Anonymity + competition = douchebaggery
Lemme tell you about Xbox Live. Xbox Live is an online service where after plugging your xbox into your cable modem, you can play games over the internet. Without a keyboard and mouse, player to player communication is handled via a headset. This is where the real fun is, listening to the INSANE trash talking that occurs during the course of a game.
The thing about trash talking is this: without any sort of physical proximity to the people one is playing against, one could turn into the worlds largest douchebag. Take my experience in Halo 2 for example. Before any single game, you are put in the pre-game lobby, where you wait while everyone loads the map or you wait for additional players. Here's where the initial trash talking begins. Expect to be called a bitch a few times, expect to be labeled a fag more than once, expect to be informed of your forthcoming "rape" eventually, and every once in a while, someone will call you some racial slur that can in no way be identified with your race. This is all before the game begins. Take away the actual threat of a physical confrontation and everyone becomes a tough guy. Not just a tough guy, but one with a middle school vocabulary. In the time between the pre-game lobby and the post-game stats, there is no single more important thing than the game. It is the measure of your manhood, your heterosexuality, your dick length, etc. Never have I felt more disconnected from youth culture than the moment I realized what everyone else my age and under were up to on Xbox Live.
So it's annoying and borderline offensive. It's like being back in high school all of a sudden. So take off the headset you say? I say thee NAY! This is all part of the experience. Play enough and you start to give yourself over to the experience, the game becomes THAT important. Now, I'm not calling anyone a fag or anything, but few things are sweeter than sticking the trash talking weilder of an energy sword with a plasma grenade, and knowing that even if they manage to kill you, their death is only seconds behind. Then you respawn and do the whole thing over again. It's an experience. It sure is.
After 24 days I'm a level 16 in Rumble Pit. I'm also a 17 in Team Slayer. My gamertag is IantistarI . Look me up sometime. I promise I won't call you a fag.