Star-Fired Beef


A Counter-Rant

Disclaimer: This is in response to Izlain’s post/rant here. I’ll echo his disclaimer and warn of probable inflammatory content below. I tried to not be too personal, since although his rant is what I am responding to, it is really a proxy for wider points I want to make, so you can and should read it with a general ‘you’ as well as a specific, Izlain ‘you’. This started out as a reply to his post but kind of got out of control.

I see why you’re angry at the implication that your character is under attack. And for the most part, it’s justified. But so is the criticism. It’s not the enjoyment of PvP that is being criticised here. It is the enjoyment of certain behaviour. You acknowledge that you’re being an asshole when you behave in that way, so if you enjoy being an asshole, why would you expect people – especially people who don’t know you intimately – to not judge you on that? For the record, your descriptions of your own actions that you term “asshole” behaviour are reasonably tame. Ganking, without context, is always asshole behaviour. Having more skill is not. Deliberately drawing out games that you’ve already won in order to gloat, is. Attacking someone from another team/faction usually isn’t, though there are rare situations that are. Camping someone out in the world, definitely is.

I don’t care that you spent your day looking after your relatives, just like I don’t care that Eri is a childcare worker (and a good one, I assume). That has no impact on, nor is a justification for your behaviour in games, just like it would have no impact on nor be a justification for going to a restaurant and verbally abusing the staff there. You being a nice person in general, which you seem to be, does nothing to mitigate your behaviour in specific circumstances. Your character is built upon many choices and actions over time, and if people only see some of those choices or actions, then that is how your character is going to be perceived. If you want your character to be seen in a certain way, you have to make choices and actions that reflect that. If you are happy with the idea that you might be seen as an asshole by the people you interact with in game or on blogs, because you engage in or defend your right to engage in those behaviours, fine. But you don’t get to then cry foul when you are actually accused – directly or indirectly – of being one.

“At the end of the day, a virtual character in a virtual world is still nothing but a bunch of pixels on a screen, and though a real live person is controlling said mass of pixels, if they are so incapable of separating their emotional stability from their avatar, I don’t think its me with the problem.”

Yes it is you with the problem. The “it’s just a game” defence does not fly. The fact is that there IS a person that you are interacting with. How you treat them has real world consequences. If you don’t know them well enough to know that they will react positively to your behaviour, then you shouldn’t be acting that way towards them. You could behave certain ways towards Eri or Doone in-game, because you know they will understand your intent. The question is, why do you want to behave that way towards strangers who have done nothing to you? I understand and agree with going after people who provoke you in revenge, but why would you initiate it?

I consider myself to be in the same category as you when it comes to the nerd/”jock” split. I have a history of sport, though not any longer due to a knee injury. And I enjoy PvP. But I have always hated that trash talk element of sports, especially team sports. It is always personal to me. I never engaged in it, and I look down upon those who do. There is a difference between friendly banter and trash talk, and many sportspeople don’t know that there is a line at all, let alone where it is. I know you don’t follow it, but in the cricket world there has been an effort made in the last few years to clamp down on trash talk, which we call sledging. More and more people recognise that it is harmful behaviour, not only to the spirit of the idea of sportsmanship but to future generations who look up to these people as role models. You call the culture of trash talk or sledging, societal norms. That is exactly the problem, they should not be the norm. They are the remnants of an obsolete model of masculinity that contributes to the continuation of toxic behaviour, both online and offline, in games and on the internet at large. PvP in games should NOT be following in the cultural footsteps of (especially team) sports.

Your personal experience of being griefed simply made you more motivated. Whoop-de-doo. It still wasn’t a pleasant experience. It didn’t make the game better for you. Many people, myself included, would consider it a reason to leave the game, even if only temporarily. The more it happens, the more likely it is that the exit from the game will be permanent. The fact is that griefing is not a desirable experience in a game. To imply that there is something wrong with the person being griefed if they don’t “man up” and “get over it” is just begging them to leave the game entirely, and to badmouth it to their friends. If you want PvP games (or servers) to be more popular and successful, then allowing players to be driven away by griefing and other asshole-ish behaviour is a poor strategy.

You say that you don’t understand why people complain about PvP when they don’t participate in it anyway. Let me offer a possible explanation. For some people, granted, they just don’t like competition at all. But many others are simply turned off by the asshole-ish behaviour that PvP allows (sometimes even encourages). I firmly believe that if that behaviour were curbed, if not eliminated, then those people would participate in PvP games. If you don’t complain, don’t let developers know why you aren’t playing their games, then you will not change anything. I definitely would play more MOBAs if the communities were better. I’m incredibly glad that Blizz did not allow chat in Hearthstone because I know the type of crap I’d be subjected to. If you want more people to play with in PvP games, you need to make it worth their while, and that means having acceptable standards of behaviour. Complaining about the behaviour of people in PvP games is one way of hopefully inspiring the changes that would need to happen to games design that would entice those people to play.

Your tradeskill analogy is a false equivalence. Combat is central to MMOs in a way that tradeskills have never been (except in A Tale In The Desert, iirc). You cannot go around most MMOs without combat affecting your experience. In EVE you can be ganked in hisec. Even in AA you can get to a certain crafting level without exposing yourself to combat, but past that point you have to obtain materials that require PvP exposure. Yes, you can still opt to spend all your resources buying the mats from the AH, but the point is that PvP has a significant impact on your tradeskill experience. The reverse is not true. You can go through the entire game without engaging with the tradeskill system, in any MMO, even AA and EVE, much more easily than you could avoid PvP combat. If you were “forced” into engaging with tradeskills in order to access combat-oriented content, then you would have a valid point. As it stands, I don’t think you do.

Again, I know that this post is a response to yours, Izlain, but you’re really a proxy for the wider PvP community in this. Your post touches on a great many issues that I find problematic, that aren’t unique to you – I’ve seen them espoused elsewhere, and I wanted to vent as well. Apologies if I got too personal.