With many retailers only being profitable around a one-to-two month period of the year (from Black Friday to Christmas), it stands to reason that online multiplayer gaming environments get a big boost in new blood around this time of year.
So... how should people who have been participating in those games long before this month respond to this influx of players?
I've written before about my strong anti-smurfing stance, likening it to gun-free zones, which I'm also strongly against. (Very underrated article, by the way. Give it some comments.) Among the many things I wrote there, I said it is very important to not drive away players. But that's not really enough, is it? So, this time, I'll add this:
You not only should be passively nice, but you should also be actively welcoming to new players. In games with chat systems, that means you should welcome players, ask if they're new (don't assume they're new) and if they would like help/advice/whatever, and if they know how to play. If they want assistance, give it to them. Don't assume they know the nuances of the game like you do.
For games without chat systems, you will have to communicate your friendliness through your actions. For example, if you are winning, don't overkill the person you are playing against and make them feel hopeless and miserable. Be respectful and decent.
If you are a game designer, then try to do something special for this player influx. For example, here was the Salmon Run weapon line-up for Squidmas day 2017 in Splatoon 2:
|The Splattershot Jr., Splat Dualies, Splat Roller, and Splat Charger.|
No complicated weapons. Every weapon had a clear purpose, was simple to use, and was above-average in usefulness. Plus, it took place in Spawning Grounds, which is the sort of standard stage for Salmon Run. For the developer's part, they knew what they were doing.
(And then on December 26 they ruined it by having this total mess of a Splatfest featuring the Hydra Splatling, which is very difficult to use.)
I'm not saying to “sandbag” newbies. (That is, lose to them intentionally.) You, as an experienced player, just need to be cognisant that, after spending $60 on a game (or more), newbies are evaluating if purchasing that game was worth it. Did they make the right decision? Your behaviour towards them is their first impression. Are they entering a warm community that will aid them in having run, or are they entering a crappy community with badly behaved bumpkins? I've been witness to both kinds, and, believe me, it matters. I've personally experienced people leave games after telling me that the player base is rude. (Then they said that I'm actually one of the nicer, cooler people there. If I'm one of the better people around, your community is in trouble.)
In David Sirlin's Playing to Win book, he describes the Teacher vs. the Slaughterer for how experienced players should treat newbies in competitive gaming. I lean towards the Teacher approach, especially since I'm already inclined to play games for social purposes and not competitive ones. I don't mind that much if I lose and my own skills might get rusty while nurturing others — it's more fun in totality for me.
Sirlin's book also has a chapter on Sportsmanship. Even if you won't go out of your way to nurture players, you should at least be a good sport. Not just with newbies (since you don't actually know who is a newbie, do you?), but with everyone you play with.
Let's say I get Rocket League and I'm playing outside of the KoopaTV staff. I don't know anything about Rocket League's community. I just know that I will get to play with people from other consoles, and people say that Rocket League players span the whole spectrum of skill level, and everyone has fun with it at every skill level.
If the people who play it are jerks, I'll be less likely to play the game on my own time, so my skills will likely not improve. That only will keep me as an unskilled player, then I'll be in a cycle of being a target of a bad community and being bad at the game, until I just give up on the game and feel cheated of my money.
...So it's better to be pleasant to play with, so the game will have better and more players in its community, and it can get better things.
That said, not all newbies are created equal. For their part, they should read the damn instruction manual, or if it doesn't exist, play the single-player/tutorial mode so they don't burden other people they are teamed with. I mean, they'll probably be a burden either way, but at least be a respectable burden and help yourself. Playing with others online can be exciting, yes, but PLEASE don't make that the first thing you do after buying a game. Help experienced people help you by at least knowing the damn controls and objectives.
This article was written as a result of a request from the Requests page! If you would like KoopaTV to produce an article based on your idea, head over to that Requests page and let KoopaTV know what you want an article about! As for this article, Ludwig wants to stress that he is not a nice person. In fact, he's a jerk, but for whatever reason, he doesn't come across that way in his gameplay.