I’m not an FPS gamer. It’s not my thang. I’m the RPG nerd who used to raid in World of Warcraft and reads Mass Effect fanfic, not like… whatever it is FPS people do. Fragging? Headshotting? Shotgunning beers and crushing the cans on their foreheads? I mean, I do that last one all the time, but never in combination with fragging.
So, being a giant FPS newbie with no skill to speak of, I felt it would be a great idea to dive into Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare multiplayer and get real with some bros to see how the FPS half lives. I suited up with a killer loadout, wiped away the sweat that collected during the last game (3 kills and 21 deaths, get on my level), and took a big ol’ swig of Coke Zero and adjusted my headset. I am ready to shoot some dudes!
These are some of the meaningful personal connections I made during my foray into the land of party chat in Call of Duty.
The Helpful Upstart
My first party chat encounter is with a mouthy child, a hellion who repeats everything I say in what I can only guess is supposed to be a valley girl accent. I tell him to respect his elders, which only sends him spiraling into a vortex of trash-talk and mockery that seems excessive considering we’re on the same team.
I’m fully expecting him to ramp up the tomfoolery when I finally ask, “How do I mute you!!” in desperation. But surprising everyone, the kid actually launches into a detailed and helpful explanation of exactly how to turn off his – and many a subsequent jerk’s – smack talk. Good riddance, child! Mute activated. I later receive a private message from him, saying only, “Your welcome ;)”.
The Failed Catcaller
I spend almost a full game rambling to myself in the hopes that my astute observations about the events of our game will lure someone into an intellectual discussion about how snipers are the worst. Instead, this dude hears me talking and decides that the best way to proceed is to say, “Hey! You sound hot.”
“Gross!” I say, because I’m a mature adult, and also, ew. But then, straight outta left field, the guy hurriedly apologizes, as if he’s just beginning to understand the words his mouth made. I say nothing. He apologizes again, softer this time. Does he feel regret? Or is he just sorry I think he’s gross? Despite myself, I’m touched by his remorse. A tiny bit. For like, a second.
Whistlers and Sighers
Every ding-dang game has one of these (if not more), and I kind of love them the most. These guys go to all the effort of attaching a headset to their controller and donning said headset only to spend every game completely silent but for the occasional sigh of frustration. It is very important for these dudes to share their dejected swears and exhales with the class. My favorite is the guy who whistles off-key throughout the entire game. Props, sir! I salute you and I mute you (thanks, Helpful Upstart).
The Clingy Dude
Welcome to the only guy who engages in conversation as soon as I start talking. He’s weirdly polite? Not a single “you sound hot,” and when I ask which loadout I should use to maximize my damage output, he catches himself when he starts to mansplain. Whaaaat? I immediately text my bae to tell her about this enigma. Who is he? Where did he come from? Did he really just not mansplain?
For the next few days, every time I log on, Polite Dude is there. Waiting. He invites me to a party. I don’t wanna party with you, pal! I’ve got new people to meet and immediately form opinions about.
Several more ignored party invitations later, and Polite Dude has turned into Clingy Dude. Eventually the invites will stop. …They will stop, won’t they?
The Nurturer of Existential Dread
This is the only woman who speaks to me in the countless hours I spend in Call of Duty. She opens with, “Hey kid, I’ll talk to you. I’m not gonna let you sit and talk to yourself all day.” She speaks to me as a mother would to a lost child, giving tips and hints with a warm tone that makes me feel oddly ill at ease. I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m actually a small child. Does my inane chatter come off like I’m in grade school? Why is the first woman I’ve encountered in this game making me feel so confused? Who am I? What is my purpose on this spinning blue ball careening silently through the black void?
I disconnect as soon as the game ends.
I hate this kid. I want to write a strongly worded letter to his mother alerting her to 1) the fact that her tiny boychild is playing games rated M for Mature, and 2) his extremely sub par trash-talking skills. They are atrocious. If you’re gonna do rude, at least have the decency to do it well. Sheesh.
So I’m waiting for a game to start when a little voice pipes up. He’s chewing gum aggressively. I can’t guess ages, but I figure this kid is twelve? Eight? He could be five for all I know, kids grow up so fast these days. Right off the bat he says, “Level 19 and 20, you suck. Leave the game.”
I am the level 19. How dare he. The game hasn’t even started!
Mocking and catcalling is whatever, but insulting my skills as an elite future soldier? NO. I trash-talk the little jerk right back. Does your mother know you play this game? He says I sound like a four-year-old and accuses me of dying fifteen million times.
You’re welcome, tiger. Fifteen million and one!
He chews his gum with a palpable rage and asks me not to call him tiger.
Did I mention this punk has never heard of GoldenEye 007? Nah. Go play Pokemon, son, and leave the fragging to the adults.