Trolling Videos: The Death of Credibility & Good Taste?
The Youtube ‘gaming’ section has long been in decline in terms of quality. If it’s not a big Youtuber suddenly deciding they like video games all of a sudden, it’s some awful coverage of games with misplaced lingo thrown in. It’s a sorry state, and its even impacting the actual industry (see Toby Turner’s car crash presenting at last year’s E3), but a new trend is rapidly on the rise, and it directly affects popular games and their communities.
The ‘Trolling’ video has quickly become one of the most popular video formats. The basic outline sees a user entering a game/lobby (commonly Call of Duty) with the intention of antagonizing the other players. In its most innocent form, it’s merely a guy just being annoying down the microphone; at its worst, it’s someone pretending to be disabled. Let that sink in–a person pretending to be disabled and earning money from it, complete with a contract with Machinima.
The trolling videos show the very worst of people, and most contain at least two hundred homophobic and racial slurs. Most involve angry young men going irate at the youtuber to the point of rage-quitting. The Youtuber will constantly seek further reaction, and this often results in the language and general tone of the ‘victim’ becoming utterly vile. Some may argue that it’s all in the name of entertainment, and in some cases they’d be right, but some Youtubers’ trolling feels purely tasteless. There’s something rather unsettling when it comes to someone pretending to be disabled purely to bait out a reaction. The same Youtuber (names will not be mentioned) sometimes makes comments back at his ‘victims’ that are simply vile. There is no morale high ground on either side. The question is how low can they go?
The trolling format is unquestionably successful. At times it can be funny, when the trolling is in moderation, but as the ‘genre’ becomes more stacked, the Youtubers look for greater reactions from their victims. This can only mean that the baiting will be more severe and more distasteful–and all in the name of gaining views and subs.
Trolling directly effects video game communities, even if the communities associated are known for their poor nature. People have seen that trolling is a means to gain internet fame with little effort, which oddly seems to be something a large number of modern gamers want, and this leads to people replicating the trolling format. Trolling showcases the very worst of a game’s community; there is rarely a Youtuber who uploads someone reacting well to the trolling. The troll also ruins the game for all those involved in the game/lobby that they are currently trolling. It’s an utterly selfish act to jump into a random game and try to ruin peoples’ fun or waste their time.
At the end of the day, people will see trolling videos as harmless entertainment. Most trolling videos are there purely for the enjoyment of others, but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Racial slurs, homophobic insults and vile taunts do little to entertain. It’s slightly alarming that there’s a large proportion of people who enjoy the more ‘scummy’ trolling videos. If these videos are a sign of the times–and what a lot of people want from the Youtube gaming circles–then that’s simply disheartening.
I wholeheartedly hope that the trend comes to a end sooner rather than later. At the very least I hope that the Youtubers in this genre maintain some kind of morality in the pursuit of subscribers and views. After all, if this is the result of modern day gamers, then there’s a lot left to be desired, creatively and morally.
After this piece went up, we were lucky enough to get some insight from a Trolling video uploader. Soprano Pictures is one of the biggest uploaders in this genre, he had the following to say on the topic of Trolling videos: