I will discuss this in context of trading card games and video games, but it applies to all sorts of hobbies.
In any community, there’s a vocal minority of people with strong opinions: Who may gatekeep or judge others who are less experienced as them. Engage in heated arguments with others for pages on end. They may write long blistering rants toward developers or the playerbase.
Just like on the Pojo forums. There are many pleasant subforums, and then certain pockets of the forum that demand more moderator supervision than the other parts (80-20 rule, perhaps?).
But these people are a vocal minority. Most people play games casually just to have fun. And many of the people who do play competitively focus on learning and getting better; rather than spending hours arguing on whether a card is OP or not or whether a deck is low-skill. You can’t directly control what the game designers do or what other players do; you can only control yourself.
It takes two to tango. If you’re noticing there are lots of heated arguments and toxicity in a community, it’s because you’re going to places to have it. In a way, it’s selection bias, because these places aren’t coming to you; you’re coming to them.
If you find yourself in the midst of a lot of arguments and drama, it’s because you’re willingly participating. You have the choice to stop arguing with those people. You have a choice to stop reading their comments. If someone puts a post on a forum called “____ is destroying the game”, you have a choice to not open it.
Algorithms on social media sites and YouTube recommend you content based on what you watch. So if you consume content from the vocal minority, it will recommend you more of that type of content, making it look like it’s increasingly prevalent when it’s not. Keep in mind a 60 year old woman from Singapore might have a totally different feed than a 25 year old man from the United States. And your friend with different hobbies than you will be recommended completely different content.
Your friend group may change over the years too. At 20, you may have a lot of friends who are extremely passionate and argue a lot about gaming/tcg’s. At 30, you may have a new circle of friends: ones who may either play it casually or do play it regularly (but just avoid arguments).
If you’re in a gaming community, that you feel like gets toxic or judgmental at times, keep in mind, what you’re exposed to isn’t an accurate representation of the discourse that’s going on all around the world. You’re consuming a very tiny 0.000001% slice of the pie chart. One person’s slice can be very different from another person’s slice. And your slice right now can be very different from the slice you consume a few years from now.
It’s been 9.5 years since I first started writing on Pojo. Still going strong. <3 You all. -Baneful