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Online games don't suck, online gamers do.

Monday, August 18, 2008 in My Opinions and Rantings (Views: 3367)
Online gaming is a great phenomena - using networks or the internet as its medium, players can connect and play with or against other players any time, day or night.

But, as games get better, gamers seem to be getting worse. One thing I have seen using services such as XBox Live 5 years ago, and even today is that people can seem to forfeit a game without consequence.

One such example was 5 years ago, when I was being mercilessly beaten in Madden on the original XBox Live. I then figured out what this (assuming) kid was doing on each type of play. Once I started forcing turnovers, fumbles, and otherwise causing massive disarray on his team, the score was getting close. Then, I took the lead and forced a fumble on the next kickoff.

What happened next was nothing short of terrible. I could actually see the other player go into his pause menu, select Quit, and even though I had the win sealed up, got nothing for the trouble except this blog entry. So someone can forfeit, and there are no consequences to just quitting.

Another thing that bothers me are people who are experts lurking in beginner rooms looking for people to beat up on. Not only is this not a challenge, not fair to those who trying to learn or just have fun with the game, but can cost companies revenue from those who don't see playing games online as "worth it". I don't blame them.

This also happened to me on Rockband, where I was just learning the guitar piece and see the digital reincarnations of Eddie Van Halen and Kirk Hammett in the easy rooms. It's times like this where a 98% rating should give you an opportunity to win...

It was refreshing Saturday night to play 3 straight games against someone of the same level. I found it challenging and fun. I took the series 2-1, but it was close in all 3 games. I had to message that person as a gesture of sportsmanship - thanks for the games, it was fun. This is after meeting the platnum artists... :)

So online gaming providers, here is a bullet pointed list of things that should be implemented in online services:

1. Ratings based rooms. If a player is rated at a higher level, that player should only be able to play in rated rooms that are equal to or greater than their rating.

2. Unrated competition. Staying with point 1, if a higher rated player wants to play someone who is not at their level (and assuming they didn't go into the higher ranked room looking for a beating), they should have the opportunity to play in an unrated game. A good example of this is a friend teaching another friend how to play.

3. The forfeit system. There should be an easy fix to this. Of course, you don't want to penalize people for losing power or connectivity, but here's how it should work:

* If someone leaves a game and they are winning, the game is cancelled.

* If someone leaves a game and they are losing, the game is forfeited, and the winner takes the rating points as though they left.

4. Unstable players. If someone forfeits games regularly, there should be a flag on their rating showing such.

Companies like Microsoft, EA, Sony and others should take notice that just because you may have scored a lot of subscribers, they may not come back.

In the words of Bill Gates, for a program to work, it has to be compatible with everybody. The simple truth is, that for online gaming to work, the games have to be fun for everybody.

Simply put, there has to be a better way to make online gaming fun for everyone.


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