The TLL Mailbag continues to fill with rants and ideas from the thoughtful gamers who are desperately seeking to deposit lead into your helmet. This week, we are visited by a KillerAngel in search of logic amidst the madness that infects Xbox Live on an almost pandemic level.
I have recommended, for years now, that my brother partake of the community. He finally has and his emergence has induced me to fling myself right back into Halo 2. For the last week, the community has, once again, been what I recalled. Great sportsmen. Great players (much to my chagrin when they get the upper hand on me). And generally fun to BS with after a game. I’ve encountered a few minor annoyances with play – including ISP woes on my end. But nothing so bizarre as what I witnessed this evening…
I joined a Matchmade Team Slayer session, which placed us on Ascension, one of my favorite maps. Despite how dreadfully I play on it. As we trudged along, doing our best against an incredible team, I began to suspect cheating on their part. You see, we were doing well, but not tremendously so. Unfortunately, our team progress bar wasn’t moving in the least. Two players on my team ended the session with twelve kills each, a third with four kills. The fourth player finished with -29. This individual spent the entire game “committing suicide”. This perplexed me more than I could imagine possible. Why would anyone want to do this?
How could a team place a player in matchmaking to deliberately commit suicide and run down their team’s overall score? It didn’t seem possible, but it was annoying me to no end in the game. Afterwards, in the lobby, this player dropped immediately and several other players explained he was trying to decrease his skill level, so he could play lesser skilled players.
Is this common? If it is, what purpose could it possibly serve?
First of all, good on you for dragging your brother kicking and screaming into the Halo Universe. We need all the n00bs we can pwn. The article immediately following this one details the importance and joy of each gamer fulfilling his or her recruitment quota for replacement soldiers.
Second of all, was this your first encounter with a suicide bomber? Really?
If it is, you have truly led a charmed life as a multiplayer denizen on the battlefields of Halo2. Your assessments of the community are, in general, highly flattering. It would be poor hospitality to mock you for bringing this up, but we have seen people sabotaging their own rank for as long as there was a rank to sabotage. My suspicion would be that this has happened to you before, perhaps when you were not paying such close attention to the scoreboard.
To answer your first question: Yes. It is common. It is rampant, even.
To answer your second question: The practice of committing suicide [intentional suicide, that is – not the suicide penalty you get for firing a rocket too close to a wall] would serve two purposes in the mind of the lonely perpetrator who we find in the corner, dropping grenades at his feet. I am not saying that these are valid purposes, but they are purposes nonetheless. They fall into the categories of “Griefing” and “Deleveling”.
“Deleveling” refers to people who shy away from a “Good Game”. They don’t want to compete. They want to win. And they don’t want to work for it. In Halo2, this can be done by losing enough games to have one’s rank adjusted down. This practice is not, however, isolated to online multiplayer for our favorite game. Smaller heavyweight boxers will lose weight in order to pound on middleweight boxers. Golfers lie about their handicap. High School athletes are intentionally flunked by their schools to give them an edge as they step onto the collegiate field. Imagine Tiger Woods showing off at the local miniature golf course. Picture Babe Ruth hustling a bet at the local batting cages. That’s the guy we are talking about.
“Griefing” refers to a brand of emotional terrorism, in which the offending party derives their satisfactions from ruining something that is widely enjoyed by others. It’s as simple as that. “Griefing” is done for the sake of inflicting grief. This breed of ne’erdowell is found in many different theatres of the human condition. He wields the laser pointer on opening night of that movie for which you have waited three seasons to see. He drops a box of laundry detergent into the public fountain on the day of the parade. He unscrews the cap of the shaker, entreating the next diner to more than their monthly requirement of salt. He is the mailbox baseball player, the pumpkin smasher, and the fire alarm puller.
What can be done? Form up in larger groups, Killer. Matchmaking is fine for driving worthy opponents your way. Don’t expect the best if you rely on Matchmaking to choose your teammates. You can’t choose your Brother, but you can make him play Halo2 if he ends up being cool. On the same token, friends are the family that you choose!
You must choose wisely.