Human Risks

Single-player gaming lacks the peaks that you get in good multiplayer gaming. It also lacks the troughs in bad multiplayer gaming. Your gaming preferences are going to be strongly influenced by how much weight you place on the most extreme experience versus the average experience and your relative weight of positive versus negative experiences.

If one really horrible thing can ruin your entire night, PvP will almost inevitably be a harrowing experience for you, and any multiplayer gaming is a crapshoot. Beyond just the effects of anonymity, wide exposure teaches you that some people are just genuinely horrible human beings. And they want to share that with you.

If you are the sort to laugh it off or counter-troll, the downside of PvP and multiplayer gaming is limited for you. If you seek conflict rather than avoiding it, the internet will always have more for you. If you remember the positive and forget the negative, the downside is temporary while the upside is lasting.

If you evaluate the quality of the evening by how many minutes you were having a good time, something like EVE Online will rarely be a good night for you. Scouting, mining, traveling… the median minute of play is pretty dull. Granted, the average minute of MMO play is poor relative to most other niches, but PvP gaming with lengthy downtime stands out as low average quality. If you evaluate the quality of the evening by the best minute in which you were having a good time, nothing is going to top PvP and multiplayer. If you place more weight on extreme rather than average experiences, even strongly negative events can be rated highly because you take the ebb with the flow.

A related factor is the context in which you will tolerate all this. You might tolerate perverse randomization but rage against human maliciousness. You might laugh off human stupidity but rage against poor design. You might tolerate poor design as long as the company is good. Introverts will have an extra weight against negative multiplayer interactions, because those are excessively psychologically taxing.

: Zubon

12 thoughts on “Human Risks

  1. U Muller

    Interesting thoughts! Before 2012, Ihavent played any video game. Many start in their teens, so I lack about 30 years of gaming history. 8-) My focus is on excellence of design and depth of story. That would qualify me for a soloplayer game. However, I actually got hooked on a MMO (GW2). Its just the mix of awesome design and complexity of the world AND that you play with other individuals. You never exactly know whats going to happen when you log onto the game. Love this random factor. :-) However, being an comparably crappy player and totally lacking a killer instinct, I havent tested PvP yet. That could be a cause for major depression, I agree.

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  2. Jeromai

    Very insightful take on things. I suddenly realized why I can tolerate and even enjoy team-based PvP – by design, not every interaction is a negative multiplayer one, there are always people demonstrating the cooperative and good parts of human nature as well.

    Conversely, FFA pvp pits you as a single person against the world and I find I end up extremely misanthropic and paranoid as a result. And I don’t like to feel that way in games.

    Also explains why I tend to be on tenterhooks doing dungeons. Too good a chance for the entire team (small in number as it is) to be a negative interaction, and the chance that it is an extremely positive and enjoyable interaction doesn’t outweigh the taste of the lingering bad ones. Presumably those who tend to forget the bad very quickly are more open to jumping into endless pickups and hit the highs as well as the lows.

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  3. Jeremy Stratton (@Jeremy_Stratton)

    Makes sense. Some things aren’t written in stone and say in flux, too.

    I can’t take much uptime of any kind, regardless of game – not just negative or positive. I like GW2 dungeons a lot, I just can’t handle much of one-long dungeon run at a time, let alone trying to do repeats in a night.

    A lot, too, I think is on perception that may or may not also file away into one of the above categories. My mother is an optimist, that’s just who she is. Some tend to lean on the belief that most people in the world genuinely want to do good — and that affects perception on why you might be getting ganked one night.

    Many do ignore the plausible, incentivized socialness of games to the raw mechanics, and they don’t care. They are just farming kill points, getting a GTA3-eque giggle out of creating a trainwreck and so on.

    Lately I’ve been trying to cipher out a lot about trolls and trolling and what makes a troll.

    I’m starting to think a large quantity are mislabelled and can’t be told apart from people “actually” being malicious,

    There seems to be a weird, sentient void controlled by no one that springs to life with a shirt that says “Troll” on it, but no one really knows what it is. It springs into existence, out of all the talk and ideas and perceptions surrounding this and the possibilities the game-designs allow.

    I guess I’ve discovered that regardless of what categories above I try to fit into, I’m very heavy on perception. I’ve chosen to view things and most interactions are very heavy on “me”.

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    1. Zubon Post author

      I’m curious about the distinction between trolling and actually maliciousness. I would consider trolling a form of maliciousness. For example, spouting racial epithets to anger people, even if you have no racial animus, seems pretty clearly a malicious action.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Stratton

        I’m unsure over much surrounding topics like this at this point. I’ve been looking to two of my friends to try to see if there are distinctions. 1 likes to actually grief for giggles — he’s a nice guy, but he can go overboard fast in a videogame context. I’d label him as, say, “Goon” material. Get enough of him together and it’s purposefully and repeatedly disrupting other people’s fun that drives them.

        My other friend, and the goon-esques brother, generally won’t waste time and energy on those endeavors, but he does really enjoy besting others. His whole family are very driven, are highly competitive and like to “win” so if he sees others, he will go after them and will enjoy besting another. There’s been numerous high-points when we all played WoW where they wanted to stop and cater to PvP server, spontaneous “throwdown” and they both relished the victory or at least the encounter.

        I guess I considered the definition of troll or trolling to include a certain amount of maliciousness.

        To me, I’ve been killed numerous times over the years, the majority I’d say was just what the game allowed. I’d choose to view it as not knowing what was driving the player, but it was more important that the game allowed it and he/she may be watching TV and not even caring about the encounter beyond trying to get some points in some fashion. If it’s just PKing, well, I figure that “could” be like what my friend enjoys — simply proving he his better at something, but not even considering being malicious.

        There were a few times, that I waited until they were obvious, to decide the person was being a “Troll”. When a guy followed me around and subtly used his skills to injure me, after I taggeed a mob, to know that I’d get a death penalty(in RoM) and did it twice. That sort of thing.

        I don’t like “trash talking” and do not see it as an overly healthy outlet. It shows you are thinking enough of the other person, to open your mouth and spend time and energy on them so they hear you, while not showing any caring of what you are saying. I think there’s a cut-off with what you should concern yourself with and what you should let them percieve. You can’t walk on eggshells for everyone, thinking they may take what you say the wrong way, but, likewise, something as outright blatant as a lot of LoL-type trash-talking, that’s largely on the talker.

        Edit: Also, a lot of this deals with heavy amounts of constantly fluctuating balance in emotional states. I choose to forgive a little more than others in different situations.

        Also, the world, or at least America is highly competitive, grab-life-by the horns mentality.

        While I don’t like a lot of how societies operate, I sometimes have to painfully admit that it works better for many people they way they do it.

        Bottom line is sometimes I really get disgusted at my friends “Ape beating it’s chest” perception, putting others down, being very confrontational and all that, but when I zoom out to look at the whole forest, I see myself as being terribly unsuccessful in life, career and more, while my friends are Doctors and lawyers, with everything they want, happy families, girlfriends/wives and more that can make me jealous. I think there’s a connection somewhere between that and what many consider to be poor behavior online, in MMOs, when it “might” not be that at all.

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        1. Curuniel

          When people feel deprived of power, respect and agency in much of their lives, they often find a way to assert it in other parts of their lives – say, by beating their spouse because it gives them a sense of control that their subservient customer service job does not. This comes up a lot with men, not because men are innately more aggressive or selfish or anything but because our ideas of masculinity include being respected and dominant, and feeling like you’re failing at that can make a man miserable.

          I often wonder if trolls and gankers are using gaming as an outlet for this impulse – enjoying power over somebody else to reinforce their sense of self because the world doesn’t give them much to feel powerful about.

      2. LineNoise

        I think the big difference (and this goes back to old arguments about the origin of “troll” and its mutations and overuse over the years) is that the true troll is someone who is doing these things because of a twisted sense of humor. Random racist asshole guy is actually *mad* while he’s shouting racial epithets. The troll is laughing his ass off. They’re both malicious, but the motivations are different.

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  4. U Mueller

    I would also call trolling some kind of maliciousness. People use games in a different way, some do it for recreation and some for abreaction. In GW2, I have experienced some maliciousness, but much less than expected yet. Strangely, none of it in dungeons (but then, I never hotjoin dungeons as a single player). All of it happens in the ‘field’: from name-calling (one called me a slut after I rezzed him =8-]), to puking all over me (zhaitaffies), to making bad jokes in the map chat. Most of the situations are just so comical / weird, you can only have a good laugh. In particular if one assumes that the counterpart might be in his early teens. :-D However, it would be different for me with any racist or similarly offensive behaviour. Also, I did feel very uneasy when watching two guys jumping up and down on a killed enemy in WvW. However, in 99% of the time, I find people behaving friendly and supportive. At least they try. :-D Which might be even more than in real life. 8-)

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  5. The Ogre

    “If you evaluate the quality of the evening by the best minute in which you were having a good time, nothing is going to top PvP and multiplayer.”

    …except pretty much anything else, like having every hair on your body gouged out one-by-one with a white-hot needle.

    Reply
    1. Zubon Post author

      No no, that’s evaluating by the worst minute, which PvP and multiplayer will also provide.

      If solo MMO gameplay is as good as it gets, we can all quit now.

      Reply
      1. camazotz

        “We” in this context being the pvp/MP fans, I assume you mean. I’ve had some great times with multiplayer and even pvp (in Rift, at least), but if the game’s unable to also deliver on the solo experience then it is indeed pointless. One thing I love about GW2 is that I can play that solo and still get a great experience with lots of surprises, something other MMOs fail to deliver on. If an MMO’s enjoyment is exclusively dependent on its players, then I would posit that game has a big problem.

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