Thought Catalog

10 Facts About Online Gaming

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Reckless Tortuga
Reckless Tortuga

Fact One: There is no choice; just conformity.

Every single friggin’ company gives players the illusion that they have a choice in their gaming world. You have a choice in how you play your character and how to either develop their skills or level them up. What the development team DOESN’T tell you is that you have to talk (type) according to how they WANT you to. For example, in most online games, right before their worldwide releases, they send out communiqués to e-mail addresses to people who have signed up for their weekly news letters. They claim how “there are no boundaries” and “anything goes.” Bullshit.

The only thing they are talking about in this retrospect is that you may roam wherever you wish on their game, no questions asked. They mean you can level up, skill up and nab any items in whatever fashion you want, as long as it’s legal. What they DON’T mean is that you can speak any way you wish. You can’t say “fuck, shit, blow me, cunt, etc.” to any player; you must RESPECT THE PLAYER BASE. You know, correct me if I’m wrong, but would any of you give a fuck if I called you a “horse humping, Neanderthal looking skimpy meat pole whore” on a game? No. Why would you? The only reason anyone would care is if they were an activist for pussy rights or a bible thumping religious zealot. There’s also the possibility that they are sniveling little pansies that can’t deal with rugged language on a game so, they figure they can report people for saying a “bad word” just because they got offended in the real world, where they couldn’t do a god damn thing.

People who possess those values don’t even NEED to be playing on those games in the first place; it gives them reasons to bitch about the “immoral state of the world.”

On a related note…

Fact Two: There are no racial or religious guidelines in online games.

Let’s get a few things straight. When anyone, ANYONE, chooses to participate in the never ending world of online gaming, you will run into all races, genders, belief systems, cultural backgrounds and age groups imaginable. Take it from me, I once ran into someone who was ten years old and had a higher grade character than me, typed fairly well, albeit slow, and played like he was a mature adult.

Pick up any online game box and read the qualifications on the back. One thing you might read is “requires internet connectivity.” Another thing you might read is “Rated T for Teen.” Still, one more thing you might find is, although rare, a “Cartoon Violence” label. Under no circumstances will you find on the back labels “must have an I.Q. the equivalent of a high school education” or a “White’s Only” sticker. Rest assured also that you will also never find a disclaimer that says “If you have a STRONG and dangerous belief in Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Vishnu, Brahma, a Tiki demi-god, Satan or jungle tribe idolatry, and you love to harmfully burden non-religious people with your beliefs, then you may NOT participate in the politics or events of this game.”

I’m sorry to say people that there IS a hidden warning listed on all of these games; RETARDS CAN, AND WILL, WALK AMONGST YOU AT ALL TIMES. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten the urge to track down these fools who act like they are staggering through online games as if they had just shot themselves full of embalming fluid and decided to pick up a copy of a Dr. Phil book. Some people shouldn’t engage in a constantly social interactive environment. Unfortunately, they do in real life and the “civil rights” rules do, unfortunately, apply to these deluded fools in the virtual world. The companies do not care about how stupid or smart their fan base is; not at all which leads right into the next fact.

Fact Three: All online gaming companies care about is MONEY.

No matter what game developers tell you, no matter what game masters post on message boards on the internet and no matter what their top constituents tell their “sheep majorities,” in the end, online gaming companies just want to drain you of your meager funds, tell you to shut the fuck up and continue wasting your time dumping in part of your paychecks to engage in a non-stop level/skill grind until you either finally realize that it’s all tedious and pointless bullshit or you sit in your swivel chair for a week, locked in your room without food or water and die of dehydration from trying to get your avatar to “uber” status.

If you’re going to play an online game, remember that it’s just a game. I can’t stress that clichéd term enough; IT’S JUST A GAME. Game developers don’t want you to have fun at an online game; they want you to test their product. In the long run, that’s all online games are; a product that a company is testing for an extended amount of time. There is no end to the game, the item base never stops, the economy never ceases and players never stop wanting more and more. I’ve had friends that I’ve introduced certain online games to that ended up a shell. Let’s use a popular one as an example, Ultima Online. In this online game, you can be a warrior, a mage, a blacksmith, a merchant, etc. I played this game for roughly six years. It was my first online game. I got a friend involved about one year into it. It is one of many things that I regret doing in my life. Around the time I played this game, I was a sophomore in high school. Let’s just say that my friend’s sophomore year and most of mine was a blur because of Ultima Online. It was THAT addictive. I didn’t attend school much, I didn’t eat much, I drank sodas three at a time to stay awake and I didn’t bathe regularly. It was a dark, dark chapter in my life.

My friend talked about the game every day, became a PvP (player versus player) nut and flunked out of high school as a result. A few years later, he went to Iraq, was shot two times, became addicted to morphine and pain killers and is now living somewhere with a wife and kids struggling to cope with his life. This is not to say that Ultima Online is the sole cause of his downfall. He always wanted to be in the military anyway.

Fact Four: Online games promote violence and sometimes stupid people re-enact events from them.

This is to all parents: Before you let your child play ANY online game, have them analyzed. I’m dead serious. Some kids are downright fucking insane. Regular games aren’t as risky as online games. In online games, you interact with hundreds of real people at any given time and they tell your children stupid bullshit all the time; I’ve seen it. People try to tell me the craziest crap imaginable, they swear worse than George Carlin at his peak and certain actions that their characters go through might be easily imprinted onto your very impressionable and developing child’s mind. Make sure that your kid isn’t crazy or has some hidden disorder that would be triggered by their avatar slashing through an ogre or something. Your kid is either crazy or they aren’t; that’s it. Impressionable kids tend to do really stupid shit like jumping off their roof because they saw their avatar do it off a cliff and live with one hit point left.

If you’re a teenager thinking of trying an online game, have a CAT scan. It’ll save you all that trouble of later grabbing that double-barreled shotgun from your dad’s oak cabinet, loading it and blowing your head off just because some jerk out-matched you. I’ve had all kinds of crap that I can’t explain happen to me on online games and I’m still breathing, folks. I have a very strong grasp on reality; do the same.

Fact Five: Playing for real life profit only leads to huge problems.

This is a somewhat personal matter for me, but I’m laying all the cards on the table to help people understand how serious online activities can be and the retribution it can bring down on someone taking things too far. In the world of online gaming, you play for two reasons; pleasure so that you can escape the strife of the real world confrontation or so that you can get a substantial amount of extra income from pathetic sucker players desperate at elite status over online auctions by selling game accounts and in-game items.

When I first started MMOs, I played because some of my other buddies told me how cool they were. I took the bait, had a ball just gradually gaining skills on my guy and chatting/questing with my pals. That all ended when I met a guy who would change my online experience forever. I don’t have permission to disclose his name, simply out of courtesy so let’s just call him Greg. For a time, Greg was the “it” guy on Ultima Online. You might even call him a kingpin; he scammed, extorted, cheated and fooled thousands of players out of their characters and items. He had a couple partners in crime as well that were the lowest forms of trash imaginable, but I didn’t realize that until it was too late.

I met Greg when I was trying to scrape together enough money to buy a decent weapon for my warrior. He gave me more money than I knew what to do with; more than I could get together in a week. We started talking and we hit it off immediately and, after a while, he let me in on what it is that he did after I pestered him into telling me how he amassed so much cash.

He told me that for the last year or so, a player tuned him onto the arts of scamming and duping players. At that time, I was pretty naïve so a shortcut to being the richest and most powerful player made the fifteen year old gears in my head start to turn. I almost instantly offered my help and participated in ripping off the asshole player base of Ultima Online. Suffice it to say, I was not a nice guy back then.

Anyway, the last couple of years that I played I had the time of my life. Greg and I did the most fucked up shit to people, most of whom had it coming anyway. The way he did his scam was by tricking people into giving him their personal account information through means that I’ll just let you use your imagination for. We tricked one guy that had so much stuff that we left most of it on the ground outside of his player house and let new players pick them up. We later found out that the account we had gotten into belonged to an administrator making it that much more screwed up.

Another guy we scammed kept his original login information so, weekly, we freshly looted his account. After about the fifth time, he finally changed his information. I felt sorry for the guy, but he continually left himself open for attacks so, we took advantage of it.

After a while, friends of his that I mentioned earlier began to get greedy. I was the newest member of the crew and I guess I wasn’t a major player in the schemes yet. I kept a majority of my things on my main account and Greg had my account information and I had his. What I didn’t know is that he changed his information a week before the big double-cross took place.

I log off for a few hours and come back to play. I enter my information expecting to be on a boat, only to find that the game claims that my information is incorrect. I try again; still nothing. I try to contact Greg and I find that he has blocked me from messaging him. His friends have followed suit. My account was his now and I was left with nothing.

I never did anything to jeopardize our operation and the only explanation I came to was that his friends told him lies to the point where it poisoned his mind and he started believing them.

After all the scams, amassed wealth and items, I had nothing to show for it. After that I quit Ultima Online for a year; I had been at it for four years prior. A little time later, I start resuming a normal internet routine; chatting on ICQ, e-mail, etc. Out of the blue one day I get a message from one of Greg’s friends that double-crossed me. It appeared that everything had changed, but for the worse. This particular friend admitted to being a douchebag and informed me that he was now a born again Christian and wanted to make amends. He told me Greg was in jail now due to extending his scamming to credit cards. I chatted with him before his sentencing and we remained in contact for a short time after he got out. Not sure where he is now and I really don’t care.

You’re probably wondering why I went through that extremely lengthy explanation, right? I’m trying to illustrate a point and provide a cautionary tale. When you play an online game, you are investing your time and energy into a fictional realm. Don’t let the illusion of a buyers’ market in the real world fool you into believing that online communities will lead to anything but grief, pain and regret. Just play the game and avoid making real life decisions based on it.

Fact Six – You’ll never be the biggest or the best unless…..

…..all you do is game all day in your underwear and all you care about is getting super ultra items only two players out of all the realms have managed to get. To be the best, you have to reduce yourself to the worst. You’ll end up alone, with no friends, and your diet will consist of Jolt Cola and microwavable processed foods that will put your health in a strangle hold. I can guarantee that people who stare at the computer all day and game have poor eyesight, disgusting sleep habits, a non-existent social life, no relationships and friends whom they’ve never met before, but spoke to online at all hours of the day.

Online games are extremely addictive, I won’t bullshit you, but you have to recognize when enough is enough and that playing a fictional world will get you nowhere. There are very, VERY few teenagers and young adults out there that game for a living. Believe me, folks, they got fucking lucky. I’m a diehard gamer and even I couldn’t land such an easy gig as a gaming career. Just boot up the game and hope that you don’t have to deal with too much nonsense.

Fact Seven: Getting too attached to your online game has consequences.

It’s really easy to get sucked into a vast social online gaming atmosphere. More importantly, it’s easy to continually play an online game even when the initial interest of the game has long since passed. I used to play an online game called City of Heroes. In this game, you create heroes, beat up bad guy NPC’s and earn influence, which acted as money, by defeating your opponents. Now understand that there are no items to be won, no player houses to own, no equipment to enhance your heroes’ traits and you had to constantly grind your character to the next level. It was a tedium that I didn’t get rid of for a long time because I’m a really big old fashioned comic book nerd. Blasting baddies with my heat rays, smashing them into oblivion with my rock mallet powers and controlling their minds had me hypnotized for an extra two months.

I was out thirty extra bucks that shouldn’t have gone to that company, which was PlayNC/Cryptic Studios by the way, but it did because of the bravado that the game promoted and the childhood fantasy concept that had you protecting the innocent, gaining respect and becoming more powerful. Money is a reality that I wish doesn’t exist, but it does and remember that every time you play an MMO, you’re investing the money you earn with the time you put into earning that money in real life into an imaginary world where your time will be leeched further. Don’t let these companies laugh like hyenas while you plunk down more dough just because you want to deny to yourself that it’s just not fun anymore.

Fact Eight: Trusting people in online games is NEVER a safe thing, unless you know them well in real life.

Being part of an online community means that you are just another face jockeying for position in a fictional world. That may not be you in the game, but it is a representation of who you are in the real world; trusting, naïve, ignorant, nice, easy-going, ruthless, homicidal, etc. Your character will reflect EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU. Keeping this in mind, you cannot trust ANYONE AT ANY TIME. I hope to god that most of you out there understand that letting just a simple fact, such as your name, slip from your lips when talking to someone you don’t know can lead to problems for you. You are taking a serious risk by telling anyone in game your name. Nowadays, it just isn’t safe. Technology is nuts. Some crazy fucker could search for your name in a nanosecond on the internet; get your home address, bank account number, credit card number and, more importantly, your social security number and start racking up bad credit by writing bad checks in your name. Eerie thought, isn’t it? I just can’t stress this enough and screw anyone that says I’m paranoid.

When I played Ultima Online, I told many people my name and I got lucky because most of the people I associate with seemed like the genuine article. Before you cheerfully blurt out any information, get a good idea of who you’re speaking to in game because you might be looking down the end of a very short-lived online game experience, whether it be from a carefully and cleverly camouflaged hacking kid or some crazed, middle aged nut job that has only the goal of amassing more fictional pixilated items than a Minecraft server. Make friends if it makes your online experience more enjoyable, but, for crying out loud, don’t get too attached to anyone because you won’t be playing that same online game forever and you’ll eventually cut ties with eighty-five percent of your colleagues.

Fact Nine: “Farming for items” isn’t the stock exchange.

Gaining items is generally the idea when you play an online game. To become “elite,” you must have the best gear. It also means knowing how to utilize it. Sadly, not all online games are like Ultima Online, where you work on skills, not levels, to achieve this status. Leveling is basically the only standard in character power now. Depending on what kind of character you make, equipment can mean living or dying, though. Keep in mind that you don’t need to devote all of your playing time raking through monster corpses in order to achieve the equipment that you want; get what you can, make sure that the armor/weapon/potion is acceptable and then use that subpar shit to get what you really want; in small doses of time, of course.

In any given week, depending on what kind of gamer you are, you might spend a few hours a week trying to get the desired equipment from any number of places; dungeons, heavily laden monstrous areas, etc. Wherever you go, you’ll run into anal retentive people that will interfere in your kills, try to “camp” areas of interest and irritate you to no end with whatever skills their class provides. Don’t get discouraged. Sooner or later, they’ll pack it in and leave. In the meantime, have multiple backup areas in case your main hunting ground is swarmed by dip shits. There’s always somewhere to go, something to farm and items to gain. You just have to be smart and clever in how you conduct your game time. Above all, BE PATIENT.

The development team that scripted the online games that you play will never run out of the items that you want because they can’t run out of code. They understand the demand of some special equipment. I can guarantee each and every one of you that unless they change the coding of a particular item, which is rare unless it’s a bug, there will be a never ending supply of whatever it is you’re looking for. DON’T STRESS YOURSELF OUT LOOKING FOR THEM. To make things more efficient, find someone who is not a complete no life to pair up with and make things that much faster. Pairing up doesn’t always pan out, however, which leads me to my final fact.

Fact Ten: Getting together with other gamers is just a means to an end.

Any smart and level-headed online veteran will tell you that grouping together with other players, more than half of the time, leads to bullshit, drama and betrayal. People on online games are GREEDY. The sole purpose on an online game is to CONSUME. This is real world ethics here, folks. Who do you think made these games? Martians? Hylopir, the Ruler of Pluto? No. Ordinary folks, with a strong grasp on technology and marketing, made these MMORPG’s. They made them to make money and to prove to other companies ahead of them, or competing with them so that THEY could be the first, that they are going to be the best and the most innovative. The first microburst of mental thought process that goes through a gamers mind when they first login to an online game is “what kind of fucking shit can I get?” Of course, if you’re not new to the online gaming world the question will be, “how long will it take me to get the shit I want?”

Grouping was made so that companies could issue tasks to their poor repertoire player base that requires two or more people to complete. They were not made to get buddy-buddy with other gamers, they were not made to share and they certainly were not created to bring good relations among the community. In reality, groups were made to blatantly call the other members “fucking dumb shit newbie scumbags,” they were made so that respectable group members could bitch out the other greedy, thieving open sewer smelling members for snatching items before discussing who needed them and they were created so that there would be nothing but stress and turmoil across the entire gaming spectrum so that no one could feel relaxed at any time. Sounds like the real world, doesn’t it? Anyone that tries to tell you different is either a staff member attempting to deceive you through nicety-nice tactics or a brain washed fellow player, who has been among the online environment too long and has developed harmful deniability.

Unfortunately, most online games require you to group with these wastes of space in order to push your character forward in greatness and to complete certain quests, which would be otherwise impossible by yourself. Try to understand that just because you’re in groups full of douche bags more than half the time, it doesn’t mean that you have to become one of them or sink to, or beneath, their level. Hell, if members bitch you out for no reason, other than for playing the game as it was intended to be played, report their uselessness to an administrator, take their shit a little longer and laugh your friggin’ ass off later when you find that they were banned for acting like a complete fucking retard. If you have their screen name on a chat program, e-mail or anything like that, add insult to injury and rub it in their face. Remember that grouping can be fun, though, even among the stupidest, most worthless, egocentric piles of rotting refuge on Earth IF you know what pushes their buttons. Figure out how to do that and you’ll not only be one of the untouchables, but you’ll be the kind of guy that no one will want to screw with. In order to achieve this, remember three things; don’t swear, don’t use racial slurs and ALWAYS question and respond in clever ways. I’ve been doing this for years; you can’t go wrong.

Above all else, however, avoid groups when you can. There’s nothing worse than dealing with people you don’t know especially when later you find out that your members are extremely dumb, mentally handicapped or suffering from ADD.

I believe that every fact that I’ve listed will aid the beginning online gamer in any situation. Short of server issues, anyone delving into any MMORPG will know exactly how to conduct business. I never mentioned character creation because I don’t know what every ones preference is. I could say make a full-fledged warrior with combat superiority or a battle mage with journeyman sword welding, but that would be MY preference. The character isn’t what matters; what matters is how YOU interact with the game and the people in it. Anyone grasping the inner workings of an online game can master any situation, no matter what class or profession is chosen at the beginning.

Now that you’ve read what I hold to be true in the online world of gaming, there’s one more extremely important code to live by in any online experience; play the game as if you were actually in it. Be aggressive, but calm; be punctual, but relaxed; be stern, but humorous and, above all, have fun. TC mark

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