Saturday, December 10, 2011

Team games

You know, there's a moment i really liked in The Lord of the Rings. It's when Boromir sacrifices himself to save the hobbits, and they turn around and start nudging each other and pointing and laughing at him "dude like this guy's like so noob, hey stop feeding the uruk-hai exp you noob, dude we should like totally tell Strider to kick this noob out of the fellowship" then end up dying as well because they were spending all their time running in circles and screaming and shouting instead of helping him.
Whaddayamean that's not how it happened? That's what all the cool kids are doing! Well, at least that seems to be the general atmosphere in any game. Playing online now is like wading into a grade-school football game. Every little cretin demands that you pass to him but never passes to anyone and thinks the goal of the game is to make him look like a hero. When it comes to taking any risk, making any sacrifice in order to advance the team's goals, the stalwart champions of e-peen contests bolt and run.

Don't get me wrong, idiotic trash-talking and making fun of scores has always been an unnecessary evil of online games. So has exploiting any weakness, any imbalance in the game's design to make yourself look good. The fear of dying in an online game is something recent though. In ye olden days of counterstrike's beta, starcraft and battlezone 2, i distinctly remember trying to curb my teammates' aggressiveness. It was like trying to leash rabid dogs. These days, it seems insecurity has taken a new form. Words, not deeds, are the battleground of the new cyberspace. The true mark of greatness is sabotaging your teammates so that you can berate them for failing and have a convenient scapegoat.

There is one simple change that needs to be made to help this issue. Stop ranking individual players in team games. Stop giving the worthless little imbeciles justification for playing for themselves instead of the team, or refusing to cooperate with other players who have worse scores than them. Stop reinforcing stupidity.

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