Letting off Steam

Published on March 31st, 2013

You’d be forgiven for thinking I was a horrible person, I swear, drink and smoke too much, I say horrible things to people, I say horrible things about people (be it to their face or behind their back), but actually, I’m a nice man, honest. I like to think I’m a fair, rational person who takes other people into consideration with my actions and with things I say, and I enjoy video games, and I love Steam. Steam is not only a great idea, but one of the best value for money. So would it not be far fetched to think that maybe the Steam Community might also be likewise, fair, rational people who are somewhat “metered in their interaction with others”…you would think that, but you’d be wrong (kind of). I can think of two incidents off hand that I’ve witnessed and they both involve Left 4 Dead 2. It’s probably unfair to highlight interactions based on one game out of tens of thousands that Steam have available, but being honest, they highlight my malaise about PC gamers in general.

  1. L4D2’s mutations used to rotate on a weekly basis on Xbox Live, and with no real support for the game available on Microsoft/Xbox’s own forums (them just really being a virtual guestbook of people moaning about being votekicked out of games), I had to turn to the Steam forums for when for three weeks the Mutation hadn’t changed, so assuming there had been something wrong, or maybe there was something I had to do to correct that, I found that I wasn’t in fact alone and other people had also started threads in there, I had a quick scan of one of the threads and it read a little like this.

 

SELF EDITORIAL NOTE: THE FOLLOWING EXCHANGE IS HEAVILY PARAPHRASED AND MAY NOT ENTIRELY ACCURATELY REFLECT THE EXCHANGE THAT OCCURRED ON SAID FORUM, THEREFORE MAY BE SUBJECT TO “MISREMEMBERING”, GENERAL ARTISTIC LICENCE, AND MAYBE A DASH OF HYPERBOLE.

 

PERFECTLY INNOCENT QUESTION ASK…ER: Hey, does any know why the Mutation hasn’t changed on the 360 version of L4D2? It’s been like that for a few weeks.

 

RESPONSE 1 (WELL MEANING, BUT ULTIMATELY USELESS): Not entirely sure, but on the PC version you can manually chose the mutation.

 

RESPONSE 2 (LESS WELL MEANING, BUT STILL NOT AS SHOCKING AS THE NEXT RESPONSE): Who actually plays L4D2 on the Xbox? Was a graveyeard last time I tried!

 

RESPONSE 3 (HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS AND PREPARE FOR SOME UNECCERSARY, BUT WELL THOUGHT OUT…WELL UNTIL THE END…UNPLEASANTNESS): You can actually fix this yourself, just go to your Xbox, eject the disc, pop it back in it’s case, take it back to GameStop or wherever you were grossly overcharged for it, get a refund, come home, buy it on PC for a fraction of the price and PLAY IT LIKE IT FUCKING SHOULD BE PLAYED…YOU CONSOLE CUNT!1

 

MY RESPONSE (NOT ACTUALLY WHAT I SAID BUT THIS IS HOW I WOULD HAVE FELT IF I WALKED INTO A ROOM AND THIS CONVERSATION WAS ACTUALLY TAKING PLACE, WHICH IS HOW FORUMS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SEEN ANYWAY, I REALLY HAVE TO STOP USING BRACKETS FOR MAKING LONGER AND MORE ELABORATE POINTS THAT THE THING THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO SUPPORT): Err…I think I may have the wrong room…

 

  1. Despite usually being a little behind in regards to technology and gaming in generally, I’ve recently bought a laptop that’s not only good, but at least good enough to run Source Engine games (something my previous laptop seemed to fail inexplicably at) and a couple of weeks ago I saw that Left 4 Dead 2 was available for less than a fiver, so I bought it. Due to the new, unfamiliar control scheme, and the evident (at least based on the previous point) “unfriendliness” of the players of the game on this platform, I promised myself I wouldn’t play an “online” game until I had beaten all nine of the campaign modes offline and gotten myself a little bit of practice (also this was due to not having played the game at all for a while). Opening the Steam Overlay, I decided to have a quick gander around the forums for any tips and tricks that might help me adjust, and I came across a topic that seemed to offer what I was looking for. It was called (Caps included, although the titled may be paraphrased) “TIPS FOR NEW L4D2 PLAYERS WHO HAVE JUST BOUGHT THE GAME IN THE SALE!”. Naive as clearly, on reflection, am, I had a look, and the jist of it was:

 

  • DON’T PLAY A GAME WITH ANYONE ELSE ONLINE UNLESS YOU HAVE BEATEN THE GAME BACKWARDS AND ON EXPERT WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED AND LOUD GERMAN TECHNO MUSIC BLARING AT FULL BLAST DOWN YOUR EAR PIPES!
  • YOU ARE EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN FROM JOINING ANY GAMES UNTIL YOU HAVE CLOCKED AT LEAST 30 HOURS OF PLAY TIME OFFLINE. PEOPLE WILL CHECK, AND YOU WILL BE KICKED.
  • IF YOU DON’T HAVE A MIC AND ARE NOT WILLING TO DO WHATEVER I OR WHOEVER ELSE IS LOUDEST IN THE GAME SAYS…FUCK OFF!
  • OTHER RANDOM AND ASSORTED “RULES AND REGULATIONS” THAT ARE ENTIRELY UNENFORCABLE, AND CLEARLY JUST WRITTEN OUT OF THE POSTER’S OUT DEEPSET DICKISHNESS.
  • WOW…WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT SPELLCHECKER HASN’T FLAGGED UP DICKISHNESS?

Now, I’m not reactionary or naïve enough to immediately assume that this level of unfriendly, cuntishness is endemic of the PC gaming community, or even just the Left 4 Dead 2 community, but as with in a lot of the walks of life and areas of society, the ones who shout the loudest (or type exclusively in capitals) are the ones that get noticed. Take a church congregation for instance, most people will be quiet meek worshippers just content to pray to their god, atone for their sins or passively enable the church to cover up child abuse and go about their day without bothering anyone, but it’s the nut jobs you’ll notice, the ones who accost you on a long bus ride back to Bolton and try to convince that your atheist ways mark you out as the epitome of evil, then proceed to follow you around Bolton town centre for an evening trying to save your soul as happened to me once (it did, honestly). They’re, by proxy, the ones who become the “mouthpiece” or “spokesperson” for their particular group, because well let’s face it, everyone else is just too rational and sane to contemplate taking on the task of speaking on behalf of a group.

There is also something to be said for the rest of the community, because I know the vast majority of us out there are nice decent friendly people. But please, we need to start fighting back against this kind of elitist behaviour. I’ll openly admit, I was reticent to start gaming on the PC properly as I had fallen into the mental trap I described above, I saw the PC gaming community as a nasty vicious place, where you would be derided even owning a console and cast asunder as a child playing with a child’s toy because PC games are for the chosen few who can afford a £3,000 gaming PC and buys the latest video card just so they can play Crysis 3 with all the video settings set on “might as well go and do this for real, you won’t be able to tell the difference…”, but I was wrong, it’s just unfortunate that these people exist, as they do in all areas of the internet. YouTube alone is infamous for it’s users posting unnecessary and sometimes pointlessly personal diatribes against people posting the most innocuous video clip. But then again I suppose that’s the price we pay for freedom of speech. The answer isn’t censorship, we need to challenge ideals and behaviours in all areas, let alone the gaming community (let’s face facts we don’t have the greatest of reputations do we?). The next time you see someone have a pop at someone for being a n00b or making a crack at someone because they’re playing a game badly on a free to play weekend. Take the time to ask them a question. Just one question.

“Have you ever tried anything new?”

It may seem like a silly non-sequitir but you may be surprised by the answers you get.

Just another quick side note on the whole notion of “Community Decided Rules and Regulations” I mentioned earlier…very quick side note, in fact, just two words…

FUCK OFF

The game has been designed with a framework and it’s own rules in place, I’ll play in any game I fucking want to. If you don’t want me playing in your game, I’ll leave. But for fucks sake, I’m just as much a player of this game as you are, so ask me, or at least vote to kick me, if everyone else agrees fair enough, leave it at that. What’s the need in going in to the forums and potentially scaring people away from a game because you only want to play with people who pass your criteria? You’re a dick, they’re not. Don’t hold it against them.

I would like to reiterate and point out that these thoughts and feelings are not endemic and representative of either the Steam Forums or Left 4 Dead 2 communities in general but I felt it important to point out that these people are out there and need to taken down a peg or two.

1As mentioned, this is not necessarily verbatim what was written in the forum, but I can assure you that the context/intent was there…what a prick.

 

 

Adam Almond is an occasional writer and Mobile Phone salesman from
Manchester, he plays a silly amount of games, and can be found at Twitter on
@Almond_Adam and also writes a blog which can be found at
http://dispatchesfromatwistedhead.wordpress.com/

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