Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage


This article was written on 27 Jan 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.


I have depression. That depression is eased by playing games, many of which involve shooting people, which I find cathartic. I do not condone shooting people and generally consider myself to be a pacifist. In addition, I have written extensively on this blog about how the work I used to do for the Army corroded my soul. Now. With that disclaimer, I have recently been playing Call of Duty 4.

To those of you who don’t know, Call of Duty 4 is a first person shooter, which means you go around as the character, completing various missions that generally involve shooting people with a wide variety of weapons in exotic foreign locations. The other people are generated by the computer, as are your allies, who are supposed to behave with artificial intelligence. And the emphasis in that sentence is very much on the artificial.

While you are being shot at, so that virtual woodchips are flying around from the building that you’ve taken shelter in, the character you’re with is busy shouting things like ‘They’re shooting at us’ while attempting to run through a wall. Occasionally, they’ll wander outside in a hail of molten death (copyright Tom Clancy) as though they had forgotten where they put their glasses and weren’t being machine gunned by Russian separatists.

And then there are the moments when you do something questionably sane because you pressed the wrong key. Imagine how it must look to your aggressors when a man they’re trying to kill and who has previously been hiding, starts doing bunny hops around the car park. Or runs in circles because the person controlling him as sneezed on his track pad. Or, and this is my favourite, just absently stands up in the middle of a firefight like a child called home for his tea.

In the end, I completed Call of Duty 4 with what I like to think was something that came close to competence. My leaping was judicious, my use of ammo sparing, and ability to move swiftly between various items of over was unsurpassed. Then I found the online function, which I thought would be fun, because it offered the chance to play a game, online, with lots of other people and generally have fun. In this, dear reader, I was mistaken.

The online function exists so that people seemingly born playing Call of Duty 4 can call you a twat. Or, more precisely, a noob. Which is short, although not very, for ‘newbie.’ This, to someone who has never played the game online before, is like arriving at primary school on your first day only to be told by someone that holds a PhD that your writing lacks finesse, your imagination is asinine and your grasp of rhythm is contemptible.

Which is perhaps why, in a ten minute spell, I was told to cock off on a ten second basis, called a noob and told to die. Which is fun. I play another online game, this time involving tanks, and if you ask any of your online aggressors if they’re, say, eleven year old virgins and have ever touched a man or woman, which makes them either go apoplectic or very quiet indeed. I sometimes say I’m a gay, black man and if you want to see online bigotry, that’s as good a place as any. Those people regret the end of slavery and think that Ronald Reagan was a lily-livered liberal and want to dry hump old Trump’s leg until his teeth rattle and his combover flops back. Unfortunately, I’m less sure of myself with Call of Duty 4 and decided it’d be easier all round to delete the app and forget I’d ever played it.

But if this problem is played out on every online game and in every walk of life, where are we? I was lucky in that I was schooled and then trained in how to write by clever, gifted people who took the time and effort needed to help me and pass informed comment on my work. They didn’t belm at me and call me a noob. And, incidentally, the people who are the most vitriolic noob callers were themselves noobs at some point.

They could argue this was a rite of passage, but in my world, being a nob to someone who is new at something makes you, in fact, a huge nob with the patience and tolerance of Caligula and who deserves to be taken somewhere, made to do something they aren’t very good at and mocked for the rest of their natural lives. What’s that? You don’t understand blogs? Noob. Weren’t born on Twitter? Noob. Can’t draw? Noob. And so the list goes on.

To the people who go around calling others ‘noobs,’ I’d just like to take a parting shot. I imagine you falling into one of two camps. You’re either seven stone piss wet through, of stunted growth and have no friends save for your right wrist, or are so fat that you haven’t seen your genitals since you were five and, to both of you, an act of physical love and tenderness is so alien to you that you cry yourselves to sleep and wish you were like one of the characters in the video games you chisel one off over.

Shit off. And everyone else? Have a lovely day.

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