S2: E34 | Dead By Daylight and Asymmetric Multiplayer

Daniel A. Kaufmann, Ph.D
Dr. Gameology on Twitch & The Gaming Persona Podcast
Owner of Area of Effect Counseling

Dr. Gameology has played Dead By Daylight for the first time. After an evening of getting chased down by Killers of all kinds, he reflects on the experience and discovers the research on this style of multiplayer. Spirited debate ensues on what winning and competition mean in the context of a game in this style.

Listen to the Podcast Here:

Gaming Library:

Dead By Daylight, Borderlands, Oregon Trail, Phasmaphobia, Among Us, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat 2


What are we talking about from the world of video games.

This week, we are going to talk about asymmetric multiplayer games, like Dead by Daylight.

The Ordinary World

Awesome. But before we do that, let’s visit our Ordinary World where we share everyday life through our games. Alright, Gene and Jenny, what has been happening for you in your gameplay activities since the last time we got together to do this?

All right, I can go first. So hopefully this won’t be too in depth. But I’ve been doing a lot of research into a tabletop role playing game called Delta Green. So essentially, if you marry the concepts of The X-Files with men and black, it’s a secret government organization that has to deal with aliens, black magic, demons, crap like that. And they have to keep it all under wraps. But unlike Men in Black, you don’t have super convenient memory erasers. You have to do it all manually.

ECT and lobotomies, we’re going to go Sucker Punch on all of society.

Yeah. So that is actually one of the struggles that you have to deal with in this game. Because you have to live this crazy double life as agents defending the world from the unknown. The relevant part that I wanted to mention is that essentially has a Social Link system that works in reverse. But since you are living a double life, the game assumes that you already have some friends and family that you have relationships with. And as you have to fight demons and things that erode your mental state, you can try to disperse your mental damage by damaging your relationships.

Oh no!

Yeah, you can say like, oh, yeah, that demon is giving me nightmares. So today, I choose to drink myself to sleep and, and damage maybe my relationship with my son or something like that.

And what’s the benefit of drinking yourself to sleep? You don’t have as much mental damage?

As you accumulate mental damage. And if you don’t do something about it, then you start accumulating, you know, disorders, like narcolepsy or PTSD.

That’s my job!

So, you can tell I have a problem about me and my life that I can’t handle. So, I will take myself out of that situation and disperse that problem on the people. They expected me to be there for them.

Exactly. But yeah, so but in the context of those games, you know, you as a Delta Green agent can’t say anything to your family about “oh, I’ve shot an alien in the face.”

I feel like this game was developed by someone who made it all the way through their master’s program, and then did my job for a week and essentially came out of that week saying, “Screw this, I can package this as a board game and people will play it.”

Yeah, it’s very fascinating. I haven’t played it yet; I have just done a whole lot of reading. I’m very interested in …

I did a whole lot of reading too, and I never felt like I was playing a compelling board game.

It reminds me of, and I really don’t remember the name of this particular tabletop game, but there’s a particular game that is set in like it’s like a dystopian kind of future place.

Okay, that narrows it down to 90% of the games available.

I know. Well, I reminded me of like Borderlands kind of like that vibe. I didn’t play the game. I just had friends who played it at my house and listened and everyone’s well, but anyway, one of the, like, things that you can have your character, I guess, traits that you can have for your character is you can give them a drug addiction. And whatever the drug is, in this game gives you like, crazy stats, but you eventually get addicted to it. And you have to have like more and more of it. And it’s it becomes like a problem where you have to spend resources on this addiction.

Like cocaine or heroin?

Yeah, it’s like the cocaine of whatever this world is.

Are we going to have to put a warning on this episode? I don’t know. I don’t know how that works. I think everyone by now I should assume that anything in the DSM-5 can just interject itself into our video games. But I don’t know. We’ve never talked board games with legitimate psychopathology explanations. That’s fun. Not fun. Yes, it’s actually the opposite of fun, but fun. Oh, man.

 Oh, that sounds really fun. Like the game, not any of these issues.

The cocaine addiction everyone. Although I know I’ve mentioned this on the podcast, at least one other time that there was a lecture where Sigmund Freud was under the influence of cocaine. And afterwards, he expressed how grateful he was for the flow and excitement in the lecture all due to the cocaine. So different times, different cultures, and privilege definitely in play there. Jenny, what have you been up to?

Well, if you see on the notes, I got nothing. played video games, or any games for that matter in quite a while. My life is a little chaotic right now. Not just because I have lots of editing, but there’s a lot of like health stuff going on with family members. And so, I’ve been helping out with that stuff. So, no time for anything but that and work.

Yes, so Jenny, unfortunately, you just made me think of the Oregon Trail. And how it seems like you are trying to take people in your wagon to Oregon and how perilous that game was.

It feels like that sometimes. Oh, no.

And also, you picked a terrible profession. What’s a photographer going to do on the way to Oregon? It doesn’t make any sense.

Well, it’s pretty gorgeous out there. So

Yeah. But not in like four bit green and black graphics. No, no. Actually, I don’t even know how the graphics for that original version. We’re all in that generation where we got to play the green Oregon Trail, right?

Yes. Oh, absolutely.


Dead By Daylight: The chance to earn video game time in 1990’s classrooms served as a powerful reinforcer, using games such as the Oregon Trail as a reward for speed and mastery for elementary age students.


All right. So, kids that are listening to the show you’re totally not listening to show but if you are Oregon Trail is so prehistoric that it used to be on games where you would initiate the game with a floppy disk in what was its DOS before signing into Windows. And it would take you into this like flowing screen of text with a black background. And your Oregon Trail wagon would just be like this blocky rectangle blob that is just amazing.

And it was so exciting whenever you got to play because it was like a reward at school.

Yeah, that means you finished your homework and everyone else is still working hard. And all your answers were right, so the teacher had no choice but to let you have fun.


Oh man. This explains my entire personality.

Also, there’s lots of nostalgia with this, which is what we’re going to talk about soon.

Yeah, we’ll talk about that soon, too. Except, you know, hopefully nobody dies from cholera. But I did that quite frequently. And I would always leave the tombstone too. So eventually on that computer, the game was just every 30 seconds, you get to another “Here lies Daniel, Here lies Daniel, He died from cholera. He died from dysentery. He died from cholera.”

This is not the episode that I imagined anyway. All right, well, I’m sorry, you didn’t get to play anything except real life, Oregon Trail Jenny. Fine. All right. Well, I played Dead by Daylight. And I have never played a game that is directly easily recognizable as an asymmetric multiplayer game. Although there are games I’ve played that we will talk about in this episode that definitely have a symmetric multiplayer in them, I just didn’t happen to think about the games that way, which is a whole other interesting idea in and of itself.

Call to Adventure

So, let’s head out to our Call to Adventure where we get into our topic for the week. All right, so for this topic, I played Dead by Daylight, which is a horror genre game that places four players on the side of the survivors. And these are your regular teenagers going to summer camp type people. And then they are all versing. In the video game format, one overpowered player who is controlling the killer, think Jason Vorhees, or Michael Myers, or Freddy Krueger, or the scary girl from The Ring. And so, you have one person who wants to kill the four, and you have four who just want to survive the battle arena and escape out the big iron gate and run away and keep their life. And I didn’t expect it to be as fun as it was. But I played the whole evening as a survivor. And it was an amazing amount of fun. So, before we really get more into Dead by Daylight, and how that game specifically works, I want to just hang out on that idea and ask both of you what games have you played that have an identifiable asymmetric, multiplayer competitive component to it?

All right. A board game that I own and enjoy quite a bit is Star Wars Imperial assault. This game so far players play as various rebellion heroes of the Rebel Alliance. This game takes place right after episode four. It’s right after the Death Star blew up and the Empire is mad?

Is this a tabletop game?

This is a board game. So, it’s a board game that takes place over a series of missions, like four rebel players are going through Imperial bases and stuff like that, trying to complete objectives. The fifth player plays as the Empire as a vague concept. Where the rebellion players, they have individual heroes with special abilities that they you know, take turns to use, the Empire slowly accumulates threat and then you spend the threat to make bad things happen to the Rebellion. So, you can spend like, I don’t know, six points of threat to make a squad of Stormtroopers appear down the hallway, or, you know, another five points a threat to a Probe Droid up here and it shocks them stuff like that. And then that escalates more and more as the game like as the missions progressed to eventually where you can summon real serious bad guys like oh, yeah, I spent 20 threat to summon Boba Fett, you’re dead. Fun. Well, you’re not dead, but it’s really hard to fight someone like Boba Fett. They’re, like they are enemy champions. They’re like mini bosses.

Yeah, that sounds fun. So how do you win?

It’s kind of structured like A classic Star Wars movie, you go through various scenarios as the rebellion until you uncover – the game comes with a few campaigns – So like the rebellion is trying to go through missions, trying to like, you know, hack terminals, kill off certain Imperial officers, trying to gain access to some secrets, kind of like the plot of the movie Rogue One. And the Empire wins by just repeatedly killing the rebellion.

That sounds like a pretty good board game representation of the Star Wars Original Trilogy.

That sounds really fun.

Speaking of which, did we all see the trailer for Andor?

Yeah, I think it’s pretty promising.

I’m much more excited after seeing the trailer because I’m all about the connectivity between the trilogies. So, if I feel like the storytelling, of say the prequel trilogy, is using the same elements that we need to understand in order to understand the original trilogy, those things make me really excited. And to see the Galactic Empire in the Senate, is really exciting for me, because in A New Hope, they disbanded the Senate in a line of dialogue as a way to not have to film anything in the Senate and not define what it looks like, back in 1977. And to not really make themself beholden to anything from that previous era. Right. So, let’s just focus on this era, the original trilogy. So, to see the characters that were background characters and dialogue characters in the Senate, is just so cool. I really have high hopes for this show. I feel like Star Wars has really gotten back into a nice place inside me. But it took years. So that’s an interesting thing in and of itself, probably just we need to do Star Wars therapy as an episode so that I can reclaim my past self.

That would, that probably would be a good idea.

Oh, as someone who’s dealt too many times, my disillusionment. So, Jenny, what have you played that has an easily identifiable asymmetric component.

Okay, so the first game that came to mind when you suggested this was Betrayal at House on the Hill, I said that very carefully. Because I have this game, I own it. But for whatever reason, the name of the game never sticks in my mind. And I always call it like “Haunted House on the Hill,” or the “Betrayal House” or “The Haunted Betrayal.” And usually, my friends know what I’m talking about.

But it’s not called Jenny wins?

It’s not called Jenny wins. It was not. I haven’t played this game in a while. But there was a period in time where we my friend group was very excited about this game; we played it quite often. But basically, this game if you don’t know what it is, it is a board game. The game is pretty much different every time you play because you put down little tile cards, and that determines where in the house you’re able to go. So, you have to kind of explore the haunted house, as you’re exploring different events happen. You get items, you get omens, which are like, you know, bad things. And

Well, it depends on your point for view. It could be good for whoever the traitor is.


In Betrayal at House on the Hill, you begin as a friendly team exploring the creepy mansion, then you turn into asymmetric multiplayer. One person versus the rest. What are some of your best memories inside this house? Click To Tweet


Yes, that’s true.  So anyway, at some point in the game, the second phase of the game is triggered. And then the game turns into an asymmetrical game. So, it I believe it’s up to six player game, maybe four to six players. And during the second phase of the game, it becomes one versus everyone else, and that one person, basically in terms of storyline, they go crazy, and they turn on all your friends that are exploring this house, and they start trying to attack you. The point of the game then becomes “beat the betrayer.” So, it’s a really unique game. I’ve never played any other game that’s like this one. And it I really love that it changes every time you play because the actual betrayer and what their abilities are and what their goals are change, depending on which rooms in the house you’ve explored.

Yeah, it’s super cool. I’ve played it too. And like, yeah, in the manual, there’s like a list of different things that happen to become the betrayer. And there’s like, 50 of them.

Yeah. Plus, there’s expansions to it as well, if you need more than that, because the first 50 versions are boring. I have a fun story about that, that I’ve been dying to tell this entire build up. So last time I played this, or two times ago, actually now, the betrayer, I don’t remember who it was, it might have been my wife. Anyway, the, the threat level of the house got activated. And we read this scenario, and we figured out what our goals were. And I was on the side of the survivors, you know, the good guys trying to restore the nice forces to the house, except the traitor had this condition, where they need to kill a person specifically that was holding a certain item, take their body to a certain room, and roll the dice at a high enough level to sacrifice them to their Demon God. And the threat trigger happened when she was in the room with that person. And it was her turn. So, the entire betrayal experience was wrapped up in under 90 seconds. She just offed the person and rolled, and it was over. So, we played this entire board game, and we used every single card to build the mansion because we didn’t get we didn’t trigger the, the traitor part. And we ran out of cards. So, it’s like, well, what do we do now? And it was one of the coolest games through for betrayal that I’ve ever played. Except for how it ended.

Yeah, it’s so it’s so unpredictable in that way. And I feel like whoever this person was, that got to be the betrayer in the same room as the person that they needed to kill has some serious RNG Goddess energy.

Yes. They were playing the lottery or something. Sorry, that’s, that’s completely disrespectful for someone like me to say on this podcast. Don’t play the lottery. It sucks. Anyway, Play Betrayal at House on the Hill. It’s much better or whatever. Or whatever. I think it’s worth noting that Among Us is an asymmetric multiplayer game. Yes. That was the second thing that came to mind for me. Yep, there are more people trying to do good and cooperate and fix the station, then there are people trying to kill you. And I think that’s just such a really big game. I can’t believe that I played Dead by Daylight and thought this is the first time I’ve played an asymmetric multiplayer game, and Among Us didn’t pop up in my head. But also, there’s probably some others that are really famous that aren’t coming to mind for me.

Well, Gene made a good point when we were talking about this earlier that usually in these games, when you are the betrayer or you are the lone person against everyone else, you have some sort of like crazy bonus, like OP type of benefit to being that. And Among Us, that’s not really the case. You just have to be sneaky.

Oh my gosh. Let’s go back to Rogue one really quick. The Darth Vader hallway scene is asymmetric multiplayer!

That’s where I learned for one of the possible ends of the Imperial assault game. You go down the wrong way, and Vader can spawn, and he’s a super boss.

Oh my gosh, that’s so cool.


Dead By Daylight: The Darth Vader Hallway Scene in Rogue One is a perfect example of asymmetric multiplayer represented in cinema.


Was this game released before or after Rogue One?

This was before, but it was early in the days of the Disney acquisition.

Okay, so somebody played this game and thought “My movie needs more Vader. Can we do this?”

Yes, can we have Vader just killed multiple players per turn?

Well, it’s actually well documented that Rogue One went through severe rewrites. And some of that was elevating the amount of Darth Vader’s presence in that end part of the movie. One of my favorite scenes ever, but probably not related to this topic.

Road of Trials

So, if I challenged myself to get back on topic, and not just do Star Wars, and Oregon trail for some reason, we can do the Road of Trials where we face our challenges and discover our strengths. So I want to talk a little bit more about how Dead by Daylight works, because we haven’t talked about this game before ever on our show. So not all of our listeners will know from their own gameplay experience what it is. So it is a horror genre game that puts four versus one, but the one is overpowered like that “Darth Vader in the hallway” kind of thing. And I’m going to just give a list of some villains that are in the game really quick, so that we have some fresh in our head that maybe we weren’t thinking about yet. And we can just talk about what the feel of that game is based on characters and these properties. So there’s Freddy Krueger, there’s the chainsaw guy from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Ghostface, which is actually my favorite I’ve been him for Halloween once. Demogorgon from Stranger Things. Pyramid Head from Silent Hill, Nemesis from Resident Evil three. Albert Wesker, from all of the really good Resident Evil is going to be added soon. Yeah, I’m biased. Anyone that I’ve dressed as I am biased towards.

Also, Pinhead is also a villain. There’s many more I did not read the entire list. But I mean, how much of the horror genre did we just cover? Right there? All of Jenny’s favorite movies. And the cool thing that I did not know until I played is the four survivors play in third person, which that’s the style of games I’m most used to. I enjoy that perspective, the most, I would say. The killer plays in first-person. I had no clue. And they have abilities because of that perspective that I also did not even understand. So, if you hold the Run button to run away from them, the ground that you have run on glows. So not only can they see you if you crossed their line of sight, but if they can’t see you, they can see that somebody just ran across this path, and I can see where they went. And I’m sure there’s many more abilities. And I definitely do not have a technical knowledge of the game. I was playing with people that do and we’ll probably talk about that experience in our next segment. But the idea of trying to survive characters that can kill you in one or two hits, and then once they knock you down, they pick you up and they walk you over to a hook and you hang there. And other players can un-hang you, they can let you down. But if you get hooked three times, the Spider God comes from the top of the hook from the sky out of the top of the hook and devours you because that’s really what the game is about. These villains of horror are trying to sacrifice you to the demon spider God. I had no idea there was a story going on, but that’s what it is. But if they down you in certain ways and fulfill their conditions to master their character for that match, they can go into Mortal Kombat mode and fatality you with their signature ability, and it becomes all cinematic and devastating if you’re the person it’s happening to. So, there are incentives for the killer to play a certain way. And there are incentives for you not to get hit multiple times and hung by that hook. Because once you die, you go into spectator mode, and you can just watch your other teammates that are not dead yet. But you’re stuck. And you just have to hope for the match to end. So that’s what it was like to try to take in some of that, for my first night of playing and my overview. And Jenny, I was thinking specifically about you because we’ve tended to play in more recent times more games.

I think I could play this game. It sounds really fun. And plus, I play Phasmaphobia, which is actually scary.

Dead By Daylight: The Killer role in DBD features some of the most iconic villains across the history of horror movies. Surviving the evening will be quite the challenge for any player.

As I was thinking about horror movies, I can’t imagine you watching some of these movie properties with me. Yeah, I really could imagine you playing this game because it is not actually scary.

Yeah, Dead by Daylight is a game is more thrills than being about fear. It’s all about trying to dodge the chainsaw coming at your head, and stuff like that, you know, jumping over hedges to run away from a guy, it’s an elaborate game of cat and mouse.

Cat and mouse, Hide and Seek all those things. And jumping through windows is really important. You can do it slow and make no noise. Or if they’ve already seen you, you can keep running and jump fast. And most of the killers jump through windows slower, or things like that. So, you gain distance by doing things like that. And it’s a strategic choice always. Do I hide in a locker, because maybe they didn’t see me once I turned that corner, and they might keep walking. Or maybe they just grab me by the throat out of the locker and dragged me to the hook. So, it’s really cat and mouse. It’s like a poker game “is my strategy better than theirs?” And “is my awareness of what’s going on better than theirs?” And oh, my gosh, I didn’t even explain how the victory for the survivors works. Wow, well, maybe that needs to go in the next segment. Is there anything that we need to add here? While we’re just establishing what the game is?

Well, I mean, maybe it’s too detailed? I don’t know. But one of the things about this game is that everyone can equip various extra abilities and extra items to change the way their character does stuff. For instance, there is an ability that survivors can do that makes them, if they time it right, they will tank a hit. They won’t fall over and get dragged away. So yeah. So there’s all kinds of various little builds and strategies to employ.

Yeah, one of the things that was recommended to me is to pick one survivor, and just focus on leveling them up, because when you fill your leveling up meter to max level, you can Prestige that character, which sends them all the way back to being level one, but it takes one of their abilities and applies it to every character. By doing that, you make it eventually so that you can choose to play whoever you want, because all the abilities you would want to play with personally, you can transfer to characters who normally wouldn’t have them. So with all these villains, I mentioned Nemesis from Resident Evil is in the game, and as a result, Jill Valentine is one of the survivors in the game, which I don’t have that particular expansion yet, but someday, Jill Valentine will be my “go to” character in this game, I promise everyone listening because I said, if any game has Jill Valentine is probably one of my favorites (about two weeks ago I said that). So there is also a heavy teamwork component to this. And I thought it was really cool that you are four survivors running around completely independently, can do some good things, but probably will get everyone killed. And you actually benefit greatly by trying to heal each other when you’re wounded, or by running past the killer deliberately to drag them to the other side of the map. And the reason you want them on a different side of the map is because there are generators, randomly generated across the map between seven and nine, I think per map. And the goal of the survivors is to activate half of them, or half plus one, so more than 50%. And when you fix more than 50% of the generators, the escape hatch randomly appears somewhere on the map. And if a survivor makes it to that hatch, they can jump in and survive underground, or the giant gate unlocks. And if that happens, you can go and hold down the lever that activates power to the door, the gate will open and then just run through the gate. And you survive that way by completely fleeing the scene. Those are the two ways that survivors survive. The Killer’s job is to kill all four survivors. Before that happens. It’s funny how they came up with the names of these roles.

The Ascent

 So unfortunately, some of the survivors think that their role is haters, and they hate. So, I guess that leads us to The Ascent, where we can elevate the topic. So, we actually have done a pretty good job, working through the mechanics of how to play and who some of the characters are. So, I want to send this back to either one of you about “what is the biggest thing that happens when you create a game where the teams are not balanced?”

I think, at least from a tabletop gaming perspective, but I think probably from all these kinds of asymmetrical games. It really stimulates the strategic thinking of both sides. Because sure, in some games, they spell out what one side can and can’t do. You know, like in Among Us, you you know what the imposters can do. And you know what the players are regular survivors are supposed to do the crew. But in other games like Dead By Daylight, at the beginning of a match it’s very ambiguous. You don’t know what items and abilities the Survivors have, and what the Killer has. There is a lot of cautious, observant decision making, like “That Survivor has that ability so I should not chase them, because they will outrun me.”

Yeah, that is similar in the Betrayal game. You don’t know which haunt you triggered. You don’t know who the betrayer is. You kind of have to study their movements. Usually, you try to run away and not be near them. you have to be more creative.

Yeah, I think a lot of the games that I’m drawn to naturally are more like chess, everyone has eight pawns. Everyone has knights, bishops, rooks, Queen, and a King. It’s fair. And it’s even. And it’s balanced. And even PvP and Final Fantasy 14, which is the only really competitive thing between players that I do regularly these days. You assume the teams are roughly the same number of players. There are three different teams running around the map. And they all theoretically have an equal chance of taking over the map and winning points. In this game, it’s not fair. But that makes it so that it really works the way that these movies that its emulating tend to become engaging and riveting. And actually, while we’re on that, do each of you have a favorite property that Dead by Daylight has absorbed? What would you say for that? I’m just curious as far as personal interest.

You mentioned the Demogorgon. And I love Stranger Things.

Okay, yeah, so the Demogorgon is one of the killers. And I know two of the survivors are Steve Harrington and Nancy Wheeler. So, you can definitely set up a little Stranger Things roleplay if you wanted to.

And for me, it will probably be Resident Evil just because the I like what Nemesis does to the game. When you play as nemesis, you add in a mechanic to the game called “infection.” You know when you hurt those survivors, they get, they accumulate T-virus. Yeah, that makes them worse, or whether it makes you better actually. Nemesis gets stronger and more powerful, the more T-virus that exists.

That tracks, that sounds correct. Oh, man, I cannot wait to see what happens with Wesker.


Dead By Daylight: The inclusion of Albert Wesker and a few more Survivors from the Resident Evil franchise will be the next expansion for DBD. What will happen for you when you find the survivors of the raccoon city catastrophe?


Yeah, he does not have like the dashing force punch from Resident Evil…

I’m sure he can earn that. I think it should be pretty easy for him to win against these scrubs. So oh, also, when Wesker gets added in Ada Wong and Rebecca Chambers, are going to be the survivors that are added in just as a side note.

I had no idea how the game worked before I played and the way that my teammates who are veterans in the game, were interacting immediately. It clicked in my head, how they’re trying to solve that question of “what does the killer have the ability to do?” And they know all the different cards that you can equip. And once they knew what the killer can do, because they revealed it, they would start just instinctively moving in different ways to negate that benefit. I just got myself killed. So, because I’m learning, and I don’t know what any of this means, but they were very helpful. And I feel like a few of the matches, they decided to die with me so that I could learn, which was kind of nice. But I think that there, you know, we didn’t have a full set of four in discord the entire night, there were three of us. And sometimes we’d have a random person. But even that random person seemed to have pretty good teamwork with us most of the evening. I thought that was really interesting how the structure of the game just defines cooperation and encourages it and rewards it. Even if you don’t know the person and you’re not actively talking to them. And I just thought what a cool thing for a video game to do. So, I guess “emergent cooperation” is what we can call that in our research terminology.

Yeah, one of the interesting facts about the way that game is scored at the end of the match, you get points that is basically your experience points that you used to buy stuff. But yeah, the way the game scores you it’s it’s not about winning. Technically, like you get a big bonus if you do win, but if you like work, if you clowned the opposing side and you won the game and like two minutes the game does not reward you very well. Because it’s like it wasn’t a competition. The game rewards competitiveness.

Oh, that’s why they were playing with me like I’m their food.

Yes. Yeah, the game rewards you for things like number of people hit you know, number of separate times you’ve hoped each player you know, number of times that you jumped or a window or whatever, it all adds up.



It did seem like the Killer’s had different benefits to maximize the conditions of their match. There were a couple of comments from my teammates. “Oh, they’re not trying to do this. They must be going for such and such other perk because they were just deliberately not doing the obvious thing available.”

Yes, yeah, there are builds in this game that are deliberately unfun. I would say. For instance, there are certain things you’re going to equip on a survivor that’s like, you get better the more your teammates die. And so, there are builds where it’s like, “Oh, I’m going to sit in a corner wait for everyone else to die” and then beeline for the door because I’m superpower now.

Hmm. You know, it’s interesting that you both bring that up because I was looking for an article about how these games work and what motivates people to do them and enjoy them and find ways to experience a video game. But actually, the first thing that I found research wise on Dead by Daylight is an article by Deslauriers, St-Martin and Bonnenfont, and the article is titled, “Assessing toxic behavior and Dead by Daylight: Perceptions and factors of toxicity according to the game’s official subreddit contributors.” So, we have my favorite things, toxic game players and users of Reddit. Now, all joking aside, on page eight of this article, they list and operationally define all of the toxic behaviors in this game. Oh, which is such a fun chart. I’m going to just read the terms and then we can talk about some of these based on if we can guess what they mean. That went in there. First discussion on the game, blinding, body blocking, face camping, hatch camping, lobby, dodging, rush unhooking, sandbagging, slugging attacks, text-chatting, and tea-bagging.

I am familiar with a few of those.

Yeah, I know. Specifically slugging is considered one the most toxic things in the game. So you mentioned earlier that, you know, when a killer they hit you a couple of times, you fall over and then they take you over to the hook, you know, for potential awful. Yeah, that’s not an automatic thing. You can hit someone a couple of times, and then they just lay on the ground there forever. Until someone comes and deals with them. You could just knock them over, stand right over them, and wait for other people to show up. And then you beat them. And it’s a vicious cycle where no one can do anything.

I completely disagree with calling this toxic. Because if I were a killer, yeah, oh my gosh. That is exactly what I would do to destroy the three players who are higher on the ladder of natural selection.

Well see, as I mentioned earlier in the game Yeah, it’s you can totally win this way. But the game doesn’t necessarily want you to do this, you’re going to get way less points.

Okay, now here’s the thing, I got a really big chunk of points every single match because I’m a low-level player. And I felt grossly rewarded by the number of matches that I played. But I also don’t understand how I was being rewarded. So, it just felt like, Oh, this is nice, I can unlock some more things for this character. And that was really nice. I looked at it like, “how do I win?” And if you immobilized character for minutes, until they bleed out, I don’t really care how much food the Spider Demon God gets. Yeah, as if your friends are dumb enough to try to heal you then I’ll hit them too. And then you can lay on the ground together. And if I know you’re not moving over here, then I know there’s only three people trying to fix generators, two people trying to fix generators, one person, and so on. So, I know that there’s a toxic trait around this slugging idea. But it’s such a good strategy.


In #DeadByDaylight (and other online #multiplayer), where do we draw the line between competitive play and becoming toxic? Click To Tweet


Yeah, and it certainly is, but so the reason a lot of the weight of the toxicity is because not because of the strategic element, as because a lot of killers. They do it to be vindictive. Like laughing.

Like griefing?

Yeah, like griefing. It’s like, oh, that survivor totally clown me he like ran a circle around me and jumped out the window. Yeah. So now, clearly, that guy is really good. I’m just going to remove him from the game, so that he feels bad.

I would like to put forth the idea, though, that Michael Myers was clowning people in all of his movies, because if he wanted to end it, I think he could have.

Well, yes. But then what kind of survivors, they didn’t really have a way to deal with him. They just died.

Well, I guess my point is, if your goal is to win, you do things that are smart for your position in the game, and I think calling slugging toxic it whether you’re clowning around or not. I mean, one of the enemies by the way, is a killer clown. Anyway, that’s a distracting point. I think that calling good strategy toxic, is more about the survivors in it coming incapable of handling their own weakness and using their defense mechanisms to get upset.

Yeah, they must suffer. I get what you are saying Daniel. But if all you are playing for is to win, then sure. But usually, when you play video games, you’re trying to have some sort of fun. And that’s not fun.

Well, yes, there’s certainly that aspect to it because you know, camping or the slugging isn’t an instant win button. It’s like, if you slug someone, and everyone just refuses to come save the guy that you slug, and they’re off solving the generators while you sit on this dude. But you still lost the game as the Killer.

I don’t I want this player to win this…

Yeah, if you’re not doing some weird, toxic strategy, it’s generally in your best interest to do so.

Do you think anyone plays Survivor but goes in as a confederate for the Killer?

I’ve actually seen this happen like so. Personally, I’m not directly played this game. I only watch it from other streamers that I pay attention to. But I’ve seen it happen. Where, like, let’s say the players found a hide in the corner strategy guy. And there was just like, “no, you’re not getting this win for free.” I’ve seen players like around this guy and lead the killer to his corner.

If you won’t succeed with us, you will die with us!

I have also seen benevolent Killers. They will see that someone sucks, so “I will kill them so you can open the gate and leave.”

The Return

So, let’s go on The Return. Wow, we should have been on The Return 20 minutes ago. That’s pretty cool. Yeah, so where we go back to our daily lives and take a step forward. So, Gene, what are we going to take with us?

Personally, I think the idea of what is toxic in a game, like in theory if you design the game well, the games are tell you, like through its mechanics, what is or isn’t toxic.

Okay, I’m going to go 30 years back in my life to Mortal Kombat. All right. As a child, I would play Mortal Kombat 2 with my friends. And in that game, you could hold backwards and low kick to do a sweep.

Yes. That would have been an invincible strategy almost.

It was, unless you knew about crouching and holding block, then you block one sweep kick and then you go back to fighting fair. And so, my question is, Is a sweep kick strategy toxic? Or because the game lets you do it with no consequence to the player and your opponent did not possess the strategy to deal with it and experiencing it left their feelings vulnerable, so you’ve gotten in their head? Is that toxic? Or is it just your opponent isn’t playing well? And I look at it as it’s the responsibility of the person being swept to figure it out, and not the person who is the aggressor to show mercy.

I think that’s I think it can be valid in certain situations where the slot where the opportunity for the player for the victim to learn to try to counter it exists. And you know, the slug camp situation the guy on the ground, he is just on the ground, you have no opportunity to not be on the ground.

Okay, so in a game of chess, if I move forward my pawn, slide over the bishop, move over the Queen, and then checkmate you in four moves, it’s your responsibility to move up that pawn to stop me from getting right in your king’s face.

I just think if you are getting beaten in a game of strategy by a strategy you know is possible . . . Don’t.

Well like I said. In the fighting game example, that works. In Dead By Daylight, you can’t not be on the ground.

Okay, so if you’re if you’re in a match with Ghost Face, somebody’s gotta be Drew Barrymore. Okay, there’s no way around it. You’re just it. And you’re the one hanging from the tree now, so getting sacrificed to the Spider God. I guess I probably will be a person in so many matches, and then it would suit me best to completely backtrack the last 20 minutes of this conversation. But…

You do eventually reach a point in the game where points versus murdering. Yeah. Because the point is how you buy more stuff for your characters

I will also say that this game, if you are getting pushed into spectator mode, it’s really good to have something else you’re doing in your life so that that doesn’t feel like such a frustrating waste of your time.


And for me, there always is something else I was doing. So maybe that is why I found it so enjoyable to be dying at the pace I was dying. So, I have one last quest for everyone to collect for the day. Cooperate, and don’t slug and Continue the Journey.

 Important Links


Deslauriers, P., St-Martin, L. I. L., & Bonenfant, M. (2020). Assessing toxic behaviour in dead by daylight: perceptions and factors of toxicity according to the game’s official subreddit contributors. Int. J. Comput. Game Res, 20(4).

Harris, J., & Hancock, M. (2019). To Asymmetry and Beyond!

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