My obsession with MMOs (RPG or otherwise) began in high school when a friend brought me over to his place to play Final Fantasy XI for the very first time. Granted this isn't the place most fans of genre would have started, but as a noobling, I was completely blown away by the sheer magnitude of it all. And while Final Fantasy's venture into MMO territory polarized its fan base, exploring unknown game mechanics with familiar themes and characters made the entire experience so much easier to get into. And even better, I was able to partake in all of the online action with a handful of my buddies in tow. My love for the MMO only blossomed after that. Before long, I was a full-on MMO fanatic. But sadly, after many years with the genre and many titles later (I miss you, City of Heroes), the genre is reaching a point of no return for me; and the dreaded internet troll is to blame.
Recently, an alpha build of War Z, a survivor MMO zombie game (first of its kind!) was released to those that had pre-ordered the sandbox shooter/online RPG. Given my penchant for MMOs and all things zombie related – seriously, who doesn't love zombies! – I was eager to try Hammerpoint Interactive's debut title. So a friend and I powered up our PCs and jumped right into the novice developer's greatly anticipated project. And while we were prepared for a tense, survival-based game with plenty of strategy and tactics (this is all we have to prepare us for the imminent Z-Day, people, well that and Zombieland), what I was not expecting, rather naively, was a bunch of children to drain every last bit of fun out of the experience.
These children, these trolls (or a cyber-bullies if you work for NBC) are the epidemic of online gaming whose sole purpose is to ruin what would otherwise be an entertaining session. They spew nothing but hate, and even worse they have no filter. Anything and everything will come under attack: your race, sexuality, validity of your relationships, whatever can be said to ensure you are having just the most miserable time imaginable. Back when I was hitting my MMO stride and the aforementioned City of Heroes occupied a lot of my time, I never had this problem. For some reason everyone who was online was nice and actually willing to have fun. I would have people give me tons of in-game currency for no reason other than seeing me have a grand ol' time. Sometimes I would get into thoughtful conversations. But I was never called a 'faggot', nor was I ever demanded to 'eat a dick.' Nope, none of that.
Something happened along the time when Call of Duty and World of Warcraft exploded onto the scene. All of a sudden, online gaming interactions became the new norm for just about every gamer. Even if you weren't interested in online gaming in the slightest, chances were that you had some friends that were able to wrangle you into playing, just so you wouldn't feel left out. But what started as another facet of gaming to hit the mainstream, drew in a crowd that you'd more than likely catch bullying a child on the playground. And the great anonymity of the internet only propagated the abuse. There was no accountability in sight, and online gaming was fast becoming the school yard after 3pm.
So here I am, playing this new game from a promising new developer with a friend and a few other players. I decided to really get in the spirit of things and role play my character in this desolate world. This was apparently the worst offense I could have done as I was shortly thereafter branded a "faggot" and was told that I “must be playing in my Mommy’s basement”. After revealing that I was in fact playing in my own apartment, that I pay for, I then became a “30 year-old loser that masturbates to fat chicks”. Just to frame this, I had only been playing for only half an hour at this point. And I played the game for another 15 minutes before I decided to turn it off. Which is a shame cause the game itself isn't half bad.
I cannot for the life of me understand how or why we thought it was okay to address other human beings the way we do on a playing field that supposedly houses those with shared interests. I understand that the veil of the internet breeds some fairly twisted people, but to make it your JOB to enter a game – that you paid for, I might add – and just demolish any and all satisfaction that comes with playing the damned thing, is just so frustrating, and so very, very sad. I realize that these faceless mongrels shouldn't get to me. But when a community full of weak, immature 'gamers' completely ruins an experience that I shelled out for, I take issue with that.
This is more than likely falling on deaf ears, but, grow up. You might be surprised how rewarding life can be when you aren't pissing on the rest of us.