The competitive conundrum

Promoted from our Community Blogs

[Dtoid community member TheAngriestCarp waxes poetic on the trials and tribulations of competitive gaming. I feel like we can all relate to at least some part of this blog. Want to see your own stuff appear on the front page? Go write something! –Occams Electric Toothbrush]

Picture this. You’re thirty-five minutes into your first online match of Dota 2. You’ve spent hours and hours grinding away in the tutorials and against bots. You’ve read guides, watched matches, and you finally felt ready to take on the big guys. The sweat drips off your brow as you and your companions’ cast of eclectic characters push your way up the middle lane, taking out enemy monsters and pounding away at their watchtowers. You stay back to protect your team while they push ahead.

But something happens. You slip. You forget to check around the corner. And before you know it, Tidehunter has snuck up behind you and jammed his anchor halfway up your butt. With you out of the picture, and no protection for your group, the opposing team makes short work of you and uses the respawn time to lay the foundation for an early victory.Suddenly, you’re being bombarded from all sides by angry teammates! “Хорошая работа мудак,” remarks one particularly angry Russian. An upset Brazilian keeps repeating a phrase you don’t understand but that probably translates to “shit-douche.” Your chat is filled with all known insults of every race and creed, and probably some unknown ones as well.

For many competitive video game enthusiasts, new recruits and veterans alike, this situation is all too common. From Counter-Strike to League of Legends, Halo to Call of Duty, World of Tanks to Street Fighter; every vaguely competitive game under the sun has more than its fair share of toxic community members. These are people with all too little self control and all too much knowledge of your mother’s most recent sexual exploits. It can be more than a little frustrating at times.

Now you may think to yourself, “There’s nothing I can do. Some people are just assholes.” This sentiment is half-right, but also causes more harm than good in the long run. Because it isn’t singularly their fault that trash-culture is so prevalent in the competitive gaming community. In fact nearly everybody involved is to blame. That’s right, jerk. Sitting at the computer. Reading this article. It’s your fault, too. And the blame train doesn’t stop there. It’s chugging along all the way to Game Dev Central to dole out plentiful helpings of harsh truth. You guys are giving these jerks free reign.

Not one of Matt Monroe’s better renditions.

Now, I don’t intend this blog as the be-all and end-all guide to dealing with unruly players in your favorite murder simulators. There are too many scenarios and too many different types of fun-crushers to be able to cover in one c-blog. What I will be doing today is going over some things that you and your friends can do to curb the rising tide of toxic gamers. There always be assholes, but hopefully we can work to achieve a gaming future in which there are less assholes.

Problem 1: Game Developers

Competitive gaming is a labyrinth of terminology, lingo, and slang. Whether you’re wall banging Ts in Counter Strike, barraging W+M1 Pyros with crawkets as a Solly in Team Fortress 2, or pushing mid as a carry in Dota or LoL, every game has shorthand ways of expressing complex ideas. While this is fine for skilled players who know what they’re doing, new players are often left in the dust. While some games, such as LoL or Dota, do a fantastic job of breaking down terminology for new players, others are not so friendly. The introductory guides to some games, like Counter-Strike or World of Tanks (WoT), do a less than adequate job at providing context for fresh players to jump in. They often use game-specific terminology when describing events, such as when the gameplay guides for WoT use words like “pen” and “tracking.” Even when a guide does a good job at explaining the game, developers often fail to update them when new patches and changes occur, causing confusion and sometimes outright misinformation to newer players.

If your Uncle Morty can’t understand it, it’s probably not helpful to new players, either.

Also an issue that developers seem to ignore is the caste system that they help to create in their own community. Players are constantly harassed by more experienced players for being “newbs” or for not understanding core concepts of the game. Players will often divide themselves up into arbitrary tiers to make themselves feel better, or to put others down. This is to be expected for any competitive game, but when it comes from the developers themselves it can have a much bigger impact.

I’ve run into numerous official videos on the channels for games like LoL and World of Tanks that use terms like “newbs” and other derisive descriptions of new or inexperienced players. These same videos often mock newer players by making jokes about common strategies used by them. I can think of an instance in a World of Tanks guide that made fun of new players using the MS-1 due to it’s ease of use and low skill ceiling. While this was obviously a joke directed towards the veteran players, I could see it putting off innumerable fresher gamers who legitimately play this tactic and don’t even know that they’re being sneered at for it.

Not cool, guys.

Problem 2: Prominent Community Members

With every popular game comes the pseudo-celebrities. The people who nobody likes playing against but everyone wants to be. These individuals hold an absurd amount of power in their community, serving as role models, guides, and often bridges between the developers and the community. But there’s a mush less savory side to this as well. “Troll videos” have been a staple of the gaming community for a damn long time. Big YouTube celebrities will post videos of themselves being complete shitbags to other players, or post compilations of others being shitbags to them.

While a good deal of the time this practice is non-harmful (unless you’re the troll-ee), there are many occasions when this sets a bad precedent. I think everyone has experienced at least on occasion when someone will be an asshole, and then will indignantly use the excuse that they were “just trolling” when confronted. As if everyone in the room will wipe their brow in a sigh of relief and say “Well I’m glad it was just a troll and not an asshole” and then the POTUS flies to their house and personally hands them the “Troll King” award to fanfare and parades. This almost-glorification of trolling as something that is anything other than getting your kicks by turning your arch-rival’s Minecraft castle into an erect penis is a bit problematic at best, and encouraging this behavior for your fifteen minutes of internet fame at worst.

Pictured: The twelfth annual 嫌いな人ではないです。(lit. “Not An Asshole”) Parade in Sendai, Japan.

Problem 3: And finally, you!

So, my fellow Destructoid Disciples, what can you do to prevent dirtbags and scuzzballs from overrunning your game of choice? The answer to this easier than you’d think, but probably not what you wanted to hear. While many people choose to engage those participating in video game dirtbaggery and scuzzballery (both of which are totally recognized as real words, by the way), or to shoot back with their own retaliation, this is counterproductive. The Golden Rule of the anti-dick brigade? Don’t acknowledge them.

While nothing is more rewarding than getting the upper hand in a battle of the wits with a mom-banger over the headset of your Xbox, maybe the best course of action would be to abstain from confronting them directly. Oftentimes, these people are just jerks, or looking for attention, or both. Neither of these groups are worth your time. Mute them, ignore them, bury your computer at the bottom of the sea; just don’t give them the time of day. Then revel in their reaction as they increasingly get angrier and angrier, slowing realizing that they have no power in your domain.

Developers also put reporting systems in their games for a reason. You don’t have the power to ban them, and throwing gasoline on the fire works out for nobody. And the people who do have the power to bring down the banhammer will never know if you don’t tell them.

A wise man once said:

An eye for an eye makes the whole world look like pirates. Not those wussy Somalian pirates, either. The cool ones with the eye patches and cannons and shit.

Carp out.

About The Author
More Stories by MattIGuess