My Expertise: For great justice

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I rock at antagonizing jerks. Not random players, not amicable players, not even quirky, mildly irritating players. I prey on the big game. I prey on the douchebags who spend their time elevating themselves by using pre-made strategies to dominate and demoralize people trying to enjoy a game. I enrage those same douchebags who like to tell you what they did to your mom when really they’ve only ever been intimate with their hand.

During such a morally blurry undertaking I attempt to honor four rules: Never play alone, do not antagonize anybody who has not demonstrated dickhead behavior, never quit, and be good to your teammates when they are not jerks. Karma/divine justice/lag punishes me each time I transgress.

Where do I do this? Somewhere most Dtoiders recognize immediately for high character: Halo 3 on Xbox Live. Here’s a lowdown on the archetypal schmucks and how I goad ’em. 


After the close of the civil war 145 years ago, some guys in the south were still angry about their unproven masculinity. They went on to perpetuate this culture where masculinity is roughly connected to being white, being straight, and being good at playing soldier. Men who fall outside of those noble criteria receive slurred, drawling exclamations of “fa**ot” or “ni**er.”

Bearing some minor disagreements with lynching, beatings, and irrational hatred, I found the Hillbillies worthy victims of a little creative aggression.

In fact, I tailored my gamertag to that purpose. When President Obama introduced healthcare reform months ago, my tag “Angry Liberals,” was a deliberate jab in the ol’ moonshine gut. The moment the player roster became visible, any of the literate confederates went apeshit. “Angry Liberals? Wut the fuck, you some kind of fa**ot?” Some of them even mispronounced the tag “Liberials.”

Initially I would claim that I was indeed homosexual, that I was sipping an organic latte, and that I was becoming attracted to them the more they spoke in their robust, masculine voices, but eventually I found that I didn’t need to provoke them. They provoked themselves. I distinctly recall one of them screaming “Fucking Angry Liberals! Why are you so fucking angry?” without any prompting.

As the game began, I typically chose one or two ragers, and my compadre and I would seek them out if they were on the opposition. We’re solid players — not spreadsheeters, but good at improvising — and after a minute or two we would down them. That’s when I would teabag them and erotically moan, adding things like “Mmm, yeah, Nancy Pelosi!” or “Obamacare!”

You know you’re doing your job when the opposition starts to sputter conglomerations of expletives. I’ve been called a “fuck-gort” and a “quashhole.” To this day, however, the best is still plain old “trash.”

Ball Hogs

These are the guys who kill you for the power weapon. In Halo 3, it’s usually the sniper rifle or the laser. Sometimes it’s the flag because they want credit for the score, although you and your partner killed the enemy team twice over and humped the damn thing on foot back to your base.

I hate Ball Hogs a lot more than Hillbillies because in this case I’m actually innocent of wrongdoing. I’ll grab the sniper rifle if nobody is using it, both to use it and to keep it away from the opposition. There’s no sense fighting over who gets what when you’re in the company of strangers. Besides, it’s good to be solid all-around.

But then I die mid-snipe, only to find some idiot teammate with acne in his name — you know, like xxXSniPeRjerKoFFXxx — just grenaded me, sprayed his AR at me, and is now recovering his precious.

That’s when I inform my compadre Mr. Fees (never play alone) that we have a new game objective. It’s time to punish the grabby child. This shit just got real.

Halo 3 varies in terms of how many betrayals you can get away with. At no point in years of playing have we found ourselves able to boot said idiot on his first infraction. However, we run the risk of being booted for our vigilante justice ourselves, so Great Justice requires the finesse of aiding the enemy in shooting down Mr. Ball Hog, informing him of how he died, and teabagging his corpse. Personally I like to place a bubble shield over their corpse so I can enjoy my retributive necrophilia in peace. Ball Hogs usually start swearing profusely after that, but I then inform them “you are being muted, thank you for your comments.” Or I start “crying” on the Mic, saying “but I wanted the rifle! WAAAAH!”

Sometimes this conflict is over scoring with the flag. My compadre, gamertag named “Minority Fees”
for some enforced reverse discrimination at the University of Minnesota, was near our blue base on Valhalla, carrying the enemy flag. From the beginning of the match an acne-named teammate had been verbally obnoxious and largely useless. Now he was stalking Fees.

“This guy is going to betray me,” Fees said. Fortunately I was above in a Banshee and had an approach angle. Fees died defending himself. I swooped in, blew acne-fucker away, announced “fuck you!” with gritty glee, got out of the banshee and finished the job while singing insults to the tune of the A-Team theme. After a high-five, I got back into the Banshee and resumed the slaughter. Acne-name didn’t speak the rest of the match.

The I’m So Awesomes

These guys play Slayer. That’s all they know. They’re good at it, but to be good at it, they sacrifice teamwork, honor, discipline, common sense and sometimes victory. And when that’s the case, it’s never their fault.

If you’re playing Capture the Flag, they’re the guy who has 47 kills to your ten but you still lost because he was camping somewhere and didn’t give a rat’s ass when the opposition drove around his field of fire, blew the back line away, took the flag and scored. He could have stopped the vehicle or at least reported it, but that would deprive him of his all-important killing spree.

If you’re playing Neutral Assault, he’s the guy who claims he won the game with his 40 kills when he never once touched the bomb even when it dropped near him, and let four of his teammates die recovering the bomb while he hid behind a rock. Then, when you and your buddy finally break through the line and hold the enemy base while the bomb timer depletes, he’s nowhere to be found, but at the end he tells you how you fucking suck and he saved the day.

I deal with these guys by identifying them early. Often they announce themselves telling me or a teammate how we must have Down’s Syndrome because one of us died facing three enemies as he again hid, then cleaned up the remaining two with hoarded rockets. Once I know who the Mr. Awesome Narcissist is, it’s not hard to deprive him of his perfect game. I gently help the enemy locate him with a shot to his shields, which creates a visible shield flare and causes him to move precipitously. Enemies catch him on radar. I let them blow him away before cleaning up. Sucks to be alone, huh?


Playing with a group of friends is one thing. It can lead to some obnoxious behavior, and Mr. Fees and I are as guilty of that as any. But playing as a clan is another. These guys think the game is a sport, and that they’re earning respect from people in some imaginary world where dudes whisper about them reverentially and girls will make eye-contact with them outside of GameStop. The aforementioned obnoxiousness is exacerbated to reduce their collective age to around four.

Now, there are clans with some core nobility. I was in one back in the days of Myth II: Soulblighter. I’ve heard good stories about good people enjoying games together. But this is Halo, this is Xbox Live, and the only indicator that a clan is tolerable is if they aren’t in private chat yet aren’t saying anything.

When they are audible, the dynamic works like this. You have the older guys saying stupid obscene things, like rape and anal sex and whatever words give you joy when you’re 13. You have slightly younger guys huh-huh-ing and running verbal interference for them. And you have the kids with squeaky voices in awe of the oldest counterparts, laughing waaaay too hard at the foul-mouths’ boldness and giddily thinking they’re now accepted.

Clanners are nearly impossible to defeat in verbal combat before the match. They all chime in with huh-huhs and the same predictable insults, and within that bubble of insecurity they are temporarily safe. (I have overcome this on one occasion: there was an aggressive clan with the hand icon and a red stop sign behind it. I asked, “What are you guys, the hand-job clan?” They went apeshit and we trounced ’em.)

They’re not safe once the game begins. Bruce Lee wrote in Tao of Jeet Kun Do that defeating a man is about defeating his ego. Somehow that can be easier when you’re taking on a clan.

Assuming I have decent teammates beyond Mr. Fees (unlikely), I try to break the opposition’s strategy down by demoralizing them the same as anywhere else. I drop one and teabag him with a few choice comments. He respawns breaks formation to get revenge. Exploiting that gap, I begin catching more of their teammates off guard, provoking them to lose focus. If they stop watching their lanes to teabag me, I’m getting results. Against some of those rowdy but experienced (no life) clans, it’s best to win the ego battle by foregoing your own and finish the game feeling content.


They have a mic, they have roommates to impress, they’re on your team, they won’t shut up. Borrowing from the last few, wait for a good moment to throw in a decent insult if you want, let ’em know you’re muting ’em, mute ’em, help them die if necessary. Then watch them because they’ll be out to assert their masculinity by returning the favor. Sigh.

The Humble

Once every three or four months I enounter a player who has self-esteem and a brain. These two things are actively filtered out on Xbox Live. This means they got here by accident (which says something about me). You know these people because they communicate during matches, pull their weight and are generally positive. “I just saw two of them over by the turret.” “I’m coming to get you with the warthog.” While 99.9% of Live players would never make it through the application process for the Specwarriors they idolize, these people seem like they’re veterans: they’re friendly and relaxed, they’re capable and confident. And then, after rocking the frick out of two or three matches, they disappear again, back to wherever heroes go after their tour in nerd hell.

Generally I just salute these folks.

The Arrogant Dudes who Should have Quit a Looong Time Ago

Yeah, these guys are douches too. Why can’t they just leave shit alone and use the mute button more often?

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