The Lowest Common Denominator

Hey folks, SinSynn here.

I should probably warn you straight away that this post contains cursing, and a lil’ venomous ranting.

I haven’t even written it yet, and I know it will contain these things. As I type these words, it’s just a concept in my mind. I know what I want to convey to you, but it’s a subject that fills me with such animosity that I’m fairly sure that at some point I might just lose it, and start…going off.
Today I will be discussing that segment of the Terran population I’ve dubbed ‘the lowest common denominator.’
Very few things on this planet make me quite this angry.

*I nailed all the exits shut before setting the fire*

You know the type.
They’re the jerks that get a kick out of clubbing baby seals. Hell, the reason that term exists is because of them. Maybe you’ve bumped into one. I know I did, in my very first game of 40k that wasn’t against the Ultimate Rival.

My very, very lame, noob Tau army had the distinct pleasure of getting served by a Dark Angels Ravenwing Biker army, played with visible relish by a vet.
In the entire game, my opponent lost more models to Dangerous Terrain tests than to anything I could accomplish. I had zero idea what I was doing, really, and the guy across the table not only had no interest in helping a brother out, he was enjoying the beating he was handing me immensely. Grinning the entire time, in fact.

I gotta tell ya, it was a brutal introduction to the game proper, and disturbingly unfriendly. I very nearly quit 40k that day, and much of the time was spent controlling my temper once I realized what was occurring. I was new. So very new that I was at a loss as to how to respond. My initial instinct was to grab this grinning fool by the throat and beat the crap outta him.
That…is an entirely improper course of action, however. I know this. But still, the temptation was there.

It’s sorta funny- the sting of that encounter still resonates with me. It’s like…right there. I can feel it. I know the reason…
…I just don’t understand the ‘why.’

*Yeah, they’re everywhere, it seems*

I understand ‘wanting to win.’ I do, really. In fact, I enjoy a good win as much as the next guy. Not much more I can say about that.
What I don’t understand is the deliberate enjoyment some people take in not just winning, but ensuring they do so with max ‘humiliation points.’
Like, ‘Dude, I fucking PWNED you!’

Really, brochacho? How ’bout this…how ’bout I smash yer fa-
*deep breaths, Sin…calm down*

*In my happy place, Megan brings me coffee, and offers an understanding smile. My happy place rocks*

I have no problems losing a hard fought battle to a righteous cat, and I enjoy a bit o’ the old ‘snappy banter smack talk chit-chat,’ as well. As long as it’s all in fun, I’m totes kewl with it.
I’m the guy that’ll send you a ‘GG’ message following a round of Battlefield 3 on the XBox, after we go at it, and I lose. No hate, no ‘hack-u-sations,’ just ‘good game, dude.’
Don’t get it twisted- on my side of the screen, I’m cursing you. I’ll get all ‘try-hard’ and whatnot, and gun for you. Sometimes I come out on top, sometimes, well…I don’t.
Sigh…it happens.
What I realize, though, is that it’s ‘that guy’ that made the game what it was. He was a good opponent. Better than me. He made me elevate my game. Over time, I’ll get better because of ‘that guy.’
That’s what’s up.

Hey, if I lose a straight-up fight, I’ll take my lumps. Hopefully I’ll learn from them. Whether it’s some digital battleground or a tabletop, we win some and lose some. Nature of the game, right?

Over time, though, I’ve noticed that games of all types are including mechanics that are just…grimy.
This, in turn, attracts grimy-ass jerks, and the problem starts when these mechanics and behaviors are rewarded. If you allow people to take the low road to victory, there’s a certain percentage of people that will do exactly that.
Every. Fucking. Time.

That guy who tells you his generic Space Marines are Grey Knights now?
That Flames of War player who maxes out his arty platoons?
I’m fairly sure there’s an example from every game one could care to mention.

*they can’t have one for life in general, so they want one in their games*

This goes beyond a lack of honor, and approaches the realm of the Troll. It stops just short of cheating, hacking, or other such inexcusable nonsense. But just.
The problem is that very frequently, the things that are being done are perfectly legal in terms of ‘the rules.’
The lowest common denominator will find the loopholes, the power combos and OP bullshit. It’s what they do.
Some of these things may be corrected, like the Necron Scarab ‘conga line’ silliness, and others may be an integral part of the system, like artillery in FoW. Some of us may see the potential in such things, but we shun them- that I understand.
A game requiring the participation of two or more people is a sort of unspoken agreement to…(wait for it)
Have fun.

I mean, amirite, or what? That’s why we’re here. That’s why we do this. That’s why we play fucking games.
By Cthulhu’s slimy tentacles, ‘life’ is friggin’ stressful, right?
You grab what fun you can, when you can. Games of any kind are awesome for that.

So…riddle me this…
Why is there a certain group of people out there being fucking predators of fun? Not just that- why are these things included in our games?

*Who the heck thought THIS was a good idea?*

Any risk taken in a game should be rewarded by success, and punished by failure. By creating low risk/high reward mechanics, game designers are not only acknowledging the lowest common denominator, they’re actively catering to them.

The picture above is a Self Propelled Artillery unit from World of Tanks. To say these things are hated within the game is an understatement. For those that are unfamiliar, here’s a quick rundown:

-SP tanks cannot spot their targets. They hang in the furthest corner in the back of the map, and lurk until their teammates spot the enemy.
-Once the enemy is spotted, they call up a top-down screen, and click on the red dots to lob shells at them.

Not a lot of skill is required, just a gentle learning curve involving timing your drops. Naturally, if the enemy is engaged in combat, they may not be moving at all, and a free kill is just a click away. At no risk to their own vehicle’s safety, they just ended your game.
Thank you, come again.

I’m sorry, but I fail to see what ‘fun’ these things add to the game.
Know this- if you play artillery in World of Tanks, I hope your mother gets kidnapped by prison inmates and gang raped for days. I hope you have children, and they die in fire. I hope you’re on your way to the doctor to have your stomach cancer diagnosed and get paralyzed in a car crash. I hope-

*Uh…sorry…did I start to snap? Breathing now*

When GW designs Codexes, Battlefront designs Army Lists, or whatever, I often wonder if they take any consideration in regards to the lowest common denominator. Do I wanna know the truth? I’m not so sure.
I understand the ultimate goal of any company is to make money, and they’re unlikely to consider anyone’s ‘feelings’ when plotting their course to this goal.
These means giving the jerks toys to play with, apparently.

What I don’t understand is the people who exploit these things to the detriment of everyone and everything in the game. Sadly, we cannot line them up and march them into the desert. More than that, if you decide to call them out on their behavior, they’re likely to stand there smugly, point out that what they’re doing is technically fair game, and say something along the lines of ‘you mad, bro?’

There are times when all I can do is laugh at how pathetic these people are.
‘Don’t trip, chocolate chip. It’s not that big a deal. It’s just a game.’
Then there are other times, when I think that maybe doin’ a six to ten year bid upstate for manslaughter might well be worth it.
I’d be out in four for good behavior, maybe. I’d visit their grave, and there would be much defecation.

Sigh…coulda, shoulda, woulda. The truth is, the lowest common denominator will keep on making things miserable for some of us.


Until next time, folks- Exit with catchphrase!


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