Pop Quiz, Hot Shot…
You find yourself on your couch, jacked into Xbox Live. You and a party of your mates load-up into ranked Matchmaking for Halo2. You calculate that you have enough time for a few spirited rounds before your roommate comes home and starts stealing your precious bandwidth to look at naked people. That loser.
With a quick spin of the four combination locks, you find yourself slated for an objective game in a place called Relic. It’s not your favorite map, but a place familiar to you nonetheless. After all, you play Halo2 quite often. You are hardly a n00b. No way mister. Not you! You’re the guy who eats guests for breakfast in Team Training. Your rank has fluxuated respectably in the low-thirties for months now – not that anyone is keeping track.
Your mates go running off on their respective shopping sprees. As is common knowledge among anyone who is interested enough in this game to peruse an obscure blog, that clumsy old Warthog should be bounding up the ramp of your base any second now.
And, of course, here it comes. The metalic whine of the engine gives it away like a bull in an EB Games. Looks like a whole family of suicide pilots are on-board, too. Come and get some…
Time to pop a few grenades and score a shiny new Triple Kill Medal to add to your collection. You like medals, after all. You have lost count of how many of them you have, but it sure is fun to brag about them in the post-game lobby. You wonder what the other fellas will say as you list them off out loud. They will probably just fall silent in awe of your skills. Then maybe you can even have the last word. Oh, man; that would be sweet.
Sure enough, that ‘Hog gets just a little air off the ramp just as it passes over your ticking time bomb of plasma. An eruption of blue flame tosses the rusty old cart onto the beach like a pop-fly to left field. Beautiful. Your favorite. ‘Triple Kill’ speaks that voice, the one you hear inside your head in large crowds of people, like an old friend.
As the smoke clears and the wreckage comes to rest in the surf, the corner of your eye catches a razor of light lancing out across the bruised sky. That dead-eye sniper in your party – the one who always dashes off to wield the long barrel – calls out that he took down the other team’s sniper by the portal exit. So much for a pat on the back for your Warthog takedown. Sniper’s get all the fun.
Now… Here is the question. What is your next move? Your team is doing well. You repelled the first rush. Those guys back near the drop ship must be feeling pretty foolish right now. You are playing a good game. You and yours will probably carry the day this time; and maybe even score that rank increase you were daydreaming about at work.
Do you hunker down and wait for your worthy opponent to make their next move?
Or do you pop open that green cone of light in the basement of your keep and help yourself to the rifle that your opponent dropped at the other side of the door?
Better judgement takes a back seat to the visions of medals and headshots and Killtrocities that swirl in your head. Before you know what you are doing, you are bounding through that door. The rifle is yours. The butt is against your shoulder. The scope focuses your aim like a laser – right at the enemy spawn points.
One by one, your opponents appear like star trekkers on an away mission. One by one, they fall like toys with dead batteries as the contrail of your bullet intersects their faceplate. That old friend of yours, the announcer, is patting you on the back again. He is obviously overjoyed with the ‘Killing Spree’ upon whch you find yourself!
Now you are on fire. The beach is starting to look like a garage sale, strewn with impotent SMGs and lifeless n00b corpses. Now you are showing them! One by one, they grow back like weeds. One by one, you pick them.
You are the boss.
You are the big winner.
You are the fisherman who hunts from a barrel.
You are the fighter who kicks a man when he is down.
You are the brave soldier who executes a man tied to a pole.
Sure, you could have given these poor souls a good game – shown your fellow gamers a little sportsmanship. You suppose that, maybe, you might be ruining the experience for them. It even occurs to you that they are probably growing a little irritated with your behavior right about now – especially that one who has resorted to squatting every time he respawns.
But screw them, right? Honor and dignity are concerns for people who have no skill. Right?
The debate over spawn killing is a tough one. There are no rules against such a maneuver. You can’t get banned for it. Any military strategist would tell you that taking out the factory is the surest means of eliminating the threat of the enemy war machine.
I guess it all comes down to the difference between games [designed for enjoyment and healthy competition] and real life [which, as we all know, can be a bitch]. I don’t suspect that a discussion on the matter will change anyone’s mind on either side of the warp door.
But let’s have it anyway!