Never discount the value of friends to keep you from doing something rash, to keep you doing something that you find about as fun as dental surgery and to provide you with a new way to look at that dental surgery. Never discount this. As long as the friends are well meaning and what you were doing was not illegal or harmful this is a good thing. So I say thank you to Rocket Man and Rage Quit between the two of you, you talked me off that virtual ledge, renewed my faith in the gaming community and provided the intro to this blog.
If you have been following along then you are familiar with how I feel about Call of Duty, if not read Call of Frustration (Speaking Out in Class, Nathan Richmond, Dec. 2011-cite that fuckers). Last night was particularly bad with a 0 and 16 game, a 3 and 19 game and the best out of three 9 and 12 (that is number of people killed vs number of times I was killed). I was so frustrated and pissed off that I texted Kyle, who I had been playing with, that I was going to sell the fucking game off. He of course said not to. Given that he was in the middle of a party, holiday-hockey themed (Santa with a hockey mask, less teeth and a predaliction for checking kids he finds awake into the boards), he couldn’t offer more than that nugget, but it started the ball rolling. Later and I do mean much later Chris wanted to play and since I wanted to shoot the shit why not, tell him what’s going on and he says he is my Call of Duty lucky charm. Don’t know how true that is, but we played a couple of good games before the lifers (see below) found us and ruined the experience. So we moved onto Halo: Anniversary Edition where there was no driving off a cliff (there was me driving a warthog into an installation-a first for Chris-and getting it stuck in a door), but a discussion on why even though I suck balls at Call of Duty I should keep it.
I should keep it because I get along with a sizeable group of people and I do have fun. I should stop trying to be as good as everyone else. I’m not. I won’t be, most likely because I am not invested in the game in any sense other than the people I play with. So figure out if I am a camper or runner (see below) and do that. Okay, so I won’t be selling Call of Duty anytime soon and I have a new outlook, I can suck and it is okay…hell even expected…ain’t that an odd statement. My complaints about the game still stand, it is a monochrome game with plenty of suspect mechanics, but my friends play and thus I play.
All of the above, plus me being me, got me thinking about gamers, games and life. I have been playing games for as long as I can remember which means that I have been playing them before that. I have met every kind of gamer that you can think of and then some. I am a firm believer in the following, “How you play games is a good tell about who you are.” In a similar way to, “How you dance tells me how good you will be in the sack.” Both of those Nathanisms have served me well. It is rare that I have had a friend that didn’t play games and even rarer that I slept with someone who didn’t dance, because if you can’t dance then you can’t fuck me or something like that.
It used to be, before video games, that gamers broke into the following broad groups; Power Gamers, Rules Lawyers, Team Players, and Just Wants to Play Anything.
Power Gamers are one of the two bad types gamers. They only play to win. They spend their time in games figuring out how to win and only win usually through amassing as much power as they can. Be power in the form of stat crunching, manipulating the rules, belittling other players and so on. Power Gamers can quickly ruin a game for everyone at a table. So concerned with winning that they do not tend to take the other players into consideration unless they can help them win. Power Gamers are the people who want to play a game to the end even though they beat everyone ten turns ago. In role-playing games Power Gamers spend as much time pouring over the character creation rules looking for the best way to manipulate the numbers so that their character starts out with damn near everything and the kitchen sink. In collectable card games, Magic the Gathering for example, they will spend days, weeks, even months making the “perfect deck” that can and does stomp everyone in three turns. In video games, Power Gamers have all of the cool overpowered gear and tend to be the people who in team games play by themselves unconcenered if the rest of their team is getting slaughtered, just as long as they are still alive and winning. Power Gamers also tend be very poor loosers.
Rules Lawyers are unique to tabletop games. I haven’t found a rules lawyer in video game and the reason for this is that video game rules are hardwired into the game. A Rules Lawyer cannot argue the finer points of the language with their Xbox and have it change its mind. Rules Lawyers are the other bad type of gamer. A Rules Lawyer is not concerned with winning. They can and generally tend to be good team players. However, they are the bane of anyone running a game and can totally derail a game if they don’t get what they perceive as “their way.” Rules Lawyers will be one of the first challenges that anyone who runs games will have to deal with and they are a great learning group for learning how to deal with people who are always right. The Rules Lawyer only studies the rules, they are interested in how the game works. Not necessarily why it works, but how the rules are written and they expect that you have as much knowledge of the rules as they do. A “good” Rules Lawyer will be able to call up the most obscure rule at the drop of a hat if it will help them win an argument and argue they do. Fail to remember a rule and the Rules Lawyer will remind, which is good, until your interpretation of a rule does not match theirs and then they will challenge and keep challenging. Like Power Gamers, Rules Lawyers are poor loosers. Unlike Power Gamers who will keep coming back to a game, Rules Lawyers tend to quit games once their have been out argued or they cannot convince everyone else that their interpretation is the only interpretation.
Team Players are the best gamers. They want to win, but if they don’t win they aren’t bothered by it. Many of them see loosing as a bigger learning experience than winning. Team Players want everyone to have fun, because the more people who are having fun the better the experience. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be Power Gamers or Rules Lawyers, but it does mean that they keep the bad tendencies of those people in check so that everyone can have fun Team Players will play a game at a slower pace so that other people can learn or get a turn in luck to make the game challenging for all. Team Players will help new players, work with experienced players, don’t tend to hog the limelight and above all don’t lord winning over everyone else. Team Players in video games will work with other players in game and out of game make sure that new players know how to work the controls and teach them some of the tricks. Team Players in role-playing games try to make sure that everyone gets involved, learn the ins and outs and generally have a good time. Team Players in collectable card games will, instead of going for the win, stretch out a game so that the other player can see how their deck works or get a change in luck. They will work with players of all stripes to help them get the most out of the game. Team Players are good winners and loosers and yes their is a such a thing as being a good winner and looser.
Just Wants to Play Anything is a neutral gamer. They either haven’t figured out where they fit in or they haven’t had a group to play with in a while and will play whatever is going on regardless of how they feel about it. The Just Wants to Play gamer is common in all groups and almost every gamer at one time or another will become a Just Wants to Play gamer. However it is important to recognize this because if they don’t get interested they will be the first to quit.
The advent and popularity saw the rise of a few new categories of gamers and I have described how the old categories have adapted to video gamers. The Lifer, The Runner and The Camper are the three major categories of video games.
Now while these really apply to first-person shooters they do apply into other types of video games. The Lifer is someone who has adopted a game as their game. They play that game the majority of the time. They have played through every aspect of the game multiple times. They can tell you every tiny detail about the game in nausetatng detail. In most games, Lifers are annoying fan-boys like Trekkies, in first-person shooters they are the bane of every other gamer who is not a Lifer. Having spent the majority of their time playing the game they know and own everything possible to maximize their performance while neutralizing everyone else in the game. They will not only have the highest level, but will have the best weapon with the ultra-limited edition skin only available to six people in the world. If you are playing with a Lifer they are a font of information that will improve your game, if you are playing against one be prepared to get nothing out of the experience unless you like watching other people do well at your expense.
The Runner is someone who likes to stay on the move, they tend to play games with a lot of movement in them. In racing games they are good racers. In first-person shooters they don’t stop other than to look around a corner before bolting off to the next point. The Runner can fall into any of the other categories of gamers, but their inability to stay still for even a few seconds is what marks and drives them.
The Camper is the opposite of the runner, they stay in one area until they are discovered. They favor precision over movement. Like The Runner, Campers can fall into any of the other categories of gamers, but when they are playing they take their time making any move. They will wait for the most opportune moment before taking an action.
Like I said above these are some of the broad categories of gamers that I have noted over the many years of playing games. There are tons of subcategories, cross-categories and exceptions that prove the rule. It is, for me a fascinating topic, for you probably not so much, but then again this is MY blog, so you will one day have to suffer through another one of these.
One last thing, winning and loosing. Everyone wants to win, but unless the game is unique not everyone can win. There is such a thing as being a good winner and being a good looser. Good winners thank everyone for playing, let the loosers know that they were appreicated and even let them know good plays that they made. Later they will work with the loosers to improve their game. Good loosers will thank the winner for the game and will not bemoan all of the reasons why they lost. They will, if they are interested in the game, seek out advice to improve their game.
Be a good winner or looser.