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The Crippling Fear (or How I Learned To Start Worrying and Loathe Multiplayer)

Hello all. My name is Charlie.

I've been gaming off and on for probably the majority of my 31 years.
Despite what folks like Jack Thompson would tell you, video games are probably the healthiest kind of solace that a person can lapse into in our day and age.
I mean, I'm sure that there are exceptions to that (Everquest-ing and WOW-ing your life away)
but too much of anything is probably not a good thing right?

I fall mainly under the umbrella of "single player" I guess, and yeah - I have my reasons.

Way back when in the time of the dinosaur and the NES, I was all about competition in my video games.
I was pretty damned good too, I think. Laying the smack down on my little brother and my older cousins in
games like Street Fighter 2 Turbo and Tecmo Super Bowl never ever got old. I'd like to say that I was pretty humble about it, but that's probably looking through rose-tinted lenses. In fact, I remember an instance where I was smacking my friend's Guile around with my super cheap Ken and getting pretty "in yo face" about it. We didn't speak for a while after that.

You see, once upon a time I fancied myself to be pretty good at video games. I could talk the talk, walk the walk - and generally be a pretty good sport about it. It was a Golden Age, I tell ya. This too, would come to pass.

pic related: it's my crippling fear.

It was the year 2008 that I entered a new era of gaming and finally caught up with the rest of the world. My then girlfriend got me an Xbox 360 for Christmas that year and it was a revelation. Not only could I play Madden 2008 with friends that I would have over and whatnot, but now with this online thing - I could school people like me - from all around the world! I was so excited. I also thought I was pretty decent at video game football too. A couple years prior, I won a bet for a friend of mine when he had me take over for him while he was down by two touchdowns in the 4th quarter. It was a pretty big deal, but you probably had to be there I guess.

Ready to show the world what was up, I got ready to make my next-gen Madden debut. I chose my default Tampa Bay Buccaneers and instantly found my 1st Xbox Live rival. I remember thinking how amazing it was that I was playing someone who probably lived in an entirely different part of the country than I did. *FAR OUT!* My amazement began to sour right after he scored two touchdowns in a row almost effortlessly.

Okay. No biggie.
This is still fun.
Also... amazing technology! And fun!

It was around the final quarter that I realized that this faceless (mic-less) person was sitting somewhere else in the country, having a laugh at toying with me. At this point, my mood got really gloomy. I was getting destroyed and despite all of my best efforts and offensive trickery, there was nothing I could do.
I was outmatched in every way.

There was little time left and I figured that I would at least tip my hat in whatever way I could. I punted the ball off to this master of video game football, fully expecting him to run out the clock so he/she could quickly resume crushing somebody else's online aspirations.
But it never happened.
Instead of doing what I fully anticipated him/her to do, the New England Patriots started throwing the deep ball, looking for another easy touchdown. And... yeah, they got it.
And then they on-side kicked it. And recovered.
And scored another touchdown.

At this point, I'm not sure where I was. I remember my heart was starting to speed up a bit (A LOT) and looking at the screen like I was watching a car accident. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. What little pride I had left limped out the door and I did something horrible. I did something that the me of now would never do in a million zillion years. What I did will haunt me to my dying day.

I rage quit.

It was the first and last time I ever did something like that. It shames me still that I cheated this faceless gamertag out of a fair (kind of) victory. I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the world, somebody was minus one functional controller that night.

Not much time later, I would fare about the same in Street Fighter 4 and Gears Of War 2.
Of course, by then I had come to realize my limitations as well as the particulars of online "sportsmanship".
Like, as in that there is no such thing.
It's scary out there, kids. The world of competetive multiplayer is a dangerous place.

It's like when Q tells the crew of the Enterprise that there are dangers outside of their galaxy that they are better off not seeing ("Q-Who", btw). It's all true. John de Lancie wasn't fibbin about that, atleast.

Leave home as the king of the castle, only to return a humbled peasant.

These days, I rarely go up against the competition. My ego has been bruised sufficiently enough, I think.
If I ever go online, it's usually in a game that supports the whole "team dynamic" type thing. Like Horde mode, I guess. If I'm the worst gun in the group, well - atleast it's the AI that's giving me the thrashing.

I guess this got pretty long-winded huh?
I hope that if you've read this drivel to this point, that atleast maybe I've maybe opened up a new window you can look through. Who knows, maybe we've opened up the same one. Maybe you're like me in that, maybe just a little.
Time to end this thing:

Call me yellow. Call me a "chicken-heart".
I have it coming, certainly.

Unknown gamertag, you who brought down the house on me those few years ago - I salute you.
You were the better person that night.


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About cevone of us since 7:57 PM on 01.25.2010

Hey y'all, I'm going to try this "being on the internet" thing again.

I'm pretty sure I'm gonna get it right this time.
Xbox LIVE:Hellmont


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