All of us have unfortunately witnessed multiple MOBA matches, PVP battles, or what have you turn sour because of poor communication skills. Hostile or non-existent communication in online games serves to distract, frustrate, and drive wedges between teammates. In turn, this results in a poor experience and, more often than not, a loss for the team or failure to complete the objective as well. Luckily, there are simple, effective communication strategies you can implement while playing online games to increase the likelihood of positive communication, and therefore your chance of having a worthwhile experience.
Take the Initiative
Let’s face it: you can only be called a “worthless noob” or told to “git gud” so many times before you start to be wary of initiating conversations with parties of strangers online. But if you start a match and no one else bothers to speak up, it is probably because they have had their fill of infantile rage directed at them for the day as well and do not want to potentially deal with it again. Chances are they are not jerks themselves and would be more than open to some positive communication from you.
A simple “gl hf” before the match starts or an offer to support or explain an objective for any new players is a fantastic way to start the game. Even if no one immediately responds, it shows your team that you are at least able and willing to talk with them and try to collaborate on tactics. Your teammates will appreciate your efforts to establish and maintain a friendly, constructive environment for the team to play in and will likely respond in kind. If you do happen to encounter any negative backlash from trolls, simply mute them and move on with the game as best you can.
Be Impersonal and Constructive
Players who continually misuse a hero’s abilities or run into enemy fire without being accompanied by appropriate teammates can ruin a game and ensure your demise. Not as quickly as flaming them will, though. It’s easy to be quick to anger or unleash a torrent of personal attacks against strangers online when you’re relatively anonymous and it’s the end of a long day. However, repeatedly asking someone what they think they are doing or yelling at them to “STOP!” without explaining further will only annoy everyone on your team and cause exactly what you were trying to prevent.
If you notice someone make a mistake, first wait to see if they do it again. Misclicks happen all the time, even to you, and it is likely your teammate knew they shouldn’t have used their ultimate in that situation and that it will not happen again. If it does, however, tell them exactly what the issue is without spewing personal insults or swearing like a 12 year old who has just been exposed to colorful language and the internet for the first time. Something as neutral and to the point as, “Hey, I noticed you keep activating your second ability when we gank this specific hero, and I don’t think it’s affecting him the way you think it does. Try this instead…” can establish a positive rapport with your entire team and actually foster improvement.
Give Credit Where it is Due
Our brains have a tendency to take the good for granted while simultaneously highlighting and drawing our attention to the bad. People are not inclined to get vocal unless they are upset; this is why we see so many more raving, negative reviews online as opposed to positive ones. The same holds true in online games. Unless you are playing with a group of friends, you are much more likely to be criticized for the one relatively minor mistake you made than praised for the dozens of other actions you took throughout the match which strengthened or ensured your team’s success.
When you notice a teammate pull off a heal just in time, perform a flawless interrupt, or successfully draw enemy fire while your teammates complete another objective, point it out! Show others your appreciation and encourage future successful plays by complimenting them. Humans react more positively to praise and rewards than to insults and punishments, and are much more amenable and responsive for the rest of the match if you throw out even a simple “well played” once in a while.
Online games offer some of the most immersive, enjoyable hours of entertainment you can get from the comfort of your own home. By implementing the positive communication strategies outlined above, you can enhance your gaming experience even further by promoting friendly communication that makes players feel comfortable and worthwhile. Creating a harmonious environment for your team to strategize in lets everybody keep the cool, collected heads they need to work together and win the game.