Robotron and Forums.

I’ve dusted off my original Xbox, and started playing it again. One of the games I play on it is a compilation of Midway’s greatest Arcade hits, with games like Spy Hunter, 720, Joust, and Tapper. The game I play the most of is Robotron, the classic twin stick arcade shooter. I play it for different reasons than most though. I play it to train myself to shut up.

I’m one of those gamers who deals with frustration by a constant stream of consciousness rant as I play. That’s part of the reason why my writing in comments and here is so often low quality. Robotron is HARD. It is much harder than most of the games today, simply because it throws so much visual chaos on the screen, and uses simple but effective AI to control the critters in a relentless push to kill you dead. So while I play it, I make a resolution not to say a single word, and not quit and restart the game.

The reason why I mention this is because that forums for a game population have the same general purpose and activity as my reaction to Robotron: venting to deal with frustration. We use forums to communicate with others, and to release frustration. This is why there is so much of a negative bent to many. Others react to our frustrations in the same way a parent might react to a kid in my situation. They tell them to shut up.

The silence experiment is interesting. It doesn’t lesson frustration but intensifies it, actually. It doesn’t increase my skill, and really doesn’t add much except silence. That silence cuts down on the noise generated solely by frustration-the instictual “It’s not fair dammit” all games evoke in a player.  However there is a crucial difference. In Robotron, the game is static, and no matter how much I vent, nothing changes. In an MMO venting may cause change, often unwanted.

This may be an argument to dump official forums. By depriving people of the ability to vent, you cut down the noise and any change that noise may bring. However sometimes that frustration may lead to real feedback, if it persists beyond the initial adrenaline-fueled rant. It’s difficult to deal with, both personally (players need to STFU and enjoy the game or leave) and corporately (players need to STFU to avoid making changes to the game or scaring people away.)

I’m still only on wave 11 on Robotron though.

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