(Don’t) Play Nice

The following take the approximately the same amount of time:

1 25~30 mile cycling trip
1.5 upper division mechanical engineering problems
.3 night’s sleep
2.5 League of Legends (Summoner’s Rift) games
1 lecture
.4 “Seminal” blog post

Kind of puts things in perspective.

“Matchmaking” is somewhat of an oddity. It’s this curious system common in many video games these days, where the computer puts you against someone of your recorded skill level, or if in a team game with people of your recorded skill level and against the same. In 1v1 it might make some sense (playing against someone of your level so you’ll encounter difficulty rather than just rolling or being rolled), but its silliness and errors manifest wildly in anything above it. This is because all the players are treated as equals – “You have X skill level, we don’t care what you did to get to it”. It doesn’t matter if you’re only good at one particular role or one particular strategy (which, due to the nature of skill, is how everyone works), you are X. If you got carried to that level by much better players, you are X. The fact that such an individual rating exists shows that people think of 5v5s as equivalent to 1v1+1v1+1v1+1v1+1v1. But that’s not the interesting part.

The interesting part is how people seem to want to play with strangers against other strangers.

That’s the actual thing which happens when you click the “Play Now” button. It makes sense as a sort of backup system when you just want to have fun – read: masturbate – on downtime when friends are unavailable. But that’s not what we have: the standard in any game is matchmaking. So people must want it for some reason; coding such a system is not free. This could suggest that the vast majority of us play video games as simply as a dessert after our balls are dried, but the stereotype of ragequitting, QQing, and shit-talking is a strong counter to this hypothesis.

It’s fairly clear that most gamers play games because they want to win, that the hypothesis video games are an outlet for “male tendencies” is more accurate than it realizes. They really would prefer to play with friends and people whose personalities, strengths and weaknesses they are familiar with. Even more preferable would be a team, one with clear leaders and roles and a cohesiveness like the ones which go to the world championships. For most this is not something they can imagine happening with their friends; their friends are simply people who they copied homework off of in high school or share some certain “hobby” or “interest” in. Perhaps one or two are good for something as testing as hard success and winning in a videogame, but the rest are simply… well, not that much better than playing with strangers. At least with strangers you could get randomly assigned to a team with a super sniper or super carry in some manner. Perhaps this is why people stick with matchmaking.

Those less lazy will seek out clan and team recruitment. They realize that although it may be better to be randomed with pros than to be stuck with their “friends”, it is even better to regularly be with good players. There are clans which claim to be open to serious and casual players alike, but those clans never get too many members and outside of a stricter policy on playing nice and being accommodating of those with “less skill”, is identical to simply playing with randoms. Well, there’s the additional little tag at the end of your username, or maybe at the front. Other than that, it’s just more rage for you, and more winning and learning and improving for those who actually have a team. You have achieved the exact opposite of your goal: once you only had to carry random shitty players to victory and deal with their bad tactics and reactions to your reprimanding, now you’re stuck with carrying the same shitty players game after game after game.

If you realize this, you’ll apply for the teams which post the highest restrictions you can manage. A team which calls for the best in a particular role. A team which calls for regular practice at certain times, and states its goals. You’ll boast about yourself to get in: which games you’ve been competitive in, what clans you’ve been a part of, what things you’re good at and what proof of accomplishments you have that make you better than everyone else who wants to get it. A veritable gaming resume. And now, you’re applying for a job and dealing with HR not only in “real life”, but also in your “virtual life”. It doesn’t matter if you’re actually good or actually bad. You’re “applying” for a “position” now.

You know what the best part is? The guy on the other side reading the applications is probably just like you. He wants a team who is solid, too. But he’ll just look at the first two lines of your forum post and go to the next one, because in his mind he’s thinking, these are just leechers who want to be the early birds on the bandwagon. They’re not actually going to help us win. Probabilistically, he’s right. You’re all just words on posts on a forum online in a computer monitor. He’ll probably end up picking a couple of you out of the 50-100 that apply. The rest will be people he had in mind to begin with. Or not, because he doesn’t know anybody. He has friends too, but his friends are just like yours: not friends at all.

We truly live in an era of void.

Last night I wanted to get some cycling in and some work on my Communication presentation done. I was playing a couple of games of League of Legends, which has become more of a weekly rather than a daily occurrence, for the “first win of the day” bonus. Recently I had switched my goals in LoL to just wasting time when I was bored of all the other things I could be doing, but I had seen a couple of amazing plays on YouTube and wanted to try them out. I needed money to do it. But rather than simply play one or two games to get that bonus and get back to work, I kept losing. This time I couldn’t simply brush it off; I had started up the program today to win a game. After five hours of playing, I still had not gotten a win. It was now 3:40. I could no longer get a decent night’s sleep. Where the plan was to do an hour on the bike trainer, wake up somewhat late in the morning to do another hour outside, I could now no longer do either if I wanted to keep all my plans afternoon intact. The presentation was not touched either. I had gained nothing but taint on my record and enough anger to keep me from sleeping even after 20 hours of being awake (I don’t do caffeine).

People like me are called “tryhards”, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with the concept. If anything, it’s the existence of such a word and connotation that is off. It implies that putting more energy into something is worse, that being whimsical and carefree is the best way to approach life. They understand that the best way to do something is with the least amount or most efficient use of energy, but they don’t see that in order to develop something which is better, much more energy needs to be used than currently existing methods. While the car was being created, it was most efficient to ride in horse driven buggies. After the car was created, it became more efficient to ride the car. To only do things which cost less energy is to exist only in the wake of those who clear the swamp of muck for us to roll on through. And of course, because it takes less energy for anything to form, shit forms and stagnates. Tryhards may have to try hard, but those who don’t give a shit are given plenty of shit.

Or they would be, if this culture had not shifted so much due to “tolerance“. Not only is “tryhard” now a legitimate and well-recognized insult (“Unlike you, I have a life”), people are now only “mildly annoyed” by vastly underperforming team members. If someone gets mad about it, the reaction is neither completely detached cost-benefit analysis, nor is it a complete agreement or disagreement. Witchhunts and Justice do not occur, but neither is there a complete logical case. It’s always “calm down”, a “be reasonable”, a half-assed attempt to simply dilute the reaction rather than urging it to completion or halting it at once. The inability of this lonely and alien culture of postscarcity to be anything other than casual is causing even the tryhards to doubt each other.

It was once fairly easy to tell who was worthy of trust and who you could expect loyalty from. Now, because this is the “next big thing”, we think of everyone as equals. As interchangeable. Tryhards are the same as those who try hard to appear to not be tryhards. And both of those guys are the same as those who don’t care at all, because clearly mastery means you don’t have a care in the world. Everyone is good at everything. Or bad, if you’re feeling down that particular minute.

If you are seeking soldiers, you are no longer allowed to choose between (and, basically, can no longer tell) between the soldier who jacks off and then goes into battle being perfectly dandy about, and the soldier who wants what Genghis Khan called the greatest happiness,

“[…T]o scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.”

This morning, I uninstalled all games with team matchmaking which allow individuals to join and be put together because they supposedly have the same skill level. Such a waste of my energy will not occur again. There is no individual skill that can truly be measured objectively in games where it’s team vs team for an overall victory. To play with randoms while seeking victory, and more accurately randoms from this shit society, is to be forced into masturbation while the other team cuts off my head.

I’m not here to jack off. If I wanted to go and jack off,

I would go and jack off.

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