The Toxoplasmosis of Rage - Memetic Behavioral Problems In Our Community

Thinkaman

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#1
So this EVO was obviously the low point for Smash 4 and its community. Everyone is upset, blame is everywhere, times are bad.

I have a lot of thoughts, but would rather recommend Scott Alexander's post on The Toxoplasmosis of Rage.

There's a lot of valuable observations and perspective there which is highly relevant to the foxhole we find ourselves in. I present it without my own reflections to encourage people to read the article and reflect on it themselves.

(Note: This topic is for discussion of the linked article. Unrelated culture-war replies will be harshly moderated.)
 
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#2
Can you explain this in relation to smash and bayonetta? The easiest thing for me to understand was the toxoplasmosis example which I expected to read about at the beginning of this post instead of in part 5 which was buried under lots of parapgraphs.

I also felt like that post danced around too many topics to make a point but I think I understood what was said below the toxoplasmosis example, which was: that hate, disagreement, and other actions create a cycle that never ends until someone says enough is enough? Is that close?

Who do you think would be the person to do that in the Smash 4/5 community? I would think it would be Zero or Smashboards staff but it seems like Zero and notable players have only made things worse by supporting the players who are against tactics that can lower their chances of winning.
 

EMT~

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#3
I've read this blog post before, and it may be my favorite Internet article of all time.

A while back, DasKoopa wrote a long post about the Bayo ban debate. He presented hard data quantifying Bayonetta's position in the metagame, to answer whether she warranted a ban for objective dominance. In short, the answer was "no". It's pretty hard to argue raw numbers, and most everyone at the time agreed with his post and accepted it. Fast forward to now, and calls to ban Bayonetta still abound. DasKoopa's post was a reasonable, well-written post, and yet things haven't changed too much in regards to the Bayonetta ban debate. It's an excellent example of the concepts of this article at play - presenting issues in an agreeable manner doesn't always bring converts, simply becuase it doesn't really bring attention to the issue the same way a controversial approach would.

Another possibility in the application of this article's concepts to Smash, is in MVD and CaptianZack's responses to the booing crowd in thier set. MVD turned around and basically nicely asked the crowd to stop booing. A certainly agreeable approach, but did it work? Not really. On the other hand, CaptianZack flipped off the crowd walking off after the set. A much more controversial approach to handling the crowd, but here we are post-Evo 2018 discussing the impact of the crowd's behavior on Zack and Lima. This idea can be further extended into GFs, especially considering the discusison about how the stalling may have been in direct response to the crowd to begin with. The idea is, while their approach to handling the crowd is certianly controversial, it has us talking about community issues now.

That's my reflection, at least.
 
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#4
Excellent read! It is so relevant for our current social situation as a whole that I almost feel silly to use it in order to reflect on the Bayo stuff.

From my end, I don't even feel particularly invested in the Bayo controversy, yet my behaviour is perfectly illustrated in this idea. After watching the GF and reading some comments, my reaction was: "people are unjustly attacking Bayo players. I must defend this controversial GF!"

Obviously such a divisive match is not a good flagship case for the hopefully almost unanimous idea that "we shouldn't harass other players, whatever their choice in the CSS". Hopefully the mouthpieces of our community can propagate this central idea not through controversy, but through empathy. I'm not sure what direction this conversation should take so we can turn destructive into constructive behaviour. "Something, something, we can all learn to appreciate various playstyles"?
 
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Jandlebars

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#5
*Edited because the previous content did not fit the discussion of the thread.

That post was incredibly entertaining and insightful. On the surface, people are aware of how controversy in media gains traction because of its divisiveness, but it's less obvious how that sort of 'parasitic' cycle continues in the modern day.

While people can agree on how bad the Grand Finals situation is/was, bringing attention and causing further arguments unfortunately don't rectify that there is a deeper problem. I agree with ProfessorVincent that trying to address the issue with empathy, and pushing for understanding of tolerance and respect for players that are playing to win (within the rules of the game, of course), is likely the sticking point for discussion.

To be frank, everyone in the competitive scene wants to be respected and appreciated, that much is virtually undeniable. The audience did not want their expectations for a hype Grand Finals to be disrespected, so they boo. The players, in reaction to this sign of disrespect, lash out in their own way and further cause a scene. But what people do miss is how this disillusionment came into the fold to being with, and it wasn't purely because of Bayonetta.
 
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lmntolp

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#6
That's my reflection, at least.
Yea, I largely read it the same way, and I can add some things. For the crowd's part, they booed even though it was obvious it would reinforce stereotypes of a toxic community. It made it more believable that they think Bayo is OP/degenerate. For the players, they certainly hurt their own reputations, but that very fact made them more credible that they think the community is toxic against Bayo players. It sounds like the crowd and players were incentivized to act in a way that hurt the community and even their own image. The article explains why in the world they would do that.

But it gets us talking about what makes them mad. That might be the one good thing that comes out of this if we can make use of the conversation.

Obviously such a divisive match is not a good flagship case for the hopefully almost unanimous idea that "we shouldn't harass other players, whatever their choice in the CSS". Hopefully the mouthpieces of our community can propagate this central idea not through controversy, but through empathy. I'm not sure what direction this conversation should take so we can turn destructive into constructive behaviour. "Something, something, we can all learn to appreciate various playstyles"?
This is a necessary part of the story, but it's only half the story. It's not enough to try to convince people how to think. Empathy requires actually listening to the other side and understanding it (not necessarily agreeing with it 100% though). The other side imo is: "players should call out community toxicity in a way that doesn't jeopardize the scene on a grand stage".
 

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#7
Who do you think would be the person to do that in the Smash 4/5 community? I would think it would be Zero or Smashboards staff but it seems like Zero and notable players have only made things worse by supporting the players who are against tactics that can lower their chances of winning.
Easy. It would be the tournament hosts, facilities and sponsors. If they see the community delve moreso into this spiral, they'll say "What are we doing this for? It's hurting our brand." And BAM, that's it imo.

To be on topic: Does this controversey cycle seep into other fighting games? I think establishing another FG reference will make a good barometer on what to expect for the remainder of this game, as well as the next one. The only other one I pay much attention to is Melee, and the only real extent of controversey that I've seen in that community is towards Jigglypuff and Hungrybox. I've never heard of that generating the storm that we're experiencing now.
My theory is what I've stated before in other parts of the Competitive forum: that the ease of access to the competitive scene, via For Glory, expanded the pool of players who consider themselves to be "competitive", but don't have the actual know-how (at least yet) to become a top player. And I feel it's many of these people, who cannot overcome a tough strategy and choose to complain, who are generating the "ying" to the "yang" of the controversey: people who earn their wins from experience and talent, who give a figurative (and sometimes literal) middle finger to those who will choose to complain instead of evolve.
This take concludes on a depressing note: the same problem will continue and even perpetuate as the competitive scene becomes more and more accessible.

Edit: I toned this down a bit to not try and disparage the group of inexperienced players, but to simply acknowledge this group tends to be the most vocal when it comes to the "against Bayo/her players" side of the controversey.
 
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#9
A good read on a fascinating subject.

I also think this video is relevant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmTUW-owa2w

In fact, I think this video is very relevant and, like the linked article, has been very relevant for this game's entire run - but never more so than it is now.

Worth a watch whenever you get time.
Excellent video as well! The first point at the very end is something I think is at issue in the case of the backlash against some Bayo players but am afraid to bring up because of the seriousness of the accusation.
 
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#10
Has anybody ever heard of an actual dead meme? I mean, literally dead? No, of course not. Memes live forever, as long as the means to infect exist. Something somewhere will be posting Rickrolls long after humans die.

It either needs to reach an infection rate of 100%, to where it’s not relevant and instead just reality, or 0%, where it doesn’t exist. As long as two groups exist within contact, it will, well, meme. Without intervention from a higher power or the complete destruction of one or all groups, this is not possible.
 
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#11
Heracr055 Heracr055

Street Fighter 5.

It was earlier this year or last year where MenaRD won the Capcom Cup. Nobody knew of this player before then, he played Birdie who many considered to be low tier (exaggeration since I don't keep up with the scene but is what I have seen from articles and James Chen podcasts), beat arguably the best player in the game using the best character in said game, is from the Dominican Republic, a country probably very few Americans even know of, was under 18.

Cue controversy.

This resulted in Birdie shooting up the tier list and many many players throwing racial slurs at MenaRD all over social media. Eventhubs and other fgc outlets discredited his wins and made fun of him. Top players complained, the SF5 meta shattered in a sense. Also qualifying tournies (mandatory tournies that gave points based on placement to enter the Capcom Cup) for the next Capcom Cup were moved out of the Dominican Republic and instead focused more on other territories making it harder for MenaRD to replicate his success. Talk about a sore loser.

That last part, I forgot the source of my information so take it with a grain of salt. Recently at EVO 2018, Capcom seemed to make it to him by allowing him to create his own SF5 costume for birdie (think of League of Legends skins baed off of tems that win huge tournaments). Reading the eventhubs comments wbere they showed it off, players immediately began to badh MenaRD for making the skin look like himself instead of making it look cool (birdie wears the same outfit MenaRD wore during that tourney), even going so low to call it a mod.

And that is just one game, it happens in others too. I could give two more about Injustice and King of Fighters, but those examples are strawmans.
 

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#12
Toxicity isn’t exclusive to smash 4 or smash games but I do think this is a multi personal issue to why this happened.

Bayo on pure stats is not banworth, if I argued in stats i’d sooner argue to ban Fox in Melee than to ban Bayo in Smash 4. Still some of it is enjoyment and satisfaction. I don’t think this should be swept under the carpet just citing sirloin and ignoring everything else. Sirloin is a good source for a compeditive mindset, not one for health of a community. That is a discussion to be had and i’d even argue you could show numbers that she does have the effect on players and streams. Doesn’t matter if you think people are complaining and whining or legit upset, that’s a fact of the matter in my eyes. There is something to be said about this but we need to actually discuss it.

She causes an outrage which I blame the community for letting to foster in the first place. I thank people like Void and MVD to knock it off with the toxic chants and booing. That doesn’t help things or help make tournaments a fun experience. Our community really going into Ultimate might need to work on building better ties and better figureheads to help keep the community together. This kind of mentality does need fixing, and I do think what I call patch culture plays a part in it. Where complaining and such has actual merit because balance patches exist unlike older games where you gotta shut up and deal with it. We need stronger community leaders and people to stay organized and get this behavior in check more, i do think people encouraging it via social media especially reddit and twitter which helps promote hive mind and outrage over actual discussion. Twitter in general I think is terrible but I use it for personal friends. Reddit helps with good discussion but the upvote downvote system doesn’t Encourage discussion on a way to be healthy. Smash reddit does it better than most reddit’s but in the comments it can varie if legit discussion happens or shouting and yelling about something. Political reddit boards are way worse with hive mind and echo chambers.

Zack and Lima aren’t helping things with how they are reacting either. Flipping people off, telling the crowd to piss off and trolling on twitter making your profile picture the charging for two minutes they got a yellow card for is not going to help things at all. It’s adding fuel to the fire. Still some of their posts and actions are due to the fact people treat them and just Bayo mains in general. Comments like Bayo mains should kill themselves or how can people be friends with a Bayo main. Like this is really wack stuff, being a top player or any figurehead, yes you will get this. But that doesn’t mean you should expect people to be a punching bag or that every person has the best willpower to deal with it in the right way.

In the end this is mostly pointless, ultimate will likely clean the slate and make this die down but if we want to not see a repeat we need the following.

1. We need better leadership in ultimate or at least to be structured way better. Melee has this down far far better than Smash 4 does.

2. Players and spectators need to act in a way that encourages good behavior and how to react to bad behavior. People need to be called out for posting or acting in bad ways.

3. People just need to calm down right now and look for the good things. You don’t have to like Bayo or watch her, I encourage people to find the right outlets for it and if you hate her that much, maybe step away for a bit and think about what will make you as a person happy.

Those are my thoughts.
 
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|RK|

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#13
My attitude towards this is based on a book called "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Community leaders have been going about this all wrong from the start. They make their tweets condemning the community, get a bunch of likes, and then nothing changes. It bothers me.

Other communities aren't inherently better at this than us, either. I simply believe that Smash 4 players and spectators don't like what happened to Smash 4. No one addresses it either - they give a bunch of advice that doesn't change anything. We've talked past each other about Bayonetta for years, and this is the result.

Everyone is like "oh, there will be a busted character in Ultimate too," but who are they talking to, really? No one is broken up about a busted or banworthy character. Because of all of this, I think we'll continue to talk past each other, because every one of the big top players thinks they know why the community is mad, and the community doesn't seem to feel heard.

So, what does "How to Win Friends and Influence People" have to do with anything? One of the major principles in that book is that taking an interest in others is a better way to get the behavior you want than orders, yelling, or criticism. In fact, I think this is the only way that community leaders will be able to influence anything as we grow bigger.

Understand the issues of the players and spectators, and address them individually. Bayonetta isn't fun to watch for many people. How do you make her exciting to watch? What are the touchpoints for spectator engagement? There's commentary. There's chat. There's Reddit threads post-match. There's the action they're seeing onscreen itself. How do you make a pleasing experience for them, so that they feel happy to see a Bayo ditto Grand Finals?

If we can't figure that out, then we will repeat this ad infinitum. Just look at sports as an example. Booing will continue. Walking out will continue. But that's the small stuff. It can get so much worse.
 
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#14
In the end this is mostly pointless, ultimate will likely clean the slate and make this die down but if we want to not see a repeat we need the following.

1. We need better leadership in ultimate or at least to be structured way better. Melee has this down far far better than Smash 4 does.

2. Players and spectators need to act in a way that encourages good behavior and how to react to bad behavior. People need to be called out for posting or acting in bad ways.

3. People just need to calm down right now and look for the good things. You don’t have to like Bayo or watch her, I encourage people to find the right outlets for it and if you hate her that much, maybe step away for a bit and think about what will make you as a person happy.

Those are my thoughts.
Excellent discussion on the issues so far. I'm relatively new in this community so it was very informative and on point.

As Red Ryu pointed out, Ultimate will most likely be an opportunity to start anew. I want to be part of this community and i want to care and act about its health so 'what better place than here? what better time than now?'. I may be new but i'm zealously dedicated.

1. Identifying and detailling the issues are the most important first steps (you and others have brilliantly taken those first steps), 2. finding solutions would be the next one ( i see some people try but significantly less than people describing the problem). Afterwards their is the next and most important step, the Ultimate challenge (pun intended... sorry about that :p):

3. Applying those solutions (the missing piece of the puzzle so far)

Withtout this last and most important step, all the efforts are in vain (in my opinion). I'm not looking to bash on what was or wasn't done before, i feel like this discussion and others are on the right way but are in real danger of being lost by the lack of concrete actions taken (in case it wasn't clear).

So... i ask you all, from you experience, how could solutions be applied? By which mechanisms?

(i hope this is clear and my choice of words is not too weird, english is not my first langage)
 
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#16
Moving our ideas to twitter and have the top players, popular events, and TO's retweet it.
Sounds good. Tweets are a good way to extinguish fires whenever they pop off. Although as a fire department they need to be consistent and efficient for every one of these individual fires, if not, well... it spreads.

1. Top player's leadership is not to be underestimated but until now most seem to be using this leadership to add fuel to the fire. Only a few of them recognize the importance of their leadership and are able to put things in perspective. A few is enough though.

2. Is there some kind of federation of smash TOs? I keep hearing and reading about the FGC or the smash community but they're not official organisations right? Therefore a non-official and non-organised 'community' has very minimal power. Anarchy can be cool and all but you have to be sure that people (including players) are mature and smart enough to behave themselves properly (which is obviously not the case).

Either change come from the bottom up or is enforce from top to bottom. Would be great if the bottom (people and players) would be able to ignite this change but it's a long and treacherous road. I feel like TO's (if they organise) have a better chance, they could pressure the rest of the 'community' into falling in line.
 
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#17
The reddit post in the other thread talks about it briefly. According to Vayseth's comments on it, they never got it finalized and some "qualified" parties declined to join. His comments said that for the Japan scene, only 3 members were bilingual and that they all declined.

Just went back and snagged it.

"Japan never once got back to me. All of them said they were too busy to worry about it and the main concern was having a representative from Japan who spoke English and Japanese while also maintaining a staff position to be able to be a representative for their scene. There are only three people like that and all of them declined".

Source (scroll down to the second Vayseth comment): https://www.reddit.com/r/smashbros/comments/95gmd3/vayseths_open_letter_to_the_smash_4_community/

As for the FGC having a head of TO's I'm not too sure. I just know that since their games come with set of rules already preset, plus many of them stick to "arcade culture", it will be hard to change existing rules unless there is an extreme case like real OP characters, unlike Bayonetta or in Blazblu Cross Tag Battle's case, matches can end really fast so their community advocates for best of 5 sets rather than best of 3 for pools.

The only time I know when FGC games run into issues with their rules is when EVO comes around. The staff that run EVO are apparantly concerned with running all of the streamed games on schedule so they make compromises to games, usually the games that are not as popular or make them the most money.

The last sentence I am not sure on. All I lnow is that DBZF had best of 5, when single matches take forever and that ARMS Top 8 apparantly lasted for an extra hour or two which threw off the schedule along with some games having to wait for players to finish one game since they were holding up the bracket for another game.

Edit: I forgot to include the release version of Street Fighter X Tekken which was notable for it's many timeouts that happened at the EVO it was allowed at years ago. Usually, fixes to a game's problems is up to their developers when it comes to the FGC and they do come through. As for Smash, we don't know how well it will go, but if the devs do not fix things to the community's likings and players are heavily struggling to play around said issue (after a long testing period), then either the community finally decides to implement an extra rule, or the "broken" stuff is tolerated and players learn to overcome it, keep trying, or move to a different game.
 
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#18
Incoming huge wall of text.

So I've read the linked article, I think there's no question on it's relevance to the situation at hand.

There's two major points to the article:
1.) The allure of negative publicity garnering public attention will outweigh the consequence of dividing the community
2.) The problem will most likely come with two sources constantly feeding on each other's negativity

I think what needs to be discussed is how to mitigate these two points. I'm going to discuss long term in preparation for Ultimate rather than fixing the current smash 4 community.

What can be done?

The first thing that comes to mind would be to limit the source of salt that drives the whole situation.
This would include (but not be limited to):
Chain grabs (Especially 0 to death)
Techniques that cause early deaths (chaining aerials to the top blastzones, stages that have accessibility close to the blast zones, etc)
Excessive camping/stalling techniques

One option is to preemptively create rules to limit these kind of situations. However, there is always the long and arduous process of convincing the community to accept these arbitrary limitations based on salt. (All I'm proposing is that this is a possible solution).

For example, with Ice climbers confirmed in Ultimate I can almost guarantee they are going to have a 0 to death CG in the form of Fthrow/Dthrow -> Footstool -> Jab reset -> Regrab, or other form of CG. One could make the case that preemptively banning such a possibility could limit the negativity of the community as a whole.

Another would be limit the public discussion and manifestation of negative behavior. But no matter how much smashboards becomes a police state in terms of posting content, there's still the huge realm of reddit, facebook groups, twitter, and other social media outlets, thus I would conclude this is not feasible. (Maybe there is a way but I'm not seeing one tbh)

The last thing that comes to mind is the 2nd point; the audience versus the competitor. The divide between these two parties are fed by negativity from both sides. Activities to bring them closer together such as education in the form of explanation videos (which differ from tutorial videos as they have the express purpose of educating the viewership on how to enjoy spectating more rather than teaching them how to play) could help bring these two groups together.

This might be going off on a tangent but I have heard that tournaments no longer have results shoutouts. This was a huge deal back in the brawl days and was enjoyable to see everyone enjoying everyone else's company. I'm not sure whether this is relevant but a conscious effort to bring these back might help (whether it's on smashboards or not)

I think there's many more things that can be done, but these types of discussion may be helpful in solving the problem.

Personally I haven't played competitive smash in a few years, but seeing the Evo finals made me very sad to find out the current state of smash 4. I hope that any of the (future) group leaders can read this post and take something away from it.
 
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Thinkaman

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#19
For example, with Ice climbers confirmed in Ultimate I can almost guarantee they are going to have a 0 to death CG in the form of Fthrow/Dthrow -> Footstool -> Jab reset -> Regrab, or other form of CG.
Totally off-topic, but I bet $100 there is no ICs infinite of any type in Ultimate. This is basically confirmed to be the case at this point, due to grab mechanics, footstool mechanics, and Nana auto-taunts.

This might be going off on a tangent but I have heard that tournaments no longer have results shoutouts. This was a huge deal back in the brawl days and was enjoyable to see everyone enjoying everyone else's company. I'm not sure whether this is relevant but a conscious effort to bring these back might help (whether it's on smashboards or not)
This is a very interesting and apt observation. I forgot how critical those posts were to the sense of community.

That said, I doubt most of the people booing have ever played Captain Zack or Lima.
 

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#20
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#21
Waa there an outcry when Zero did this to Tsu at Frostbite 2017? I don't think there was much of it so it got swept under the rug. I'm thinking back to the UltraChen episode I linked. There, James called it the mindgame outside of the game.

He then cited an example of going back to the CSS. I remember during the EVO highlight videos, some players got up and jogged or sat and meditated.

As long as it's not breaking the rules it's fair game no matter how upset the fans get.
 
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