The Idiots of Live

The Internet: Beware of Idiots

It is without doubt that the ultimate goal of Microsoft when launching Xbox Live last November was to create an immersive, inviting, and friendly community that connected gamers across the globe for fun, fast, and easy online gameplay. The service’s launch late last year was quite a success with over 250,000 subscribers using the service within a month or so. What could go wrong for Microsoft? Games were being held, players were playing, the servers were holding up, and lag was minimal. Unfortunately, Microsoft put quite a lot of faith into the people using the service to create the best experience for each other—in essence, they would have to police themselves. Nearly a year later, many Xbox Live gamers find themselves disgusted with the plan and fed up all together with the people online. Just what is it that drove these gamers mad and why exactly has Microsoft been unable to stop things like rampant cursing, ignoramuses, and overly sensitive nine-year olds? Read on for the full rolodex of online gamers who need a couple lessons in etiquette!

0|-| //0, //07 4g47//~`!!!

Yes, “leet speak”, the infamous internet language that is incredibly hard to decipher and even more difficult to interpret. While replacing English letters with numbers and other symbols has caught on in popularity and spread like wildfire across the internet, it doesn’t transition well to actual voice chat. Although it may seem innocent enough, being shot to death in Ghost Recon and having to hear some ten-year old scream, “I pwnz0rred j000!” on your voice communicator is about as becoming as nails on the chalkboard. All right, it was funny the first time because you had to pronounce “roxx0r.” For other gamers who just want to get online, have a nice game of whatever, and maybe make some friends, “1337” is extremely abrasive and is definitely NOT conducive to starting any human or intelligent forms of conversation. Keep leet off Live, please!

YOU STOLE MY KILL!

Everyone has encountered at least one extremely sensitive MechAssault gamer who insists that the mech you just took out was meant for him to take out. To begin with, it is a flawed argument as they never actually got a kill to have stolen away. After that, they come after you with a vengeance. Why are people so sensitive on the Live network? After all, it is just a game! All right, you didn’t get that kill—I’ll challenge you to the next one. Is there some type of unwritten Xbox Live Hammurabi-style code that says “thou shalt not steal another mech’s kill”? People just go wild on this one; they actually fill with rage because you stole their precious kill. I have had an entire room of people turn against me because one member threatened mutiny (I can’t believe a whole room actually cared one person was going to leave the game because I robbed him of his hard-earned kill). Everyone on Live is so incredibly tense. I mean, why not make a joke about the situation. Xbox Live was meant as a means of entertainment, NOT as a means of expressing your frustration to hapless other players around the world.

GEEK AT POINT FOXTROT

This is much less annoying than other types of people online, but they seem to be everywhere: the “in-the-environment” über-dork. While playing Ghost Recon, my teammates were all giving instructions to one another in military terminology. After expressing my confusion at exactly where point “Zulu” was, the team exploded with incredulity. I was told that I was not good enough to be on their team because I did not memorize the layout of the level nor was I paying attention to their imaginary locations. Hello geeks! Go outside and breathe some fresh air at point Delta, please! Again, Xbox Live is meant to be fun and exciting—this hatred for one another and this overly competitive spirit zaps the fun out of the network.

You Can’t Beat Me if I Drop Out Now!

This specifically refers to people who quit in the last quarter/period/inning in a sports title simply because they are losing. Take the loss! The community is too focused on winning and that breeds sore losers. The environment is way too tense online, and quitting games at the last minute because you are afraid to see your perfect record tarnished is both immature and annoying. Think about the other player for once, would you?

WOOOOO!!!! WE ROCK AND YOU SUCK!!! EAT MY DIRT, SCUMBAG! YOU HOMO!

Poor losers are just as ubiquitous as poor winners. After a battle round in Phantasy Star Online, I realized I had lost and that I had to concede. I thought my opponent would take my losing as a graceful exit. Not exactly—they decided they had to do a touchdown celebration all over my dead body. I could hear the screaming even after I had set my microphone down on the desk. I like people who trash-talk as they add a bit of community and edginess to the environment, but these people take it too far. They start with awful insults, which often turn into racial slurs. Although it is rare, there are some gamers with an extreme anti-Semitic bias in Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Whether it is the premise of the game or just the type of people who enjoy shooting Nazis, it is pretty serious and most definitely offending. Just because the game takes place in an anti-Semitic world doesn’t mean everyone has to discriminate to get the full feel of the ambiance.

This virtual thug be pimping dem hoes.

These people exist in real life and transition (unfortunately) well to Xbox Live: the virtual thugs and gangstas who insist on littering their sentences with profanities and “ghetto-speak.” To begin with, it doesn’t sound cool for nine-year-olds to have the deep gangster voice mask. Now, add in the fact that these nine-year-olds have the self-confidence of broiled cabbage with polka-dotted couture: cursing, swearing, cussing, and excessive screaming does not impress anyone online and it isn’t going to get you “bitches and hoes.” There are young children and refined adults on the service who want to have decent conversation, and the virtual thug manages to destroy any type of tête-à-tête because it is nearly impossible to chain, “So what do you think of the Iraq crisis?” with, “DAMN BIZNATCH I OWNED JO AZZ. YOU MAH DAWG, MAN.” Ghetto-speak is taking over middle schools across the country (much to the chagrin of English professors) and is notorious for making absolutely no sense whatsoever. Words like, “dawg”, “bounce”, “hizzay”, and “mofugga” irritate those of us who are sick of people acting like they are being oppressed by the English thesaurus. Please, people, say, “I’m finished, thanks for the great game, guys!” instead of, “Amma bounce, yo. It’s been off the rizzle for shizzle.” My head is going to explode because my Ghetto-speak translator is overworked by prissy white eleven-year-olds trying to catch an internet babe to impress. Reel the line back in, geniuses, there is nothing to catch!

The Good, the Bad, and the Diarrhea of the Mouth

Everyone should talk on Xbox Live. The voice communicator is a great new device from Microsoft that allows us to be just feet away from each other when in reality we could be across the globe. Why is it, then, that it seems like nobody ever uses the thing? There seem to be three types of people on the service: those who don’t shut up, those who never talk for fear of other geeks hearing their geek voices, and those who say extremely corny things at extremely corny moments. While those who don’t shut up tend to spice things up a bit, they clog up the airways and really make it difficult to use the communicator for any type of strategic gameplay. The worst example of this is in Ghost Recon, where stealth and teamwork are paramount. I was put on the front squad (who is going to imaginary point Charlie) that would be infiltrating this castle-type environment. Someone on the squad was a contagious bigmouth; he was talking about his new shoes, his school, his girlfriend, his favorite books, mountain biking, his printer being broken, how he hates his PC, etc. The topics, while interesting, were endless. Of course, yours truly was forced to go in first. When I found the guys, I immediately radioed the team and requested backup. I waited in my location for about two minutes and asked them where they were. I got no response. Almost five minutes had gone by before I realized that bigmouth was overpowering my voice, stopping my teammates from getting any actual feedback. Needless to say, I was discovered and killed while my teammates back at the ranch were talking about their favorite deli sandwiches.

More annoying than that species, however, are those who never talk. What puzzles me most is that some people do not even wear the headset. While I can’t even begin to fathom why you would not wear the FREE included headset with all of your games, not communicating in certain games really ruins the teamwork aspect. Whacked!, for instance, was really only enjoyable when you could hear each other laughing and telling jokes to lighten up the bland gameplay. When no one talks, it feels like you are (don’t laugh) playing with yourself. Xbox Live costs 50 dollars a year to connect you to other gamers, so if I wanted to play alone, I would do so offline—for free. No one is going to be embarrassed if your voice is a little high and whiney. Everyone is a geek the minute they subscribe, so relax and let your hair down. You’ll find the experience is much more enjoyable when you are talking, anyway.

Most annoying, however, are those who resort to awkward, discomforting clichés that leave everyone at a loss for words. If I hear one more butchered version of “to the victor go the spoils” I am going to scream. Not everything said has to be poetic or overplayed. Being natural and your own unique person is what makes the Xbox Live online community so diverse!

For Those of You Who are Too Good for Xbox Live

Would all of you who think you are God’s gift to this green Earth PLEASE get off the service? I was in a full game of Phantasy Star Online at an early level, so my powers were just a bit lacking. I requested help from one of my teammates, who came to my rescue and warded off the fiends until I could get my bearings. I thanked him very much for his efforts and he told me it was no problem. Apparently, however, it was a problem—the poor guy kept repeating how if I needed help, he would protect me and how I was in his debt. He consistently reminded me that he rocked at this game and that he had so many items he could barely carry them all. After about twenty minutes of him bragging, one team member told him to shove it because they were leaving; the other followed suit. I was stuck with blabber mouth towards the end of the game. I ended up sacrificing the progress and fun I was having on Xbox Live because this guy would not shut up about how great he was (and I pay for this, people). Yes, the service is meant to encourage competition, but surely enough is enough! This person eventually evolves into the flailing poor winner, so be on the lookout.

Can We PLEASE Deal with Your Personal Life LATER?

There is nothing more annoying than having someone screaming into the microphone because they are talking to their mom calling them from downstairs. In one MechAssault game, I was discussing strategy with one of my teammates when he just started screaming, “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?” at me. I didn’t know what to think. Was it something I said? Was it my breath? I then realized that he was talking to his mom after I heard, “YOU PUT MY LAUNDRY AWAY!” There is a mute button right on the microphone adapter. Turn off voice feedback before you start talking about something non-game related. The lack of loud screaming and confusing messages (that frankly can be taken the wrong way) would really be appreciated!

OMFG N000000b

Often times I find myself buying a new game and then being so excited to play it I don’t actually stop and read the game manual. I just figure that when I get online, I will politely ask for instructions—this way I might even pick up some game tips, too. In a game of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, this almost killed another gamer. He could not BELIEVE I was asking for help with the controls. Profanities were flying instantly as he degraded not only my ability, but my character as well! Clearly I was not good enough to play the game as I had not read the manual. I must have been an idiot, because only idiots would not read the manuals to their games.

Let me remind everyone that Xbox Live is a community. In a community, everyone helps everyone else enjoy himself or herself. That is what online gaming is all about—contributing to a giant party of gaming. Why is it that we are all too good for each other?

Mind Your Manners and We’ll Get Along Fine

Overall, Microsoft has done a fantastic job setting up the first subscription online service for a video game console. They have ironed out all the technical problems and ensured that Xbox Live CAN be an enjoyable experience for everyone. Now, however, the burden is on our shoulders. As gamers, we all share a common hobby: video games. For our hobby to grow and expand, we have to actually want to share it with one another! If we all watch our language and act like civilized human beings, the Xbox Live service is only going to grow and flourish even more than it already has. We want our community to be the most expansive, most complete community online, and to do that we are going to have to at least appear friendly.

Then again, 250,000 of us just bashing each other over the head with words does sound awfully entertaining!

Until next time,

Kevin Ciok