PvP Toxicity Solved?

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Tackling Toxicity: Is it Possible?

Toxicity is one of the more unfortunate parts of any competitive PvP (player vs player) game that players will most likely encounter at some point.   There are varying degrees of toxicity that players will see.  As someone who has always gravitated towards PvP, I have both experienced and heard accounts of other toxic encounters. 

In this article, I am going to take a look at 3 kinds of toxicity that, in my mind, are particular to World of Warcraft. what they are, and even some ways to deal with them that I have seen to be successful. As someone that is highly community-driven, I feel that addressing and finding ways to deal with any type of toxicity is important.

I am going to focus on things that pertain to World of Warcraft in particular and things that can happen within a PvP setting but some things can certainly leak outside of that as well.  So let’s take a look at them.

Attacking a Player for Who They Are IRL (Personal Attacks)

Unfortunately, toxicity exists simply in what players can say or do to other players. Using hateful slurs being the worst, in my opinion, to targeting someone’s race, gender, or sexuality. The list continues.

I personally have seen this most when matches are not going well for a particular side and communication breaks down rapidly.  Even when another player tries to critique a player or players’ gameplay, chats quickly become a horrible word salad of toxicity. 

Sometimes, abuse comes seemingly unprovoked as well. You can see this type of toxicity in the instance chat, but all too frequently it comes privately in whispers or even through in-game mail. 

Don't Feed the Trolls: Open a Ticket

There are a multitude of ways to deal with this type of behavior. Obviously using the in-game report system and blocking the individual(s) is the first step.

If the harassment continues outside of the match like via in-game mail or if the individual(s) use alt characters to continue harassing you, creating a ticket which can be done in-game or via the Blizzard website could be done.

Taking screenshots of this behavior, especially continuous behavior by an individual can also be helpful if you are going to create a ticket.  

One mistake I see a lot, at least a mistake in my mind, is engaging in this type of behavior. This only will fuel the flames and possibly provoke further conflict. The likelihood of you being able to push this type of behavior in any kind of positive direction is slim to none, and displaying your disgust will likely also only make things worse.

One mistake I see a lot, at least a mistake in my mind, is engaging in this type of behavior. This only will fuel the flames and possibly provoke further conflict.

Targeting Based on a Player’s In-Game Choices

Things I would put under this category of toxicity are: bashing a player’s perceived skill level, the class they play, the gear they have, etc etc.  More game related attacks than personal attacks (someone’s identity.)

I have been playing the game since its launch in 2004 and experienced this on many occasions. This can happen in whispers, in game mail etc, but, to my knowledge, most of this behavior happens during a match.  

You can handle this the same way as above, however. I have seen instances where you can defuse the situation by not being aggressive yourself — especially if there was a mistake on your end.

Sometimes just owning up and apologizing for the mistake can defuse the situation. It’s normal for people to get frustrated and we have all been there. Too often do players feel the need to defend themselves and become toxic as well. 

A woman holding her head in frustration meme. Caption reads: Need better gear to raid. Need to raid to get better gear. A humorous example of toxicity paradox involving gear scores and stats.

Defusing the situation doesn’t always work, but in my mind it’s always worth a shot, even if you don’t think you make a mistake yourself.

However if this type of toxic behavior continues there is the ignore, block and report feature to use as you see fit.

A meme showcasing the toxicity with high tier WoW players. It reads "Developer: Please Have Fun Playing Our Game." "Community: You're not allowed to raid with us if you don't use this one build for your class." A World of Warcraft: Shadowlands badge is in the center.


The last category I will talk about is something I will refer to as systemic toxicity. This is baked directly into the system. There are a few things that stand out to me in today’s World of Warcraft PvP scene that allows toxicity.

Let’s look at the achievement and min-max culture in today’s World of Warcraft, especially when it comes to PvP. One of the biggest complaints I see today is how people have such issues finding teammates to play with in arena.  

Gatekeeping the Experience

Players who are unwilling to venture outside what has been determined to be the optimal way to play their character are severely limited in who they have access to play with. 

They are unwilling to play with others that don’t have certain achievements, don’t play certain specs, or don’t have certain ratings.

My issue with this is it puts up a wall for new players or players that may be new to just PvP. Maybe they have been a PvE player and now want to try PvP. 

There is nothing wrong with players who want to optimize their gameplay. The issue is the lack of realization that they have some blame for not being able to find teammates in a pool of players that is already small.

Of course there are things Blizzard could do to help alleviate some of the problems, but the players definitely contribute to this issue.

Take Responsibility for Yourself

The other issue I see is players are failing to take responsibility for their own gameplay.

For example, someone blames another player or the entire group for not being able to reach certain ratings, or it’s the obviously the class they play, or it’s the game balancing, etc.

The point is it’s never their fault. It’s someone else’s.

Now all of these things can contribute to or hinder you from not being able to reach your own goals, but all too often players choose to ignore their own gameplay mistakes.

All of these things add to a toxic environment, especially for new players or players new to PvP.

I do want to add that this particular criticism falls in the within the first category.

Baby Yoda watches with disdain while drinking tea. Caption reads "The healer watching as the tank pulls the whole room, dies, and then ragequits." Some people are just too toxic to heal.


The internet is a strange place.

Toxic players, for the most part, can say or do things without expecting to deal with real life repercussions, which makes abuse far too easy. How the community deals with and addresses toxicity is key.

Far too often, the players complaining about the toxicity that happens in PvP are often doing too little to combat it, and even contributing to it themselves at times.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences when it comes to toxicity in World of Warcraft PvP.  You can find me on Twitter and Twitch under Mhortai. Hope to see you there!

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PvP Expert

Mhortai is a PvP writer for Bonus Roll Productions and an admin in the Oasis WoW Community. He is also an active member of the Technically PvP podcast community and can be found via his twitter or chatting in Bonus Roll’s TPVP discord channel.

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