Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Online Communities

The internet really is a wonderful thing. It’s opened the gate for so much intellectual enlightenment and the spread of knowledge in the world has never been easier. You’d think we’d have a beautiful, shining bright utopia by now, since the internet has been around for decades. Unfortunately, every time mankind finds a wonderful new technology someone has to come along and spoil it for the rest of humanity. Look at TV. It was good entertainment for years. Then along came Big Brother and it turned into a mass of people watching a bunch of people sat around a table arguing over whether they want to have bread or eggs for supper.

Anyway, now that rather tangential opening is out of the way, to the point of this post: online communities. I was always shy in my early days on the internet, as I mentioned in my earlier post about communities in EVE Online. I never really bothered talking to anyone, as I wasn’t sure what to say to them or the correct etiquette for how you are supposed to behave when you meet people online. Then I started playing the online game Tibia. For anyone who doesn’t know, Tibia is a fully real-time non-instanced online MMORPG. The first thing that struck me when I went out into the hunting areas was that every time I approached a monster with another player nearby they would start yelling “MINE!11!1!” at me like some sort of crazed hobo in the centre of pretty much every major city in the world, wildly gesticulating and picking a fight with thin air. Needless to say every time this happened I turned around and ran the other way since I had absolutely no idea what was going on. In the first part of Tibia you can’t be attacked by other players, not until you reach level 8 and travel to the mainland. So I reached the mainland and started exploring, killing things when I found them. One day I was hunting in a dwarf mine and I started attacking a dwarf in low health that was running towards me from off the screen. All of a sudden this high level character came running after the dwarf, and seeing that I’d killed it he started attacking me with a huge sword or some-such. I was confused and ran. Luckily he didn’t kill me and stopped once he’d driven me out of the cave. I was like “what the hell was that for?”, then he explained that there is apparently a social rule in Tibia which means you don’t attack something that someone else is attacking, thereby stealing experience points off of them. Well excuse me for not instinctually knowing something that had never been explained to me before you know? As well, this rule only ever seems to apply to other people. If you enforce it against someone else, someone who is trying to steal your kills for example, and attack them, they will, without fail, bring their high level friend to wreak vengeance upon you. This is what bothers me about online communities.

It seems to me that people make things up as and when they need it to suit themselves. Take First Person Shooters for example. Once I was in a high place with a sniper rifle. I saw two people come round the corner, one chasing the other. I got a headshot on the one in front, then the one chasing him moved neatly into my scope. Needless to say I shot a second time and got another headshot. Then the second guy accused me of camping. Well excuse me for taking advantage of a situation. What in that split second of thought that I had when the second guy was in my scope was I supposed to think “oh, wait a minute, if I pull the trigger I’ll have taken two shots from the same place, and so I might be accused of camping, so I’d better not do it”? Besides, taking two shots from the same place isn’t camping. It’s called good strategy. It just seems to me that most of the people you meet on the internet are either bad losers with an ego problem (about 95% of the FPS players in the world from my experience)or complete idiots whose sole purpose in life seems to be to cause grief for others (the latter is your common or garden variety troll).

The subject of trolls brings me neatly to forums. Now I’ve had a mixed past with forums. For every intellectual person you meet on a forum who is actually capable of holding a decent conversation, you seem to get at least 5 idiots who want to infuriate you just for the fun of it. I’d be a much more frequent forum-goer if I could just ensure that I wasn’t going to come off feeling utterly frustrated and wanting to shoot the first person/animal/inanimate object that looks at me funny. The internet really could be a great place to meet people with similar interests. For instance, I’m in my twenties and I like Pokémon. I could go out there and try to find people of a similar interest and age to hold conversations about the subject with. But no doubt I’d also be bombarded with comments like “lol ur a fag cuz u liek pokemon”. Terrible grammar aside, I think they’ve completely misinterpreted the meaning of the word ‘fag’ there. But this is what I mean. I can’t go out and use the internet as it is supposed to be used, because I’ll just be bombarded with stupid comments like this.

On that subject, there are these stupid internet abbreviations that wind me up too. You generally find most of them in the typical troll’s vocabulary. Words like ‘cuz’ ‘tonite’ and ‘dat’. I mean seriously. If you want to shorten because, use ‘cos’ not ‘cuz’. I’ve never even heard anyone pronounce ‘cos’ as ‘cuz’. As for the other two, is it really worth shortening tonight to ‘tonite’ 6 characters as opposed to 7? Or that to ‘dat’ even. 4 characters to 3? Is that even worth it? I mean seriously, what are you going to do with the approximately quarter of a second you save from not hitting that extra key?

Well that’s my rant for the day over. Pretty tangential, but oh well. That’s what this blog’s for. It does say general belligerence after all.

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