I come from a time when gaming against friends was complicated. Either you needed a particular kind of cable to join two computers, or you needed to create a token ring BNC/Coax cable network and most games were limited to 8 or even fewer players because well, that’s all that the network could handle.
These days, games of thousands of players can be witnessed and gaming against friends is as simple as having them in your Steam friend list. You don’t even have to move your computer to their house – you can keep eating pizza off your belly in your underwear as you bark into a microphone.
Of course, with the anonymity of online gaming, comes another side of it all. Let’s have a look at my 10 truths to live by when it comes to online gaming. You’ll be better off for it.
1. We’re here to win, not to have fun.
We enjoy gaming, of course. That’s why we do it. But let’s be honest. We don’t want to play just because we enjoy it. We want to play so we can smear the opponents’ face onto our toast for breakfast. We want to win so convincingly that the opponents delete the game and never play again.
That doesn’t mean that sportsmanship should be forgotten. A polite ‘gg’ at the end of a game is a must. You don’t want to be that guy.
2. Don’t be that guy.
Some gamers are better than others. It’s the natural order of things. Some humans evolved into better gamers than others and that’s just fact. People like me play as if their hands are ham roasts trying desperately to control the mouse with some degree of accuracy – we make it easy for those that make gaming look like a well choreographed dance.
If you’re privileged enough to be one of these mouse ballerinas, do so with some humility. Be humble about it and don’t make chirps about your opponents in chat. Remember that for your opponent, if they’re a noob, nobody is going to like them.
3. If you’re noob, nobody is going to like you.
Before you even install an online game, you need to accept certain inalienable truths. The first time you play a game, you should have a degree of understanding of how to play it. This means you should play the training. Even if the training is about as useful as a solar powered torch, you need to do it.
If you don’t and you’re noob, expect to be sworn at like you just single handedly caused the extinction of koala bears. You’re noob and we hate you. It’s simple. At least if you die, you can always just blame the lag.
4. Losing and/or dying is because of lag.
Let’s face it – we never die because of a lack of skill. Every death we experience is to be blamed on Telkom’s ADSL infrastructure being carefully crafted from thousands of litres of custard or our ISP’s network infrastructure being made of 1940’s German enigma cipher machines.
Never, ever accept the blame for dying or failing to get a kill because of your own lack of skill. Above all though, lag or not, it’s important that you don’t die. Ever.
5. Dont die.
The aim of the game, almost always, unless you’re playing a multiplayer game of Barbie’s Magical Horse Riding Adventures is to maim and kill your opponent(s). It’s not to die. Ever.
In games that reward you in the form of experience or levels for making kills, this is even more important. If you’re playing a MOBA, your personal mantra while showering or driving to work should be ‘I will not die in game’ and if you do, you’re likely going to be called a noob, so have a second read through of point #3.
If you do get a kill though, be sure to apologise profusely to your teammates for it, because more than likely, someone is already screaming “KILLSTEAL!”
6. If you get the kill, you’re a kill stealer.
You swoop in and land the killing blow on the fleeing enemy with your ranged ability. Without you, the opponent would have duked his way to safety and survived the onslaught of your melee teammate. What a great thing you’ve managed to do.
Except it isn’t. Because in the eyes of that teammate you’re a kill stealer. Repeat after me: I am a kill stealer. Now say it again in a Mexican accent. You didn’t have to do that – that was just me having some fun.
Why are you even trying to get kills? Shouldn’t you be buying wards and supporting anyway?
7. If you’re a support, support.
I’m a simple man. I like simple things. I understand less about most game mechanics than I do about piloting a Boeing 747. But one thing I do understand is the role of damage dealers vs tanks vs support classes (or heroes).
Nothing grinds my gears more than someone who plays a support class but doesn’t support. I realise you really want to get yourself that sparkly new item, but the team desperately needs wards and that’s YOUR job.
If you don’t do it, there’s a good chance you’re going to take abuse. Even if you do it, everyone will tell you you’re doing it wrong.
8. Be prepared to take abuse.
Online gaming is pretty stressful and comes with a healthy dose of high tension. When we play it, we need to vent that tension somewhere and usually, it’ll be at the noob or the support that insists on forgetting to heal or continually wards the dumbest possible places on the map.
The only real thing you’re going to be able to do to get over the abuse you’re undoubtedly going to take is to get yourself a nice coating of thick skin. Nothing you do is going to stop you being on the short end of a rage shitstick at frequent intervals, so you might as well get used to hearing some alarmingly colourful swear words.
9. Gamers swear like sailors.
Most of us these days swear like all we ate as kids was soap and mustard, and gaming is no different. I’ve heard people say things over Teamspeak while gaming that would make George Carlin blush.
It’s not even the adults only. How many times have you been sworn at by a squeaky voice that sounds like the voiceover from “Look Who’s Talking”? Probably a few I’m willing to bet. If you don’t want your kids, mom, gran or whoever else to be exposed to it, either wear headphones or stay out of Teamspeak while they’re around.
And while we’re talking about communication, lets have that talk about microphones.
10. Control your microphone.
If you can’t game in a room that doesn’t sound like the mess hall in an army barracks after a few hours of drinking, use push to talk. There is nothing as annoying as not being able to hear your teammates trying to communicate with you because all hell is breaking lose in around your gaming PC and all we can hear are ambient noises akin to a folly studio during a recording of a Chuck Norris movie sound board.
There are a lot of things to consider and remember when you’re gaming online, but this is a list of things I consider to be the bare minimum of what you should expect when you decide to game online.
Good luck out there in the interwebs, friends and remember – don’t be that guy.
He also hosts the nAvTV podcast and this here website is his domain.