Perusing the internet is dangerous for a number of reasons, but chief among them (aside from warping your fragile little mind) is discovering just what huge bellends the human race can be. I was recently turned onto an article bluntly titled The 7 Biggest Dick Moves in the History of Online Gaming (credit goes to Cracked.com for this wonderful internet literature). Now, being an online gamer myself, partial to World of Warcraft and the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic in particular, I thought I would give this article a read and have a good laugh at the absurdities of online dickery.
As the title indicated, there were only seven instances of such dickery to read about, and so the spread of games affected was limited, but the sheer scale and immensity of the nefarious deeds perpetrated more than made up for this.
Being a Warcraft whore(craft), I knew about the in-game funeral held in honour of a friend that had died in real life that was then subsequently crashed by a marauding party of jerkfaces (although frankly why you would hold such an event on a PvP server is beyond me), but all of the other stories were new to me. I read with dread fascination as each account detailed the horrendous monstrosities committed by both players and the companies that ran the games. I was aghast at how atrocious people can be, but of course stayed fervently amused at these accounts because, let’s be honest, gaming is ultimately a hobby and certainly nothing to get legitimately furious over (but we all know we will; we’re gluttons for digital punishment, apparently).
The two EVE Online stories got to me the most, however – the first because of the immensity of dedication that was required for this guild or corporation or whatever it was to undergo a year-long plan to take out the head of a player-created organisation, and the second because of the sheer bastardness of the man who became possibly the most evil genius in gaming ever. I couldn’t help but admire this man’s guile and guts as he singlehandedly scammed most of the entire EVE Online community.
But why do people do these things? Only very rarely do you hear of such evil acts in real life, and then those that orchestrated them are vilified and regarded as truly sick and twisted individuals whose genitalia should endure torture of equally sick and twisted magnitudes. Yet we read about these things in the online gaming world and laugh, and even admire that person’s guile and guts. It’s a strange dichotomy that yields worrying results under scrutiny.
Online gaming effectively introduces people to a fresh, new world in which items, money and even life are simply constructs and tools; not final, absolute things as in the real world. Immediately this gives rise to the possibility of killing other players, farming for make-believe riches, and harvesting the best items – essentially, everything that makes an online game work as a game. Yet this alone does not warrant dastardly feats of villainy – it is the complete detachment from real-life consequence that truly gives evil freedom its wings.
Without the threat of getting a punch in the face, many people call other people various names online. Without the threat of a global law-enforcement smackdown, a small cadre of people can live out their dreams of being the biggest douches known to man. Are these people cowards? I wouldn’t do such a thing because I value too much what other people think of me, so I don’t consider their acts cowardly at all. But should we revere them?
Ultimately I think not. Revering this kind of behaviour would only lead it to become more commonplace, not only in the online realm but in real life as well – the effects of the praise would inevitably bleed out into the real world (look no further than the recent PSN attack that had the online service offline for a month). Common manners and a sense of sportsmanship go a long way to making a pleasant gaming experience and a pleasant existence in general, and it is that sense of good morals and kinship with your fellow man that stops the world dissolving completely into anarchic chaos. But I would be wrong if I said that these villains didn’t make the online world a more interesting place, and as long as no one gets hurt or loses their house or anything, isn’t toppling a villain what most entertainment is all about?
Keep this stuff in-game; it’s the least harmful way to be a bastard.