This time, rather than reviewing a game, I thought it would be cathartic to rant about some of my intense hatred for online multiplayer & MMO’s. Try to understand, I am fully aware of the appeal for these options in gaming, I just fail to see why most core gamers feel the need to be such douche bags while playing and there will be numerous examples of this mind set to follow.
As our amazing founder already knows, I’m an avid gamer. I owe much of that to him actually because, if not for Jeff, I would have been years behind the curve. He is solely responsible for talking me into buying my first PC – at first a relationship killer but I digress – and also knows how competitive I am when it comes to a game. We won’t even get into how I am with a title I’m passionate about… I used to cue up music to play when I would score goals against him in NHL ’98 through 2000. Sad? Well… Yes it was. But having the ability to play “We’ve Got the Power” by Snap at 3am was still hysterical. So I know what it is to be competitive. That said, I have always been able to turn that characteristic off with the console.
On to my disdain for the multiplayer genre.
My first forte into online multiplayer gaming, not sports related, was an amazing mod for half life called “The Hidden”. In The Hidden you played as either a death squad hunting “The Hidden” or as the same said Hidden. Hidden as in nearly invisible too. They were similar to the fictional Predators when cloaked: You see a brief shimmer on screen but it’s so fast you have a hard time keeping it in view. I found a few gamers out there who taught me the game and were extremely respectful. Over time I became quite good at it, if I may say so. Of course, I figured everyone online was going to be that way.
Naive to say the least?
Upon entering the Halo 3 lobby I felt confident I’d pick up the game quickly enough and enjoy the multiplayer interaction. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid me… I played the single player campaign so I had a solid knowledge of the game play mechanics and thought I should be fine. I was dead within the first ten seconds. I then respawned only to have my head blown off another ten seconds later. Yet that wasn’t the bad part. The bad part was the abundant number of gamers who not only derive pleasure from destroying new players (Noobs) but, as a pile on, rubbing the Noobs’ faces in it even more. I was told “You suck!” Asked “Why are you even here?” and “Can you still return the game?” Those are just the family friendly exchanges.
The more I tried to excel and show these people I was a cool person (and a solid gamer) the worse it got. I moved on to Soul Caliber, Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs Capcom, and other fighting games, where the ridicule and scorn was magnified. I was continuously told how amazing my opponents were while, on the other hand, informed I should just go kill myself in shame. At one point I actually asked an opponent why they were so hostile. Their reply was they were the “best there was” and had no reason to try to make friends online. I followed that up by asking if they felt they were the best at everything or just the best in regards to the game. To my shock they replied, “If I’m the best at this, what do you think?”
Because of all the above I have avoided the multiplayer scene to avoid the drama. Many of the friends I have on my Xbox friends list agree. There’s nothing wrong with healthy competition as when I lose I still tell the other player good game. My friends do the same. It’s just proper human etiquette. I also have a friend online that assumes he could hold off a full frontal assault from the Middle East single handedly – all due to his amazing technique playing Modern Warfare 3. Dear God… If we get invaded, and he’s our last line of defense, I had best learn to speak another language now to be safe.
Mass Effect 3 came out in March (don’t worry I’ll avoid discussing the God awful ending and Bioware’s mistreatment of its audience), and with it came the introduction of a multiplayer option. I told myself no. Nope, I’m going to bite. After a subpar single player conclusion I thought, “Oh, what the hell do I have to lose?” I was pleasantly surprised – shocked even – as most people I played with have been cordial if not downright polite. I stress the word most as there are still way too many gamers who equate online proficiency with real life accomplishments. That’s just poor logic.
What makes us the best we can be is empathy, compassion, and a properly functioning moral compass. Those alone don’t make us the best person but it makes us the best version of ourselves. Sure, there’s no gaming score given for that. No leader boards and no contests with prizes offered. I believe there’s something more valuable at stake: Our individuality. I’d rather swim upstream, so to speak, and be remembered as a good guy. You know, the kind of person who tried to achieve greatness in the real world? Not the guy who had the high score, the most head shots, or the bare minimum when it came to quality of life.
The best advice I can give to players who are like myself and want to enjoy gaming in their spare time, including online interaction without negative treatment, cyber bullying, and all around douche bag mistreatment is this:
Find a few real friends who enjoy the same game and stick to playing with them. You’ll come across some good people like yourself in your virtual travels who will gladly join your group or gaming gang. Eventually those gangs will be large enough for you to avoid the online predatory archetypes altogether.
It’s a shame that most games are producing subpar single player campaigns to seemingly only pour their resources into the multiplayer experience. At the end of the day, a solid single player experience is always more fulfilling than the same multiplayer maps over and over again. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the pay to play MMO’s like World of Warcraft, The Old Republic, and so on. Who can rationalize paying $60 for a game and then paying $10-$15 monthly to play it? Not to mention these games almost always have a limited lifespan. Then we have the so called “free” to play titles. These free to play MMO’s are equally just as bad as the pay games but in different ways. Sure you can have the most basic playing experience for free but if you want to remotely excel at the games (or unlock all the features) you have to use real money to buy items, level bonuses, weapons, vehicles, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t have to buy a virtual toilet for your poor character who’s stuck in this “pay for anything worthwhile” world. Ugh !!!
‘Til next time my friends. Enjoy gaming but most importantly, enjoy life. After all, that’s the real achievement isn’t it?