Home Editorial The big secret: Elitism doesn’t win games

No matter what game you play, you will always find a group of people who think they’re the best. Sometimes it’s true, though it almost always isn’t. In fact, if they’re bragging about how amazing they are, it’s near certain that they belong to the “not actually very good at the game” category. Even so, they will be the first to jump down the throat of anyone that they don’t view as worthy of being in their presence or, even worse, making them lose the game. I mean, you can be the best player in the world but even then you can’t carry a whole team, right?

WRONG.

 

When group gaming goes well

I want you to cast your mind back. Way back. Back to the first team-based multiplayer game you ever played. Back in the days of Quake, Deathmatch, Counter-Strike and Unreal Tournament. If it was Quake, think about the first time you picked up the flag. If it was Counter-Strike, think about the first time you spawned with the bomb. Maybe you guys weren’t as jittery (or young) as me but the first time I spawned with the bomb on CS, I panicked. I had no idea where to go, no idea what weapons to buy and no one was offering to help. All the other guys on my team had been playing for way longer and had already darted around the corner to engage in the usual, mutually agreed firefight.

What followed was frantic running, a very undignified death and twenty minutes of receiving abuse from my team. By their logic, I was the one who made them lose the round and why they all died. If I were alive, there would have been one more AK wielding madman to stave off the gas masked invaders but no, I had to be new to the game and ruin everything. This particular experience turned me off CS for a long time but then something odd happened.

Back then, I played at an internet cafe where many of the top PC gamers in my area used to congregate to mess around or practice for a tournament and I got friendly with a few of them. One of the guys in particular happened to be quite good at Counter-Strike and they were one man down from having a full team. He asked me to join.

“Dude, you don’t understand, I’m terrible at this game.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“No, you’re not getting it, I SUCK at this game.”

“Don’t worry about it, I’ll help you, just listen out for me.”

Memories of my first game started flooding back. These guys were older and almost bigger than me, they could feasibly kick my head into the ground if I made them lose. Oh god, I’m going to die. Playing a video game was going to kill me. The government was right.

The match started up and joy of joys, I had the bomb. I started to formulate a plan to make it out of the door before anyone could wrap their hands around my neck when I heard something which made me more pale than normal.

“Hey guys, Bin is new to this. Call targets, head to B and make sure he doesn’t die.”

Fuck. Now they all knew I was the new guy and they’re going to kill me. Fuck. FUCK. I was beyond saving now. The door. Run to the door. Wait, what did they just say? Are… Are they lining up to show me where to go? This is weird. Why aren’t they hurling abuse at me.

We ended up getting flanked and our asses were handed individually to all of us but they weren’t blaming me, they weren’t even blaming themselves. This one guy worked some kind of magic so that they wanted to play another game with me to teach me the ropes. At least tat’s what I thought at the time; I later found out they were all working the same kind of magic. What was this mysic art? The seemingly forgotten act of not being a dick to newbies.

 

Extend a hand and help out

Now I understand how frustrating it can be to have a newbie on your team running the wrong way and in circles but if you be a dick to them, nothing will change. If, however, you help them out a little (or a lot, it depends on just how new the player is and on the game) they can be a useful member of the team. Even better, they might even have fun playing the game, turn out to be a pretty cool guy or gal and you get to play with them again. What’s more, it takes very little effort to help out new players.

“Go left from the spawn, it’s faster.”

“You’d be better off with this weapon, it goes better with your playstyle.”

“Hey guys, they’ve got no defense on the right, let’s go that way.”

Enough people know the importance of helping new players, rather than being abusive, that you can download ‘helpful hints’ sprays for TF2. I used a spray in TF2 for a long time which taught Engineers how to rotate their buildings and suddenly the server didn’t have a problem of teleporting into walls any more. The Engineers weren’t stupid or ‘F2P idiots’, they were just never taught how to do it.

What annoys me more than anything about people who act like jackasses to players making mistakes is that they ignore the fact that they used to be like that. At some point, they would have made a dumb mistake in a game which ranged from something that made them look silly to inadvertently sabotaging their team, but that’s all invalid now because they have a 2:1 KDR and only ever get headshots as a Sniper. I don’t know what niggles at me the most, the fact that they act like such pricks or the fact that they don’t understand being nice to the less skilled players is in everyone’s best interest.

 

Share your experiences

So tell me T3, what was your first experience playing team games online like? Did you get as much shit as me? Were people actually helpful? What do you do to make sure new players get to grips with the game as fast as possible?

19 replies to this post
  1. I’m usually on the other side of the fence, where I pick up games quite at an early stage of their life span and stick with them. So I’m usually the guy teaching everyone what to do.

    Sometimes it helps, most of the time, I have to admit though, it’s more frustrating to explain stuff to other than just let them run about doing stuff.

    Tribes is a great example here:
    There’s no voice support and the chat is really small in an odd place on the UI. I certainly never read anything, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t see it. Also having to stand still and type really screws with your experience. Tribes does a particulaly poor job in explaining what the CTF mode is about in this game. Due to it’s complexity, most games end in a 1:0, where both teams just play equally bad and one guy figured out how to cap a flag, or one team stomping the other team into the ground 5:0, because they had enough players that knew what needed to be done.

    In TF2 it’s quite obvious what needs to be done. If you don’t get what TF2 maps are about in less then 10 plays I really don’t know what I could say to make it easier to understand. They’ve done a good job implementing the objectives into the UI.

    My first online game, however, was Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. My teammate and I were rank 1 on the ESL for the most time (when there actually was a ladder) and we only had like 2 other teams that were a threat to us. Most other players got quite overwhelmed by the games complexity, eventhough Ubisoft put in nice little tutorial missions in the sequal (Chaos Theory). I didn’t help though. Most of the few players that even played this game online (Europe had like 400 people online at best) were terrible and after loosing too many times just quit.

    I’d love to see that game style return though. Best Multiplayer experience I had so far. AC:B/R have gotten close to it, if it wasn’t again for Ubisoft’s Server Structure and bad PC ports.

    • Dude, Pandora Tomorrow had the MOST AMAZING multiplayer but yes, it was very hard to learn. I was regularly schooled.

      To this day no multiplayer experience has impressed me as much.

      • I have to say, PT was great, but they really improved it in CT.
        The biggest thing they “fixed” was not being able to tezer a merc and jump him during the tazer effect. It killed the spies. That made the merc’s a lot stronger, and made them feel like THEY are the weaker one in comparison.

  2. I’m reminded of the good ole Starcraft Uno community and trying to play Use Map Settings there. In the rare event that you weren’t booted by 5% download completion, GOD FORBID you ask how the map is played before the game begins. I mean, did you not play the previous fifteen iterations that came out over the past two days? If you’d played Sunken Defense Alpha 2000, you’d know that building a Barracks (renamed “XxJaCkRiPpErXx”) with your recolored Probe will generate a Sunken and Spore Colony stacked on top of eachother. Duh.

    This became increasingly more problematic as the fad developed of map makers not bothering to craft a tutorial for their increasingly more complicated games. OK, so I started with a Civilian on a desolate island with only a lifted-off, neutral Stargate to keep me company. WTF NOW!?

    As frustrating as all that was, going into FFA (or, even worse, Team Melee) was somehow more GODAWFUL TERRIFYING / not fun. You’ve just erected your first Bunker and filled it to the brim with Marines and Firebats. You’re making good time. You’re feeling good about your chances. What’s that on the horizon? Oh. It’s Blue. Hey, bluOHGAWDMYBASE. .. Well, OK. At least, I’ve still got my Command Center. Oh, hi, Orange.

    xcandykillerx: n00b
    jfine1337: n00b
    12yearoldwithkeyboard: n00b
    brokenfamily: n00b

    • It’s pretty much for reasons like that why my stint of SC2 was very short lived. I played Multiplayer with some friends but they were way, way better than me so I never felt like I was having much fun and they often preferred to win the game than to teach me how to improve. Due to this sense that I was never improving, I never went into random online matches. Why should I lose to a stranger online and not improve when I could just as easily do that with someone who isn’t as abusive?

      One thing I will hand to SC players is that they ALWAYS (well, almost) say ‘gg’ at the end of the match. Even if they hate you and want to track you down for some sick, demented, sadistic torture, they’ll still tell you that it was a good game. In my opinion, more communities need to show good sportsmanship like that.

      • And, lest we forget, “gl hf,” but there’s something hollow in telling someone to have fun when you really mean to say, “Don’t suck or I will trounce you then pretend you’ve ruined my enjoyment of this game for all time with your lack of understanding.” That is to say, it seems to me that a show of good sportsmanship is (somewhat) meaningless if the community at large are not good sportsmen. Compare to Assassin’s Creed, where the community rarely shows any such sportsmanship, but where abusive behavior towards newbies is isolated to a minority–at least, by my account. While a community with both good sportsmanship and earnest displays of the same is certainly preferable, I’d take the sportsmanship itself any day.

        Your mother is a whore.

        good talk

        (See what I mean?)

      • The problem with AC is though, you can’t even type in the game! Something that bugs me incredibly on PC. I get that it’s useless to have a chat for the console version, but is it so hard to programm a chatwindow for the PC port?

        The only people utilizing the voice com on PC are the 12-year-olds that just scream into it for fun.

      • gl hf to me has always been a thing of “What I mean to say is that *I* want fun and want to destroy you and/or ruin your day”. Some friends and I used to make a lot of jokes at the start of games (especially LoL) which tended to piss off people.

        “Don’t make jokes, you HAVE to say gl hf!”

        Among friends, we used to initiate a game of LoL by saying “Right guys, let’s go ruin someone’s day!”

  3. I don’t play online too much (ACR and Halo Reach are massive exceptions), but when I do play the latter with my friends, none of them care that my skills aren’t all up to par. In fact, they often reassure me, and say that I’m really not as bad as I think. They also point out that I have strengths in other areas of the game. Overall, we just have fun as a group.

    People are always going to newcomers to the game – that’s how a game’s lifespan increases, and it’s definitely a good thing. The only thing I find annoying about new players is if you try to help them out in a game, and they simply don’t listen. I get that maybe your delicate pride is a wee bit hurt, but if we can work together as a team, we’ll do better over all. If you insist on running in by yourself guns blazing, and you’re not going to take the time to just listen to me (or you’re going to mute me as soon as my mic comes on), then I might get annoyed.

    • Indeed. I found the player that suck are usually the ones that ignore the chat. As soon as someone replies you know that they have been reading your message and usually they improve themselves afterwards.
      Many players you adress in chat like this first “Hey mate XXX, you might wanna try and do this…”
      if they still fuck your team up you go like: “DUDE XXX; please don’t do that…”
      and after a round or two of him not reacting, trying to react or not even acknowledging what everyone on the server keeps telling him, I can understand that many players go hire Captain Capslock and the Shift-Crew to tell him:
      “YOU GODDAMN IDIOT, XXX, DO WHAT WE FUCKIN TELL YOU,YOU ARE SCREWING US ALL UP”

      A game where 1 teammate can easily screw you over, I just thought of, is Left 4 Dead (2). You’d think having a player is better than having a bot (since they always heal on 50 health, wasting a precious medkit) but at least they teleport to you if they get stuck and don’t wander off getting killed, pulling the team into death traps or purposely wasting resources.
      Those are the kind of people that go like “Ahh, I just bought this game, playing on Expert will be alright”

      • I can see why some players may lose their patience but the trick is to never get past passive-aggression.

        Example: An Engineer on TF2 keeps building teleporters facing walls and is ignoring advice. The MOST you should say is “Hey xXHaRdCoReXx, I don’t share your love of architecture, move your damn tele around man”.

        Of course, if THEY get aggressive then just go full troll on their ass (“You fucked my mother? Well I get my friend who works in demolition to play, WHAT ABOUT YOUR PRECIOUS WALL NOW, HMM? HMMMM?!”) but you should never escalate unless it’s absolutely necessary (or funny).

    • Your friends are doing the PERFECT thing by telling you that. Even if you’re actually pretty bad at the game, you now have the thought in your head of “I have fun in a group but none of my friends are online. Oh well, I’m apparently not that bad so I’ll just find a lobby…” whereas by experience with games like Counter-Strike is still “These guys are dicks and I’m not that good. Fuck it, I’ll just mess around and have fun by myself, fuck the team. COME ON YOU APES, YOU WANNA LIVE FOREVER?!”

      • Yeah, I love my friends :) Sometimes we still go back into ODST’s Firefight (back when FF was 10x more of a challenge then it was in Reach) and try to earn the really high-score achievements. Again, I’m by no means the strongest team mate, but them continuing to invite me proves that just having a fun time with cool people is more important then earning those damn ‘cheeves. And we’re all in a party anyway, which is really the only way to play non-arcade Firefight.

  4. But the question remains, why do people suck at games when there are plenty of websites/videos/magazines that show you how “not to suck”?

    • because a lot of them are casuals who only have the limited time a week to play and don’t want any of that time being spent on reading articles and watching strategy videos ABOUT gaming.

      Just like I don’t enjoy watching sports as much as playing it…

      • The sports analogy kind of falls through when you consider that your team will have a coach whose job it is to help you improve. Also, with everyone having an internet device in their pocket nowadays, it’s no longer that difficult to find online guides. However, I do see your point that not EVERYONE is going out there with the goal of playing to win.

    • Even with the myriad of information out there about how not to suck, new players will usually still suck. You can read all of the articles and watch all the videos you want, but you still need to put the knowledge to practice to get good.

    • There are two explanations for this.

      The first is that, even as an avid gamer, if something does something new or different then it WILL confuse you even if you watch videos. It was only after I started playing TF2 that I saw WiNG’s Failspy Vids, for example, but so much of that was way over my head of things to do. Videos and tutorials are simply no replacement for practice or playing with a dedicated mentor (and practice to go with it).

      Secondly, if a brand new game comes out, especially a genre changer, there simply will not be the resources out there and the same for games which constantly change and flux. Some will stop sucking quickly whereas others will take a while. For example, there’s no multiplayer game out there which is quite like Assassin’s Creed so you can’t expect people to just jump in and not suck; I looked at a LOT of stuff for the AC:B multiplayer and was then completely taken back by the fact that I had to unlock the abilities.

      The secret third option is that some people are simply not that good at picking up games or certain genres. I could sit and watch StarCraft 2 videos and tutorials all day and I would STILL be less than passable in any game I play (saying that, I quite enjoyed and was good at C&C Generals which was regarded to be a ‘bad’ RTS).

      The short answer is that reading guides and watching videos simply isn’t a substitute for playing a game. They can help you improve but there’s just no guarantee they’ll turn you ‘pro’ overnight.

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