“Git gud skrub.”
This is the phrase that became etched deep in the creases of my brain after I began playing Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate online. While the grammar leaves something to be desired, unfortunately, the sentiment is common across all facets of gamer culture. If you aren’t good enough, get out. The problem was, I am good at MH4U. Sure, I made mistakes, even fainted once or twice, but everyone does. I had completed the single-player campaign and honed the skills I had gained in the series’ previous (Western) installment, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. At the very least, I was competent, if not “gud.” And yet, here I was, my self-esteem under attack and my significant investment in the game minimized in the very public arena of online multiplayer.
So, what does this mean for the every-gamer? The answer is simple and devastating. Judgment is passed immediately, with each player potentially acting as his or her own judge, jury, and ill-spoken executioner. For those of us who don’t meet a particular player’s rubric, this can lead to a form of social anxiety, stopping otherwise enthusiastic players from fully enjoying their game of choice.
This is especially pertinent in today’s game market, where almost every AAA title is marketed as multiplayer first and single player (if it even has a single player mode) a distant second. For years, my gaming experience consisted almost exclusively of single player outings and a few LAN parties. The reason for this was manifold (I’m looking at you, dial-up internet), but the most significant reason was fear of ridicule. The idea of being told I wasn’t good enough to play a game that I obviously liked was very scary to a young gamer like myself, deep in the throes of teenage insecurity. As I have aged, I have learned to shrug off such attacks, but it still stings, particularly when I have practiced and practiced, sometimes for hundreds of hours, offline.
Now, understand, I typically do not spend a lot of time online in my games. I much prefer the personal experience of playing offline. But I can say with certainty that there have been games that I wanted to play online (*cough* Halo *cough*), but didn’t because I was afraid. Some games, for reasons I will explore in a later article, foster the atmosphere of “if you aren’t good enough, get out” (*cough cough* Call of Duty *cough* I should see a doctor for this cough). But all online communities have this to one extent or another.
If you are like me, you want everyone you meet to enjoy games like you do. Games make you happy and offer an temporary escape from an increasingly stressful world. You don’t want to be stressed trying to decide if you are good enough to play online. Unfortunately, the people who make you stressed will not go away and, realistically, will not change. So, what can you do? Try your best and ignore the trolls. Don’t engage them. Play the game because you want to.
Just try to remember that online multiplayer was designed to allow like-minded players to get together and compete in a good-natured arena. “Gitting gud” is a fortunate side effect of having fun, not the reason to play.