Death before Dishonor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Adam (Vergil)   
Sunday, 11 December 2005
Or “Why fair-weather game players make team games suck.”

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In my years of being a fan of Michigan State University athletics I have come to realize that there are in essence two types of sports fans: True Fans and Fair-Weather Fans.  As I’m sure you all know, True Fans are the ones who support a sports team for a static reason, such as “They are the local team” or “This is the educational institution I attend/attended/want to attend.”  Fair-Weather Fans on the other hand, only support a team because of one reason: They win, and the second they stop winning, they stop being fans.

Now it is a known and unfortunate fact that you cannot be a winning team without picking up a sizable amount of Fair-Weather fans.   However, these fans are often the worst kind. They gripe and complain like sissies when the game doesn’t go their way, even if they win.  They are quick to ‘blame’ people, especially referees or coaching staff, in response to a loss rather than accepting that perhaps their team isn’t the best team in the contest.  They also won’t cheer for their team when it matters: when they are down.  They will instead only cheer when things are looking up.

This description covers most University of Michigan Fans you will notice.  However I won’t go there since this is not what I’m here to talk about.  I’m here to talk about how I’ve noticed the behavior pattern of the Fair-Weather Fan perpetuating into video games.

Some people play video games expecting themselves to be the “winning” team in their “conference.”  They expect to be able to face most adversaries and win, and when they don’t win, something went wrong.  They did not meet someone better than them in combat – rather that person cheated, did something cheap, or they got stuck on a lame team, or whatever.  That’s not to say that there aren’t video games that allow players to be cheep or get wins through unfair methods, but that doesn’t give people a blank excuse to play like a “fair-weather gamer.”

Everyone who has played online games has seen this person.  This is the guy who bails out of a Starcraft match if their initial rush doesn’t kill their opponent.  This is the guy who quits a Halo 2 match the second they think they aren’t going to win, dooming the team they are on.  This is the person who bails on a Guild Wars group the second they die, even when a perfectly viable rez could have been arranged.

This behavior can be backed by understandable cause in some games.  For example, Starcraft and Halo 2 track the win/loss records of users whenever they play online.  Therefore, it stands to reason that a person would not want to suffer a loss so as to taint their wonderful win record.  However, these fair-weather players fail to think about anyone other than themselves when they drop out of their games.  They fail to think about the fact that by dropping out they may be costing everyone else on their team a loss.  They fail to think about how their inflated win/loss record really isn’t something to be proud of if it isn’t the truth.  And, in the case of Halo 2, they don’t think about how badly they are brining down the overall community since Bungie’s matchmaking system places such important emphasis on your play rank in an effort to ensure fair and fun contests.  The system cannot do this if everyone keeps dropping from their games to prevent losses.

However, where this behavior makes no sense, and therefore has no excuse, is World of Warcraft and Guild Wars.  In WoW, losing in PvP has no negative effect on you at all.  You do not lose honor for dying, nor do you lose honor for losing a battleground.  Furthermore, by dropping out of a battleground you are only denying yourself whatever additional honor kills you could have earned by sticking it out and snagging a few more kills before your team loses. WoW doesn’t track your battleground win/loss record and losing isn’t going to stop you from moving up in rank.  The behavior just doesn’t make any sense at all.  In Guild Wars at least a guild loss is tracked and effects your Guild’s rank, but outside of Guild vs Guild battle you do not lose anything for losing in either PvP or PvE.  Heck, quitting out of a PvE group in Guild Wars is beyond moronic considering the game lacks any long-term penalties for death AT ALL.  In fact, it is this lack of penalty that drives some people away from playing the game.

Finally, you got to remember that this is a game.  You’re not playing for money when you’re on a random battleground or a UT2k4 CTF or Onslaught match, there is no reason to quit the game just because you’re losing. Instead you should seize the opportunity, thinking “I may lose, but damn it I’m gonna make it as hard for them to win as possible!”  Who knows, you might learn how to play the game better by fighting against opponents who outclass you.

So in the end, what I’m trying to say, and I mean this to the entire gaming community, including myself, is don’t place so damn much emphasis on winning all the damn time.  No one wins non-stop.  That only happens in Anime and movies. Losses are learning experiences that can teach you how to better play the game and in the end will make it easier for you to win.  So next time you’re talking to someone who thinks is okay to drop out of a game because it’s not going their way, tell them not only that their kind bring down gaming communities, but that they’re only hurting themselves in the process.  Don’t be a fair-weather gamer.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 11 December 2005 )
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