I have been seeing a lot of posts lately about players having their opponent add them after a game, just so the opponent can rage on them, then unfriend them before the player can get a chance to respond. Unfortunately, for digital card games, this is nothing new. It can be avoided by simply not adding the person who sends you a friend request, but what if they are one of those people who has something to say, or a discussion about the deck? Is it correct to assume they will just smother you in salt and harsh language, and simply never add an opponent after they lose?
In Hearthstone, I had a decent amount of luck adding players after a match, win or lose, to have a discussion about their deck with them. Some of which, I ended up keeping on long term, engaging in regular conversations regarding our decks, the meta, opponents, etc. Those were some of the best and most enriching experiences I had in Hearthstone, aside from conversations with “real life” friends. This led me down a path of indiscriminately adding people when they would shoot me friend requests, in an effort to foster a sense of trust in the community. For me, even the salty players I was able to engage with, discuss the “bad hand/line/draw” and make the most out of my newly acquired comrade. I don’t believe any of us want to be in a community where we don’t feel comfortable adding someone after a match, or accepting a friend request, in hopes to have a conversation about the game. There can be some great growth opportunities discussing plays, decklists or possible lines with your opponent. Maybe they say something you could have done differently that can help you win that matchup in the future.
It seems my experience was somewhat uncharacteristic, but I think there are some ways that we can work toward better interactions:
Don’t be that person
Everyone experiences some level of salt. We have all had that hand that looked pretty good, so long as we draw that one thing we need to make it functional, then die horribly 6 turns later to it not working out. Or power flood/screw, everyone who has played more than 10 games of Eternal has experienced one of these things. It happens. It does not improve anyone’s experience by making sure your opponent who won knows exactly what happened, and why you would have won if “X” happened. For the most part, your opponent will see what is happening, and take advantage of whatever is bogging your game plan down. That is part of the strategy of card games. Adding them after the game to tell them all about it is not necessary. Take a deep breath, maybe a break for a bit, then get back to the grind. Being aggressive toward someone after you lose can strip their win away from them, making them feel bad about it, and that is unfair to them. The best way you can directly take action in preventing angry and mean messages to other members of the community is by not doing it.
Kill them with kindness
A strategy that I like, that has worked fairly well for me, is just to be as friendly as possible. This is something I picked up from an opponent in a Magic: The Gathering tournament a long time ago. Just be nice. If they don’t want to talk, don’t. If they force some aggression on you, try being with them on their perspective. Don’t apologize for winning, but you can relate about times where you have been in that position, and reassure them that this can be a good learning experience. When someone adds you just to lay into you, it’s hard to not want to respond on their level, but you can just say “Thanks for the game, better luck next time!” and move on. Often this totally disarms them, and with some luck, will dissuade this from doing this in the future.
Be the opponent you wish to have in the future
The best way to see your community grow, is to be the person you want to play against. Usually that means polite, clearly communicative (when necessary), and a good competitor. I read in a Magic article once, the author said something like: “I dress nice at events so that when a parent sees me they think ‘I am okay with my kid being a part of this community’.” This totally resonated with me, and while I still dress fairly casual, I try and be the best opponent I can be, leading by example.
One of the biggest dangers of letting salt get the best of you, is how it impacts the people around you. What if this is someone’s first event of this type, and their experience with you makes them feel un-welcomed and not come back?
Don’t use hateful or foul language
I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but some of the posts I have seen lately include screenshots of the opponent, or in some cases the provoked recipient, saying something intolerant or hurtful. It’s 2018, hateful words, phrases and even profanity in regards to your opponent are NOT OKAY. The card game community as a whole is an incredibly diverse and inclusive place, where a lot of us go to be accepted and belong to something. A lapse of judgement in the form of a tantrum can make someone feel unsafe or unwelcome, and that is just not cool, ever. There is no excuse for this behavior, and it shouldn’t be tolerated. Anything derogatory, racist, sexist or bullying falls firmly in this category. We should not a community built around pushing people away or punishing them for their differences.
I am no saint, no one is. A lot of us have done or said things after losing we wish we could take back. In some cases, maybe you can make it right, but the best way to prevent this type of behavior in the future is to not participate, and reprimand people for doing it. Even calling someone an “idiot” or using a “brainless deck” is not cool. People pick strategies that curve out consistently because of that reason. Just because their deck did what it was supposed to, doesn’t mean it was an “autopilot win”.
The best way to see our community grow is to help it a long. You do not always have to agree with someone, but being mean to them in game or on Reddit services no one. Often times, you get downvoted into oblivion, look bad and make the person feel bad about posting. You can provide constructive feedback or comments without being rude or antagonistic. This attitude can bring you into the fold of feeling apart of something larger yourself!
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