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| Pwnage: The Crutch of Elitists (6 comments )|
by: Swatt (25) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 2
Posted 75 months ago ( edited 75 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
I remember the days when I could log into my favorite multiplayer game play a couple rounds, chat with some strangers, and have a good time. Playing a new game online was easier because you would get advice starting out. Online multiplayer gaming was able to bring me closer to my friends who were also online and even make a few new ones along the way. It is online where I first encountered a drastic change in mentality with games and the way they are being played. A harsh and cold mentality was emerging in public gaming to win at all costs. This change in mentality is leading to games being less accessible to new players and is hurting the online gaming community for many games and their players. I can sum it up in a single word, Elitism.
Elitism is not something that is new to the world, or to gaming. There has always been gaming competition and circles of well known gamers who are hard working and dedicated to being the best. The problem is that this mentality is settling into the minds of many gamers throughout the world. Elitism as defined by a simple excerpt from its definition on wikipedia describes the current problem well:
“The term elitism is also used to refer to situations where a group of people who claim to possess high abilities or simply an in-group or cadre conspire to give themselves extra privileges at the expense of all other people. This form of elitism may be described as discrimination.”
To help clarify this statement in regards to gaming, elitism is a mentality held by a small but growing percentage of online gamers to do whatever it takes to win. To become one of the “elite” gamers you must concentrate on only one game and take advantage of every possible aspect within that can gain you a competitive edge.
While this may not sound like much of an issue, it becomes one when you see what length players are going to. Gamers know how to have fun and typically know their limits when it comes to the proper amount of force to use against other players. To coin a few terms, “waste not want not, don’t bite off more than you can chew, don’t use a grenade on a squirrel.” Enter the Elite gamer.
The elite gamer embodies all of what composes a good player and amplifies those traits with the use of settings, configurations, custom user interfaces, exploits, bugs, and other modifications. Using that knowledge twists the game far away from its original intentions and balance. Elitist gamers use their full force at all times without restraint or thought of how it was when they were in those “newbie” shoes. This elitism is becoming a problem for the casual gamer when they get everything and the kitchen sink thrown at them.
You may ask yourself why this is such a problem and if it really matters. What is the impact of elitism? If such a small percentage of players are going to these lengths, what does it matter? To get into the specifics, we will venture into a specific game to help explain. Because I’ve had the most experience with it, the game we will be discussing in detail is UT2004.
As a big fan of the previous Unreal games (original UT especially) I was ripe with anticipation of UT2004. When the game arrived I, like many others, jumped in headfirst playing thru all the single player modes, training with bots, practicing, honing my skills and trying to be as competitive online as possible. Eventually moving into the online scene exclusively and even meeting some modest success. The breaking point was at E3 in 2005 where I managed a 2nd place victory in an amateur UT2004 tournament sponsored by GameSpot. This victory spurred my ambition toward the game even further and eventually tried out for a Clan to play in the Team Warfare leagues.
It was a whole new world and my skills continued to improve dramatically… to a point. After playing with the clans in a highly competitive manner, I was exposed to behavior that I regard as cheating. A good example is in UT2K4 where you can modify the system files of the game so you no longer heard your own footsteps when running around the map. This made it easier to hear where you enemy was. You were also able to modify your Field of View (or FOV) on the fly by binding it to a keystroke. This enabled you to see a larger scope of the map, but changing it back after you locate and begin to hunt another player to provide a larger “hit box.” This type of knowledge allows you to “see” where your enemy was at all times. This also led to the overuse of high power weapons and splash damage weapons like the shock combo from around corners as you approached.
These means of obliterating your opponent without even fighting face to face took the traditional (twitch) skill out of a first person shooter and replaced it with a completely different kind of skill. It came to the point that you didn’t have to guess where people were. If you knew the map you knew exactly where your opponent was. There was no more guesswork. It now was about shooting spawnpoints and chokepoints when you knew they would be occupied. It was about camping and hiding and became less and less about aiming and accuracy and other skills you may have considered to be the most important in a first person shooter.
I personally didn’t want to conform to this elitist playstyle (and still don’t.) Because of that my skills hit a plateau and I was no longer able to effectively compete. After I left the clan I went back to the public and open servers but the game wasn’t the same. It was no longer fun. I began to notice, even in public games, that these same exploits were being utilized by less experienced players because it was easier to rack up kills than full frontal assaults. I do not wish to belittle the skills that it takes to master these nuances, but I still feel that these players are creating an unfair advantage for themselves.
In the grander scope you can see this type of behavior surfacing in all games. Elitism is about abusing maps and timings, using game addons, custom modifications, macros, triggers, and even to the point of using wall/screenhacks, item hacks, map hacks, and map glitching to get ahead. We can see so many games have been reduced to this petty and upsetting behavior. There is no multiplayer online game that is immune to the elitist mentality. With the popularity of online gaming on the rise, each and every popular game out there is being reduced to doing what it takes to win.
These “elite” gamers will argue that it takes their game to the “next level” which is difficult to argue for or against. While “doing what it takes” may give them a competitive advantage it also places them on the thin line of outright cheating by modifying the games so far from their original intentions put forth by the games developers. What’s worse is that when you don’t want to play a game with the single mindset to win, or maybe you don’t know all the exploits in the game your playing (or maybe you choose not to use exploits) you instantly loose the respect of these elite players and will rapidly wind up on the receiving end of verbal abuse and turn into the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong on your team.
There is no definitive solution for this growing problem. Players will continue to do what it takes to get ahead and that means they will continue to search out the easiest way to do this in the games they play. Elitism is a problem because it is removing the skills the game developers intended to have you use in a game and replaces it with something else. It is responsible for the alienation of novice and even moderate players and discourages fair play.
This is a community problem and elitism has to be dealt with mostly by the players. Skill based matching systems put forth by many game companies are an incremental step in dealing with the problem but do little to undermine the nature of the beast. Players should not seek out bugs and hacks to get ahead. They should play the games honestly and as intended. Skill shouldn’t be dictated by knowing how to configure your game to give you an unfair advantage. Skill should be about outsmarting and outshooting your opponents on the battlefield.
Elitists just need to show a little empathy for the new and even moderate players. If they were placed in an entirely new game environment what would they do? Half the time the newbie will share a laugh in humility and recognize a more experienced player. If he’s lucky, he may even learn something. To all the elitists reading this I don’t want or expect you to change your playstyle because you have dedicated the time to acquire it. Just remember that we are all newbs at some point in our lives and know what it felt like to get “pwned”. Besides who wants to go back and beat up on the newbs anyway? A pro only gets better through challenge.
|6 User Comment(s) • 3 root comment(s)|
| Droniac (114) Mar 01, 2007 - 03:02 am|
|Ok, I've competed in UT2004 in the past - and still do so now... and I have to disagree with most of what you're saying, at least about your UT2004 experience.|
I can't see the problem with disabling your own footsteps. Just about every competitive mutator allows you to do so in it's menu in-game(UTComp, TAM).
Additionally, it doesn't even provide much of an advantage, because you'll hear your enemy everywhere on the map regardless of whether you have your own footsteps disabled or not.
When someone makes noise like a freight train passing by, then it shouldn't come as a surprise that they get comboed when dodging around a corner. It's their fault for playing stupidly and underestimating their opponent (or, more commonly: the game).
Similarly I see no problem with utilizing brightskins, hitsounds or forced models, simply because they're commonly available options - and - the advantage given isn't necessarily all that great. (ok brightskins and hitsounds do help loads, but any server with competitive mutators has them turned on by default anyway)
I've never heard of players changing their field-of-view on the fly. That does sound like cheating - and can matter quite a lot when used properly. Then again, I've never noticed anyone use something like this...
The lightning gun and shock rifle aren't overused because of fov hacks. They're overused because they're overpowered. UT2004 is a hitscan game, it's a game that largely plays at medium to long range, not close range. Which nerfs the effectiveness of close-ranged weaponry and boosts that off long-ranged weaponry. Besides, shock combos have always been overused in any UT game.
On another note. The UT2004 community is amongst the friendliest and most forgiving towards newbies. Most good players will help newcomers with tips and perhaps even a training session.
Granted, in public servers most player go all-out - and newbies don't stand much of a chance, but that's the environment those "good players" had to learn in as well. It's also the best possible environment for learning how to play: you learn more from getting 'wtfpwned' 10 times than from winning 50 times. Which is the reason why most players go all-out on public servers: good players want to get better as well and they need to play at their maximum against similarly or more skilled opponents to improve.
As for proof of that: when I joined my first TAM clan I was constantly ranked lowest in our matches. After 3 weeks of competing against far more experienced players I basically became our star player - and still am to this day (except in two different clans).
No I wouldn't really complain about customization of files until it gets to the level of Return to Castle Wolfenstein prior to OSP. Yikes, now that was horrible - all top players had configs that made the game look like Wolfenstein 3D. You couldn't compete otherwise. Fortunately the community fixed that themselves by limiting the amount of tweaking that could be done - this has also carried over into it's less enjoyable semi-sequel: Enemy Territory.
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