Follow My Leader

You may scoff as I sit atop this perch, safe from most enemy fire, but what you don't realise is that I can also watch Lilith's arse in uninterrupted close up for ages.

In recent weeks I’ve noticed that, as in real life, in multiplayer co-op games online I’m content to be lead rather than lead… Borderlands for instance, I’ve played extensively with a great friend and for the most part I’ve been happy to defer to him over where we go, what we do and who gets the pleasure of opening up the cool red crates to see what treasures lie inside. (often nothing special but the anticipation of what could be in there is kinda cool, even if the disappointment is a shame after)

When it comes to the fighting situations I hang back taking out the enemy with my sniper rifle and he rushes ahead with his fast repeater pistol and goes toe to toe… occasionally I join him with and SMG or shotgun and get in the thick of it, then when our enemies are nothing more than fast fading pixels I tend to let him decide where to next and away we go!

This has got me thinking back to other online games I’ve played and my part in them…

Burnout Paradise is a good example of my tendency to defer to others with the challenge choices and how to get to each stage! I’ll happily follow the pack to reach where we were heading unless by chance I’d end up ahead of everyone (except Rook usually) The only time I’d find myself in a position of leadership was when playing with relative rookies to the game and even then I’d ask what they wanted to do before selecting the challenges and heading off. In part I think it comes from my natural reserve, in part a desire not to get things wrong and show myself up! Another part of it comes from my own apathetic nature where leading is akin to working at something and takes effort. Effort as we know is bad! I game for the pleasure of it generally (as I’m sure most people do) and I generally get no pleasure out of being the decision maker in a scenario!

Forget your fancy GPS systems, at GamingLives we have our very own Gandalf in The Rook, although he's not known to grab hold of his staff quite so much.

A small venture into GTA IV online had me following in the wake of more experienced players wondering what was going on and hoping someone would give me directions and orders, especially when I found myself in charge of the Police car with 3 other occupants! That was a minor panic moment of “I’m not cut out for this shit!”, though it was quite amusing too. I don’t like the idea that my bad playing could detract from others enjoyment of the game at hand… even though I know when you’re new to something you need time to catch up and learn I still worry about doing something dumbass and messing things up for other more experienced/serious gamers. That hasn’t stopped me from enjoying multiplayer games, but it does kinda make me wary of jumping in where I am at that kind of disadvantage.

You guys take care of all the baddies and stuff and I'll um... I'll hang here and make sure we don't get clamped!

Then we come to Counter Strike Source… as a member of a fairly active clan, we would regularly have training matches on our chosen maps (usually Dust and Dust 2) and at the start of each session the call would come for people to take charge of a team and direct the play. Not once did I put my virtual hand up and say “I’ll have a go!” The pressure just seemed too much and the idea of actively telling people what to do left me kinda cold. A couple of the team were good friends of mine and new me pretty well so they weren’t really surprised and they never pushed me to take on a role I wasn’t prepared for. After all, they were in training for taking the clan into an ED league so they wanted strong characters to call the shots and calling those shots wasn’t something I felt compelled to do! Again in part from being reserved, part apathy and part afraid to come out as a dumbass…. that level of worry about looking like a dick shouldn’t really enter into gaming but it does as so many folk take so many aspects of it seriously! I’m not a happy camper if I’m in the limelight and that’s another part of the whole thing!

I can happily direct a party of NPC’s in Baldur’s Gate or Neverwinter Nights, but leading real people in a virtual world seems beyond my comfort zone by too much of a margin to really be possible. I could probably learn to in time I guess but that would need the patience and understanding of my peers and when the games are fast paced and a little frantic, that’s not easy to come by.

Next time you’re in one of those games where you’re cooperating with others to set goals, stop and have a think… are you following my leader or leading my followers?

Last five articles by Pete



  1. Rook says:

    You may not have led the teams on Counter Strike Source or issued commands, but you did help people get to where they needed to be in Burnout, leading isn’t always about being in front. It’s showing them where a ramp is, on how to get on top of a bridge, or the entrance to a parking lot.

    In Burnout, you can simply pick a challenge you haven’t done and everyone does their part. We will all end up repeating challenges if we play it often enough. You can even offset that with one for me, one for someone else rotation. I don’t play alot of multiplayer myself as I like to progress at my own pace.

    The most important thing is to enjoy the game you’re playing.

  2. Samuel The Preacher says:

    It was fun trying to get somewhere when we first started playing Burnout. “So what do you want to do?” “I dunno… what do you want to do?” In the end I think only my complete lack of knowledge of where anything was in the game forced you to take the lead, though I noticed you started to defer to me more once I started to get the hang of it.

    I can understand the mentality. There’s seemingly no responsibility for other people’s fun if you let them take charge. Doesn’t quite work that way all the time of course; I usually play medic in Team Fortress 2 because I know that the rest of the regulars on my server can kick my arse in a straight fight, preferring to offer a supporting role. And one cock-up from me in that support role can not only get me fragged, but the guy I was partnered up with. And that guy is usually the main heavy in our team, so when he goes an entire assault or defence can go to shit in short order. So there’s no real escape from it, short of playing offline.

    I’ve played in command positions, at one point leading a clan squadron in a combat flight sim, and done the secondary roles, depending on the games. And I’ve come to the conclusion that both are equally as stressful in their own way, if you let them be. The main thing I suppose is just doing whatever you’re comfortable with at the time.

    That’s why I stopped playing online altogether, until recently. Heh.

  3. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    To be absolutely positively 100% honest with you… when I’m playing solo I have no particular goals in mind whatsoever. I’m happy to amble around whether it’s driving KITT through Paradise City or Big Surf Island, or whether I’m traipsing through the Capital Wastelands in Fallout 3 or tearing through the dust in Borderlands. I’m happy to just go wherever the road takes me, and it’s quite often dictated by the obligatory “ooooh, wonder what’s over there?” thought.

    When I’m playing co-op though, I tend to get bored very easily if there’s not a lot going on… and I long for the freedom to just do what I want rather than hanging around waiting for someone to make a decision as to what’s happening next, so I’ll end up making that decision myself. It’s quicker, and less annoying!

    Ii took part in Rook’s “Great Eight Player Challenge” co-ops with Burnout for several weekends in a row, helping others to pop the achievement for winning in an eight player street race or whatever it was. I wasn’t that fussed myself, but it was fun taking part and watching everyone else win their races. I’m happy to just turn up and go with the flow as long as there’s something to go along with.

    Just realised… it’s past 4pm and I’m sure I could probably pick up another pearl weapon if I go on the ol’ Crawmy killing spree!

  4. Lorna Lorna says:

    I’m also, by and large, a solo gamer, but there are a few odd occasions where I dabble my fingers into the multiplayer pool. I tend to just lurk at the back unless there is a clear objective and amuse myself – Burnout Paradise is just such an example. However, Rook and myself did work on organising the big Burnout meet up so that our group could scoop the pain in the arse 8 player cheevies, so it really depends on the game and how motivated I am, as to the role that I take. Aim is also important, in that if one player is going for a particular goal or objective, then they will usually be the person in the lead.

  5. Kat says:

    Ooo interesting, very interesting *strokes chin*

    I did also poop myself the first few times in GTA Cops and Crooks mode. Other gamers are relying on you and even if they’re friends who won’t get too angry it’s still nice not to let them down. I find now that if I’m driving everyone bails out within 0.75 seconds :/ but it’s fun!

    I really don’t know where I lie on the leader/being lead thing. Left 4 Dead is an excellent example of leadership. I’m happy to take the lead if I need to but also to follow instructions… if I’m in the mood. Perhaps I’m a follower but have to be… restrained into that position… so to speak :D Maybe I’m unpredictable?

    Is it just me finding it all a little Dom/sub? You may be Mark’s bitch Pete ^_^

  6. Adam Adam says:

    I’ve been a co-oper for years. I have a very close pair of friends that I game with, one who I grew up with and the other I’ve never met but grew up with all the same. Theres a 4th that flits in and out of the group which is great because it means we dont have to hide the extra bot under a mountain of bullets on Left4Dead 2, but for the past 6-7 years its really just been us 3.

    None of us lead, one of us absolutely doesn’t and myself and the other one occasionaly do it and only when we fancy causing total carnage. I love the examples you give Pete, I stay away from competetive gaming despite always wanting to flirt with it a little and having once played in ED years ago in I think CS 1.6? It might have been source, I forget! But yeah we’ve definately had ‘that’ experience in Cops and Robbers where suddenly you’re the one in charge of the steering wheel and its always led to doom and hillarity all at the same time :D

    I’ve always enjoyed management sims and team games where I’m tactically in charge but online I’ve never much wanted to ever be a leader online. Kudos to those that do! I don’t like you and I don’t listen to you but boy you’re fun and easy to wind up :D

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