Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Die, you F***ing NEWB!!11!1 - Multiplayer Etiquette - Ryviews Special Ryport

As far as I can tell, Xbox Live doesn't have any officially published etiquette rules. And after a bit of internet searching, I've found there is some common ground, but for the most part it's a completely ungoverned frontier. In the era of disappearing net neutrality and an ever-growing trend towards constant connectivity, I can certainly see a case for why there shouldn't be any hard rules.

But does the gaming suffer one way or the other?

I'm fairly new to the multiplayer environment. I pretty much starting playing on Xbox Live during Halo: Reach, where the games were lively. It seemed like a large number of people use microphones (myself included) and people were generally not overly offensive. There was a mixture of angry gamers who yelled every time they died and players who would actively try to help their teammates out with useful advice.

Now, whenever I play Halo 4, the talking seems to have gone away. Maybe it's just the matches I end up in, but it's rare that I encounter anyone with a microphone, and when I find that player with one it usually resulting in an unpleasant amount of disruptive white noise or background chatter. So, at least recently, I'm not very happy with the quality of the multiplayer chatting.

But there's much more to the experience than talking. I'm frequently disgruntled by the jerks who will teabag my corpse after killing me in Halo 4, and that's a persistent problem, but in general I rarely encounter pre-meditated team killing, or any other kind of mental anguish.

I also recently gave the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer another try, and since that's cooperative, I was hesitant to jump back in. I was predictably quite bad, given that I haven't played in close to a year, but pretty much every time I passed out there was a teammate there to revive me. There's was one particular soldier who dutifully stuck with me for multiple missions, constantly bailing me out of trouble. But he didn't quit, he didn't send any angry messages my way, he just played the game and helped me however he could. Truly a class act.

Shepard could learn a thing or two from that guy...

Honestly, while I'm disappointed that I don't encounter many talkers any more, I don't feel like multiplayer etiquette is really lacking. The stereotype is that everyone playing on Xbox Live is either 12 years old or they act that way. But I just really don't see that as the case. For the most part, the gamers I encounter are just like me; they're playing because they like the game. They aren't trolling, they aren't just trying to screw it up for everyone else. They're just playing the game.

When I starting brainstorming for this article, I honestly thought that there should be some real etiquette rules that people are expected to follow. But regulation of content over the internet starts a dangerous precedent. Too many rules could, at the very least, stop some subset of gamers from playing certain games, or playing online at all. And rules usually also encourage some people to break them, effectively making an unenforceable rule completely worthless, and making the problem worse.

I do think that most games should have a way to filter the experience. There should always be a global mute option. And, while I'm a bad culprit of this, there should be more gamers using player reviews for positive experiences. I don't really think I ever submit positive reviews (although I made a point to do so for that Mass Effect 3 player). Usually I submit a negative review whenever a Halo player has a very disruptive mic or someone teabags my corpse. I can't remember the last time I gave a positive review after playing Halo.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/q5d88uo

And really, I think that's the problem with the perception of multiplayer in the gaming environment. Gamers react stronger to negative experiences than positive ones. That's human nature. And we really need to help foster a culture that rewards good behavior, as much if not more so than punishing bad behavior. Because I for one want a gaming experience that's enjoyable for everyone involved. We already have a common ground, we're playing the same video game. There's no reason to be jerks to one another.

So I tend to think that online gaming would suffer if it went in either extreme. You can't make it a no-fun zone full of regulations and rules, but you also really can't survive in a completely lawless zone full of offensive and frustrating people or content. Gamers need a mutual respect and sense of community so that the people who are overly aggressive or offensive are motivated to be less harsh, and I think that would benefit everyone involved.

I'd love to hear what anyone else thinks on the subject in the comments!

Until next time,


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