I’m a big fan of playing Halo 2 on Xbox Live. What I’m not so fond of, though, is other players talking trash, a.k.a. talking smack. When I was younger, I could talk trash with the best of them. My buddies and I would harass each other mercilessly, on the basketball courts, in school, during meals, on camping trips, just about everywhere. Looking back on it now, I realize that we were probably just really insecure with ourselves, as teenagers generally are. We were trying to be cool and fit in with our peers. We were trying to gain acceptance — with our families, with our friends, with each other — by proving that we were better than everyone else, even better than each other, at whatever it
was we did.
I don’t think we knew these were some of our motivations at the time.
Over the years I’ve stopped talking trash for the most part. A little light-hearted banter here, some good-natured ribbing there. Always, though, there is a laugh attached, and if ever it
becomes not funny to someone, it stops. Immediately.
Playing Halo 2 on XBL is a great experience, but I find that I enjoy the matchmaking lists, which match you up with groups of strangers for multiplayer gameplay, a lot less than when I first got connected. More and more I find that I enjoy the custom games, where it is just me with my friends, where there is no pressure to perform well (except from myself), and where the atmosphere is light and laughter is abundant. It gets me away from the goons in the matchmaking lists who talk trash, whether they have any right to or not.
My philosophy on talking trash is this: there’s no good reason to do it, at least not all the time. If you’re a good player, you certainly don’t need to talk trash. Everyone already knows that
you can back up your words because they’ve experienced it firsthand. And if you’re a mediocre or a horrible player, you still don’t need to talk trash. Everyone already knows that you can’t back up your words, often because they’ve experienced that firsthand, too.
A little bit of trash talk can be fun, which is why I specified above with ‘not all the time.’ I
know that when I’m excited because I just pulled off a difficult maneuver for the first time or cleaned up a tough kill, I’ll sometimes buzz the comm and rub it in a little, knowing full well that I’ll probably have to eat my own words in a few seconds (and I usually do). Fortunately, I play with a good group of guys who understand and who can dish out the trash talk just as quickly if I’m getting too cocky. Mostly, though, we just laugh and cheer, even if we were the victim of the kill at that moment — because we are just having a darn good time.
And that’s the way it should be.