In their article, Deslauriers, Lafrance St-Martin, and Bonenfant seek to find different factors for toxic behaviour and the perception of said toxicity within the player community of Dead by Daylight. The authors were able to identify five aggravating factors for toxicity: Role identification, ambiguity in objective setting, individual gaming experience, task repetition and rigidity of norms.
In Dead by Daylight, you play as either a killer or a survivor. The survivors must perform a variety of tasks to escape while evading the killer. The killer must find and eliminate the survivors before they can get away. It was found in the study that if players chose to play only one of these two roles in the game, they were less understanding of different tactics and behaviours of the other side. This confinement contributed to the trivialization of toxicity because players were unable to see how their actions can impact other players.
The study’s result also showed how players may define victory in different ways. These different interpretations shaped players’ expectations and playing styles. If a survivor prioritizes their own survival, they are less likely to help other players which could result in a less enjoyable experience for others. Also, a lack of effective in-game communication makes it difficult to reach a consensus among players.
After the game, players are given rewards individually, which reinforces selfish behaviour even further when not playing with friends. If players fail to satisfy others’ needs, the chat window becomes a place to express one’s discontent, and this led to some of the most toxic behaviour. In the gathered data, players would not give opportunities for responses or dialogue, but would prefer to leave the game quickly afterwards.
Repetitive gameplay was also found to contribute to new and unusual tactics. Players want to enjoy playing the game and will try new things to keep the experience enjoyable. These new objectives will lead to toxic behaviour if they cause inconvenience to other players.
Finally, the analysis shows that toxic behaviour gets worse as norms become more rigid. These norms reflect the subcommunities’ (killers and survivors) values and criteria for toxicity, but also strengthen the sense of belonging within the players of each community. The difference in experience and skill also lead to toxic behaviour, as expert players would criticize others who fail to respect these rigid norms.
Data was gathered from the game’s subreddit page (r/deadbydaylight) using threads that discussed toxic behaviour. Data was limited to threads that had at least ten posts, to ensure that there was discussion. A total of 1848 posts were analysed, and the posts were encoded using Nvivo, which allowed for categorizing data and cross-tabulation analysis.
The findings echoed those of earlier studies. Many researchers have noted that categorizing toxic behaviour is difficult because it relies on a consensus within a particular community. Different enabling factors for toxicity were also consistent with previous research. The authors thought it worthy of note that contrary to many other games, more experienced players seemed more toxic than others. The lowest ranks are often the most toxic ones in competitive games, but it is the opposite in Dead by Daylight.
Title image: Promotional image from the Dead by Daylight Steam store page.
Link to image: https://cdn.akamai.steamstatic.com/steam/apps/381210/ss_8c5b75a9ee6c69f18eec714759e3e7b84aa906ed.jpg?t=1617144348
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