The Dark Personalities of Online Gaming
“If it’s not fun, stop playing.” That’s my number one rule in gaming, and although I have had lots of great times and built some lasting friendships online, sometimes there are people who deliberately take the fun right out of the game.
In order to understand the personality types I will mention, let me give a little background: I’ve been playing online games since 2001, and currently I have been playing a popular dungeon-questing game for about five years. In this game, players earn special gear, weapons, and rewards by completing quests. Although the quests can be completed alone, they are designed for a party of up to six people who work interdependently, synthesizing individual strengths for the good of the group.
A player can start a party by inviting others to join, and once in the party, headsets become active and players can hear and talk to each other. Players can be invited into or can leave a party at any time up until the quest begins. Once a party enters a quest, its members are committed to finishing it. Most people quest with a party of people they know, but sometimes they will party with strangers. This is known as a PUG, or Pick-Up Group. Players can also join guilds, which are large groups of affiliated players who share a common name. Guilds offer bonuses and benefits, and they also give players a familiar group of people to play with. Guilds whose members party together receive bonuses which increase the guild’s renown level. My guild’s name is Winter is Coming. Here’s a picture of two of us when we hit renown level 100, although we are almost level 110 now. Guild benefits, called “buffs” are across the top, the quest goals are at the right, and my toolbars are at the bottom of the screen. Members of the party are on the left:
In “Simulated Friendships?” I discussed the lasting positive relationships that online gaming offers, but online relationships aren’t always positive. I mentioned that one of the early rules of online gaming was that people were expected to be genuine, even though they were fairly anonymous. In the years since, some players have developed some alternate personality traits that I don’t particularly like:
Trolls. These guys used to live under bridges and eat billy goats, but the online version is a person who intentionally starts disagreements among players (and in forums, too) so they can sit back and watch the mayhem they create, for nothing more than their own amusement. Trolls will enter a PUG and say something derogatory or mean, just to see how others will respond, then sit back and listen to the havoc. They tend to ramp emotions up and then blame others for starting an argument. Although trolls exist in all kinds of social media, I think they should go back under the bridge they came from.
Jerks. These people think the PUG is a platform for their personal opinion, and will put down anyone who dares to disagree. Rather than focus on the task at hand, like completing a quest, jerks will sidetrack everyone in the party by chatting about whatever they find important. They use mean sarcasm and are rude and inappropriate, even when someone asks them to tone it down. Jerks also tend to leave the party abruptly when the quest is over. It is possible for players to block players from further contact, so jerks may find themselves with few people on their friends list.
Braggarts. These guys show off all their awesome gear to anyone who will look, and they will self-aggrandize about their own amazing skills. Granted, it does take considerable effort to get these sometimes rare items, and building a good skill set is a major component of the game, but the braggart makes a point to show how much better his items are than everyone else’s. Don’t dare ask about what he had to do to earn the gear, either, unless you want the story of the century.
Know-it-alls. These people are the spoilers of questing, and they are not shy about telling everyone how the quest will end. They not only tell everyone exactly what to expect, but they orchestrate what to do, where to go, and how to fight. They give lots of unsolicited advice, and they get mad if anyone takes initiative. And once the quest has begun, no one can leave the party, which can be a nightmare with a player like this, especially if the quest is long and difficult (although it can be handy for first-timers).
Zergers. The zerger runs ahead, leaving all the other players behind. Often this player is highly powered or very strong, and the player thinks he’s bullet-proof and the rest of the group are idiots. Either he finishes the quest and leaves the group abruptly, or he gets mobbed by a bunch of enemies and killed, way up in some dark corner of the quest map somewhere, and whines about being abandoned until someone comes to revive him. Then he whines about how long it takes for someone to help him, and how much better the quest would be if only the others were doing their jobs. Zergers are handy, though, if the goal is only experience points. They can do all the work, and everyone else reaps the benefits.
Pikers. Pikers enter a quest and leave their character just standing there, sometimes even walking away from the computer while the rest of the group completes the quest. Sometimes pikers will follow along but not contribute anything until a treasure chest comes along, at which time they are suddenly a team player. As soon as the action starts again, they hide or lag behind. Pikers know that the party leader can’t kick them out once the quest has begun, but oftentimes as soon as the quest is over, a piker may suddenly find himself kicked out if the leader doesn’t think he’s earned his place in the party.
Spammers. Spammers send message after message asking for a loan or gift of virtual money or equipment for their own character. “That’s a nice helmet. Can I have it?” Those from well-established guilds or who have fancy armor or weapons are especially vulnerable to gold spammers. These people can be annoying, and I’ve reported someone for it.
Chest rapers. These players seem to have no morals. Their scam takes a considerable amount of planning with intent to do harm. They make friends in a fairly sizeable guild, spend weeks or even months cultivating a “genuine” relationship, and convince the leader to add them to the guild, which grants them access to the guild-only storage chest, which usually has quite a few nice hard-won, rare, and expensive items in it. Once the chest raper earns guild-chest access, he steals everything from the chest, quits the guild, and disappears.
Dupers. These guys have found some way outside the game to illegally “dupe” or duplicate rare or special items which they sell in the game for obscene prices, making themselves a virtual fortune. Duplicated items saturate the market, which unbalances the natural economy of the game and ruins the special content for everyone. Sometimes the duping gets so bad that the developers have to remove the items from gameplay, which means if a player legitimately earned or obtained the items, he is out of luck. I avoid these people, because if the developers catch them, anyone associated with them could be accused of these crimes, too, and the perpetrators can have their accounts suspended.
Noobs. This term is short for “newbies,” or people new to a game. A noob is clueless about the game, often making stupid mistakes that can affect the rest of the party, like blowing something up and damaging their teammates, or running into a room they are unfamiliar with, setting off traps or triggering a mob of enemies. Those who admit they are new and ask for guidance are much more tolerated than those who try to hide their inexperience with bravado. After all, we were all noobs once.
Elitists. These people only party up with others who have maximum skills, and who are more interested in loot or experience, so they grind through the same quests over and over. Rather than enjoy casual banter with party members, elitists don’t tolerate anyone who doesn’t have a perfectly-built character that does maximum damage to enemies. Entire guilds are made up of elitists, and they have extreme entrance requirements which often include massive time commitments. For them, the game is not about fun. It’s about being the best.
Other people to avoid in online gameplay are those who talk constantly (especially annoying if they have a headset with no volume control), those who have “squishy” characters with low hit points (they die often and are high-maintenance), and those who are unprepared (lacking spell components, arrows, scrolls, or equipment). There are also those who will try to gain access to a player’s account, saying they can only fix a problem from inside. As with anyone requesting account information, these people should be reported.
If you choose to embark into the world of online gaming, make sure you do some homework about your game of choice before you begin. Read the forums to understand how players interact in the game, and if they are having issues with the program. Watch how often the developers interact with the players, and how they resolve those issues. See if the game has download, bug, or lag problems. Make sure your computer can handle the software and that you have a robust gaming-style video and sound card. And lastly, put the armor on your psyche. People are looking for you.