Totally Fair Axe Spins

Fair and balanced.


Mattchew’s Dota Musings: Moaning on Morality


Do you remember the good ol’ days in school, when you were on your soccer/basketball/football/chess team? Don’t you remember when a teammate messed up a play, how you threatened to kill him and his entire family?

What? NO?!

Yet this seems to be the norm in treating fellow players in Dota.

Why do we do this?

And I don’t use “we” lightly. I’m just as guilty as the next person in dishing out the hate.

To better answer this, I think it’s helpful to first analyze a normal, in-person competitive team mentality. When you were on that club in school, likely many of the members were your friends, or you had some semblance of a relationship. Almost everyone had a sense of team mentality- if enough people were getting too down on each other, the entire team would suffer, which also harms the individual. Performance goes down, the chances of winning goes down, and thus the chances of you attaining those warm and fuzzy feelings when you beat a team in a game requiring skill.

I would say that is probably the biggest driving factor of why we treated in-person teammates well. We knew, consciously or not, that if we were too hard on too many teammates, we would suffer. Not only in the game, but out of the game. There was still a social life to be had, and not too many people would want to hang out with someone that was constantly berating them.

So passion and social acceptance are likely the biggest factors of what kept us (mostly) civil during and out of team games. And not wanting to get punched in the face.

But then, what happens when there is an environment that is almost entirely divorced from those two factors? CHAOS AND DESTRUCTION. You can now do the following!:

1) Punch the person in the “face” by trolling or feeding.

2) Tell your teammate how many times you had sex with his/her sister.

3) Go on a mentally raping rampage about how you feel about a teammate’s abilities (I mean, let’s be honest, that Sniper WAS a n00b).

All because there’s no relationship fallout!

And if we’re completely honest, some of us find that fantastically liberating.

Dota is, for a lot of people, a kind of psychological escape from real world relationships. This is not implying  that these people are necessarily lonely in the physical world or have no friends on Dota. It’s just that when you speak to a Dota stranger in a way that you would never speak to a stranger on the street, you’re likely doing it because part of you is always tired of keeping up that facade. Dota provides release (…not that kind of release, Michael Scott).

Some might say this is a good thing. Competitive online games that allow people to act in this way provides a kind of psychological purge. Better that people take their aggression out in a fantasy world than the real one, where damage can be done. In fact, there’s reason to believe video games actually have lowered crime rates (link), and that may be the reason why crime rates have been fairly low during this recession.

That very well may be the case. And, when it comes to violence, I’m glad if that’s reality.

However, I think that treatment of people is in a different category from violence when it comes to this theoretical purging. We’re always engaging with people relationally; we’re rarely engaging in violence. I believe we’re always on the bleeding edge of telling people what we really think in the bluntest terms; and, as a society, we’ve created manners to dilute that speech so there isn’t as many misunderstandings.

When we start to disregard those manners, they atrophy. It’s easier to spill over to that side that doesn’t care how we say things.

And I think that’s really, really bad.

We treat, for the most part, the random person on the street well because we would want to be treated well. If everyone just acted on impulse and passion, we know that would be the crappiest society to live in. And it takes constant work to maintain those “manner muscles”.

Not only for your own humanity, but for the Dota community, treat random pubs as if you were going to see them the next day. Remember that there is fallout when you treat random people harshly, even if it’s not apparent, and even when they deserve it. We don’t want Dota to be the poopiest gaming society to play in, because it’s one of the best games to play.

When all else fails, hit the mute button.

Live in Your World. Modify Mine.

Now before you get your panties in a wad, I would like to inform you that I WILL BE REVIEWING A GAME NEXT WEEK! I know I have taken a bit of a gaming hiatus and I am sorry (lie). As a human adult, I sometimes get busy. Weird, huh? And due to my nerdistic tendencies, I have been filling the little free time I have with episodes of Doctor Who instead of video games. That David Tennant owns Keanu Reeves! Moving on,

The year was 2002! The grand success of Counter-Strike had inspired thousands of faux computer hackers to develop PC mods for video games out of their own mothers’ basements. Slaving over a keyboard coated in cheese powder, these puberty-riddled teenagers crafted worlds so great that regular gamers would feel the need to beam these tiny universes onto their own PCs via a magic system of tubes that Al Gore created before inventing Global Warming. For years this continued, allowing gamers to be happy with all the extra content they received for their 50 bucks. But little did they know, a dark day was appraching.

The evil executives at Valve were angered by the amount of free content that could be found on the internet. Apparently, they were infuriated when they found out amateur programmers could not only use their engines to create games just as good as their own, but could also build such mods in less time than it takes Valve to make a game (currently under 8 years). So they decided to buy all the good mods and then sell them to people for extra money! It was the perfect scheme!!

Now here is the good part about this story. These greedy business practices have evolved into the magnificent downloadable content that developers create for games after they release them. It keeps us paying them and it keeps them pumping out game play to us. Win-Win. Thanks Xbox marketplace.

Time for my issue with this. I truly believe that this system has hindered young independent developers from creating content for consoles. Imagine a section of the marketplace on Xbox Live for game mods and content created by amateur developers. Right now, making mods for console games has a fairly unknown methodology to most people. BUT they can be made just as easily as for the PC. You just need the right tools. I think if the influence of indie mods hadn’t been cut down by developers, Microsoft or PlayStation would allow something like this on their systems and we could all be infinitely more happy with our gaming. I would even be okay with developers making money off these mods, just as long as they are being made and distributed.

Companies love making money. That’s about as surprising as a fat man with diabetes. You love user created content. That is evident in games like Second Life or LittleBigPlanet. So write your congressmen and let’s make it happen!!

VOTE Judas/Reeves ’12

Written by Not Judas