I’d like to share with you my very fondest memory in all my years of online gaming. Many of you may have gotten into Rainbow Six 3 when it was a hit on Xbox Live back in good old 2003. Not so many of you will have shared my passion for that game. Damn, I was good. Still, this memory has nothing to do with winning countless games or hanging out with a bunch of good friends in-game. It has to do with a culture that developed from the online experience. A particular piece of that culture in fact that I, myself started.
My buddy Chris and I were sitting around in a lobby one day and we -- through a long very fun conversation -- came across the phrase “May the spirit of the Snake be with you.” I do not remember the details of where this came from, but it matters not. We decided to be a little weird and creepy and start wishing all our competitors the good will of the spirit of the snake before every match. “Good luck guys, may the spirit of the Snake be with you,” we would say. We kept it up for a few days until it got boring and then gave it up. Much to our extreme joy, however, the rest of the community did not want to give it up. Most of the matches we went into for the next two weeks or so, someone would wish us the spirit of the Snake. It just became part of the common vernacular. “Ok guys, let’s stick together in this one, y’know spirit of the Snake and all,” said one guy who I’ll never forget.
I’m beginning to see the seeds of this type of developing culture being sewn in Halo 3.
It always takes a while, because at first nobody cares very much about joking around or messing about with their friends, everyone wants to play and be serious about the game. I’m actually astounded that it has taken so long. Usually culture development is a near instant happening, but for some reason it has been somewhat stunted in the beta. I’ve decided upon a reason for why this is so:
It’s just too well balanced.
Consider the following: In Rainbow Six 3, one of the Cardinal sins of the game was to enter the game with a load out that included a .50 Caliber Sniper Rifle. Known more commonly to gamers as a 50 Cal. This gun was crazy powerful, and one shot, even a hit in the pinky toe, sent opposing gamers to the lobby. Now every RS3 player can remember multiple times when the whole lobby was sent up in arms over some guy who used a 50 Cal. Everybody would get so mad and yell at the guy, at which point they would all offer the exact same response, “If it’s in the game then they meant for you to use it!” It’s a common thread amongst RS3 veterans – culture.
There was a similar set of circumstances to be found in Halo 2. There came to be a practice known commonly as “sword-whoring.” If ever the winner of a match bragged in the post-game lobby you can be sure that another player would be right there to inspect his stats to see if he was using the energy sword the whole time.
I know that some of our reader’s believe that I’m full of it when I say that the Warthog is too powerful, but whether I am or not doesn’t change the fact that the people are rallying around this belief. Rampantly killing the other team with a Warthog is also slightly less covert than using an energy sword so it requires no stat checking to discern. Already in the game lobbies you can count on somebody yelling, “VEHICLE WHORE!”
It may seem like stupid, whiny, sore losers just looking for an excuse for why they lost, but in practice it makes the entire experience far more alive, memorable, and fun. I’m really glad Halo 3 is already developing this type of thing, it gives me a great amount of hope for the community that will spring up around the full version in September.
By the way, for all you uneducated swine out there, the picture up top is of Alfred Adler...a very important person in the Psychology world.