Like The Internets in general, multiplayer games are (largely) anonymous. Without your real name and sense of identity you can sound off at anyone you meet, safe in the knowledge that it has no real life repercussions.
When playing online games it his highly likely that you will see people shout, scream, swear and storm out at the slightest sign that things may not necessarily be going the way they would like. Actions that probably wouldn't occur in everyday life, or even if they were somewhat accountable for them.
Over the weekend I played an obscene amount of World of Warcraft1. I'd saved up enough in-game money (1000 gold to be precise) for Dual Talent Specialisation; an ability which allows you to set up your character with a completely different set of skills.
What this means is that I can now switch between pure damage dealing (Damage per Second or DPS) and a Healer whose sole focus is to keep the rest of his party alive. What it also means is that I had a lot of learning to do, to pick up how to play my new role effectively.
Dungeons are one part of the game where a group of five strangers will be thrown together and required to cooperate in order to progress through an instance and defeat the final boss. Blizzard recently released an update which makes finding four other people a snap so you can drop straight into the action with very little wait time at all.
Whilst great in theory, the five people will have varying knowledge of the game. Some may be playing on their first character (like myself) whilst others are on their fourth or fifth play through. The common situation I saw arising again and again over the weekend is that the newer players still have things to learn but that the experienced players won't be patient enough to let them.
The first couple of dungeon attempts I had didn't end too well. I wasn't quick enough healing my team so people were dying when they didn't need too - an experienced player would have been fine, but I didn't quite have the knack
On a few occasions impatient players would quit the run, with only enough time to spout out some insults.
I tried calling one of them out on it, before they disconnected, asking why they can't be a bit more supportive. Apparently it's "not his problem" because if you are trying to heal but can't quite manage it you should just quit the entire game so you can't mess anyone else up. Brilliant, and he just left, which means the other four of us can't finish anyway.
Other times I was benched as the healer so someone else could take over to let us complete the dungeon.
Although the former is much more inconsiderate than the latter both of them meant I couldn't practice, and couldn't learn. There is a shortage of healers (and an even greater shortage of tanks) so helping me progress would mean more efficient runs in the future.
If you find yourself in a group with people less experienced make sure you:
I managed to do two solid runs with a patient, generous group leader. He was providing tips and techniques, waited for everyone to be ready, didn't complain or stress out and ensured everyone had a pleasant gaming experience. More of this please.
There are going to be times when you've ended up with a group of knob heads2 - just leave calmly and quietly, you're not one of them.
World of Warcraft, incase you are not familiar with the game, is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (or MMORPG). The "Massively Multiplayer" bit suggests (as you might imagine) that you will be playing with other people within the game. Interacting with other humans to achieve the same goals. ↩