All's Fair In Love and War Until the First Person Gets Pissed
By Tara Roth on August 12th, 2012 (13 comments)
My brother always picked the same map in MarioKart 64; one that he knew beyond any doubt that he would win. It was an intense series of winding turns following an undulating track that was an absolute dream for the master power slider. A final tight turn at maximum speed and a giant ramp would stretch before you. This is when you go pedal to the metal, hit the edge of the jump and sail across the ravine, landing with a thump on the other side.
It was on this ramp that I liked to use the lightning bolt. Timing it perfectly cut your opponent’s speed in half, sending them tumbling off the jump and crashing into the wall of the track below. This failure easily set the victim back half a lap and given how often this map was selected, I’d had plenty of time to perfect the technique. Once my brother and his master driving skills were disposed of, all I had to do was not crash into any walls (no small task) and victory was assured. Nothing was stopping him from using the same technique on me, but I think he took pleasure from the fact that, instead of him winning every time, my “cheat” meant we often had some very close races.
People always like to make up rules about why one technique that is built into the game is off limits or unfair. For our part, my brother and I never had a rule about screen watching. It was a technique that could be used by anyone playing and was extremely helpful for knowing how close a race was going to be or for planning attacks and strategies. If one person wasn’t a good enough multi-tasker to watch 4 screens at once, that wasn’t our problem. We all wanted to win, but winning wasn’t the point of the game, it was having fun.
There are some strategies that people adopt in gaming that, although almost universally reviled, I believe are acceptable. Not everyone can achieve a high skill level when it comes to the actual gameplay and thus I don’t consider finding a way to work around that to be a bad thing.
There are two maligned strategies that I think are acceptable in gameplay:
1. Campers: For all that everyone hates campers, this strategy fails the moment that people identify your location. If you are so foolish as to return to that location, you’re dead before you can make the first shot. I know people who regularly go hunting in all the known camping locations because people who spend the whole time with their eyes glued to the sniper scope are easy to pick off. Not to mention the sense of satisfaction you get from hearing their impotent rage against their own stupidity.
2. Rocket Whores: This is less of a problem lately than it was in the past. Rocket whores are people who liberally use explosives to create a lot of splash damage that gets them kills even if they’re a crappy shot. I’ve had my own share of irritation against this, especially in games where explosive ammo is liberally handed out. The true irony however is they are easily taken out by snipers and campers because their strategy revolves around getting away from cover so that they don’t accidentally blow themselves up. So, with a slight game strategy change, they too become easy to take out.
Having said the above, there are a number of strategies that I think are not acceptable in gameplay. These are strategies that pervert the nature of the game or unbalance the odds so much that the game no longer becomes fun for others to play. The pervasion of people adopting these methods without the developers patching has been known to crumple certain franchises and here are the two methods that I believe are the worst:
1. Spawn Campers: This is just bullying. New spawns appear suddenly in the world, frozen for a moment in time before they get control of their character. They are disoriented from their sudden appearance and are armed with only a sharp stick and some strong language - the bare minimum to hold them over before they find a gun. Essentially you’re targeting the players who are the least likely to fight back. It’s like smashing ants with a sledgehammer and then gloating about the fact that they never had a chance. Way to go dude, you’re retarded.
2. Hackers and S’ploiters: By exploits I mean a failure in the game architecture or code that allows the player to become impossible to hit or see. Granted you could use the same argument that anyone can use these exploits and they’re built into the game, therefore what you’re doing isn’t strictly cheating. The problem here is that these exploits are unintentional and may even prevent the game from progressing if two chicken shit players refuse to come out of their holes because neither wants to get killed.
Hackers are people who create or download (usually download) a hack that allows them to change a game mechanic so that they have an enormous advantage over the other people. I don’t think I need to go into why this behavior is a shit sandwich on turd bread covered with cum sauce but if you’re unsure why tweaking a multiplayer game to make yourself invulnerable is shitty, then please form a line so that I can punch you in the face for being so fucking stupid.
So there you have it. My take on multiplayer gaming, yet I’ve provided only a small sampling of the numerous, obnoxious ways people play games. What are your own personal stories of dealing with aberrant gamers? Do you have any good stories of revenge?
Tara is a part time writer and full time scientist living and working in San Francisco, CA.
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