, toxicity is quite prevalent. Players who constantly harass others or wait on their ships to kill them again and again with no gain other than to annoy are sadly more common than they should be.

Back to the crux of the matter. Overwatch has more than its fair share of toxic players inhabiting the queues and infecting the joyous and competitive vibes that the game should bring. In the latest Developer Update, Jeff Kaplan discusses a new system being implemented into Overwatch known as ‘Avoid As Teammate‘. This system, in a crux, is a way to tag up to two players who act in an unsportsmanlike manner. This prevents them from joining any team that you are on for seven days, after which you can leave them off it or re-add them.

While I can see it being abused a little bit by the aforementioned toxic players who just want to get rid of a particular player, it will ultimately be counterproductive due to the slightly longer matchmaking times as it attempts to find you a match. Why the new ‘Avoid As Teammate’ feature is going to be effective is that, while everyone is only limited to two slots at the moment, there are a lot of Overwatch players that may be thinking the exact same thing that you do. They all may be sick of a particular player’s attitude or their own brand of harassment and they will avoid them as well.

If a player receives a lot of avoids they will be notified of that fact at the login screen which not only alerts them to the fact they will be subject to longer queue times to find a team but that they have been acting crappily for at least the last week. It is a very rare thing to have a game basically tell you to pull your head in which gives the control back to the players, while the bigger reportable offences are being worked on behind the scenes.

To go back a little bit to the potential abuse, a video by Youtuber Hoshizora, points out potential flaws in this new system visa ve players not sticking with meta picks or being ostracised for how they play, who they are or even what they are. While this is definitely a possibility, it would seem that this feature is a much-needed step in the fight against toxicity in the gaming communities and it is nice to see a behemoth like Blizzard addressing that fact.

Let’s just hope that this system is not being implemented too late, as toxicity can be as rampant as Hero switches in Overwatch. Not to mention the additional systems that can be adjusted or even built off of the ‘Avoid As Teammate’. Say someone gets an overwhelming amount of avoids (and I am talking a large number), Blizzard can begin to analyse that player’s history, reports and other factors that may see them permabanned.

While it is a great step to combat unsportsmanlike behaviour in the gaming world, Blizzard is going to inevitably have to keep a very close eye on the new feature lest it become a tool for those very same toxic players we want to avoid.

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