“What do they see in [thing/person]???”
It’s a common refrain when people encounter an interpretation vastly different from their own. It’s easy to say it’s wrong if others simply disagree with you, and similarly simply if you’ve seen it before and believe it comes down to personal preference. But it can go from that to feeling so foreign it’s as if it came out of the unknown.
It’s as if they came from a different world.
An inconceivable thought, to the post-enlightenment standard. Everything is made out of atoms, we all live on the same planet, we even use the same words all of which are defined right here in these written scribbles on bound pages / glowing screens! How could it be possible we live in different worlds? If it’s from someone with a different facial structure or clothing then the magical word of “culture” is invoked. If it’s from someone who looks or sounds funny then it’s chalked up to them being crazy kooks. And yet, sometime or another, we intuitively know that “we all live in the same world” is simply not the case. That perspective was explained by someone who has 99.x% the same DNA and made of the same 100% starstuff as you, saw something different through the two balls in their head. Something different enough that it makes you question not their way of looking at the world, but yours.
That is how I’ve felt about everything for a long time. Wherever I go and whatever I do there usually is some sort of rulebook or dictionary to look up, but the moment I put down the map to look at the territory, it’s without fail so wildly different I wonder if I should’ve bothered to begin with. The overwhelming proportion of the rules and definitions rarely ever have more power than mere guidelines and suggestions, so much so that they should’ve been presented instead as “some guy’s introduction to this subject matter”. It should be read as WEBSTER’s Dictionary not Webster’s DICTIONARY and Encyclopedia BRITANNICA not ENCYCLOPEDIA Britannica, which is only made harder these days because who’s actually in charge at “en.wikipedia.org” or “dictionary.com“?
Do people, the vast majority of actual living human beings, actually say, “In event of dispute, the rules/definitions laid out by this faceless third party will be the revealed word of the almighty god-or-science?” I feel instead that people usually already have some vague idea of their own to begin with. Rules and definitions, or more generally, “truths”, are less things that will strike omnipotent lightning against any and all who oppose it, and more just things that happen to be lying around for those who can use them. Like a fireteam happening to reach and secure a hill or a building before their enemies. It’s not that they’re not objectively true, or effectively objectively true (e.g. social norms). They’re loci of power, but they’re not god-or-science. Things are there, but they’re only there as much as people understand them. A military that understands cavalry but not firearms will charge; a military that understands firearms considers open land in front of a position watched by the enemy would seen as a bottomless cliff. It’s not actually a bottomless cliff. But it might as well be.
In this sense it wouldn’t be incorrect to say people create the world. One world per person. And the differences are more common than you think – so much so that it might be accurate to say,
“What you see isn’t necessarily reality.
Everyone has secrets, things they can’t tell others.
There are no normal people anywhere.”
– Celty Sturluson, Durarara!!
Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (“PUBG”) is an online PvP battle royale survival shooter: 100 enter, 1 leaves. It has been out since late March 2017, and every week since then up until recently, its peak concurrent players have only risen. It solidly holds its position as the most popular game on Steam, in turn the most popular digital distribution platform for PC games. PUBG‘s peak concurrent players at time of writing is ~2.2M, the next two positions are ~800k (DOTA2) and ~640k (CSGO). Though it has desync problems, server issues, and questionable moves on part of the developer in relation to development progress, streamers, and monetization, there has been no stops on its continued success.
I use PUBG as my example this time because
- I’ve recently gotten to play it myself,
- it’s popular,
- it’s easy to understand, and
- the parts of it I am going to use are nonpoliticized.
In general when I’ve tried to used real-world examples to talk about something else entirely, they’ve been read almost entirely differently from what I intended. I don’t see any problem using obscure comparisons, but apparently no one else agrees.
PUBG, specifically, how to think about playing PUBG, looks like it could bypass many of these problems. It’s a PvP game with no story, so the inside of it has no politics. It’s a 3D game rather than some concept, and (I think) more people have a better grasp of pseudo-physical and spatial realities than do people who can keep up with complex arguments. The game has no experience/progression system along with very few mechanics, so there’s no hidden unknowable depths that can be gatekept by “veterans”. And finally, it’s not only popular, but I feel for once I have a decent understanding as to why it is.
In other, shorter words: PUBG is a convenient coincidence.
Originally I was fully opposed to the PUBG hype. Openworld-survival-pvp-crafting has been around for a very long time, producing iteration upon bad iteration, with the original DayZ starting as an Arma3 mod in who knows what year and having been “in development” as a standalone game since 2012, then came H1Z1 and a bunch of other -Z’s whose names I forget, but it’s okay, because none of them have ever amounted to anything. PUBG though for whatever reason has not died off, and I wasn’t inclined to look into it because it was “Early Access” like all the other trash, and posters on /v/ wouldn’t stop spamming that welding helmet and the orange explosion as OP images. Literally everything else anyone talks about can come up with more than one (1) image; for whatever reason these PUBG guys couldn’t. Apparently PUBG removed the zombies, persistence, crafting, and simplified the formula down to just a battle royale.
This formula I still had problems with. Not having played or watched it much at all except to determine the general feel for accuracy and ranges, it was pretty clear that the game involved doing a lot of nothing. You have 100 people dropping into an area that’s 64km2 – that’s a really, really low population density. Even if most people start off in the same place, most of the game’s duration almost by definition will not involve combat. Most of it won’t even involve picking things up. If you don’t find a car, a very likely scenario to the average player, then most of the game involves running from “The Blue”, which over time forces all remaining players into smaller and smaller areas. A few minutes of picking stuff up, a lot of minutes just running, and then in a few seconds, loud sounds and death. Someone saw you before you saw them, they took their shots, and now it’s game over. Back to the menus with you.
If the fundamentals of the game’s balance are that aim is at all accurate, if damage is that high and fire rate is that fast, if the kill speed is significantly higher than travel speed and visibility problems are nonexistent… that’s the kind of game that necessarily results. It’s probably not too far from how it’d work in real life (“The Blue” not withstanding) but realism doesn’t mean good design. I just thought I’d do something better with my time. I’d occasionally read about PUBG in a certain blog I follow, but that was about it.
I got PUBG after watching my friend play it for a few hours. Watching him play it, with all the shiny marketing and wHoA sO cUhRaZy stripped away and replaced with a down-to-earth personality I was familiar and comfortable with, the appeal of the game was clear: it’s the tension. Saying that most of the game is spent “doing nothing” is not untrue, but the important part is that most of the game is also spent “potentially doing something very significant in the next moment”. You’re not shooting every second, but you are paying attention. At any time you could spot something in the next second that tells you that an enemy is around. Perhaps they spot you and you get notified with the crack of a bullet, perhaps with it the loss of a third of your health. Or maybe nothing will happen.
But something could.
After having played PUBG for about 30 hours now and gaining some desire to become more proficient, I’ve noticed that there are very, very different ways of approaching how to play it. My main reason in getting PUBG was simply to spend time with a friend, and certainly it explains a lot of others’ way of thinking about the game too. Just to make it simple, we’re going to pass over these “social” mindsets in favor of looking those that are about winning. Winning in this game is clearly defined: be the last one standing. But the mindsets built to achieve that are different. It’s the same game everyone’s playing, yet the understandings between them aren’t the same at all.
I’ve seen four different mindsets: four different PUBG’s, four different worlds.
- World of Campers
- World of Looters
- World of Predators
- World of Gods
“Imagine you exist within a sacred landscape. How could a modern person conceive of that? Well that’s easy. Leave home for… a while. And then come back. Let’s say it’s your parents’ home and you’ve been gone for fifteen years, and you come back and everything in the house is imbued with magical significance.
And you might say well that’s not inherent to the object. Like, yeah, sure. Depending on how you define the object. It’s completely inherent to the object as they manifest themselves in your realm of perception. And you can dissociate the object itself from the subjective overlay, but that’s not such an easy thing to do, and it’s not so self-evident. And it’s not even obvious that what you’re doing when you do that is coming up with a more accurate picture of reality, because the picture of reality that represents the item of sacred importance.
How do you know that importance isn’t the most important part of that item? That’s how you act. You won’t throw it away. Well, why? It’s just a material entity. Well no it’s not. It’s an element of being. And that’s a different thing.
And so what people prior to the dawn of the materialist age was producing maps of being, and that meant things had historical significance. The mountain where your grandfather was buried was not the same mountain as another mountain. And you might say, yes they are, they’re made out of the same clay and silica and all of that, and it’s like, yeah, man, you’re missing the point.
A Westerner might say, “yes but it’s extraordinarily useful to differentiate and to act as if there’s an objective reality and a subjective reality because it opens up all sorts of new avenues of pursuit”, and yes, that’s why we’re technological wizards. But we’ve lost something. We’ve lost our capacity to understand the reality of that overlay that we scraped off in order to produce objective reality.”
– Jordan B. Peterson
A not-uncommon way to play the game involves sitting inside a building with cover on all sides, and gun pointing at the point of entry. Sometimes it’s a shed, sometimes it’s a bathroom, sometimes it’s in the kitchen, if it’s that kind of kitchen.
The idea is that it’s the optimal way to survive. Guns are deadly. The map has really wide open spaces that make it hard to see people and hard to be protected from bullets. If you don’t want to die then you need to not get shot, if you want to not get shot you need cover. And if you want to kill people before they kill you, the best thing to have is surprise. What better combination of these elements than hiding in a small room in a building? Guaranteed safety up until the moment that door opens, and while you get to hear the intruder’s footsteps, they have no information on you up until the moment they open that door. When they do, they’ll be surprised, and you won’t.
The definition of winning is being able to shoot first.
What causes loss is lack of the element of surprise.
This game starts everyone off with no offensive or defensive items, air-dropping from the same plane over a random flight path. What little background lore there is on the game states that this is some deserted russian island, which just happens to have quite a few guns, ammo, and armor just laying around for everyone to use and kill each other with. There is some variety between the weapons, with pistols, SMGs, shotguns, and rifles to pick up, all doing varying amounts of damages at various ranges.
The idea of the looter is simply to win via having more/better items. If, for example, a rifle does more damage, has more bullets per magazine, and can take scopes to make longer range shooting easier, then it’s of utmost importance to have a rifle. To be the last man standing you must have some health when everyone else has none, and what causes that is more healing and more power. More, more, more.
This is how my friend and I duo – we just go around continually getting more stuff from more buildings all game long. Both in duo and in solo using this mindset has reliably gotten me to sub-25 rankings… though, since I generally also don’t hit my shots, nor ever have time to heal, I think it’s really more to do with how I initially land from the plane and how I think about moving around afterwards than anything else.
I picked this up from the blog I mentioned earlier, and idea is so strong it can get you to the overall top 0.5%. Gevlon intentionally sits as far away from anyone as possible, sometimes even deep within “The Blue”, just healing until he runs out and dies. On average he kills someone once every 33 games. My (effectively) no-items running around can reliably get to top 25, Gevlon’s heals galore reliably gets him within top 10.
And top 10 is where all the ratings gains happen. The game doesn’t really care so much how many other people you kill, it cares how long you survive relative to everyone else.
The definition of winning is the most reliable method of climbing the overall competitive “ladder”. As applied to PUBG, the definition of winning is: actively avoiding danger.
What causes loss is having poor strategy.
It’s a battle royale: in the beginning there were many, and in the end only one will be left alive. Since it’s not actually Battle Royale and it’s PUBG instead, you can’t leave the island or team up to fight the power, and the actual only way to win is by everyone else dying. Since they’re probably not going to go off and die on their own, you have to kill them. And if you’re going to kill them, you might as well do more of it, sooner, where possible. Generally speaking, anyways – too much danger doesn’t work, but too little of it means that it’s not clear if it’s there. Unknown dangers are worse than known dangers, and the danger is not only out there, it’s here inside your head. If you’re constantly fighting, then you’re ready. If all is silent for just a little too long, rust builds up quick.
The definition of winning is more actively controlling and reducing potential danger.
I recently found a fairly unique streamer through watching various videos and, though he usually doesn’t drop in high-risk-high-reward areas, when he does, he chooses specific parts of it which are locally less populated and easier to secure his position. chocoTaco almost always sticks to his overall mid-game strategy of finding a certain kind of building in a central location and defending it. The type of building is one which has open stretches of land on all sides, meaning if someone happens to be around, he will have access to cover and they will not. The central location means he will never be too far from the next safe zone from “The Blue”.
The moment he sees someone he starts shooting. chocoTaco has said multiple times while in extremely exposed positions, “I wouldn’t mind taking a few shots right now. Then I’d know where they are / I’d see some action”. This isn’t an untrue way of thinking. With only a few exceptions no gun will kill you in one hit, and only rarely will a gunshot not have a sound effect telling you which direction the shot came from. Regardless of how good your eyes are at hunting pixels, you could always use the help of someone else, and if you’re getting shot at that means there’s an enemy that can see you. Also helpfully is that most people in this game are bad shots. If you have reliable and quick access to cover, a few shots are basically as good as “Marco!”.
Sure, those bullets could hit. But what if they don’t hit? What if they weren’t fired? What if you chose a poorer area with a poorer building, and someone not only could but decided they would sit near your vehicle, waiting for you to come back out when the next “Blue” is announced to shotgun you in the face? That would be more dangerous. Better to set fire to the forests before the forests decide to set fire to you.
chocoTaco’s way of playing definitely requires more skill than Gevlon’s, but with a little tweaking here and there it can be used for fair chunk of the playerbase. Pick shots rather than picking them all. Don’t run around outside. Something else he recommends is to not loot after a certain point: there’s a certain amount of certain things you need, after that don’t worry about it, because 1) after a very early point the people you’ll run into will be dangerous, 2) it increases the probability you will run into campers, and 3) if you’re looting buildings or bodies, you aren’t paying attention to what’s around you.
In this way, lack of attention, not bullets, is what causes death.
If there’s five people and everyone’s hiding, no one knows anything about anyone, which means everyone at every point might be in danger. If instead one guy is firing at another and that guy is firing back, then there’s at least two points to focus on. Not only has the number of unknowns has been reduced from 5 to 3, those 3 remaining are probably also focused on the known 2. You can decide to look for the danger first. If you find them first, you have the surprise. If you didn’t, but you didn’t die, surprise is not a factor. If you’re firing then it’s usually at the cost of your own position, but in the end it’s a decision. Are you going to put yourself in some danger to obtain information, or aren’t you? Remember, you’re in general danger anyways. It’s a battle royale after all.
Given a skill level like chocoTaco’s, that decision is a pretty easy one – to a certain extent.
Some others though play like there’s no extent.
Based on how people drop and the most popular videos on youtube, this is the most popular way. People overwhelmingly prefer to drop in the few large areas with the highest chance of high quality items, knowing full well that that’s what other people have in mind and it’s up to whoever happens to find guns first and gets better shots off that wins. And that’s all okay, because [I] WILL drop the fastest, [I] WILL get to the best guns first, and [I] WILL kill everyone before they get to kill me. Almost all the top videos are killcam highlights of crazy trick shots. The “gunplay” in this game is not very interesting, the death animations are nonexistent, yet that’s what’s focused on, because that’s the definition of winning.
The definition of winning is killing everyone as they appear no matter the situation.
What causes loss is low skill.
These are the players that will talk about “git gud”, because that’s the prerequisite. Not even a loose prerequisite, but an absolute one. If you are just running around not really thinking about what you’re doing, and you want to win, you better be extremely good at what you do. In a simple game like PUBG it comes down to putting more/bigger bullets into the enemy before they do you and, since enemies are on average really poor shots, it doesn’t seem too far out of reach. It especially doesn’t seem far with all the streamers out there, seemingly randomly getting into dangerous situations just like they do, whipping out quick kills or even instant kills with sniper rifle headshots, then turning back and answering fun and personal questions from their public chats. With little old them.
due diligence minimal research for this section of this post I’ve watched a bit played by a few big name streamers, and they all largely follow this line. A few hours of Shroud showed he doesn’t seem to place much of a priority on dropping safely or securing a vehicle, at one point he stands around for almost 30 seconds, pondering aloud his next move – meaning he doesn’t have a strategy or a plan. What little I watched of Tecnosh was largely the same with dropping into really high risk areas. His midgame strat though does exist: he’s permanently driving around in a type of vehicle that’s large enough to give him plenty of cover, giving him the choice to pick engagements and be in a decent position if he decides to pick one. But nothing else he did made sense.
I was watching Grimmmz for a third example, but less than an hour in I just had to hear him talk about how youtube is bad because it’s too easy for random trolls to take down other peoples’ videos. Which is unfortunate because 1) He streams a hell of a lot on a lot of different games and I had to scroll down to last month to find one that was mostly PUBG, and 2) I just happened to be on a certain thread while searching for other streamers to look up and maybe prove myself wrong, and I read that Grimmmz is the guy who set the precedent for honking while in a streamer’s game to be a bannable offense (there’s no names in-game until you’re dead so you can’t possibly know if you’re being watched), he also took down a video of some deliberate stream honking on youtube… by a copyright claim. Wow! Shortly after I found out Shroud is the one behind the banning of suspected “stream snipers”, meaning “people who watch my in-game screen, which purely by my own volition i have put up for public display, who attempt to get in the same game with me, and who use that information to their advantage”. Not that he has any problem with all the stream snipers who come up to him harmlessly and stand around to feed him kills and items though. Of course not. God I hate streamers. Streaming was a civilization-level mistake. But that’s a different topic.
Off topic as well as on topic, Grimmmz just like Shroud didn’t display anything particular of note other than very very reliable shooting skills. Everything else was a wash. These are some of the biggest streamers on Twitch, and among others are the ones you’ll hear about if you look up which PUBG players to watch if you want to “git gud”.
Those players act like gods, and in many ways, they really are gods. Generally speaking, past the first few minutes after they’ve gotten geared up, everyone they see *will* die.
However, when newcomers see and attempts to emulate “not caring and simply making things happen”, what happens is they become prey. And they’ll like being prey, because every once in a while the stars will align, they’ll get that victory screen for being the last man standing, that “WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!”, and in that moment that will overshadow all else, they too will have become a god.
Everyone who plays PUBG is playing the same game… in a sense. They’re all connecting to the same servers and interacting with the same 3D world and ranked on the same /100 in game and by some other numbers out of game.
Yet they’re not playing the same game.
So many times I’ve seen chocoTaco notice someone outside his building, someone who also knows he’s inside because he makes it obvious by breaking windows and parking right next to a door, and he simply jumps out of a second-story window to flank and make a clean kill. Most people know that it’s possible to leave a building from the second floor… when they’re safe and looting. But when they’re approaching a threat inside a building, people usually think if they watch “the entrances” then they’re safe, and “the entrances to a building”, generally speaking, means “doors on the first floor”. In that moment, their world is just the first floor’s doors. Even though they’re making an assault on a building, what they see isn’t all that different from the guy squatting on a toilet or laying down in a bathtub.
In one game I was playing alone I happened to reach a “care package”, a random airdrop which has items much more powerful than those that spawn on the island. Usually people go for these and I don’t, but for some reason this one was untouched, and I got my hands on a big belt-fed machinegun. The strongest non-sniper weapon in the game. I had survived and made it to the final 10 with such a weapon.
But with that power I laid down in the grass.
And did nothing. No damage.
And then I died.
So I might as well have had a submachinegun. Or no gun at all.
In one game chocoTaco was fired upon by a machinegun. He took up residence in the next building over, and while looking around for other enemies, he constantly wondered the machine gun was silent. Paraphrased, he said something like ‘What’s this guy doing? He has the big gun, he can do whatever he wants. Why isn’t he pushing me?’. Eventually, chocoTaco got an angle jumping around different rooftops to get a grenade in for the kill. From the time chocoTaco originally got fired upon to that grenade, the machinegun did not fire a single shot. Our bunnyhopper had worse weapons and a more exposed position. But he won and the big gun didn’t, and it wasn’t due to “luck” or some “trickshot”. He does have luck and can pull trickshots, but that’s not important.
Or perhaps it’s all that’s important. chocoTaco explains what he’s doing and is almost always doing the same strategy – a strategy that’s boring. It’s good, and when it’s fun it’s fun, but it’s boring. Gevlon has an even more solid strategy, and if he streamed, it would be even more boring.
You know what is exciting though?
“OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD!”
What was I talking about?
I’ve gone at pretty decent length describing a few things in this post, but none at all right there. So what was I talking about? Do you have any idea?
The most common player such a good idea, this reveal wouldn’t even be a reveal.
Ignore the commentary by the aggregator, just pay attention to what the people from inside the gameplay clips say.
When they do or see things like that, they see
“That could be me. This is fun.
This is a game worth playing.”
When I see things like that, I see
“Some of that stuff really was legitimately good decisions and good moves, but a lot of it shouldn’t even happened to begin with. More than a few of those bad situations were as a result of bad choices. You don’t get in fistfights with 4 people if you don’t decide to land at a terrible building in a populated area. You don’t get that far outside a circle if you pay attention.
And most importantly, all of them had really stupid reactions. Are you skilled or are you not? If you are, then it should be a “oh neat, that worked” surprise and not an “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD” surprise. If you’re not, then yes, that’s the appropriate response… but submitting that to a “Top Plays of the Week” contest means you don’t think that. Or you do, and think the results of skills are worth no more than results of accidents.
And if there’s someone with high reach out there that makes videos accepting such submissions with a title like “Top Plays of the Week”… well.
This is a game for stupid monkeys.”
Those two games are not the same game. Land in front of an enemy formation is not the same as an enemy position watching over a bottomless cliff. The game I see in that video is also not the same game as the one I play.
It’s also entirely possible there is some method behind the madness of the streamers I watched. I like Gevlon and chocoTaco not just because they can win, but because they are a certain kind of person. They give explanations about what they do and how they think, ones which are close enough to how I think that I feel I could’ve said something like that myself.
There’s a lot of advice videos on PUBG out there and a lot of them talk about practice practice practice. Having heard “practice practice practice” might be helpful for some people but I feel like I wasted my time and wish youtube’s video ranking system still worked based on up/down votes. More than a few videos I’ve watched on How To Improve Aim give the advice to drop into highly contested areas over and over because that’s the highest frequency of fighting you can get. Which I thought was just stupid because there’s a minute pre-game, a minute dropping, and if you drop into such an area it’s maybe a minute before you’re probably going to die, all for a (one) (1) gunfight. That’s a frequency of 1 every 3 minutes.
chocoTaco says basically the same thing:
“The truth is, if you really want to work on your aim, you need to play a different game on the side. Unfortunately, PUBG is a terrible game for working on your shot. There are plans for the devs to include a shooting range in the game, but we have no idea when this will be added, or even if it will be added. The problem is there’s so much deadtime between kills that you truly can’t practice your shot. Not only that, but PUBG isn’t really a game where you rack up kills.
Let’s say you win a game with 10 kills, that takes something like 35 minutes, so that’s about 1 kill every 3 1/2 minutes. And that’s only sometimes. Sometimes you’ll get no kills. Sometimes you’ll get one kill.
Any other shooter that’s fast paced will work great for practicing your aim.”
He follows this up by saying he personally uses CSGO to practice.
To which my good friend Laxeris responded:
LAX: Absolutely disgusting
REZ: im playing it for pubguh aims
LAX: Poor excuse
LAX: You’re better off practicing your aim in pubg
LAX: Or playing something like Osu
LAX: Or some aiming trainer
REZ: why do you prefer that flash site over playing csgo or some other shooter
LAX: Because Cs go is shit
LAX: If I want to practice shooting I’ll practice in the game I’m playing
LAX: This is why I say just play bubg
REZ: but flash clickers are better than csgo??
LAX: Cus csgo is shit
LAX: It’s bascially the same problem you said earlier when compairing cs to bubg
LAX: 10 seconds inbetween each shot
REZ: 10s while having to look around isnt so bad
LAX: Whereas most trainers have them at 1-5 intervals
I like these three guys because I can understand them. They don’t completely agree with each other, but they share enough of the same kind of mindset that I see what’s going on. A certain way of looking at the world… of creating the world.
And yet they come to opposite results on how the game should be played. The Way of the Looter and the Way of the Predator couldn’t be more different from each other. Within one mindset of a certain criteria, two opposing mindsets of a different criteria result. Then we add in all the other mindsets, not only the Campers and Gods (who are obviously just wrong), but those people who are just around for social reasons and don’t care about winning at all. Then add in all the things these mindsets do in not-PUBG.
Grimmmz clearly doesn’t care about freedom of speech or sanctity of law. He cares about something, but it’s not that. Same with certain other streamers and certain other things we understand to be general moral guidelines. Certainly, they’re able to get away with it because they have powerful positions, but they also have a way of creating the world that makes doing these things a possibility to begin with. That part doesn’t come from the power.
How else do different mindsets appear in all the other realms of human activity?
What else exists that we can’t see?