Games!

I have a nark. This is my blog, so I’m going to vent it here.

Games, games, games.

When I was at school, (which was a very long time ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the land), one of my classmates threw a proper hissy fit because he didn’t win at a game of rounders. My then-teacher, the erstwhile Mr. Hodgkinson, told him to go back indoors and to look up the definition of the work ‘game’ in a dictionary. Let’s do that now, from the comfort of our own chairs, shall we?

Game [geym]

Noun

An amusement or pastime.

Key word there: ‘amusement’. A game is supposed to be fun.Boy-at-school was embarrassed by being called out and indulged a little more in the team spirit going forward. But, as I say, that was a long time ago, back in the days when ‘game’ was clearly more easily understood. Now, we seem to have entered a time where this definition has lost its meaning.

So, context. I like and enjoy video games, but I’m not a die-hard. I enjoy MMORPGs, I enjoy problem-solving. I like puzzles and strategies and what-not. I’m a mediocre video gamer at best, although I am more than competent in most cases. Games that have more than two sub-menus frustrate me and fail to hold my attention span for very long. (This is not a reflection on the quality of the game, just a commentary on my short attention span).

Anything that requires mechanical skill is a challenge. On PC, I’m OK with games like WoW or SW:TOR, where I just push buttons and don’t really have to coordinate. If I am in a situation where I have to move and shoot at the same time using keyboard and mouse, I literally fall over myself. On a scale of repeatedly falling off a cliff to balancing on the narrow side of the primary school balance beams, I’m a 2.

On console, I walk the average line. I can coordinate a lot better, though. (Although there was still that time when playing Destiny when I was in a PvP game, was startled by another player and flailed at the controller before I turned around, punching him off the edge of Venus).

But here’s the point. I have fun doing it. But there are a few things that have been conspiring for a while to make me have a lot less fun.

1) Hackers.
2) Gamer entitlement.
3) Toxicity.

Let’s start with hackers. The delightful Mr. Stylosa put up a YouTube video yesterday about the problems in Apex: Legends with those people who can’t actually be bothered to play a game for fun and just want to win. Aimbots, wall hacks… just so they can say ‘look at how good I am!’ But they’re not good. They’re cheating. And they think that’s totally OK. 

What a strange world it has become where people are firmly of the opinion that cheating for the soul benefit of ruining other people’s game is totally OK. It annoys me in a way I can’t quite express. It calls back to that long-ago game of rounders and that guy being told to go and look up the word in the dictionary. 

You get nothing tangible for winning in Apex: Legends. There’s not some sort of cash prize or prestige that goes with it. All you get is a player banner with impressive stats that largely make my other half shout things like ‘get a job’ at the TV screen. By not actually playing the game properly and effectively just being a lazy fucker, you impress nobody but yourself. You should maybe see a therapist about that lack of self-confidence.

Transition.

Apex: Legends is a fun game, but it doesn’t really float my boat in the same way that other games do. I am certain that once more content comes in, and perhaps some sort of skill ranking system, I might engage with it more enthusiastically. I play on console, so the risk of hackers is minimal compared to that on PC. So let’s talk about Overwatch. Which I do a lot, I know, but that’s because I like it.

Overwatch was the first real FPS I played and I didn’t think I’d like it anywhere near as much as I do. I’ve played it pretty much since launch, although never seriously (I only wandered into competitive play in about season six, I think). I’m firmly in mid to high gold level, along with the bulk of players, so am decidedly average. But I have fun playing it. I like that Blizzard provide regular updates. I like that Blizzard provide regular character buffs and nerfs. I like we get the animated shorts, the lore teasers, the new characters, the new maps. I like Overwatch’s art style and the engagement of the developers with the community.

Ah, yes. The community. A word that conjures the concept of a group of like-minded individuals who all work together for the same goal and who ultimately have the interests of one another at mind. The Overwatch community.

A community that turns round every five feet, complaining incessantly that the game isn’t being updated regularly enough. That each change to a character ‘breaks the game’. That the character they prefer to play doesn’t get buffed in the way they want it to be. LOL people still play this game? That they are stuck in the rank they’re in because of everyone else, can’t possibly be them, their other account is Grand Masters don’t you know?

Seriously. Cry me a river, build a bridge and get the fuck over it. Why can you not just play the game and adapt with its changes? At least in that regard it’s certainly not a static game. It’s a very different game now to the way it was when it was released. For some people, that’s a cool thing. It means you have to learn new strategies, try new combinations of characters. But for the vocal set, it means that the characters and strategies they’ve perfected have been unbalanced. They don’t seem to think ‘cool, I get to learn something new’, they just complain.

Then they complain some more.

Then they negatively post on every single one of Overwatch’ssocial media streams.

“Hey, everyone,” says the stream. “Check out Baptiste, our new character!” He’s been designed, says the subtext, to add a new level to the game. His skillset is designed to work with some things, to work against others, but we’ll leave that for you to work out. “Look at the way he fits into the lore, look at the way he fits in with the other characters!”

“OMG HE’S SO OP WTF LUL OMG BBQ”

“THIS GAME IS DED RIP”

And so on.

I have my own gripes about certain characters in the game (Bastion, f’rex, can totally get in the sea. But the fact I’m rubbish at countering him is my issue, not the game’s. This, perhaps, is the difference between me and others).

The other issue in Overwatch is that of people who play using the dreaded keyboard and mouse. For them, it provides an advantage similar to the aimbot/wall hacks I previously mentioned in Apex: Legends. For me, it’d just add a whole new level of complexity that would produce comical swear combos. But you can tell. When a Widowmaker or Hanzo get repeated critical hits and you watch back in the Play of the Game feed, and you see that snap to target, you know. And it’s annoying.

Overwatch has come in for a lot of stick lately because it seems to be felt that the changes to the characters have been designed specifically with the pro-level players in mind. But for me, that’s fine. I’m happy re-learning my characters and if they don’t feel to be a good fit any more, I’ll change onto another. 

Which of course brings me to toxicity. I will usually mic up in Overwatch competitive, just to listen for call outs and to make call outs when I’m playing relevant characters. But I’ve given up engaging in any sort of conversation for a variety of reasons, the most fun one of which was the toxic little shit on Lunar Colony.

I took a support character (because nobody else did) and he proceeded to mansplain everything to me. Told me how to play a character I’m perfectly capable with, then threw in the kicker.

“You sound like you’re in your thirties, soooo…” The sentence tailed off and he snickered at me like he was my superior.

As it happens, I’m not in my thirties. I’m older than that. And it fucked me right off. For the love of all that’s good and holy, you little shit, I was killing Space Invaders before I hit double figures. Why wouldn’t someone my age be playing a video game? You don’t threaten me you little toerag. My mortgage scares me more than you do.

And because of that, this was one of the rare occasions where I did have an immediate response and it worked. It shut him up because all his friends laughed at him. He spent the rest of the game being meek and deferential, but it still annoyed me. It extracted the ultimate in cursing from me.

“You sound like you’re in your thirties, soooo…”

“And you sound like a c**t, what’s your point?”

As it goes, I’m lucky that it’s the worst I’ve experienced in Overwatch. I’ve seen screenshots of messages sent by ridiculously vile people, that are far worse and I’m glad I’ve never experienced that in the game (although I have certainly experienced it due to having the wrong chromosomes in a male-dominated fandom where I have written novels). 

As a contrast, I was in a game where I (as Sombra) and the enemy team’s Sombra were quite literally running round and round the payload on Eichenwalde like we were in some sort of cartoon. After the game was over, I got a message from the enemy team player saying how hard they’d laughed and to thank me for cheering up their night. I felt the same and it was nice.

That, right there, is what a community should be. Not whining and moaning, but enjoying the fun of a shared experience.

Am I ranting? I’m ranting. I’ll stop. Let’s summarise with this:-

1) Hackers – stop cheating. It’s bollocks, impresses nobody and just gives you an over-inflated sense of ego. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
2) Gamer entitlement. By repeatedly biting the hand that feeds you, the hand will eventually stop. So stop complaining and embrace change rather than be endlessly whiny about it.
3) Toxicity. Oh-so-simple. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.

Vent over. Please go about your business.

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