Eastern Europe’s Toxic Gamer Problem
by Dana Sydorenko Last update: February 22, 2024
Imagine playing with a Donald Trump in every online game; someone who throws hissy fits and treats every encounter like a win-lose situation. This is the sad reality most of the time in Eastern Europe. Together we’ll inspect this toxic gamer epidemic, how their/our misery is being monetized for personal profit and strategies on how we can deal with trolls.
GameTree unsuspectingly stumbled into this hornet’s nest at the behest of numerous write-in responses about gaming desires while conducting market research for our startup. 60% of gamers would “very much” like to play games with “more courteous, less toxic players”. This is according to 478 respondents in Europe and America on a four point scale about their gaming desires.
*based on 478 Europeans and Americans
Playing games with less toxic players was rated twice as high as second place. Sorry guys, no “discovering new games and genres you would like, but otherwise, never know about” for you.
Americans and Western Europeans ranked every gaming desire stronger than Eastern Europeans except one: playing with non-toxic gamers. The differences weren’t even small, they were extreme.
The data tell us that:
- Americans and Western Europeans are needy babies, and
- Eastern Europe has a severe toxic gamer problem
A staggering 86% of respondents said “Post-Soviet Countries (Russia, Ukraine, etc…)” have the most toxicity. This follow-up poll was conducted to confirm the prior result
*based on 2,566 Eastern Europeans
The reality from complaints around the internet seems to mirror our data. Though edited for clarity, this statement from a thread on Steam sums it up:
“My friends and I have met very different sorts of players from all over Europe. We’ve encountered ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s from nearly everywhere, but there is clearly an abundance of players in the East (sorry if someone here is from the East).”
79% of League of Legends matches in Eastern Europe contain toxic players, reported a frustrated Reddit user enerccio who recorded toxicity from 100 matches. He even made an infographic detailing types and frequencies of toxicity. Playing DotA, a similar game, I encounter toxicity in a large majority of my games on Eastern European servers though only in about half of my games on American servers.
*In Western Europe, the main consideration when selecting a Planetside 2 server is how few Russians are on it
I was reminded of this reality coming back from a recent two-week DotA hiatus in Ukraine where my first match was greeted by a player first-picking sniper. This is a hero who is easy to counter, annoying to play against, and who should be picked last to optimize your team’s chance of winning. Even though I live in Eastern Europe, I now exclusively queue for Western Europe to avoid toxic players.
Meet the Professional Trolls of Eastern Europe
In Eastern Europe, professional trolling is a big industry. Most of the GameTree team in Ukraine was familiar with famous Twitch trolls. As an American gamer, I never even knew professional trolling existed.
Karina Kozyreva, also known as Karina Sichova, also known as Shkuragaming
Wouldn’t you like to be trolled by this goddess? Shkuragaming’s YouTube channel has 750,000 subscribers and she rakes in an estimated $6,500,000 per year. She initially gained popularity for being a hot DotA player. After constantly complaining to her fans who would donate to her with the worst notes they could say, she eventually gave in. Karina’s channel is now a joke where her fans pay so they can publicly troll her, she acknowledges the post with disappointment and begs them not to do it again, then she trolls people in-game with purposefully poor performance while screaming and shouting at them.
Denis Petrov, aka Penis Detrov, aka Glad Valakas, aka Valeriy Albertovich Zhmyshenko, aka GladiatorPWNZ
GladiatorPWNZ’s face looks like it was just made to be punched. Or at least that’s the feeling he’s trying to invoke when he chose his avatar. In reality, he’s a Russian in his middle-twenties with voice modification software. Online he’s a 54 year-old ex-Russian marine, firefighter, or bomber pilot with a chip on his shoulder. His 120,000 Twitch subscribers pay him approximately $850,000 per year to be the biggest asshole on Earth he can be, abusing all in-game mechanics he can to make his teammates’ lives worse. His preferred weapons are World of Tanks, DotA, CS:GO, Rust, and Skype.
What Causes This Toxic Waste
The large majority of toxicity comes from ordinary people just having a bad day. This is what a major study by League of Legends creator Riot Games reported, and we confirmed this with our own GameTree poll.
*based on 2,228 Eastern European gamers
A Slayer’s Guide to Trolls
Not all toxicity is the same. To defeat your enemy, you must know your enemy:
1. The “Bad Day” Gamer
Maybe this person’s only way to get to experience gaming at all is with lag, or they just had to walk through five miles of snow – their fingers are numb and emotions volatile. The key is to keep an upbeat atmosphere and the team focused on winning. Criticizing people only makes them play worse. Understand that tomorrow, you could be the unwitting troll.
2. The Selfish Gamer
The odds are this person is not actually a troll and there is another reason. Maybe they are super close to leveling up or got stuck in a role they don’t like for the last five games. Again, the best thing you can do is just work with them and focus on the game. Be sympathetic and understanding knowing they’re probably somebody just like you.
3. The Emotionally Immature Gamer
Many things like in-game violence and high competitiveness can make people react poorly to what’s going on. This gamer’s personality cannot withstand such pressure and, subsequently, collapses on their teammates. To deal with this type, you should help them emotionally by supporting them.
4. The Miscommunicator
We are all unknowing trolls sometimes because we are biased by our own personalities and world views. What is friendly advice to one person is cruelty to another. It pays to know your personality type to understand your biases and minimize miscommunications.
5. The Troll:
This so-called “gamer” lives off of negative energy. Feeding it only makes it stronger. Defeat it by ignoring it.
How to deal with it?
Toxicity isn’t just another problem. It is a disaster level threat to our community, that manages to poison us through MOBA’s, shooters, and other competitive games. High levels of stress and pressure from team-based gameplay make us irritated even after a single mistake. Everyone at least once was toxic in one way or another. As research suggests, almost all toxicity comes from a regular guy, who just had a bad day.
The truth is you can’t really make people less toxic, but you can control what games you play and who you play them with. Taking out the anonymity of your teammates will make you care more about the game and be confident in those you play with.
Games are a more pleasant experience if played with people you know. Find your tribe, download GameTree for free.