Trolling, griefing, flaming... call it what you like, but it all boils down to generally being a dick. With tons of popular online games around today like Call of Duty (CoD), FIFA and League of Legends (LoL), it seems there are more trolls spouting abuse in online games than ever before.
There are already a lot of 'how to deal with trolls' guides out there online, but I've found that many are convoluted, with surprisingly little advice or proper examples of effective comebacks that you can actually use. I've played with a hell of a lot of gaming trolls over the years, and in that time I've learnt how to deal with their whining ways. Here's a concise guide with eight quick tips for dealing with trolls in video games.
Learn to mute
You know when you enter a Call of Duty lobby and there's that one annoying American kid who is talking non-stop, throws random abuse at players, is always right about everything and won't shut up? Go into the Xbox Live (or other) menu and look for the mute option. You can click on their player name then select 'mute'. Alternatively, you can put yourself in a party by yourself and that will stop you from hearing anyone.
A lot of people say the best way of handling a troll is ignoring them. But if you're someone like me, they can get very annoying very quickly, so muting is a good bet. It's probably the quickest and easiest way to verbally silence a troll, although of course the troll could still be throwing abuse at others. But hey, ignorance is bliss, right?
Don't feed the trolls
This is a cliché for a reason: it is sound advice. Never engage with a troll in a full-blown argument nor give them hard ammo, for example throwing insults at them, swearing at them, mimicking their actions or using logic to counter their argument. It's like adding fuel to the fire - they will come back at you with more vitriol.
This is a great tactic in team games and MOBAs such as League of Legends - a friend of mine uses this to great effect but it's not easy to pull off.
If there's a troll in your team who is abusing other players, threatening to report them over nothing, or insulting their item selection (even if it's actually good), try to bide your time and wait until they make a mistake - then highlight it. They're a troll: it will happen. I often don't talk directly to them, but will mention them to the rest of the team passively e.g. "Can someone help [troll's name] out? He's not doing too well up there." Once your team realise the troll is A) a troll or B) a crap player, they will be more likely to come to your aid. The troll will likely insult you at this point - either ignore them or throw a wisecrack (see below).
Throw a wisecrack/use the power of humiliation
If you think you're smart or witty enough to belittle a troll in front of the rest of your team, do it. Using sarcasm or jovial wisecracks in the right way can shut a troll up. But bear in mind it depends on the troll, the situation, the game and your willpower. Practice makes perfect.
I find lighthearted passive wisecracks work pretty well - don't engage directly with the troll but instead make an observation of their poor skill or demeanour. This shows that if they are to carry on being a twat, they're going to have a hard time doing it. Making your team laugh will also help get them on your side against the troll.
I once had a World of Warcraft player approach me in game and look at my items. He repeatedly said to me, "YOUR MOTHER IS SHIT", before telling nearby players I was the one abusing him.
A quick /yell telling players he's lying, a report to Blizzard AND a duel challenge soon sorted him out. I thrashed the fool - and he was three levels higher than me. The moral of the story? Humiliation is super effective against trolls.
Swing the banhammer
Use all of the tools at your disposal to thwart those nasty little trolls. You can report abusive players using your console's online system like Xbox Live or an in-game system such as League of Legends' tribunal. Be honest and specific about them - don't just report for the sake of it.
Players who deserve a report will occasionally get temporarily banned. It might not change their ways permanently, but might make them think twice the next time they decide to insult your amazing username.
Blocking is also a good way of ensuring a troll doesn't contact you. One of my favourite ways of dealing with FIFA trolls who whine after they lose is sending them a simple message - "bow before your master" - then blocking them. Works a treat.
Deal with time wasters
Recently I've been playing Hearthstone, and rarely you will come across a player, who, once they realise they are most likely going to lose the match, will waste time (i.e. use their maximum 90 seconds every turn) in an attempt to annoy you, force a mistake or make you quit. For these schmucks, I let them play their silly game and instead go and do something else while playing. Go and make a drink, read a magazine or switch on the TV.
The poor bugger thinks they are wasting your time, but is oblivious to the fact that you are actually wasting theirs.
Throw a compliment
Trolls are somewhat misunderstood creatures. I've found that they do want attention, they do want respect and they do actually care what you think of them. Throwing them a ridiculous compliment at the right time will catch them off guard and hopefully shut them up.
I'm not talking about a compliment like "well played" or "good kill" that will actually feed their ego. I'm talking about something jovial like "I love you too man" or "You're the best gamer I've ever seen, please teach me some of your über skills."
They will likely throw a small, half-arsed insult at you or ignore you.
Some quickfire comebacks you can use
- "It's only a game - don't get your knickers in a twist" - this is my personal favourite, and is far more effective than you might think. I've used this a few times in League of Legends and it does two things. One, it reminds the troll that they are getting worked up over a bunch of pixels - and two, it usually silences them. Win.
- "Shh Hut Yuh Muh" - I find this one works better in text format. It's a form of London slang for 'shut your mouth' and is used to confuse a troll. They may not respond, they may ignore it, or they might insult you for it. But they won't know what it means.
- "Learn to play" or "L2P" - use this if the troll is playing poorly. It does feed the troll, admittedly, but I promise it will make you feel (a little) better. This is a good way to counter idiot FIFA gamers who try to grief you after you beat them in a match by sending you messages like "you're sh*t" (yes, even if you beat them 5-0).
Share your tips
There is no one-size-fits-all way of fending off a troll. You'll have seen from this guide that sometimes you need to stoop to their level, and other times just ignore them. But by combining forces, we may be able to help crush the threat of trolls in online games across the world - and help more people handle them at the same time.
Let us know your tips, experiences and advice in the comments box below, and I'll update this guide with the best suggestions.