Monday, 2 December 2013

Hello, I'm New Here

  The gaming community has grown massively in the last few years, with games like Grand Theft Auto 5 and Call of Duty: Inevitable Annual Release Ops Warfare selling millions of copies worldwide. However, it's not always easy being the new kid on the block when it comes to video games, so much so we even have a special word for it...n00b.

  Most games are intrinsically competitive, even in when you don't compete directly there are often score boards and rankings, and this can create a certain amount of elitism - literally when it comes to rankings. Being able to quantify how good you are at a game can make it difficult for a newcomer though as it singles them out and creates an expectation that they won't be as good as someone who is ranked higher. It's not necessarily an incorrect assumption, but the issue is that the new player's inexperience is highlighted. If a more experienced player were to make a mistake, the rest of the team might be more willing to pass this off as simply messing up; whereas the reaction to a newcomer making a mistake tends to be a bit more vitriolic. Shockingly enough, this doesn't tend to improve the new player's skills.

  So why don't gamers offer carefully thought out and constructive criticism rather than listing all the profanities they know? Part of this is certainly to do with the fact that multiplayer games are often very intense and fast paced so there isn't really time to offer advice. The intensity and pace can also mean that tensions are running high. It also comes down to the fact that the information other players are provided with are very limited - a kill-death-ratio doesn't offer any context. If someone is being repeatedly sniped as soon as they spawn it will reflect poorly on them statistically even though it has little to do with the player's actual ability. It's also difficult to tell someone how to improve if you're not entirely sure what they are doing wrong in the first place. Finally, in games with class systems or games like League of Legends where each character's playing style is specific other players may easily be able to recognise when another player is performing badly, but not know how to play as that character any better themselves.

  There are truly wonderful moments when playing a new game though. Sometimes you reach a point where everything just clicks perfectly and you just play brilliantly. From time to time another player might recognise this and congratulate you. One of my own personal frustrations with online gaming is that people tend to be a lot quicker to criticise than they are to praise. It is quite possible that I'm just awful at games so I experience more of the bad than the good!

  So if you're new to a game, try to ignore the trolls, and if you're playing alongside someone who's not doing so well, try to be more constructive than simply saying someone's bad. Chances are if someone's new, they know they're not so good yet and reminding them isn't going to make them any better.

  If you've had any particularly good or bad experiences when starting out at a game please leave a comment below!