Tag Archives: sportsmanship

No Self-Respecting Cheaters

Tied the Leader: Shameless!

I have a sneaking suspicion that, given the appropriate battery of tests and surveys to complete, the vast majority of cheaters would display what is considered to be less than healthy levels of self-esteem and self-respect. These are the kids (and adults) who believe that they simply don’t have what it takes to compete on a level playing field with the rest of the world. These are the kids who, in the context of DeeJ’s article, modify their Xboxes to do things that they shouldn’t be able to do in Halo. They’re the ones who collect as many 2-month free trial memberships as they can, systematically using each to get one or two games in before “Bungie’s”:http://www.bungie.net fantastic programs detect and summarily ban them for cheating in multiplayer action and ruining the experience for everyone else. Ironically enough, these are also the kids who spend their entire time raging and ranting, heaping upon everyone else (who are, incidentally, _much_ better players than they are) a wide variety of disparaging, insulting, and racist epithets, who curse and swear in their high-pitched, pre-adolescent voices, who make the rest of us wonder where these kids’ parents are.

I suspect that these are the kids who have no idea how to interact with the real world, who have no social skills to speak of, who couldn’t get a prom date even if daddy gave the girl a financial incentive to date his son for even just one evening. These are the kids who, if you were to see them during the day, are hiding out in the corners of their middle and high schools, hoping that the lunchroom bully won’t find them and beat them up for their lunch money. They’re the ones who have no self-respect because no one has given them a reason to like themselves. It almost makes you feel sorry for them, except for the fact that they take out their pent-up aggression on everyone else via Live because that is, for them, a safe place to give back a little of what they’ve been taking. They haven’t realized yet that just because they’ve been bullied, just because they don’t feel good about themselves, it doesn’t give them the right to make others feel bad or to act aggressively toward everyone else. They haven’t yet realized that cheating and anger are not acceptable responses all the crap they take.

Of course, you have the genuinely narcissistic who believe it is their God-given right to dominate and bully in whatever method they can conceive. For them power is the ultimate high, and they get their jollies from beating other people in whatever way they can.

Most of us, though, prefer to earn our wins the old-fashioned way – through a little hard work. We prefer the respect of our peers because we actually won fair and square. And when we are faced with the esteem challenged and narcissist, we simply roll our eyes, put them on mute so we don’t have to listen to their verbal garbage, and report them to the appropriate cheating authorities. Sure, we’ll probably see them again, albeit under a different screen name, but ultimately they _are_ just little children who haven’t got a clue.

And the game goes on, without them.

Second Place Is the First Loser

“Or is it?”:http://www.temple-of-lore.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=7841 With the Olympics just recently behind us, there are a lot of individuals (and countries) who are celebrating their victories or cursing their defeats. I heard a comedy sketch once by Jerry Seinfeld that hit on this. His take was that it was great to get the gold because it was proof that you were better than everyone else. And it was good to get the bronze because, hey, at least you got a medal. For the guy who got silver, though, well, that’s not so good. Getting silver means that you were the first loser, the first one to get beaten.

So, why is that second isn’t often considered to be a huge achievement? Why is it that so many people consider it to be the position of prime embarassment? Or is it really perceived that way? Honestly, I think it boils down to perspective. It’s a matter of which direction you looking. Getting the silver means that you were two steps away from ultimate success, from beating the field, from standing up at the highest point and being able to say, I did it. I’m the best there is. The failure here is in not looking the other way. True, you were _this_ close to total success, but look behind you and see how many are still behind you. From that perspective silver suddenly doesn’t look so discouraging or shameful. From that perspective, it means that you are still the best in your field, save one, and that, in my opinion, is not such a bad place to finish after all.

‘Cheap’ Gameplay: Is It Really?

Some of you may know that I am a _huge_ fan of the wildly popular _Halo: Combat Evolved_ and _Halo 2_ video games for Xbox. I enjoy them so much that they were the motivating force behind my purchasing an annual subscription to “Xbox Live”:http://www.xbox.com/en-US/live/ so that I could get on and enjoy the multiplayer environment with several of my friends, who are all spread out around the country (this from a guy who traditionally _hates_ most FPS(first-person shooter) games). It’s gotten to where we have our regular weekly “Halo Night” just so we can get on Live and chat, laugh, and play for a few hours each week.

Over at “Tied the Leader”:http://tiedtheleader.blogspot.com, XerxDeeJ has yet another “good article”:http://tiedtheleader.blogspot.com/2006/01/firing-squad.html about a major complaint in the Halo 2 multiplayer environment. Spawn camping is a technique that some players engage in to quickly increase their kill and medal counts, particularly in team environments. Since teams have their own bases, every time a member is killed, he typically respawns back at his own base. This fact means that anyone on the opposing team carrying the sniper rifle (who is also even remotely good at using it) can just set up camp near your base and pick you off as soon as you respawn, before you even have a chance to move. This tactic is decried as ‘cheap’ and ‘unfair’ and ‘unsportsmanlike’ by many.

“David Sirlin”:http://www.sirlin.net offers a “counterargument”:http://www.sirlin.net/Features/feature_PlayToWinPart1.htm to this viewpoint by saying that the difference here is between those who play to win and those who don’t (the author calls them ‘scrubs’). Sirlin says that gamers who play to win will exploit any and all aspects of the gameplay environment in order to secure their victory — and that they are completely justified in doing so. (He _does_ say that certain bugs in the game are off-limits, namely those games that crash the game or the system or eject any player from the game environment.) All the others, the ‘whiners’, are scrubs, who consider it bad form and dishonorable to do anything other than play the game from some arbitrary list of do’s-and-dont’s. Sirlin references fighting games specifically in his article, but his principles are meant to be applied across the board to all games.

What fuels this debate is a clash in mindsets. Many gamers play Halo 2 to have fun, to enjoy the richness and variety of a well-designed, well-implemented video game. But there are also those gamers who play for the sole purpose of winning, to dominate utterly, to annihilate the competition, to garner the fame, fortune, and bragging rights (well, the first and the last of those three, anyway) that go to the victor. These are the type whose sole identity seems to derive completely from their performance in gameplay, who seem to think that life and death and the weight of the galaxy hang upon how well they do. These are the guys (kids?) who boast and brag in the post-game lobby, who rub their victory in until it draws blood, and who are often the most proficient abusers of profanity. Because these are the guys who play to win.

There is some truth to the saying that simple is better — simplicity allows for the possibility of fewer mistakes, and it allows for easier implementation. Spawn camping is a simple solution. Why go out and find the other guy and risk getting killed when you can go to his base, carrying two fully loaded sniper rifles, and pick the whole team off as they respawn? It’s safe, it’s fast, and it looks _really_ good in your post-game stats. The trouble is that this is usually only fun for the guy doing the camping. For everyone else, it’s just frustrating. Playing to win and playing to have fun usually do not play well together. These two kids don’t know what it means to share their toys.

When you play to win, anything less than first place is unacceptable. When you play to win, anything less than first place doesn’t even approach fun. On the other hand, when you play to have fun, it’s ok to finish in 3rd place (or 5th or last) simply because you played the game. You had fun. You shared some laughs with your teammates. You revelled in the joy that is the Halo universe. Sure, you worked on perfecting your technique, but it wasn’t the end-all and it was ok if you screwed up and died miserably. A lot.

Is there anything wrong with playing to win? Not necessarily. Some of my best techniques in Halo 2 I learned from the guys that do, but that play-style is not really my cup of tea. My world, my reality, does not allow me the luxury of playing video games for hours on end, so when I do get on, I like to do the quick setup with a variant we all like and hammer out a few rounds of carnage before calling it a night. If I can perfect a particular technique along the way and further rule the leader board, so much the better. But that is not my goal, and it certainly isn’t the defining moment of my day. My goal is simply to have fun, to enjoy the camaderie of pals, and to play an excellent video game.

So, is spawn camping really cheap gameplay, and should those who consider it such just shut up and deal with it? Or is it unfair, with those who do it being considered cheaters or Halo 2 being ‘fixed’ to solve the issue? Ultimately, to me, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t want deal with it, don’t play with guys who do it or jump into matchmaking lists where the risk of spawn camping is likely to happen. My solution is simple — a private party for just myself and a handful of friends. Set up and play the gametypes we all enjoy, have a few laughs, and go home happy, relaxed, and refreshed from good times. For me, at least, that’s what matters most.