Image by FngKestrel via Flickr
Over the past few weeks of playing Team Fortress 2, I’ve noticed a chain of causation (sample size too restricted for correlation) between poor game performance (aka lousy skill), and use of homophobic, racist and sexist slurs.
What caused me to pay attention was the night in a Goldrush map where I was defending the third stage (as an engineer). Had good placement for the sentry, teleporters were up, and there was good traffic around the dispenser. All up, the Engy role was doing the job. Then two of the Red team players used their fairly consistent respawn downtime to start with the homophobic rants in the game chat. Given I was up, alive and busy keeping the defence running, I couldn’t take the time out to for an STFU statement. Within a minute or two, they switched up to adding misogyny and racism to the homophobia, so I walked out of the server (and that took out my installed defences they’d relied on covering their own sorry incompetence).
It’s struck me because originally I thought the causation was poor performance led to vitriolic rants which were usually peppered with as many slurs as a talentless hack could produce. After the incident above, I started paying attention to the timing, and noticed that the slurs were appearing first – the players with the time to type up racist remarks were respawning sufficiently frequently to make use of 15 seconds to be insulting. It’s become a pretty quick assessment of the quality of the player – lower skills, more attempts to hate on other groups to compensate for the inadequacy of their own ability.
I have no qualms about quitting mid game to find a new server if the players are spewing venom left, right and centre. I’d argue back – but that would require dying enough times to hold a conversation, and as I’ve noticed, it’s just not happening for me to be able to engage a debate. But the ones ranting away? They’re spending their 15 seconds of respawn advertising how lousy a player they truely are – since they’re always having plenty of downtime to make remarks.
What I need to work towards in TF2 is a reputation up there with my Autoassault server reputation. Back on Autoassault, when crap started in the chat channel, I could bring an “STFU” statement, and it stopped. Right now, in TF2, I’m virtually unknown (and I stay alive enough not to have time for conversations). I’ll have to work on balancing kicking arse in game with kicking idiots in chat.
That said, I’ve also got to give props to the bulk of the Australian and New Zealand players in the public servers. I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by the quality of the gaming experience, and the relative absence of the crap that put me off Counterstrike. There have been a few bad nights, and inadequate men (particularly noticeable in voice chat based slurs) trying to compensate lack of gameplay skill with hatred for others. Mostly though, it’s been fairly painless on Internode’s TF servers.