Playing with Noobs

Lately I have not been playing many single player games at all. I have a few I would like to play through, but I’m currently immersed in multiplayer team games. The biggest taker of my time is currently DOTA2 followed by Destiny and now that Smash Bros is out, I’ll probably be learning the newer ropes for that too.  Multiplayer games have this innate ability to be easy fun compared to a single player campaign simply because you are playing with other people; friends or not, the game is infinitely more interesting because you are interacting with actual people and can be more fun. Can being the keyword there, because when your game revolves around other players it no longer goes the way you want it to. Just like in a team sport, if someone fails to perform their role then you can fail as a result even if you do yours well. This happens more often than I’d like, or maybe that is confirmation bias, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it can frustrate the hell out of me.

The other day a few buddies and I were playing a game of Dota2 with a player on our team that was almost certainly brand new to the game. This sniper didn’t buy any of the suggested items, instead he only bought items which improved his agility statistic (which does make some sense as agility is the hero’s primary stat). We tried suggesting better items to buy/use, but he kept buying agility items. As a result, he died a lot in the early game, “feeding” the other team gold and exp, making the rest of the game a very one-sided experience. My friends and I didn’t blame or yell at the sniper player over our voice chat, but we all knew who cost us the game, or at least a good game. We all wondered, “Why are playing with a first timer? Why is this possible for the game to match us up?”.

Earlier this week I was going through the Vault of Glass raid on Destiny with 5 other coworkers. A raid is a type of mission that is usually much larger in scale and requires a team of players to work together to conquer obstacles, enemies, and puzzles to finish it. You need above average teamwork to accomplish this challenge, and it can take hours to complete. I have gone through the raid a few times now but this time I believe we had more people on the fireteam that hadn’t finished it than those of us that had, and I was the most experienced player. Throughout the raid I could feel frustration bubbling up when someone didn’t do their part, missed an oracle call out, or just died when they shouldn’t have. Any fault in someone’s play usually result in a team wipe and we would have to start the section over again. Our final time was 3 1/2 hours when it usually takes my more experienced group about 1 hour. I couldn’t get mad though, I had joined this group of my own choice. We were also talking and laughing throughout the entire thing, it was very fun even though it was taking a lot longer. I stayed because every raider has their first raid when they were learning what to do, what not to do, etc. I’m sure I was the same or worse when I first learned it all.

So why is playing with noobs so frustrating when it is an inevitable experience? After all, you can’t truly ever have someone play their first team game without playing with actual teammates, it wouldn’t be a real first game. When you play any game, you feel competent at, you expect to at least do well enough to be satisfied with your performance. But the shtick of any team game is you can’t do your best if someone else holds you back. Just like how a team victory feels that much better when everyone is assisting each other, a team loss feels that much worse when you can’t do your job because someone isn’t doing theirs’. It has happened, it is happening, and it will continue to happen. I think too many noobs face people yelling at and insulting them, so they keep their microphone and speakers off and therefore don’t learn from others who sometimes actually try to help them in game. I’ve found the best response is to take a breathe, pop a mentos, and make the best of the game you can. Talk to the noob, be friendly, and explain things you think he may be confused with. It is surprising how quick they will start asking you more questions or be more eager to help out once they see you as an ally/teacher. Or they might not, refuse to take any advice, drag your team down to a frustrating loss. Oh well, there’s always the next match.