Follow My Leader
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!
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.
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?
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