The first time you’re killed without understanding where your murderer even shot you from, it’s confusing. The second time, it’s frustrating. After that it’s increasing levels of infuriating. I’ve been sitting on my co-worker Jake Gaskill’s couch, playing Battlefield 3’s Team Deathmatch for the past couple hours, and I’m on inexplicable death number 35. Yes, I’m keeping track, and I am pissed. I take two steps, some dink shoots me, and I respawn. Two steps later, there’s a knife in my head and I’m bleeding out. This is torture.
All I want is revenge against the countless camo-clad strangers who have used me for target practice for the past hours. You’d think I could able to mete out some measure of revenge—I’m carrying an assault rifle and freakin’ grenades, here -- but I feel like I’m armed with a peashooter and water balloons. Nothing sticks. I’m at the bottom of every stat menu – my squad and the enemy’s. If my team loses, it’s because of me. If it wins, it’s in spite of me. In short: I really, really suck at multiplayer.
But I want to get better. All this suckiness is terrible for my self-esteem, so my cadre of highly trained, laser-eyed psychiatrists has suggested I face my fear of others, take life by the ‘nards, break out of my safety zone and just sit right down on the couch and play Call of Duty, so over the next 427 weeks, I’m going to discuss, diagram and detail my attempts to improve my multiplayer game. I’m going to try to get better.
As 1970s self-help guru M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, put it, “To proceed very far through the desert, you must be willing to meet existential suffering and work it through.” So I’m going to call upon the help of professional gamers, Satanic priests, art historians, and fashion consultants to traverse my personal desert and transform myself from a terrible gaming flunkey into the ultimate video game winner. Along the way, I’ll be sharing tips, tactics, and ridiculous advice for the online gamer who wants to get better. I’ll be growing and changing into a better man, and crushing the skulls of my enemies with mighty, ham-like fists.
My journey begins with an all-important honest assessment of my failings, that’s why I’ve lowered myself to traveling to Jake’s house and playing Battlefield with him. Jake’s an experienced multiplayer gamer, so I’ve tasked him with providing an honest evaluation of my base level multiplayer skills.
“Give it to me straight, Gaskill,” I said, when our first, interminable death-orgy of BF 3 finally ended.
Jake’s face clouded. I could practically see him working through the complicated social minefield of being honest, while not insulting someone you work with.
“Well, you really aren’t good at this,” Jake said finally, “I mean, I’m trying to be nice here, but you’re just… terrible. It’s one thing to be at the bottom of the scoreboard, but you had matches where you killed, like, one guy. And I think he was AFK. It’s not that hard of a game. It was hard to even watch someone play that badly.”
“Yeah,” I reply. “I guess I kinda suck at multiplayer games,”
“I’m no pro or anything, but you… you’re just awful. No offense, but I don’t know if anything can realistically be done to help you,” He added finally.
“To hell with you anyway!” I screamed in his face. I called his mother a crack-baby, overturned his tasteful coffee table and stormed out his house. Eff that guy anyway! I don’t need him to get better. I’ll make my own path.
Next Week: I’m going back to basics: id’s seminal FPS Doom! I beat the single-player of the first two games, but other than 15 minutes at a LAN party back in '98, I’ve never even tried the multiplayer. I’m sure that will go really, really well!