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Why I Can't Tolerate Competitive Online Play

There's nothing inherently wrong with competition. Competition allows ideas and forms to be matched, compared, and improved. It creates changing challenges. And it can bring lots of entertainment for reasons of sport and companionship.

That said, I can't stand online competitive multiplayer. I don't hate competition itself; I wasn't the kid to take his ball and go home when s/he didn't win a game with friends and acquaintances. Even facing my much more athletic friends in basketball, soccer, floor hockey, football, etc. I always enjoyed myself.

Online competitive multiplayer is a different beast, however. It's a combination of pieces of technology. It's physical limits are created with numbers and polygons.

My first and foremost issue with playing online competitively is the technical issues. The data has to be sent up to thousands of miles to be interpreted, and thus, you get yourself lag. I've always had a good internet connection myself; normally getting <50 ping, >9mbps download, ~4mbps upload.....some people would kill for speeds like that.

But regardless, nothing is instantaneous. Nothing is physical. I can be playing a shooter and see on my screen, my gun putting a bullet into the head of an enemy not even directly facing me, and then drop dead and see something completely different in the "kill cam" of what "really" happened in the host's version of the game, or in the server. I can be playing an action game and have an enemy jump from one spot to another instantly, making it tough to catch them, and easy to be stabbed in the back by them.

This wasn't a problem in the ol' splitscreen days because everything was rendered on one piece of hardware, and it was the same for everyone.

But my discontent with online competitive play doesn't end at the technical difficulties. The attitudes have gotten rotten as of late.

The rise of competitions like MLG has caused an upswing in "pro" and faux pro players; People aren't just playing for fun, they're playing to win. Players yell and curse. They find the best spots to glitch and camp. They're obnoxious and unhelpful. They just aren't fun to play with.

I would much rather be killed by strategic AI than the host, 14 year old MLG player, from his glitched spot that he's camping from, getting airstrikes and all sorts of outrageous bonuses, ranting and cursing all the way.

Beyond the players and technical issues, one other thing really bugs me; game designers just seem to be absolutely clueless. They seem completely incapable of creating a balanced game. They create unlock trees that leave everyone who has played less than 50 hours at a severe disadvantage because the top teir players have guns with no kick, a massive range, high rates of fire, and large clips. Spawn camping is incredibly easy in so many games. There aren't enough safe regions or calculative work going into the spawning system.

But again, none of these are signs of inherent problems with competition. In splitscreen, those technical issues aren't issues, I play with friends who are not crazy or jerks, and there's no reason games can't be better designed. And perhaps things can get better. At the current rate, it will take decades for better cables to be installed universally (or as universally as you can get, considering third world areas); but perhaps my grandkids will have hardly any issue with lag at all. Maybe the gaming industry will mature further and 12 year olds will be less present in M rated games, and people will play for fun more than competitions. Perhaps a generation with more experience playing in 3D will be able to trump the silly design work of many current developers. Maybe some day. But for now, I can't find much love for online competitive play. Co-operative and single-player work much better for me.

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SilentNegotiator2074d ago

Don't get me wrong; it's not that I CAN'T enjoy online competitive play, nor don't. But I absolutely don't make it a focus.

Between the technical issues, the players, and the lacking design work....I can't bring myself to get too deep into it.

caseh2074d ago

The higher up the food chain you go the more prevalent the issues are that you raised.

In my opinion it's because of the way online games are put together these days. You join a queue, you get dropped into a 16 Vs. 16 player match of randoms; half of which have no mics and there's no text chat functionality. The game ends, you enter the next map cycle and a bunch of people leave/join. Those who have left, you probably won't see them ever again due to the size of that games online community.

Metal Gear Online had the right idea, you could host games which meant you could look for a certain room where you knew you would see familiar faces. Training rooms allowed players to come together and f*ck about, text chat and generally get to know each other without someone ruining it by 'playing seriously'.

Soul Calibur 5 has also taken a similar approach, player matches (unranked) can be hosted and players who are watching can chat with each other while waiting for their turn.

Not sure how old you are but i'm guessing you may have missed out on the older Quake 2 online communities, this is going back to the days where ettiquette was actually seen. Players suiciding if they lag killed, responsible mods were always about on servers to keep hacks/glitches at bay *sigh* I miss it. :)

Anyway, rant over lol. I guess for me too much of online play these days is impersonal to the point where there is no attachment to the game and for me thats an important aspect.

Commander-Koslun2074d ago

I agree, I usually don't Game online anymore, but when I do, it's strictly for fun... I try to do good at the Game, but it's just for fun . Good read.

coolbeans2074d ago (Edited 2074d ago )

It's funny that you'd make this blog only a few days after I nerdraged over a few Gears 1 matches for those specific reasons. I suppose the problem I have with online competition is the lack of meeting/shaking hands with your opponent like you would in real life. When you fail to break that barrier, it's also harder for you to realize that the enemy team is more than just pixelated characters.

-Enjoyable read with solid complaints

AtomicGerbil2074d ago

I feel a lot better about myself after reading this. I gave up online competitive shooters for exactly these reasons and I'm glad I'm not the the only one.

Good read.

Bladesfist2074d ago

I do not really see many games as truly competitive. As most of these games (Shooters) rely on a team and most of the time these teams are put together of random people with a few friends scattered around and with a bad team you can loose very quickly. Most of these "MLG" games do not actually require any skill such as call of duty or halo when compared to a shooter like counterstrike. The games are just too arcadey for a true competitive enviroment. The only game I play truly competitvly is Starcraft 2. I am not very good at it but I can recognise the skill of the other player everytime I loose and can understand why I lost. For example I did not scout his base and see he was building lots of anti air. Other online multiplayer games I just play for fun.

pandaboy2073d ago

counter strike is as arcade-like as it gets, it's a misunderstanding of competitiveness and skill to link them with non-arcade gameplay.

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