We kill one another on a regular basis. Whether we’re running around en masse in WvW or engaging in ferocious skirmishes in SPvP, our goal is the swift (usually brutal) death of our adversaries. And yet we are dependent on the very enemies we fight so hard to slay, and they are dependent on us. Without enemies, there is no game, no war, just empty fields that we roam alone. So, how do we defeat them without destroying them utterly? How do we encourage them to come back to try again?
Winning is exhilarating and no question about it. Seeing the numbers, watching the enemy fall or that zerg break, landing that finisher. That moment of excitement when you realise you’ve won is addictive – so you keep coming back, eagerly hunting further victories. However, as we all know, things tend to be far less enticing for those on the losing side.
We’ve all been there; hit by a larger or better organised zerg, caught off guard by a burst thief, stomped on Point B by a more skilled – or luckier – player. It happens to us all. How the victors celebrate their victory, however, can have a monumental impact
So here’s a scenario for you: you’re fighting one-on-one, and though the battle lasts a while and you give as good as you get, eventually your opponent plants their fancy finisher through your sternum. Assuming your killer isn’t immediately beset by other enemies or has to move to complete an objective, they have three options.
Firstly, they could do nothing. This is the most common of reactions, the neutral position that says nothing. Fair to expect, no harm.
Secondly, they can mock you, flaunt their victory. Common actions include laughing or dancing on your corpse, sometimes accompanied by trash talking. Examples include “noob”, “lol”, or the less commonly seen but equally disrespectful “ez”. All to add insult to your injury.
Thirdly, however, and this one’s my favourite – they do something nice. They say “good fight” (usually abbreviated to GF), “well played” (WP), or “nice moves”. Other times, it can be as simple as a /salute or a /bow: a basic gesture that says, essentially, “thank you for playing with me”. It denotes respect, something we all deserve.
It is testament to the Guild Wars 2 community that I have never come across another online game where you get the third reaction as often. My theories as to why this is so is something for another article, so I’ll no digress here.
To me, and to so many others, the aforementioned simple gestures make me want to come back and try my hand at beating them again because I know that even if I lose I’ll be afforded respect and enjoy myself more as a result. This kind of encouragement is particularly important to less experienced players. With the influx of newcomers following the announcement of Heart of Thorns, it is doubly important for us to do what we can to keep them in Tyria. They are our future allies and enemies, the players we need to play our game, and few things put people off a new experience faster than a toxic environment of mockery and ad hominem attacks.
I’ve heard a lot of arguments that say trash talking comes with the territory of online gaming, that’s it’s just part of “what you sign up for”. While I vehemently disagree that this is necessary, I think that’s yet another topic for a separate article and will close here, simply, with a suggestion.
The next time you flag a passing stranger through the chest or cleave them down, remind yourself that they could be a future friend – or just as importantly a future enemy – and that their decision to keep playing this game could be in your hands.