The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Gaming
Item Poaching (Avarice)
Imagine It: You’ve just single-handedly fought your way through the front lines and into the German base. Your heart tightens when you hear a shout of “Mach Scnhell!” and the sharp clack of bootsteps echoing down a stone corridor ahead of you. More victims? You go to reload, realizing with horror that your M1 Garand is completely empty. Fumbling for a grenade, you find your belt bare. “Damn it,” you think, “I shouldn’t have chucked all those grenades at that train car to see if it would explode.” The bootsteps are deafening now, and the smell of sauerkraut hangs thick in the air. That’s when you spot it: a crate of M1 ammo has been inexplicably placed in the center of the room by the game designers. Salvation! But before you can lunge for it, “Pvt_Hugecock” glides into the room backwards and snatches the ammo, despite carrying only a 9mm and some grenades. He types “Dnt Wrory, I got this,” and then his head immediately explodes as he’s killed by the invading Nazis. You are killed seconds later, while you beat the corpse of Pvt_Hugecock mercilessly with the butt of your rifle. Why It’s Seriously Not Cool: Items are often the lifeblood of a multiplayer game. Without those bullets, that armor or that glowing green dot that gives some random gauge a momentary boost, you’re basically fucked. A key item-grab can turn the tide of battle in your favor, give you those few extra seconds of life, even revive your dead grandparents so you can tell them you love them one last time. That’s why it’s so excruciatingly painful to watch the item you just earned through cold-blooded murder get snapped up by some jerk who couldn’t score a headshot if he were fighting an enemy made entirely of heads. It was you who caused that roasted leg of lamb to pop out of that orc by shooting it with an arrow, and by God, it should be you who walks over it, instantly absorbing it into your being as health. Appropriate Punishment: Getting your collision detection stripped, so that from now on you pass through all items like a tortured wraith, unable to pick up or interact with anything, wandering through player-created maps for all eternity.
Quitting Out (Envy)
Imagine It: When you booted up Mario Strikers that evening, you never imagined you’d be in for the fight of your life. But when the lobby computer decided to pit you against a player with a 156 and 0 record, you knew there was no turning back. Let the Bagel Bites burn, you said. It’s go time. After a scoreless first game spent slogging through quicksand, evading Thwomps, and running shrieking from a 50-foot Luigi, you cram some blackened Bagel Bites down your gullet and it’s back to the slaughter. Early in the second game, you tragically let a mega-strike by when the Wiimote slips out of your bagel-greased hands, leaving you down by two. That’s when you catch your second wind. Suddenly you’re unstoppable, making two goals in rapid succession by leaping the goalie with Toadstool. Finally, with ten seconds on the clock, you make your move, blasting your opponent’s goalie with a shock-shell. Totally paralyzed, the goalie can only watch in mute horror as Birdo nudges the ball past him. Your victory assured, you sit back and congratulate yourself on a job well done. That’s when you’re booted out to the lobby. A screen informs you that your opponent quit the game one fifth of a second before your victory could be counted. And you suddenly realize, you didn’t beat a great player after all. You beat a flaming asshole. Why It’s Seriously Not Cool: No one likes a sore loser, and there’s not a lot sorer than quitting the game when you know you’re going to lose. Except maybe tracking your opponent down and killing them, which at least takes some determination. All quitting takes is a button press and total lack of courtesy. Yes, you’re doing it digitally and with a bunch of technology, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re now the guy who flips the chessboard over when he loses his queen. Or, to put it in more gamer-friendly terms, the guy who uses Donkey Kong to grab the winning player and walk off the edge of the level. Thinking you can play an online game and not lose occasionally is bullshit, your perfect win-loss record is bullshit, and you make the people who actually have impressive records look like filthy liars. Stop crying, pick the controller up, and take your beating like the rest of us. Appropriate Punishment: Having your system infected with a bug that causes all your global stats to read “0-999; im a n00b.”
Imagine It: The worst possible thing that can happen to anyone has just happened to you. You’ve been killed. In a game. You were manning the rear gun of a Warthog when the driver pulled hard right to avoid a group of Covenant Hunters and slammed your head right into errant sniper fire. Your whole life—all ninety seconds of it—flashes instantly before your visor. Then your head is snapped cleanly off like a breaking celery stalk, and tumbles down a grassy hillside. Yet, you live. For a few precious moments, your consciousness remains, and through fading vision, you watch the Warthog driver stop, leap from the vehicle, and run to your body, which has fallen belly-down over a rocky outcropping. What’s he doing? Is he trying to help you? Can’t he see it’s too late? Gingerly, delicately, the driver steps up to the rear of your body, then backs up a few inches, steps forward again. And again. He mutters “heh…awesome.” Yanking your eyes from the image of your body being defiled, you are affronted by two armor-plated testicles descending from above. The man crouching repeatedly over your head pauses only to take several screen caps. Your brain finally ceases activity, and you log off to take the longest, hottest shower of your life. Why It’s Seriously Not Cool: No one likes to get raped, and it’s even less pleasant when you’re dead. Humping someone’s dead body isn’t just nasty, it’s downright insulting. You’ve killed him; you won. Chill out with the aggressive homoeroticism already. There’s a reason that in all of human history, there’s never been a civilization that showed dominion over their opponents by humping their freshly killed corpses on the battlefield. Except the Sumerians, but everyone thought they were dicks. Appropriate Punishment: In-game, real-time ritual castration to be performed by the respawned victim.
Level Abuse (Gluttony)
Imagine It: You’ve been playing WoW for a while now. You’d like to think that you’ve got the basics pretty down: ran a few characters up to level 12 or so, taken part in some big raids, attracted an in-game girlfriend who really seems like she’s not a dude. You finally decide it’s time to take things to the next level with a PvP character. And for a while, everything’s fine. You get a small Alliance group going, engage in long, drawn out battles with Horde minions of equal strength, and pickup some wicked items to sell on eBay later. Your Dwarf Paladin, Captain_Tiny, is bruised but none the worse for wear. That is, until a level 70 Warlock descends from the heavens upon a magnificent winged beast and slays you and your entire party with a wave of his hand. As he loots your bodies and tosses your precious items into a gully, you demand an answer from beyond the grave. “What the fuck, dude?!” He shrugs, steps over your body, and prepares to squat. Why It’s Seriously Not Cool: The value of an accomplishment is directly proportional to the obstacles faced in the process. Graduating at the top of your class is an accomplishment, because you had to study hard, be genetically gifted or cheat like a motherfucker to make it happen. Not pooping yourself is not an accomplishment because any retard could do it (unless you’re actually retarded, in which case good for you!). Reaching a high level in an MMORPG is also an accomplishment because of the hours of dedication and mind-numbing repetition required. Using that high level character to kill low level characters isn’t an accomplishment at all, because it takes no effort whatsoever. So I guess what I’m saying is, the type of player who takes pleasure out of bullying weaker characters is the type of person who probably considers it a “good day” when they end up in bed without human waste in their drawers. Appropriate Punishment: The infliction of a permanent, irrevocable level 10 level cap.
Imagine It: A team of designers are putting the finishing touches on the multiplayer portion of their game. Someone at the table brings up the issue of “friendly fire.” This is a team game, after all; should teammates be able to harm each other? Yes! Argues one of the designers, for are the bullets not real? If you drive one through someone at high velocity, do they not bleed? No! Asserts another, for people are jackasses, and will shoot their own teammates for no reason whatsoever. But, asks a third, should we really acquiesce to the darker side of human nature? Shouldn’t we rather appeal to the best in our players by giving them the benefit of the doubt? I don’t care, announces the fourth, and they decide to leave friendly fire on, then share a delicious sheet cake, for it is one of their birthdays (let’s say the third one). Six months later, the game ships, and jackasses proceed to shoot their own teammates for no reason whatsoever. Cake remains delicious. Why It’s Seriously Not Cool: Don’t murder. It’s a pretty universal rule, and one we often overlook when gaming. After all, do those zombies really deserve to get shotgunned in the face? Couldn’t they have been rehabilitated, or simply outrun? Of course not, because killing is awesome, and after all, we’re just killing masses of brainless polygons. But put a brain inside those polygons and you quickly discover that there’s a time and place when killing is not awesome. That time is during a crucial team death match, and that place is your own base, surrounded by people you once considered your friends and allies. Getting team killed is the ultimate betrayal; like Judas turning in Jesus except way more shitty. After all, Judas hanged himself out of guilt, while the guy that team killed you will at best write “oops, my bad bro” and at worst dance around your body shouting “SNIPED! Did you see your head explode? Wicked!” Appropriate Punishment: Always getting placed on a team with fellow jackasses, that you may kill each other for the duration of the game in an endless cycle of outraged revenge and rampant douchebaggery.
Imagine It: You’ve infiltrated the Blu base and laid waste to two scouts, a pyro and a soldier with your heavy’s minigun. You never would have made it without the aid of the trusty medic by your side, who valiantly risked his life to keep you patched up and in good health. With Blu’s last command point just ahead, you pause a moment to savor the victory. “Good run, friend,” you growl to the medic. No reply. That’s cool, you think, this dude’s all business (or possibly Japanese). “Well, let’s make it happen.” You take a bold step forward, awaiting the warm embrace of the medic’s medigun, but none is forthcoming. As you hear the sound of Blu team members spawning ahead of you, all you can manage is a frantic mashing of the keyboard. Then the pyros are on you. It’s only twenty seconds later, while your corpse smolders on the ground, that you receive a reply from the medic: “Sry, AFK. Eating cheese sandwich.” Why It’s Seriously Not Cool: Team gaming is about trust and dedication. How can you expect to coordinate an attack on the enemy if you constantly have to worry about your teammates’ bladder control and/or relative levels of hunger? You can’t. Ask Patton. Besides, how much self-control does it take to focus your attention for the duration of a three-minute match? If you listened to a song today, you’re already qualified. I’m not saying you’ve got to finish playing a video game while your house is burning down, I’m just saying if you did, it would make God happy. Appropriate Punishment: Oddly enough, team-killing.
Imagine It: Blizzard’s latest opus, Burgercraft, has finally hit store shelves. You unpack the patty-shaped disc, slip it into your computer and spend the next forty hours of your life perfecting your seed-to-bun ratio, stacking order and learning which kinds of hot deli mustard to pair with the wasabi mayo to unlock bacon. After conquering the single player campaign and defeating the menacing denizens of Filet Of Fish-Opolis, you decide it’s finally time to take this show on the road. Beefy with anticipation, you load up Battle.net and start a multiplayer game with a computer-selected opponent. Assured that you’re in for the epic fight of a lifetime, you immediately start producing lettuce harvesters and reinforcing your fledgling base with a perimeter of pickle spears and fry pits. Suddenly, and without any warning other than the words “kekekekekeke” appearing onscreen, four zerglings invade your base and devour everything in sight. The game lasts all of five minutes, and you’re left with nothing but questions. Questions like, “What kind of douchebag plays like that?” and “A Zerg rush? How was that even possible?” Why It’s Seriously Not Cool: In theory, games are made so that, through a series of increasingly difficult mental and/or reflexive challenges, a human being interacting with the game’s interface can learn how to effectively manipulate it, then use that knowledge to accomplish objectives laid out by the designers and trigger the release of endorphins in the brain. This effect is known as “fun,” and it can also be achieved through sexual stimulation or narcotics use, although those methods don’t feature nearly as many laser rifles. At some point, a faction of gamers who actually un-ironically call themselves “hardcore” forgot all of that definition except the word “objectives,” and decided to treat video games like second jobs. They work at the game with grim, humorless dedication until they discover “the best way to win,” which is invariably to exploit a balance issue or design flaw, then they do that. Over and over and over again. Their belief is that, by learning a rote mechanical action and having the endurance to repeat it without soiling themselves, they have become “skilled” at the game. And they are skilled; just like a robotic arm designed to punch a square out of a sheet of aluminum is skilled at that task. So yay for them! Appropriate Punishment: Being relegated to a server where all the players use exploits all the time, games average thirty seconds and the other player always runs a plug-in that makes all his units turn into Jesus piloting a Star Destroyer.
When not writing for Cracked, Michael roams the DC Wastes as head writer and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!
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