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Strategies for Dealing with Cyber-Bullying in Mobile Games

Who is a mobile gamer?  

When you hear the word ‘gamer’, who do you picture? A teenage boy sitting in a dark room, curtains drawn with booming sound effects and visuals to rival any action film? Or, do you picture an 84-year-old woman who not only struggles to walk from old age but also barely hears her own name? 

The reality is that today both of these pictures are accurate.

Over the last decade, the world of mobile games has expanded into new territories and so too has the word ‘gamer’. In fact, you probably know more gamers than you realise, thanks in part to the expansion, popularity and diversity of gaming. 

The social element of mobile games typically gives users the opportunity to play with or against friends, participate in chat rooms or share and compare progress on leadership boards. This means that mobile games can be incredible relationship-building tools, especially for parents and their children, and studies have shown links between gaming and increased creativity and optimism. 

However, alongside all this good stuff, there are also some gamers who use the social features in games in a way that causes others distress.

Below are some tips and strategies from the experts at PROJECT ROCKIT to tackle nasty stuff and unpleasant behaviours in an otherwise incredible digital world of mobile gaming.

The griefer or the hater 

A person who harasses or deliberately provokes other players in an attempt to spoil their enjoyment. Can include using offensive language, stealing or actions deemed unreasonable in the world of the game. 

Don’t add randoms 

It’s never a good idea to add someone to your friends list that you don’t know personally or join in playing with totally random strangers. A griefer might contact you and say anything in an attempt to be added to your account and then purposely ruin any progress you’ve made. Stick with your friends, after all they are your true allies and will have your back when it really matters. 

Screenshot abuse 

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to screenshot anything you see online that you disagree with.  

Understandably, you might want to make this nasty stuff disappear immediately. However it’s important to have a copy of the evidence to assist you when reporting the gamer or showing a friend or family member.  

If you are not sure how to take a screenshot of an app on your device, do a web search for “screenshot + your device, eg iPhone” and there are plenty of sites that you give you step by step instructions for how to do this. 

Block and report 

If somebody is giving you a hard time, block the player or add them to your ignore list if you are playing through a social network, for example, Facebook. This will ensure they won’t be able to contact you via chat or private message. Then you can anonymously report the gamer, reporting any abusive players, griefers or abusive content will guarantee they are dealt with by the games company or social network’s moderators.  

Mature language filter 

If you’re struggling with other gamers using offensive language you can check out if there are interface options to enable a mature language filter, which will automatically sensor any profanities. That way you won’t have to deal with their bad language or nasty attitude.  

‘The troll’ 

No, this is not a cave dwelling creature or a plastic doll with fluoro hair. In online circles, a troll is someone who contributes controversial or provocative content for the sole purpose of aggravating other users. 

No two trolls are alike and this means that they can be hard to identify. Some attack every post instantly while others may attempt to become your ‘friend’ before unleashing nastiness.  In any case, retaliation is never a good idea. We know trolls like to eat so adding fuel to the fire by fighting back is only going to satisfy their hunger. Understandably, when faced with a troll it is hard not to bite back, so having a go to response up your sleeve like “don’t feed the troll” will give you room to breathe, regain your power and move on… 

Understand the game’s social features 

Before you download a mobile game, take a look at the description provided by the games company on your app store. You will be able to see what type of social interaction is available through the game, for example, whether it enables chat or not, which will help you to decide if this game is suitable for you.  

Seek support offline 

Most importantly, jump offline for help. One of the most difficult parts of being cyber-bullied is the feeling like you’re going through it alone. If you look up and look out, there are plenty of people in the real world that are there for you. When you’re feeling overwhelmed it’s a great idea to get a fresh perspective, seek advice, or have some real talk with someone you trust. It’s also important to focus on what you can do as opposed to what you can’t do – this empowers us to take the most effective action we can and move on with our lives. 

Top Tips

  • Play with your friends or people you know and stay away from strangers

  • Consider taking a screenshot of any behavior that you have found to be threatening, offensive so that you have a record of it 

  • If inappropriate language is being used, you can sensor it within your filter settings

  • Always read the game description before you download so you can see the types of social interaction within the gameplay experience 

  • If you’re being bullied and don’t feel safe, tell someone immediately 

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