Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Art of Silence

The Path to Git Gud is a silent one. For now, at least.

In Overwatch, an online competitive team game played in real time, voice chat is a big deal. My fellow Try Hards are all over the comms, reporting all kinds of information, call-outs, etc. "Move, shoot, communicate" is the old Army adage. My colleagues are nuts for this shit. I am not. Here is why:

1. Voice Chat is distracting. More often than not, in my experience, voice chat is usually at least 50% non-game-related. I count "Oh My God I'm DYING!" as non-game-related, because, well, it ain't related to my game. Any tactical advantage I get from voice comms is nullified by the distractions caused by voice comms. 

2. Voice Chat is triggering. When someone makes a bad play when I'm all muted, I can write it off as "mistakes happen." But when that same someone makes a bad play and then tries to say something pithy to cover it up, or, worse, straight-up deny it, then it becomes a distraction. I may get angry, I may want to argue with them, etc. Because the truth of the matter is, bad plays just happen, and often the blame isn't even completely yours. I don't need any color commentary on it, and if you try and offer some and your commentary sucks, now TWO mistakes have been made. 

3. Many players are idiots. As part of my budding Overwatch Honor Code, I'm trying to call my fellow players names less often. But, let's face it, some of them are just complete morons! And perhaps something almost as bad as when morons aren't trying, is when morons are Trying Hard. They'll insist, for example, on a particular comp without having any insight into the enemy team or the map. Or they'll try to get the whole team to stack into that narrow second floor room on Numbani, just so the enemy team's Junkrat can nuke all of us without even looking. I've mentioned before that Overwatch at its best to me feels like playing Capture the Flag and 4-Square as a kid. Remember when the stupid kids used to ruin those games, too?

4. Voice chat is redundant, usually. Virtually every event in Overwatch has some kind of clear audio or visual queue. Enemy footsteps are louder than your team's, so you can hear when enemies are trying to flank you. Heroes in game will say things like "behind you!" if someone's trying to flank. Every hero has separate voice lines for when they're on your team and use their ult, or on the opposing team and use their ult. You can clearly see the health bars above the heads of any heroes you've hit, so you'll have a general idea of your enemy team's health. Hell; the heroes even BANTER on their own, so you don't even have to miss the charming wit of your fellow humans. So some kid's crackly voice screaming "PHARAH LOW! PHARAH LOW!" into my ear does NOT really help me.

Now, don't get me wrong: I DO think voice chat is important. At a certain point. But not where I'm at, not at my level. I'm at horsing around in the driveway level; effective voice comms is NCAA/NBA level shit. And that is my typical line of attack on any who would argue with me: 9 times out 10, the people doing the most chat, from my experience, need to focus on fundamentals instead of trying to act like they're in the pros. And that cuts both ways, too: I don't see anything effective I can add to the channel until I'm strong enough to at least partially carry a team. Otherwise, I'm just another voice in the void, saying what I think is the right move but not actually knowing. 

That last point, in general, is one of the greatest challenges I face when I play competitive Overwatch. I have never done anything even remotely close to this in my life before. I never played on any organized teams in school. I have very little practical experience in competitive sports, or playing on a team. I'm not sure if I'm "doing this right," and I don't trust virtually any of my fellow players for advice, or even sympathy. 

Ironically, this makes my Path to Git Gud both silent and lonely. I'm not against making friends in-game and having a crew to play ranked with; however, finding people who can match my frequency is extremely difficult, made moreso by the fact that communicating with me in game is virtually impossible, if you weren't already my friend going in.

But, as I said before, I don't think I'm there yet, anyway. I'll worry about calling plays once I can hit a free throw.

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