Quick background: My 9-year old son loves Valve’s Left 4 Dead games, so this weekend I purchased him Left 4 Dead 2 on Steam while it was 75% off. He logged on to play some multiplayer and the server he joined called him names, berated him because of his age, his high-pitched voice and proceeded to ruin a little kid’s day.
Here’s the thing, he’s not a n00b when it comes to FPS shooters. My Xbox 360 is a developer kit, so it isn’t hooked up to the internet. He beat Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 in a week. He next proceeded to pound through the storylines of Call of Duty and Modern Warfare, breezing through them as I’ve only saw on professional gaming television.
The kid is a natural. I wish I was half as good as he.
Which brings me to my point: Don’t we all start as n00bs?
I remember playing World of Warcraft and asking how people used portals as a mage. I was then introduced to the wonderful world of “skill trainers,” something I hadn’t noticed while playing before. Everyone does it, and more important: new players mean a game is healthy and alive. If new players are joining and trying to play, the game is still appealing and not likely to fall aside while other games come out and push the older games behind. We’ve all done it, and we’ve done it in every game, regardless of what age we were at the time.
New players in a game tell me the game itself has a strong social class system built within it and the game will have a stronger longevity than others.
I also understand the amount of dickweeds and asshats online are only getting stronger and more abundant. Maybe it was a good thing my son heard and felt the pain a n00b feels while learning about online gaming. It may keep him humble. It may help him become a stronger gamer later in life so when another situation comes up again, (and it will,) he will turn the other cheek, join another server with less asshats or keel down and own these morons who feel the best thing they can do is throw insults at a 9-year old across the country.
My first impression was to log on and wipe the floor with these jackholes, but you and I both know that won’t stop them from doing this again. In fact, it would only make things worse by reiterating their actions were just.
The point he (and all n00bs) need to know is this: Online, just like outside, is full of idiots, morons and half-wits. A small amount of courtesy will go a long way and instead of calling someone a name and making them feel like a worthless hulk of human flesh, help them understand the game and how it works.
You may just make a new friend.
If nothing else, you now know the name of someone you can shoot at in Left 4 Dead.