Three years ago there was a new player. A fresh, innocent and pure beginner that had just finished the tutorial and used his earned PEN to buy three weapons he liked. He was looking forward to his first match. Two years ago there was a Semi. A friendly intermediate, hardened by the ways of the Free channel but always there for a talk and laugh. He was more experienced, and the purity in his eyes had been replaced by a fire of ambition. One year ago there was a Pro. A skilled veteran, professional in his ways of killing. Sometimes he talked, often he remained silent. Together with his forcepacks he entered rooms in the hope of finding worthy opponents. In his lone search he destroyed everyone who was weaker than him. His eyes were cold and driven by ambition. Now there is a S4. A heartless killing machine, incapable of speech that has reached his goal and lost everything else. But, his wish was granted. He now is the very best.
The morale of this story is that everyone starts out equally. So be it in real life, but also in S4League. Then what causes some of these players to turn from carefree rookies into egotistical maniacs or overly dedicated elitists? You are about to find out.
You have probably encountered them before: the kind of people that play S4 as if they are following a script. With checked builds, studied walljumps and hero running they rile up every room in sight — because winning is a must after all. This would trigger reactions such as “Why so serious?” from Joker / “WTF is this shit lol” from Borat or similar from, as someone from the forum nicely put it, basically anyone who is “on the outside looking in“. One group however is an exception to this, namely those who are on the inside looking out; the players that have since long been integrated into S4 and both live and die by the invisible rules set by the community.
First aspect: Competition
S4 is known as a competitive game. As you install the game you are briefed on the situation: this is a virtual stimulation game set somewhere in the future, where online sports are used for deciding wars and prevent real life casualties. Your mission is to climb from the ‘slums’, the beginner / rookie rank, to the ‘elites’, the Pros/S4s and become the very best, possibly like no one ever was. The latter, often applicable to many gamers these days, derives its ambition from a certain song (first 10 secs) but continues to remain the core concept of numerous games to date.
It can be argued however that S4 is a bit -too- competitive. While this is not Battlefield 3, CoD or basically any other online shooter, the need to perform and win is immense. It’s a burden that starts as soon as a new player joins the Free channel, where he is either kicked before the match starts or during it because he is ‘noob’. And it’s a burden that only keeps on increasing over time. The result? Players will either give up and forsake the game, or reach that level of skill where the community expects them to be: being a pro runner with 200+ pts per match on TD or getting to 50+ kills without dying even once in DM. The latter comes with a heavy price, as players have forgotten what it is like to have fun or just mess around. Every match is like a job in the factories, something that has to be done without thinking about it. What keeps them going? Friends who shared their struggle and brighten up what would otherwise would have been a boring match. But the end outcome is that you will get bored eventually. At this point you leave S4, temporarily or .. permanently.
The other day I joined a Station-1 room. It was a 8v8 with high-level blue badges all around. The kind that carries weak teams in TD with 8 goals like its nothing. Think of .Para. (NL). Got the idea now? Anyways, I joined with a setup including a wall and sentry because I wanted to practise defense and this seemed like a good place to do so. While my wall deflected some jumps and my sentry got some kills, they sometimes managed to find ways around to it — as is to be expected. These people play TD and possibly St-1 every day, and know how to deal with walls. The problem though was that even though we were still leading apparently my sentry was ‘in the way’ and my ‘wall fails’, leading to the point where my own team starts votekicking me. The fact that Alpha could close the gap of 3 points to 1 point after I joined upset some players on my team so there you go. The votekick didn’t pass, but I left the room anyways.
Second aspect: ‘Pro’ vs. ‘Noob’
When the Homing Rifle and Spy Dagger were first released you should have read the in-game chats or visit the forum. The amount of hate almost caused for a breaking news report where the enormous amount of evil thoughts have summoned Satan to earth, who is now destroying humanity and tearing apart cities as we speak. This is the second flaw that causes players to turn for the worst: the sense of elitism which proclaims certain weapons / methods ‘pro’ and others ‘noob’.
As an ancient wisdom states: “It doesn’t matter what you kill with, you will be called noob.” I came kind of prepared, since I have ‘pro’ included in my name PROtostyle. When people call my name it looks like they say ‘pro’. This compensates for the amount of ‘noob’ messages I get and, now that I have turned pro, the potential amount of ‘fake / farmed pro’ messages I -will- be getting on the short term. So let’s have a look at the reasoning.
Smash is broken, it’s easy to kill with, so it’s noob. Hammer is spamable so it’s noob. Homing is autoaim so it’s noob. You’re from EG, so you lag so you’re noob. I slept with your mom kos omak a7a so ur noob too. The S4 community is too much fixated on their familiar playing styles that everything that even remotely comes close to posting a treat to this (by killing them) is called ‘noob’. This is then copied, recycled, reused and passed on to countless other players — like an annoying virus that spreads, infects and causes harm.
Think about it. People have been studying and practising ‘pro dodges’, and with i.e. Homing that was useless. They cannot stand getting killed, they cannot stand a new player ruin their epic hero runs or killing sprees, so they call it noob. People have been aiming with Revolver/Shotgun for ages, and along comes a Smash user that gets the job done much faster — and much easier, so they are noob. This flawed sense of logic also affects new players, who become afraid to use the so-called ‘noob’ weapons and thus get caught up in the sweep of elitism: x weapons, x jumps and x skills only. NO BAT NO BREAKER NO RAIL etc. Ridiculous. Sit down and think about it. You play games for fun. If not X but Y instead gives you fun, what’s the problem? And that’s where the first aspect comes in. “fuck [username], noob [weapon] get lost AFK lager” The sense of elitism, together with the need to win, influence each other and are two vital reasons for players turning for the worst.
Third aspect: AP vs. PEN
The final aspect can be attributed to alaplaya. Cutting to the case, by giving weapons massive bonuses (1% vs. 11% / HP / SP / Movement Speed) and introducing clothes with ridiculous stats they have not created a gap, no, they have created a whole dimension between AP and PEN players.
New PEN players are raped by AP users. Only the truly skilled ones can match AP, but mind you that those ‘pen heroes’ often have used AP themselves in the past. AP users, safe behind their triple forcepacks / ap clothes / pet, plow through everything that isn’t equipped with the same, giving them a feeling of supremacy and the ego issues one so often encounters. And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the third and final reason for players turning into elitists. Bad management on alaplaya’s part, caused by greed, which fuels feelings of being superior and leaves people craving for more power.
As final part of this entry, I want to share you guys my story.
I started out as Rookie with PEN and had a great time, but with some luck from G caps and later i-Caps got Forcepacks of my entire weapon set. And this is where things went wrong. As I gained levels and power, the skill I gained during gameplay was used for the wrong purpose. I became a player bent on destroying weaker players, wanting to be the very best and always wanting to win, preferably with acceptable stats.
My worst moment was a few months ago. Whenever things were looking bad in matches and I found ‘dead weights’ on my team, I started kicking them, accompanied by text such as ‘thrash’ and ‘get lost noob’. This reached its peak when I kicked a player in TD 1 second before the match finished, making him miss out on his PEN/EXP for a full 30 minutes of playing.
The turn-around came a few weeks later. I saw a guy from DM who I was at odds with. His friend wanted a PEN 1v1 with me, so I accepted. I was no match on my Pen gear and lost 11-21, though I should mention he used a smash and I didn’t. He called me ‘just another ap fag with ego that has no skills’ and told me to get out of his face. At first I was angry, wanted to train hard and get back at him. But, I gave up. I realised that no matter how strong you get, there will always be someone stronger than you. And sooner or later, that person will put you in your place. I started looking at S4 differently, and although I still have ‘slips’ I am a lot nicer these days. Closer to my rookie self, if that is a way to put it.
This player was called Pyongeron. Although he will never read it, I am grateful to him for making me wake up and turn back to the rightful ways. This is my story to turning back to the rightful ways.
What is yours?