Stat babies cropping up in online games

Stat
babies cropping up in online games
Zoned In
By

Michael Lafferty

Some
players care more for individual performance than team effort to detriment of
MMO space

Recently
having secured the latest version of
Ultimate Baseball Online, it was time to
get my game on – so to speak – and play in online games with other players. Ok,
my batting eye may need some work, but it is a learning process.

UBO is a
unique beast in the massively multiplayer world. Not without some problems in
terms of connectivity and AI, the game has also clearly marked a new kind of
animal – those whom shall be referred to now as “stat babies.”

What is a
stat baby?

In short, a
stat baby is a player who is so preoccupied with individual stats that he or she
will not play (as in will quit) a game so as to not affect those stats.

Case in
point … In UBO there is a player, a pitcher, named .Slim. This character
specializes in throwing very off-speed stuff – in the mid-50s, which can really
mess up timing and requires patience. Slim carries an ERA of .12 and yes, that
is amazing. In the Major Leagues, an ERA (earned run average) like that would be
worth many millions of dollars. UBO, though, is not the Major Leagues. And in
several games this past weekend – and yes, I was there and saw it – each time it
looked as though the opposing team was about to rough him up and ruin that ERA,
he left the game. This didn’t happen just once.

The reason
being is that if a person/pitcher allows a baserunner, they are not responsible
for the runner (under the current UBO build) if they disconnect or quit the game
before the runner crosses the plate. In short, these people care more about
imaginary numbers than they do about helping teammates or playing the game
properly in a team atmosphere.

As for Slim
… a conversation took place in the lobby of another game. A player accused him
of quitting games. His reply was that he only quits if it looks like the other
team is going to score. And yes, he said precisely that. I saw the remark. Might
have been in jest, but he drops out of a lot of games before runs can score to
ruin that precious ERA. And please, don’t think I’m picking on just one person.

There are
hitters with very high batting averages that will quit if they strike out,
ground out or fly out. Why? Perhaps it is to keep that BA intact.

And this is
a condition not exclusive to UBO. Other games have the same problem. Ever play a
console football game online, to be cruising and have your opponent suddenly
quit? They might blame connection problems, but more likely they are leaving
games to avoid having stats take a beating. And this is not just limited to
players who drop to avoid having stats take a hit. They also have been known to
hack the code to have things happen in their favor.

What these
various people seem to forget is that this is fantasy. The numbers mean nothing.
The true measure of the person is not contained in unrealistic statistics but
rather they reflected in the character of the player. Who would you rather have
by your side in a team game? Someone who looks good on paper but who runs at the
first sign that their personal stats may get a bit beat up, or someone that will
try their best and stick it out through even rough times.

Some online
games do have the ability to chart the number of times a person drops from a
game. This needs to become standard in the massively multiplayer market. Those
who seem to be dropping an inordinate amount of times while maintaining very
good person stats need to be dealt with. They are leaving teammates hanging out
to dry and generally ruining the atmosphere of games.

MMO stands
for massively multiplayer online; it is not an acronym for “Me & Me Only.” It is
supposed to be about community, not selfish devotion to personal glory. It is a
personal story told within the massively multiplayer space, but that means
interaction with and reliance upon others to create the story.

Stat babies
can ruin the experience for more than just themselves.