Want to hear something controversial? I mean, really controversial?
Voice comms are coming to Heroes of the Storm.
When I sat down to write this article, I (understandably) retreated into what I know: writing as a research psychologist. I became increasingly unhappy with the article as I wrote. It was becoming cold, empirical, and… a research paper.
That is not what I wanted. I wanted this article to be about the opportunity for positive change bystanders, like me, have with the implementation of voice comms. I wanted this to be human. So, I put it aside for a bit, worked on other things, played some games, had a snack, etc.
I found my inspiration while reading for a class. Thanks, Marsha.
People may not have caused all of our own problems, but they have to solve them anywayMarsha Linehan 
This quote from Marsha Linehan gets at the core of what I found frustrating in the voice comms debate.
People who look like me - white, middle-class, cisgendered - need to do better. I don’t troll people. I do my very best to remark only on the positives. I consider myself an ally for marginalized communities. Why don’t marginalized individuals just “get” that I am on their side?
By not speaking up, I maintain my safety and privilege. I am also complicit in the culture of harassment, hatred, and victimization that exists in HotS today.
It is time I did better.
Validate the Valid
I read several posts, written by victims, about how voice comms opens the floodgates for this kind of behavior. I read responses, such as “You don’t have to use it” or “Just ignore them.”
Stop it. Stop invalidating victims. Listen to them. I mean, really listen to them. Imagine, for a moment, what it is like to be victimized on a daily basis for something that is out of your control.
Stop blaming victims for the abuse they receive. Blame rests squarely on the abuser. Using a feature of a game is, itself, a neutral action. Let me be crystal clear here: The perpetrator is responsible for their abuse.
To those who have felt victimized, I say this: I cannot possibly understand your experience. (I will not invalidate you in that way.) I will listen to you, and I will believe your experience. I will work, consciously and continuously, to not impose my safe, privileged experience on you. I will use my voice to combat abusive behavior, not because you cannot speak for yourself, but because I may feel safe when you do not.
If I fail in this task (and, despite my best effort and good intentions, I will), I implore you to call me on it and bring it to my attention. I have no right to ask for your help, and yet I must. I need to do better, but cannot without learning new ways of being.
I understand if you will not view me as “safe”. If you see me in game (and feel comfortable doing so), please say hi. I understand if you do not.
Do not Validate the Invalid
To the victimizers, I say this: You are so much more than this! I feel badly that your experience has taught you… well, whatever has lead you here. Toxicity, trolling, salt… these are not the only ways of being. There are other, more helpful and adaptive ways of handling conflict and strong emotion.
The status quo is only so because we are complicit in its maintenance.
I May Not Be Responsible for My Problems, but I Am Still Responsible for Fixing Them
If you’ve had a strong reaction or disagree with what I have said, chances are you are part of the problem.
References - Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT Skills Training Manual (p. 136). New York, NY : The Guilford Press.
Caleb “RomedyMC” Hallauer is a 3rd year graduate student in clinical psychology at Washburn University. He has served as the coach/analyst for several amateur Heroes of the Storm teams, including Ascension, Senix, and TQ. He currently is the analyst for team ODI, is an intern at the Bert Nash Community Health Center, and conducts research on the applications of “traditional” sports psychology to the emerging eSports scene.