So Elite Dangerous is going to be a multiplayer game and I’m fine with that. So long as I don’t have to play with certain other people, that is.
Let me explain with an example of exactly why I don’t want to play with what I hope is a small minority of other people. Head over to the Lave Radio podcast and take a listen to the opening minutes of the second Backers’ Views episode. Go on, I’ll wait here.
So. There you go. The interviewee sounded like a perfectly normal and reasonable chap, didn’t he? But the views he expressed are so at odds with my own that I seriously found myself doubting this would be a game I’d want to pay for & play. Let me explain.
To me, griefing and ganking are obnoxious activities undertaken by obnoxious people for obnoxious reasons. The interviewee said that the world, the universe, is a dog-eat-dog place and whilst he is right, to me that’s the ugly face of life and not the facet I want to embrace. He gave the example of someone coming home after a bad day and relieving the stress by gathering with mates to gank other players. This to me is a serviceable definition of bullying and again that is not something I would ever want to be involved or associated with.
Now before you accuse me of being a ‘care bear’ or any other pejorative epithet that is nothing but a salve to your ego, let me put something to you.
A group of teenagers have a bad day and decide to alleviate their sense of unhappiness by making someone even unhappier. To this end they find a man sat on a bench and beat the shit out of him in a vicious gang attack. They move on feeling justified in their actions because they have transferred their unhappiness borne of perceived powerlessness to another. Far fetched? Unfortunately not.
Now you might balk at my use of a terrible real life example to make a point about a video game, you might think my inclusion of it trivialises the death of David Morley and the crime of the people who killed him, but I disagree. The cruelty and absence of humanity displayed by the killers of David Morley find an strong parallel in the inability of in-game griefers to empathise with the other players they seek out to harm in order to gain enjoyment from, and a sense of control over, them. This is why I hate griefers so much – their inhumanity to others, be it over the internet or in the street.
In deliberating ganking what they know to be avatars owned and operated by real people rather than those controlled by the computer, griefers are deliberating setting out to hurt these other people and that is bullying and it is fucking shameful. They can dress it up any way they want, they can delude themselves it’s just a game, that no one really gets hurt, that everyone has agreed to play by the same rules, but that’s all they are doing, deluding themselves. If they want to pretend they are the apex of maturity by bringing ‘real world’ motivations into the game then they should at least have the fucking balls to admit why they are doing it and not go passing the blame onto their victims. They are bullies, pure and simple and they bully other people for reasons they themselves know and recognise all too well but are too chicken-shit to face up to. They are cowards.
They are the reason I want to pay multiplayer games as a single player, not because I can’t take the fact they could blow my make-believe spaceship up, but rather that I don’t enjoy being in the same same universe as someone who can only find enjoyment in hurting others. I can always get another make-believe spaceship and forget about the ganking but the unpleasant feeling of needing a shower that their presence leaves behind lingers for a long time, and not for the reason they would like to imagine. It’s not them that coats me like oil because they are just people after all, stupid, selfish moronic people, but just people. No, what offends me is what they exhibit: the self-deluding desire to embrace the worst, base aspects of humanity. They are a tumour that imagines itself not killing its host but freeing it. They are idiots. They are scum.
Near the top of this post I said that the views expressed in the interview gave me cause to doubt whether this game is for me or not and if, when released in 2014, it does turn out to be an Eve-like place full of talking tumors then I won’t be playing it.
But I don’t think the game will be like this. I’m essentially an optimist and therefore think there will be enough decent people involved in its creation to balance out the lead designer’s self-confessed desire to make it all PvP with perma-death and give it heart. I’m also a realist and think that Frontier Developments will want to cater to as many players as possible and these days that means casual players who don’t want to see their thirty minutes gaming slot wasted by being the target of a gang of roaming idiots.
Still, I could be wrong. The game could be a haven for the type of myopic pricks that I detest in and out of games so if nothing else the interview has convinced me not only not to back the game but not even to buy it until I’ve read reviews. I’ll keep my money in my wallet until I know I’m not going to waste it on a stinking pile of sewage full of annoying turds.