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This experience was more prevalent when people actually went to arcades and you got to compete against random strangers, but really most of us have encountered this with friends or acquaintances sitting on a couch. Typically the halfwit will start off with some gentle ribbing and some premature boasting about their skills, but things turn dark rather quickly.
Above: “You realize if you use the sniper rifle one more time, we’re no longer friends, right?”
Since you’re there in person, they won’t explode into internet nerd rage, so they become a more subdued, seething vortex that gradually siphons all of your fun away. They might make snide jabs designed to take away the satisfaction of your victory, let the excuses roll off their tongue at each failure to make a comeback, or they’ll just become utterly silent. When your purpose for playing is to do a little smack talk and let out exasperated exclamations at close matches, having a silent partner is about as fun as mute sex. The misery builds the longer the silence goes until finally they throw their controller down and stomp away.
In videogames, often your team is not as strong as its weakest link. Due to the structure of most competitive multiplayer modes, it’s usually the case that your team is as strong as your best player, with a slight dragging down by the worst. It’s why good players often talk about “carrying” their team. There are cases, though, when the worst player can ruin the whole team. If they’re stupid and charge repeatedly into a quick respawn screen during Team Deathmatch, well then they’re just giving the other team points. If they do an insane strategy in an RTS and refuse to coordinate with team mates, a smart opposing team can easily exploit those poor choices.
Above: Kid on left: “All these adults are playing like idiots! Why aren’t they using our awesome blitz tactic?” Kid on right: “Wait, wait, let me get my headset…”
If these were just bad players, we could give them a pass. We all have to be bad at the beginning of our career in a game. But we’re talking about bad players who won’t admit they’re bad, so we end up with the obnoxious stream of text or voice chat blaming everyone else for their own incompetence. When you’re the worst of the worst but think you’re above average, how could you possibly see that your play was the cause of defeat? If only those morons understood your amazing strategy and followed your orders instead of doing their own thing, you would have won easily! The sad part is that the slightly less bad players actually know they’re bad, and they’re better than the ones who think they’re good.
You could be a one-person stampede just trampling the shit out of the other team, but when one of them finally shoots you in the back after you’ve plowed through three other opponents and have only a sliver of life left and you’re reloading, you’ll get that message: “Owned.” No, children, that’s not how it works. There’s no “ownage” unless you beat an opponent fair-and-square, and pulling it off one in thirty tries still doesn’t count.
Above: “That’s right, my kill/death ratio is 1/23 so IN YOUR FACE!”
On a similar note, these fuck faces also tend to talk shit before they’ve had a chance to prove their worth, and then run away like the simpering cowards they are when they get their asses e-handed to them. One time we were playing Warcraft III and began a match against a player we’d never encountered before. As soon as the match began, we received the message, “Fuck you up ass noob fuck.” We responded with a polite, “Ok.” The match then proceeded in textless silence until we roundly boxed the filthy-mouthed runt’s ears. Normally we refrain from trash talking, preferring to be a good e-sportsman, but in this case we decided a little “Where’s your shit-talking now?” was warranted. As we began to type this phrase as our opponent’s base crumbled, the embarrassed nincompoop made a quiet escape and quit without a word, robbing us of a satisfying comeback.
If these dullards could just step back and see that they lose more games than they win, they’d refrain from dispensing wisdom to new players asking for tips. Pro-tip: check to make sure you’re a pro before giving tips. You don’t really need to be a pro to give good advice, but we couldn’t resist that attempt at a clever play on words. Still, you really do need to make sure you don’t suck horribly before you tell newbies what weapons are effective or how they should totally practice the innovative strategy you made up that will “totally catch your opponent off-guard.”
Above: “I’m a freaking genius at StarCraft. Listen to me, or face your doom…”
Another irritating aspect of this is that the armchair Pattons will discount the worth of techniques designed to eke out increments of advantage. So when some newbie asks, “Should I remap that vital action to somewhere on the keyboard closer to my left hand?” you’ll get the ignorant fools saying “No you don’t need to do that I totally reach all the way over to the number pad to heal myself in combat and I do just fine.” No. See, good players understand that if you can eliminate inefficiency, you should do it. A red flag for discovering a bad player is if you hear them say “No you don’t need to do that.” Another favorite term of bad players is “cookie-cutter.” It’s their attempt to disparage the effective tactics that good players figured out, which then became popular because of their effectiveness. In all competitive games, there are certain things you need to do. Bad players gravitate toward avoiding the needed elements out of a misguided view that they can have creative, innovative approaches. We used to do this exact thing, thinking we were going to win by being different.
Above: “No listen you totally want a planetary fortress in your main base in case you get rushed. It’s way better than that cookie-cutter crap, you don’t need those Mules for extra minerals”
Note that we’re not saying you can’t innovate. The best players innovate. The problem is that bad players don’t understand what innovation means. What bad players do is devise harebrained schemes from random elements without understanding whether the result will work. Innovation is not merely being creative; it’s creating something new that then changes the way the game is played at the highest level because it works better than some previous strategy. The terribads look down their noses at “cookie-cutter” players because the pros are “afraid to innovate.” The truth is, those top players already tried those crappy inventive strategies and realized they suck.
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