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Good Gaming Relationships

April 14th, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

I am a very nice guy. I make friends very easily, can engage with strangers comfortably and am a devastatingly charming dinner companion. Modest, too.

But even someone as patient and self-effacing as I am has his limits. And my limit is anonymous online gaming. I hate it. I can’t go into a multiplayer lobby and just play a random guy. (If you saw a bunch of twits spamming a Battle for Middle Earth II chat screen, you wouldn’t either.) Even on many serious wargaming forums I am a little antsy about starting up a PBEM game with WarDude113.

It’s not that I have had a lot of negative experiences with this sort of thing. I haven’t. I’ve heard all the stories about hackers, cheaters, sore losers…the gamut of online crimes against fun. And just like I don’t have to be mugged to know that I shouldn’t walk back from the Metro at 1 am, I don’t have to be beaten by a cheater to know that I can avoid that situation.

One big reason to avoid anonymous online people is that I have a reservoir of people I know I can game with. People I trust to be good opponents and who will provide a stress free experience.

The first sign of a good gaming relationship is the acceptance that people are of different levels. As much as I love gaming, I know that I will not be the best at much of it. I have one friend who will always beat me in RTS – though I can make it close. I have another who I play wargames with (everything from Sid Meier’s Gettysburg to Birth of America, assuming we can get it to work right) who I expect a thrashing from almost every time out. Despite the predictability of many of the outcomes, there is never a sign of impatience or frustration.

The second sign of a good gaming relationship is the teaching phase. Often a friend or colleague will get a game a week or two before I will. Being an idiot, I often jump right into multiplayer. Good gaming friends will often give a word or two of advice before, during and after the match. I’ve done the same with friends new to one game or another.

The third sign is nagging. “You have to buy this!” Why? “So we can play it together.” Is there any finer compliment in the world than “We should play this”? (I’m starting to get a lot of this nagging about World of Warcraft.)

As I think through my gaming friendships, most of them exist purely online – not in any real world context. I’ve met my wargaming pal only once. My other gaming friends are either Europeans, colleagues scattered through America or random names from a good gaming forum or chat room whom I think I can trust.

Good multiplayer experiences can sure spoil you, though. Galactic Civilization II doesn’t have MP, Civilization IV does. Both are great games, but guess which one will have a longer life on my hard drive? (And not just mine.) I’ve been a single player gamer for almost my entire life, but I have finally come to the point where a lot of gamers were a couple of years ago, seeking out multiplayer in every game. Good MP experiences have also made me hungry for real world human contact in gaming. Board gaming, DnD…anything to keep the rush of shared competition going between computer game cycles.

Friends and books two things you can never have too many of. I have Xfire. Look for me. If I can trust you.

Please visit the Round Table’s Main Hall for links to all entries.


5 Comments so far ↓

  • GregT

    Hi Troy, from another person on this month’s roundtable.

    1) Excellent post. Myself, I’m continually frustrated in multiplayer against people I know because they either won’t commit to a boardgame, don’t own the relevant system for the game, can’t afford the game itself, or have a skill level so widely varying to my own as to cause play to be no fun. *sigh* It’s nice to see people tackling such widely varying aspects of the month’s topic.

    2) You’ve left the date setting in your drop-down box set to last month. You need to change where it says “0306” to say “0406”.

  • Troy Goodfellow

    Thanks for the correction. That’s what happens when you blog at midnight.

    As an almost exclusively PC gamer, the system issue usually leaves me out the cold.

    Boardgames can take *a lot* of time. And the longer they take, the less fun they are, IMO. PBEM has this same problem if one of the participants dawdles between turns.

    One thing I forgot to add as a benefit of gaming relationships is that the trash talking is usually much funnier.

  • rea

    The Internet/PC has really been a godsend for many gamers. I have had a pretty decent collection board wargames from the 80’s, Av Hill, and Axis/Allies, others. Problem is finding people to play against unless you’re in a big city or have a nice army base nearby.
    Computers/internet solved the problem of having a nifty game but trying to find an opponent(s). You did a nice job pointing out the problems of finding nice opponents.

    Not sure if I buy the longer a boardgame takes the less fun it is. Some of my favorite games have taken a while; dune, a civil war game. The problem I have with time intensive games is that I don’t have large blocks of time anymore to play…or I’d rather play many smaller games in the time it takes to finish 1 large complex game.

    Finally, if you want to play face to face games, I’d be interested in playing you at some pt. I’m in Alexandria, VA. Also, the wife and I generally have folks over for some simple games a few times a year.

    And Happy birthday

  • Martos

    Multiplayer gaming is what really got me into computers and computer gaming.

    Up until multiplayer, I would usually play a came once then put it on my shelf (you should see my shelf). I would play a game at the easiest setting to get familiar with how the rules and system worked, then crank the AI up to the top and beat it. Boring. Human players are so much more interesting…for the most part.

    Of course, I’m a gamer at heart so I’ll take my games in whatever form I can get them. I love board games as well, but then any game is good if it’s well-designed.

  • Anonymous