When you've got the right group of people, playing a video game online can be a blast. Opponents are evenly matched, the gameplay is never predicable, and you might even make a friend in the process.
Those sessions, unfortunately, are rare. Too often, online gaming brings out the worst in people. You'll have to deal with tirades, cheaters, and griefers, jerks who get pleasure torturing other players.
There are plenty of bad habits in the online gaming world, but here are ten of the worst.
- Foul/rude language
It used to be if you wanted to learn the latest patently offensive terms and lamebrain insults, you'd have to pick a fight on a playground. Nowadays? Just play a modern shooter online.
Being berated by an opponent or teammate is sadly commonplace, as are racial slurs, sexist rants and enough 'colorful' language to make George Carlin blush. Sure, we all get upset and let an expletive fly from time to time, but an egregious number of online gamers spew obscenities like no one is listening. We are. If you can't play without cursing up a storm, do us all a favor and leave the headset in the drawer.
- Crummy sportsmanship
There's a fine line between friendly trash talk and going for the jugular. Some online players zero in on newbies and verbally abuse them incessantly. It's possible to mute them, but once you've been targeted by an abusive know-it-all, it's hard to want to keep playing. No one wants to play with a jerk. Don't be that guy.
Most of us play games as a fun diversion. Perhaps we play to relax, or maybe to challenge our reflexes. Others see success in a game as a reflection of their self-worth and can't stomach the thought of losing, so they rely on cheat codes or exploit glitches in the game to win at any cost. They're often banned by the moderators, but never immediately. Leave the cheating to your single-player game.
- Ignoring your team
Leroy Jenkins became a classic internet meme when a player ignored his team in a World of Warcraft session and got them all killed. Good for a laugh, but not so good when you're on his team. It's hard enough finding a team that plays well together; getting submarined by a self-obsessed gamer sucks the fun right out of it. If you're after personal glory and not interested in playing well with others, do everyone a favor and just play a solo game. (Unless you're actually Leroy Jenkins, in which case, we salute you.)
- Rage quitting
You're just about to score a hard-earned victory against an opponent, then the notice comes onscreen that they've left the game. It could be a problem with their connection, but odds are they got upset they were losing and dropped out in a fit of rage. Depending on the game, you might still get credit for the win, but these people rob you of that climatic moment when you achieve victory.
No, not the great outdoors kind. We're talking about camping in shooters, where players prefer to set up shop in a hidden corner of the map, essentially hidden from incoming bullets, and pick off other players with a sniper rifle. A legit tactic? Technically, sure, but since most shooters are built to encourage movement and action, it's also a great way to earn the ire of everyone playing against (and even with) you.
- Not knowing the rules
Know-it-alls might be frustrating, but so are players who insist on playing online games, but have absolutely no idea what they're doing. You'll know exactly who they are by their errant meanderings and total disregard for any mission or map objectives. They'll constantly die, refuse to listen to advice, and generally wreak havoc by failing to read the game's instruction manual. It's fine to learn as you go, but be mindful that no one signed on to babysit.
Here's a tip for anyone who's playing online: That microphone near your mouth is on. And if you put it too close, the rest of us are going to be forced to listen to your asthmatic gasping. Heaven help us if you're got a sinus infection. Move it an inch or two back and everyone will be happier.
- Arguing with non-players
Having to listen to two players bicker is bad enough, but when opponents begin squabbling with their spouses, parents or significant others, it just gets awkward. The rest of the people playing the game don't want to hear about how you forgot to take out the garbage or what you need picked up from the store. Just remember to hit mute next time.
- Being too good for the room
No one will fault you for having awesome game skills (assuming you're not cheating), but if you play at a level that is significantly higher than everyone in the room, do us a favor and find somewhere else to play. Losing is part of the game, but not if you're playing against someone eons past your skill level. If one player is dominating round after round after round — and by a wide margin — it kind of sucks the fun out of the room. Michael Jordan didn't spend his career outplaying high-schoolers, and neither should you.