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. Here’s a basic 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 guy who is talking non-stop, throws random abuse at players, is always right about everything and won’t shut up? Just mute them. Alternatively, you can put yourself in a party by yourself and that will stop you from hearing anyone, though that may be of detriment to your team.
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. Or, show them some appreciation – they often will be surprised by this and won’t know how to react.
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. And it might antagonise them.
Swing the banhammer
Use all of the tools at your disposal. You can report abusive players using your console or PC’s specific online system. Be honest and specific about them – don’t just report for the sake of it.
Players who deserve a report may get temporarily banned. It might not change their ways permanently, but might make them think twice next time.
Blocking is also a good way of ensuring a troll doesn’t contact you.
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. 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.
They might think they’re wasting your time, but you’re 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. Or again, it could encourage them to flame you more. So have the mute button handy.
Share your tips
There is no one-size-fits-all way of fending off a troll. Let us know your tips, experiences and advice in the comments box below, and I’ll update this guide with the best suggestions.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.