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Catching Up With Lucky7 Gaming CEO Sam "Sweetz" Triplett To Discuss The Impact Of Toxic Behavior

We are very grateful to Sam for sharing his personal experiences of online toxicity and raising awareness of the damage that it can do. If you are affected by any kind of negativity when gaming online or using social media, follow the links throughout the article to our various support services.

What is your favorite game? Did you have a favorite growing up?

I’ve been gaming since I was 9 and by far my favorite game is definitely Halo 3. Its graphics, missions, are all so intense.

What advice would you give to anybody worried about being abused or bullied for pursuing their dreams in the video game industry?

Don’t ‘feed’ them with emotional responses, just don’t react. Hit the block button or whatever you need to do. It’s really important that you avoid seeing the negativity they throw at you.  The bullies seek attention, all they want is to feel good. They do so by attempting to gain power over others.  If you respond, you just ‘feed’ their pathetic sense of superiority.

Have you had any personal experience of online abuse? How did you deal with it?

Yes, there’s been three massive, damaging situations. What I’ve found works is ignoring it, letting ignorant people continue to be ignorant and not worry about what they think. This worked for the first 2 situations. The third situation it didn’t. I was forced to delete my social media accounts because of the abuse and the toll it took emotionally/mentally. Unfortunately, it also destroyed any passion I had left for what I was doing. People will say or do anything for publicity, or to make themselves feel good.

What advice would you give to somebody affected by abuse online?

Keep your friendship circle small, and don’t fully trust anybody you only know indirectly from online, no matter how long you’ve known them. People will turn on you, get onto bully bandwagons and do anything to get publicity, make themselves feel good, or control others because they can’t control their own lives. I learnt that the hard way.

What do you think can or needs to be done to reduce the amount of toxicity in gaming?

Personally, I think toxicity will always accompany gaming. Toxic behavior is encouraged by the unregulated nature of the internet, because anyone can say anything about anyone and ultimately get away with it. Cowards in real life become bullies in cyberspace. The only way to reduce toxicity is for publishers, event holders and social media platforms to take action. They need to regulate what happens on their servers and platforms. They need to take responsibility and establish a policy of zero tolerance for a wide range of toxic behaviors. Because people’s lives are being so affected, even to the point of suicide, it’s not ethically correct for platforms to ignore their responsibility, or say they don’t have responsibility. There clearly is a duty of care. Perhaps with time, the legal system will come to recognize this. Also, platforms need to educate gamers about the dangers of toxicity and toxic behavior far more than they presently do.

Where do you think the line should be drawn between ‘healthy’ competitive behavior and outright abuse when playing a game online?

Once it starts to become personal, you feel uncomfortable or insulted, that’s when outright abuse begins. How do we know when it gets personal, and goes too far? When behavior clearly falls within a very clear detailed list of unacceptable behaviors. This list cannot function if it just refers to general behaviors. After all, a toxic act is not ‘grey’, but black and white. It is not about protecting the freedom of bullies to bully, but the right of gamers to remain free of bullying. Somewhere down the track, we need to decide to protect gamers fully, even at the expense of gamer freedom of speech.

How important is trash talk to the overall experience of competitive gaming?

0%. Not important one bit.

What advice would you give to a new gamer feeling nervous about playing online for the first time?

Don’t be. You’re there to have fun and feel safe/comfortable. No one has the right to take that away from you.

Do you think social media is a blessing or a curse?

From my personal experience I think it’s got huge potential to be a curse. I think there’s a lot of dangers online, especially on Twitter. Take me. I’ve been abused more than most people involved in the gaming community. The thing is, things spread far too quickly. I’ve woken up with 1,000 messages of hate and abuse –  all because of one pathetic individual, who spread false information via YouTube and spread the video link online. Also, so many people end up depending upon their social media accounts for their own self-esteem and self-worth. They think they have no value unless the gaming community values them. In this way, gaming can take over their lives negatively. Obviously, there are also many blessings. There are pros and cons for all things in life. Gaming often involves team work, collaboration, a sense of belonging and achievement. Belonging to a cause greater than yourself is important, because so many people are living unfortunately without any sense of community at all.

What is your favorite social media channel and why?

Although my favorite social media platform is Instagram, my favorite channel is BigFishChannel on YouTube. It’s my favorite, because I love fishing – it’s become a huge part of my life. That channel focuses on the places I fish and does very high quality videos with great instructions and end results.

Thank you Sam for sharing your thoughts and experiences of toxicity in the gaming community! For further information on Cybersmile and the work we do, please explore the recommendations below.

What are your thoughts about toxic behavior when gaming online? Share your thoughts by contacting us or tweet us @CybersmileHQ.