Today’s release of Diablo III got me thinking: MMOs are a lot like real life in that you deal with a whole slew of different people. Some of them annoying. Some of them really damn annoying. And for the most part? All of them incorrigible assholes.
Let’s face it, calling another human being a baseless racial slur or “scrub LOL U BAD,” with complete impunity from the sanctuary of mom’s basement are pastimes that will always make a twelve-year old or whimpering manchild feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
But what about those other guys?
Surely not everyone in online gaming is just some fecal crumb at the bottom of life’s toilet bowl or a puerile dope like the rest of society would have us think, right? Believe it or not, there actually are a few shining gems: upstanding men, women, and children that will have you singing gaming society’s praises and delaying that “humanity is doomed to devour itself” mentality… for a few more days at least.
Note: The majority of these categories apply to World of Warcraft, the MMO I have most experience with. But the archetypes within can definitely be attributed to every other game if you try hard enough.
7. The Silent Professional
He doesn’t say much. In fact, he’s like the complete antithesis of the Ventrilo Lingerer in that you can’t remember the last time he made even a mere utterance in guild chat or Skype. But rest assured; he’s there. And he’s consistently topping damage meters or schooling suckas in high end Arena.
As for why he’s such an elusive bastard? Maybe he’s a high ranking government agent perfecting his spell rotation during some downtime between foreign intelligence extraction missions; or some lab-created MMO playing automaton. Or maybe:
Why this is great:
Because instead of talking about trivial matters like how many dumps his cat has taken in the past half hour or how he came home to find the mailman sharting on his wife’s chest, he just gets in, gets out, and doesn’t waste anyone’s time. And because he’s a hero. Not the hero we deserved but the hero we needed… yes, I’ll stop now.
6. The Mother Theresa
All I needed was one last seedling to finish up the final chain quest in Shadowmoon Valley.
After wandering for what seemed like hours over that dark cinderland as vast and bleak as the burned out floor of Hell itself, I spied it off in the distance; a lone glimmer among the skeins of volcanic furrows and low ranges of stoneblack hills.
I gave the reins to my Deathcharger one last tug, dismounted, made my way towards the gaping passage mouth. Peering inside. Only endless darkness which stared back. I took a deep breath, mustered my remaining courage and stepped inside. Everything here obscured in halfshadow, a constant dripping sound that sang across the blackened stones. I crept forward, groping the air around me like some sightless vagrant. The walls seemed to close tighter with each step and from their cannelured surface thin coils of steam writhed wormlike along my cheek, my throat. I trudged on, face buried in a forearm, coughing, the heat a ball that lumped in my throat.
In my carelessness, I lost my footing. Tumbled into a boiling green pool that corroded through my very armor and licked like hot flames at my flesh.
I flailed, howling, searching for the nearest ledge. But there was nothing. Only the feeling of my skin ablaze. I closed my eyes. The end was near.
Then I heard it. Very feint at first. A voice.
“Here. Come here.” Growing louder now.
“Here. Come to me if you want to live!”
I looked up and saw it. A gangling silhouette encompassed by blinding white light.
“Are… are you my guardian angel? A Spirit Healer?” I asked.
“Oh God, hurry! Take my hand.”
I felt a cold hand clasp my forearm and pull me onto the shore. I rolled over onto my back. Panting and out of breath. “You saved my life,” was all I could manage to stammer.
He didn’t say anything back. Just gave me a gaptoothed smile. And then he was gone, disappating into the night from whence he came. I never found out his name. But I’ll always remember that night I was pulled from the acidic depths due to one troll’s kindness.
Why this is great:
Because it’s nice to feel wanted and loved sometimes.
5. Good Guy Arena/Raid Partner
Climbing the Arena ladder can be a tough gig without the right teammate. If I had an achievement point for every time I was forced to deal with a partner who didn’t communicate well, failed to comprehend why a match was won or lost and how to improve for the future, or was a nasty nerd-rager, well… nothing would be different really, because achievement points don’t mean shit, do they? But I’d have a lot of them notwithstanding. Sometimes, though, if you say enough prayers, eat your vitamins, drink your milk, and the stars align, you luck out and find someone you just click with in battle. Your soulmate(s) of Arena, if you will.
He’ll take your constructive criticism and dole out some of his own. You guys will work together, chase your dreams, and at the end of the day, have learned a whole lot about yourselves in the process. If you get really good, you begin to predict each other’s playstyles in complementary fashion; working together so harmoniously that you barely even have to say much on vent except a few terse strings of esoteric game jargon. And if he/she really loves playing with you:
4. Good Guy Raid Leader
Back in the incipient stages of World of Warcraft, before every raid encounter or boss fight was catalogued and fastidiously explicated on twenty different websites forty five days before the patch was even released, raid leaders had their work cut out for them. Not to say that they don’t now… but back in the day, stratagems and tactics weren’t as readily doled out.
That meant you and 39 of your closest friends had to go into the raid, pull, attempt to beleaguer the enemy through trial and error, and then formulate strategies based off what happened. If you think wiping a few times during a random instance is a pointless waste of time or distressing enough to make you drown yourself in a bathtub, imagine the pangs of agony that these guys must have felt.
Having a guild leader that is a decent guy or gal is directly proportional to how much enjoyment you’ll be deriving from the game. Sure, nowadays you can get by without being in a guild and dealing with bullshit politics or all-around asshattery, but if your guild leader is one of the first people you can genuinely enjoy shooting the shit with, the game is going to be that much more fun.
3. The Person Experiencing Childlike Marvel and Wonder
I did a Google search for “childlike wonder,” and this was one of the first results I got. Though totally unrelated in any way, shape, or form… well, it was too good not to use.
What’s some of the most fun you’ve ever had in your gaming tenure?
When you capped your first mallard in Duck Hunt?
Figured out how to Powerslide like a damn boss in Mario Kart 64?
Went on a citywide killing spree in Grand Theft Auto?
When you made some little kid half your age cry because you kicked him out of your 5v5 Arena team? (Whoops, wrong article.)
Remember how damn good those moments felt? That’s what this guy/gal is experiencing.
When I first came back to WoW a few months ago, the first thing I did was queue up for a random battleground. Standing there like some proud and vigilant sentry at the Lumber Mill flag, I saw this little nugget of merriment materialize in my BG chat:
“Hay guys. I just feigned death next to the pig troughs at Stables… and the Horde really thought I was dead! Sweet Merciful Elune can you believe it? I’m alive! Ahahha, I’m alive!”
The responses were exactly as you’d expect:
“Are you retarded?”
“Feigning Death is srs bzness.”
“Wow. That’s fucking fantastic. Now kindly STFU and l2play.”
I was ready to join in on the deluge of verbal abuse… but before the litany of derision could make the transfer from my hateful brain to the eager fingertips at my keyboard, I thought to myself… why? Here was someone… genuinely deriving immense pleasure from playing the game. Sure, not for the noblest reasons. But Hell, isn’t that what we’re all here in the first place for?
Would you stomp on a kid’s throat just for rolling down a grassy hill? Would you cuff your baby brother across the left cheekbone for trying to burp the alphabet? Unless you’re reading AiPT from prison right now, probably not. And if you are, hey, thanks for reading. But sometimes, if someone’s having fun, no matter how brain addled and imbecilic that fun might be… just let ’em have it.
2. Henry the Humanitarian
This guy’s blessed with a panoply of weapons, armor and trinkets that’d make octo-boxing Shamans blush; achievements under his Ebonsteel Belt Buckle that took longer to complete than most academic degrees. In real life, he’s what some would consider a “fat, BO laden recluse who will never know the touch of a woman.” But in the magical world of MMOs, he’s a veritable e-pimp, respected by peers the world of Warcraft over.
With all that fictitious opulence and dignity, you might be ready to label him a Get-On-My-Level Ubernerd or a Vainglorious Vaginal Crease… but that ain’t him. This kind hearted soul still has time and compassion for the little guys. And he’s ready to help with nothing but gusto.
And what exactly is he ready to help with? The following altruistic statements might ring a bell:
“Whose fifth alt wants a run through Deadmines? And then every Ring of Blood questline in succession directly thereafter? Gold? LOL, nonsense. Your gold is no good to me, you little rapscallion you.” /ruffles hair
“The unadulterated satisfaction I derive from helping others is the only gold I need in this fictitious life.”
Why This is Great:
Because that’s what this game is all about. Teamwork and helping others and all that good stuff. This guy remembers that we were all noobs once; we didn’t always have the best gear or every route on Kalimdor memorized like some polygonal paper route or the minutiae of every spell and maneuver in the game bound to our specialized gaming keyboards and ingrained into the muscle memory of our fingertips like concert pianists.
And the fact that he’s willing to take a few minutes of his time to help Dicky Nubster climb his way up the ladder shows that he’s a good guy that doesn’t only care about himself.
1. The Girl Gamer Who Doesn’t Gratuitously Accentuate or Capitalize on the Fact that She’s a Girl Gamer
“I just like, really appreciate the intricacies of this game. The level design and gameplay experience are like, unparalleled. It’s just… making me so damn hot.”
That’s right. Her hair smells nice. (Compared to yours.) She’s got breasts. (That developed from estrogen and not eating Big Macs.) And she’s playing the same game as you! Guess what? It’s not that big of a deal.
So put away your bouquet of flowers or dreams of phone-sex operator trysts in between matches on Skype or bribing her with first priority on epics so she’ll send you pictures of herself straddling a joystick in negligee.
Why? She just wants to play the game and have fun like everyone else. And you have exactly 0.0000000001% chance of fucking her.
If you are one of these gals that knows this, and doesn’t exploit the fact for your own in-game benefit, good on you.
If you are, well… shame on you. You’re what we have already designated as the “Slutty Attention Whore.” Also, be sure to send pictures of yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org to verify that you are female and are in fact doing this.