Never, some will answer. You shouldnít leave a game until itís over, some still declaring the strong, proud, and timeless motto of ďNever give up! Never Surrender!Ē In fact, this is often a belief held by many skilled players, some who even seek to obtain a professional rank. Yet not everyone submits to this shared mentality, and it does have exceptions to some.
If you have a sick kid or pet, if you have to go to work, if youíve burst into flames and might die, or if you find a pressing matter that forces you to be pulled away from a game, all seem to be decently reasonable for most to step away from a match. When I began typing this article I knew it had an expressed purpose that I wanted to convey, but I was unable to flush it out my first time. It was with the help of you guys, in the Destructoid community, that I was able to construct the much more fluid, purposeful article that follows.
One night this past January, two of us were playing split screen on Black Ops 2, with the our two teammates connecting from across the state. By most accounts, the match we had entered into was terrible, with bombs dropping on our spawn locations and the teamís deaths more than doubling the number of kills. There was no purpose to staying in that arena, and leaving could allow the lobby to merge with one that would have given the opposing team a challenge. Upon leaving however, I was signed out, and on signing back in I received the message featured below, taken with my phone.
[This was shocking, even for a game thatís frustrating at times.]
Even though I was one of three players in completely similar circumstances that night, I was the only one struck with a probation notification. Looking further into the odd circumstances, I wasnít able to find any particular known rules as to why probation is given. I could only assume, for me, it was because of some unfortunate circumstances with my familyís wonderful, now deceased Collie, Woody.
Our dog lived fourteen years, which is a really good age for a Collie, but at the end of his years he couldnít stand on his own. We werenít entirely comfortable with putting him down, and so long as he wasnít in pain and seemed to be happy, we were content with helping him stand up when he needed it. Still, as he continued to grow older the threat of what we might have to do began to loom over our heads. While I was home over the holidays the thought was pretty persistent in my mind, and to help release the stress of it I would frequent Black Ops 2 matches. I still had to keep an eye on Woody though, and in the middle of many matches Iíd have to get him up, watch him to make sure he didnít fall down, and inevitably leave matches. After so many quits, I can only assume that was the reason for receiving such a message.
While there are some who might suggest not playing, or at least playing against bots, I ask you: do you find not playing in public matches as stress relieving as doing so? I prefer my public matches for the reason of competition and at times taking my mind off things. Whether you find these circumstances valid or not, they raise two very important questions.
When is it Ok to quit a match?
Before we move forward with analyzing this question I would like to clarify: I quit matches when I donít have circumstances pulling me away, and I donít condone people constantly quitting matches just because they feel like it. For me, there is a time and proper reason for leaving a game.
Since I began practicing to improve my play in StarCraft 2ís multiplayer, I have taken many of the readings on etiquette to heart. ďWhen you know you have lost the game, you should leave. Dragging out a game by not leaving is both annoying and rude to players and observers.Ē Even though this applies to StarCraft and matches that are dependent on the surrender of a team, Iíve always held similar interpretations for other kinds of games. It has to do with a sense of priority in gaming. Pros know when they have lost, and know when to secede from ďfighting the good fight.Ē
[To many, you gotta know when and how to call it quits...]
What made this kind of mentality transparent to me came with days, possibly even weeks, that I invested into playing Modern Warfare 2. Even though the game was fairly balanced there were clear situations where one team was simply walking on the other. The game was hacked, team members seemed to have no interest in accomplishing the objectives, or worse yet the enemy had so many killstreaks lined up that no matter where the game spawned you, you would instantly be killed. Yet none of these reasons alone were substantial explanations to leave a match, not until one can truly understand when a match is lost.
The odds can clearly be stacked against oneís team, and yet they can still manage to walk away with a victory. Moreover there are also personal wins for players, so even in loss, if the player net a substantial amount of points, attained a killstreak they had not yet reached, sought to support a fellow team member, or having a rewarding K/D ratio, a match can still have a sense of victory. The same even applies to StarCraft. If a match is an obviously loss the player can still take solace in personal improvement or accomplishments such as sniping down certain, powerful units that would have caused the battle to be lost sooner. Therefore, if one can really justify leaving, there has to be no opportunity for success.
[That awkward moment when you question what it all was for.]
If you agree with such a mentality, or see the plausibility behind these ideas, youíll likely be of the same opinion that situations where there is significant lag, host disconnects, hacked matches, or even matches that display qualities of a total loss can validate leaving. For matches like these in Black Ops 2 and other Call of Duty games, the situation often consists of an overwhelming score deficit, with scores similar to: 40 to 160 in Domination, 35 to 85 in Team Deathmatch, or any substantial score to a minimal score in a match type that requires a team effort. Under any of these circumstances, with an inability to find some shadow of success, it creates a formula for one to leave and find a game worth fighting for.
There will be those who do not agree with this mentality or likeminded ideas. Some can even be angered by such a thought process, with a stalwart attitude that there should be no quitting. Still, games like these are meant for a mass audience and their varying beliefs on how to enjoy the experience. Until games begin to implement measures that prevent the player from leaving a match, the members of the community are forced to live with the diverse mentalities (some, unhappier than others). This evidently brings us to our next question.
Is it Ok for games to be implementing measures like probation?
At both extremes of the argument there will be staunch yesís and noís. The pointís that Iíve set forth thus far really donít defend or negate the idea of employing such systems. All Iíve really defended is what I feel are suitable circumstances to quit, leave, tactically retreat, accept the loss, what have you. So, I feel what it really comes down to is how these systems are implemented, and how well itís done.
Halo 4 is a good example of a system that has had success while experiencing some consequences. If a team mate kills you, you are given a prompt to kick them from the game. However that same system has also given some incentive for players to grief others. In certain match types (Flood) a Spartan can force another from an ideal position without the use of a weapon, if the player who is being encroached upon stands their ground it might end with said player killing the griefer. This type of trolling abuses functions of the game, functions that are meant to be helpful, creating instances where these systems backfire.
[BF3 satiated most of itís players needs with user hosted servers.]
Other titles that have had luck on this matter are server based games where the admins can set the rules. But much of the success of these systems is also based upon the quality of the games match making system, or itís hosting methods and quality. In CoD, players are often thrown into games that are clearly at a loss, have a significant imbalance in team strength, or have a tendency to lag. While Iím not claiming that those issues should prevent the Treyarch team from attempting something like probation, there are clearly other things that need work before such a system can be properly implemented.
Initially, when Black Ops 2 was released, there were certain bugs that caused disconnect from so many matches that players were being given probation. With patches that problem has supposedly been fixed. Yet none of it really answers the question at hand, and probation seems to be the next step above kicking players for team killing, or actions like it. There really is no right or wrong answer to this issue but we all come down on some side of it. For me, it just creates a deeper line of questioning, one that really begs: When is it ok for games to dictate how we play, and what measures are acceptable for the games to create order? Feel free to join myself and others in discussion on the off-site forums with your thoughts on this issue.
For anyone wondering, yup, this is the infamous return of the CoD probation I posted when I first arrived here at Destructoid. Tomorrow I'll be posting what can be considered a far more personal article, mostly about an optimistic look at society today, it's upward trend, patent law, and why Bungie is friggin awesome if you don't already know. So if you like those kinds of things I hope you stop by. As always, I hope you've enjoyed this read, if you have any questions comments or concerns, you know where to put em. I know this could be a hot button topic to some, so if you feel I was wrong, take a deep breath, express what you would like to say, and I hope we can have a thought provoking discussion on the topic.