"That's just how it is": Discussions of toxicity and individual accountability in online video games on Reddit

Caitlin Geier


Toxic behavior in video games is a persistent problem which affects all players, but disproportionately affects those who don't fit the gamer stereotype of the straight white man. This study presents a discourse analysis of data from Reddit conversations about toxicity from two popular subreddits focused on video games, one which is a space for women-identified gamers and one which represents dominant male norms within gaming culture. Through my analysis, I find that toxic behavior persists not just due to toxic players, but because of players who claim "that's just how it is" and argue for solutions which allow toxicity to be ignored. I identify counternarratives, primarily emerging from the experiences of women gamers, that present a call to action for players, and particularly men, to call out toxic behavior as it happens as a means of breaking the cycle.