Lately, negativity and gaming tend to go hand-in-hand. I won't be so outrageous as to say that every single gamer is negative and trying to engage in any community is going to lead to heartbreak. That's not true. There are plenty of wonderful gaming communities out there, and tons of gamers are awesome. It'd be ignorant to say that there aren't those on the opposite end of the scale, though. A great number of other communities are full of trolls, people just looking to anger their fellow gamer. I think you'd be surprised at how little effort it takes to kick this kind of behavior to the curb.
The Total War franchise is ridiculously popular, especially over on Steam, where it's always had a thriving community. According to Kotaku however, it was an unpleasant area due to a lack of management and rules. Grace Carroll, from Total War developer Creative Assembly, said that the company felt the need to put an end to this. They put a single employee in charge of cleaning up the streets, so to speak. Within a week, the Total War Steam community was a completely different place.
All it took was one moderator deleting threads and dropping the ban hammer on some folks. Once this started to happen, a large chunk of the community took up the torches themselves. They began reporting things that were less than holy and called their fellow Total War fans out for similar reasons. Carroll admits that the community was well on its way to being the kind of group it should be. It's amazing what one person can do to make a difference. It helps that that person was a representative of the company that had developed the game. But even the community members themselves are helping to make the Total War presence on Steam better for everyone now.
Frankly, I don't think it's that hard to be a good person, in general. Sure we all have off days, sometimes we're angry or just want to punch something. But, in that case, rant to a friend or relative and punch your pillow or a bag of rice. Don't take your real life frustrations out on people you don't even know. I'd like to believe that most of us wouldn't just walk up to someone randomly in the streets and start berating them for no reason, so don't do that on the Internet either! If you disagree with someone, try to have a conversation with them! Don't just knee-jerk name-call. If we could all just stop and talk to each other I think we'd find our communities would be a much better place. It's impossible for everyone to agree on everything all the time, but at least we can be reasonable about it. You never know, you might even find some common ground!
The Total War debacle and recovery on Steam is a great example of how a few can change the quality of life for everybody. If you see people behaving poorly in online communities, do what you can to report them to the right authority. If no such person exists, try saying something yourself! I've had plenty of people say rude things to me online, but I do my best to respond intelligently and kindly. I've even made good friends by talking through misunderstandings. We come out the other side better for it. The same can be said for negative gaming communities.
So here's my challenge to you: if you see something rude, negative, or otherwise obnoxious in one of your favorite gaming hang-outs, speak up!