Online Diplomacy

As you probably already know, I’ve been playing Halo: Reach recently. A lot.

Who’s that badass Spartan in the seafoam armour with orchid trim? Oh yeah, it’s me.

I love it. I love popping headshots on enemies that have lost their shields. I love filling someone with a load of spikey pink death needles. I love clocking people in the face with a big, fat sticky blue ball and I love sneaking up behind someone and stabbing them in the head. I love completing challenges and gaining a tonne of credits which I can then blow on some highly-expensive piece of armour or a stupid voice to use in Firefight.

I’ve always preferred the mechanics of the Halo series to other titles. Whereas in other games like Call of Duty where you’re basically dead if an enemy catches you off-guard, Halo gives you a chance to react and turn the tables on your attacker, granting you a fighting chance of escaping the encounter with an extra point and your life. The satisfaction that follows a successful engagement just can’t be matched with any other game currently out there.

Reach is a damn good game, but there’s one thing about it that I’m getting completely fed up with: the people that play it.

All games have their fair share of morons and griefers infesting their servers and games companies can’t decree who should and shouldn’t be playing their releases, but for some reason the Halo series has always seemed to be the home of some of the most offensive, unfriendly and downright idiotic people that I’ve ever encountered online.

My hopes that such a problem had been eliminated with Bungie’s latest were soon dashed on multiple occasions. In a bid to be friendly with the other players in the lobby, I complimented one guy on his gamertag (because let’s face it, ‘fluff bum’ is an awesome handle), only to have some random person telling the pal I was playing with that his mate (i.e. me) was a prick.

What spawned such a comment? I’d never encountered this person before, so where did this unprovoked hostility come from? Trouncing him and his teammate in the game that followed did little to ease the irritation I was feeling thanks to this moron.

I’ve been chastised by some guy for having a kill/death spread of -9 (despite the fact that I achieved a far greater number of kills than him), been told that my accent is unintelligible because I’m Scottish before being muted and even as recently as last night, I came across someone who was hilariously ignorant. If my ‘Irish’ friends and I offended you so much with our Welsh and Scottish accents and dialects, why didn’t you just pull your headset out? It’s almost as if these people want to be trolled, with the temptation to do so usually being too great to resist.

It’s not even a new phenomenon: I’ve been bumping into these people since my time with Halo 3’s multiplayer, accruing a wealth of anecdotes that demonstrate just how ignorant and stupid other people can be.

One night, my pal and I were having a discussion on a subject now since forgotten, during which I said something along the lines of “it doesn’t matter if you’re white, it doesn’t matter if you’re black…”, after which a whiney, high-pitched American voice interjected with “Racist!”. I asked him how it was, his reply being that I’m supposed to say ‘African-American’, not ‘black’. I pointed out the flaw in his argument, that you could be Afro-Caribbean or Black European, etc., to which the boy – who probably shouldn’t have been playing the game in the first place – responded by chanting “Racist! Racist! Racist!” for the entire remainder of the match. That may have been the first time that I actually, literally, facepalmed.

Another time, the same friend and I thought it would be absolutely hilarious to pretend we were Australian while playing a game of Slayer, so we hopped around Last Resort saying ridiculous things (“Shark in the water there, chief! “Holy koala!”) in our best Ozzie accents. We were having a good laugh when suddenly someone in our team yelled “Oh my God, shut your French fag mouths!”, at which point our giggles transformed into full-blown hysterics.

A French Fag. Apparently, I am one of these.

Yet another time, my Welsh and Scottish pals and I were being mocked by a group of Americans impersonating our ‘English’ accents, asking us how our scones and tea tasted and whether or not we’d fed the corgis or not. My retort of “Hyuck hyuck, I just married ma sister!”, said in my best Southern accent, wasn’t met well at all, with the entire enemy team leaving after a rapid ‘”Fuck you”. Whatever: a win’s a win.

I’ve been accused of being Mexican, Spanish, French, Belgian, Irish, English, Irish, Italian and Canadian, been subject to 11-year-olds spouting the most foul, hateful and offensive language you can imagine, been told to “speak American” and asked if Scotland is located in London. My online experiences prove the veracity of Penny Arcade’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. What happens to people that make them such horrible and vitriolic individuals online? You wouldn’t watch the Olympics and see the athletes insult and assault each other before bitch-quitting when they’re not doing as well as they’d like to.

While the ignorance and arrogance of these people can be shocking and hilariously funny at times, it begins to grate after a few years. I’m fed up with giving people the benefit of the doubt, only to be met with torrents of unwarranted abuse.

I think I’ll be making use of the ‘mute all’ feature from now on.






7 responses to “Online Diplomacy”

  1. […] Originally published on Ready Up on 30th October 2010. […]

  2. Mark P avatar

    Who’s that badass Spartan in the seafoam armour with orchid trim? Did someone call for a mermaid? 😀

    The good thing that came with Bad Company 2’s squad-only chat was that at any one time you were only ever stuck with up to 3 fountains of abuse. And I think that included me too. 🙂

  3. Laura avatar

    Nicely said, Michael. I rarely venture into game chat, or I’ll mute a whole lobby of players as soon as I enter it. But last night, playing MW2, I heard the tactical insersions of boosters on Highrise and had to brave the room to ask how to get to the place that they were hiding so I could stop them. I kid you not; I was met with nothing but polite and helpful responses. It was too late, though, the scumbags were already at a nuke, but I ended up chatting to the people I’d asked and then playing with them for the whole night. Craziness. This just doesn’t happen on XBL.

  4. Ninja avatar

    “I’ve been accused of being Mexican, Spanish, French, Belgian, Irish, English, Irish, Italian and Canadian”

    I’m sorry but that’s hilarious (from the possible ignorance more than anything); I think I’ve just ‘been’ English, Irish and Scottish. Although one American thought I was Canadian from my GT in a Gears of War game.

    Had the rare team game of people slagging us (as in a regular bunch of team-mates) as “British fags” or something. Meh. Just play!

  5. Kal avatar

    I never thought I had a strong accent, but playing with Americans on Halo 3, I heard someone say “What the fuck kind of accent is that? Go back home!” which was probably the most flawed, ignorant and downright idiotic thing I’ve ever heard…before the time I was accused of being Pakistani because of my gamertag (kalvaza) and being treated with horrible Borat impressions.

    However, I think we’re all very unfair about accusing the Americans for this sort of anonymous, consequence-free abuse dispensing. I’ve heard some of the worst coming from British folk. In the game GRID, you can have your national flag next to your gamertag in the lobbies. Having a Scottish flag in a room full of English flags is very rarely a pleasant experience.

  6. Giles avatar

    It’s always baffled me how these people can ever think it’s okay to speak to another human being like that, and is another reason why I rarely venture online when it comes to anything involving running and gunning — apart from being pants at shooters, of course.

    I vividly remember a similar experience when I tried out some online games of GTA4 at a friend’s house a few years ago, where pre-pubescent voices would urge me to commit suicide in increasingly unpleasant ways. Rather than merely being offended, I couldn’t help taunting the lad and exposing the flaws in his logic, correcting his grammar and pointing out that it was probably past his bed time.

    The moral of the story? Treat people like you’d want to be treated. Failing that, treat them like they deserve.

  7. Jeff avatar

    Meh, Americans.

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