I’ve spent long enough playing games to spot a toxic game, it’s like a skill at this point. I don’t even need to play a game to understand I need to miss it. But for the common person, it is much harder, and so this is my guide on how to spot a toxic game (and subsequently avoid it).
So where do we start? Well obviously the box art, it’s what you first see and makes the game visually appealing to the consumer. Is there a person on the box? If so… are they male or female? This is a big factor because 9/10 if it’s female it’s sexualised whilst if it’s male they’re perfectly covered. So. Skip the sexualisation. If a games company has no dignity to try to HIDE their sexualisation then you shouldn’t expect much from the game.
Storylines are also the main factor to whether a game is toxic or not, the story it plans to tell. If the game’s storyline consists of terrible writing, discrimination or violence, just skip. A great example would be the Call of Duty series. Ignoring the terrible writing, the game is just shooting guns and being the best terrible person you possibly be. The storylines are also covered in bigotry and a total hard miss, making it a perfect foundation of toxic games to ignore.
There is without a doubt that if a popular game exists, then there’ll be clones of it. Take the clones and throw them in the bin. Once again going back to Call of Duty, the years of financial success the game series has achieved hasn’t made it a stranger to FPS clones that are mostly identical, even down to the racist characters. Unless it is a parody/fix of the original game it is “cloning” and sets to do good, I would put a caution on the game as the influence of bigotry may still linger in the coding.
You have to ask yourself when choosing a game, “can I be a pacifist?” If not. Be. Careful. I am warning you do not fall into the trap of violence. It can rot your brain and a developing mind is MOST affected by violence, especially in video games. If you are under the age of 25, miss a violent game for your own development, and if you are over 25? Still, be careful. Games have a bigger influence on you than you think and it would be naive of you to think that it wouldn’t harm you. So if you can’t put your gun down and play the game without harming anyone that is not the game for you.
You should also be looking for games that battle real-world issues. Games like the new BLM (That I will cover soon) is a prime example of a game that directly attacks the issue of systemic racism within the police force and has a clear message. Black Lives Matter. If the game you choose fails to comment on issues such as racism, do not pick it up. Throw it away and warn others, it is not a progressive game, and frankly? Quite scary.