I’ve always played games in a high risk fashion, often leading to my demise in exceptionally embarrassing and disabling ways. In Eve I lose a ship at least once every three or four days. In other games, such as Minecraft, I’ve logged out one night and woke up the next morning to a hole in the ground where my base was and a rude message on a sign. However, to be honest, that’s what I love about those games. Mistakes have a cost, and your labor has worth. The destruction gives credit to your accomplishments. Success isn’t guaranteed and, in fact, it’s exceptionally unlikely. Only a minority of players are going to make it to the top. When you get there, it’s not because you could log the hours and eventually get to where you are going. It’s because you were genuinely better at the game than those around you. That kind of accomplishment and competition is what makes me enjoy the game. Which is why it consistently surprises me when I see other people, who have been playing the same game, on the same server lose their stuff, and then absolutely lose their minds.
I run a Tekkit Lite server (Vote.DomGamer.Com) and one of the things that stays absolutely consistent is the people who log on, ask for something, get denied, rage, and then quit. Or people who get attacked, usually due to their own failure to keep their base camouflaged or because they invite unsafe characters to their homes. Instead of learning from their mistakes and rebuilding somewhere better, these people get angry and quit. I’ve never understood it. I’ve played Minecraft for over three years now. I was in the very last wave of Alpha players. I had been playing single player for probably about two months before I discovered the fact that there even was a multiplayer. The very first thing I looked for was a PvP server. I found one very quickly, and then the very first thing I did when I logged on was walk out of spawn and build a home. I did it in spitting distance of spawn, I could literally see it from my door. This, of course, attracted attention. My little wood and cobble hovel lasted a grand total of ten minutes before an amazingly instructive gentleman killed me and blew up my house simultaneously with a block of TNT. What did I do? I took my little stone sword that the server gave me and ran out and beat him over the head with it until he died. Then I gathered up what was left of my materials and ran further out. This time, asking what I should have done and realizing I should have hidden my house in a cliff side. This time I was a little further when I dug into a cliff and started building. This actually worked fairly well, it took almost two full days for someone to find my house and destroy and loot everything.
And so the cycle continued; I improved my building standards, people knocked it down, I improved on the weakness they revealed, until it got to the point where suddenly, people couldn’t knock my buildings down. Usually because they couldn’t find me, and from this vantage point I engaged guerrilla tactics in order to bring down much larger, more organized groups of players. My paranoia being such that I couldn’t trust anyone into my base and thus I couldn’t effectively partner with anyone, I soon learned how and when to hit players to do the worst damage. Teleporting in with the aid of prepared set-homes, killing one or two players or setting off a couple bits of TNT, then teleporting back out when the hive was buzzing. I’d wait a bit, until most of the players were back to what they were doing, and then jump back into the fray, catching everyone with their pants down over and over and over. Eventually I gained such a reputation for covert griefing and silent assassinations that I’d often log onto the server and find that someone had been blown up while I’d been away and there was a full witch hunt going on in order to find me, because the whole thing had been pinned on me. The trick was, I never corrected them. Before I ever became this unholy god of mischief and mayhem though, I was a terrible player, and I was a terrible player for probably two or three months. I can’t count how many times I would go out and gather so many stacks of resources and log in the next day to find everything gone and I had to restart from scratch. Sometimes it was really frustrating, especially when I’d have some kid taunting me about how much better he was, when all he really had done was get lucky and stumble across my base or he had simply out-equipped me, smashing my iron armor against his diamond. Instead of making me want to quit the game though, it simply made me want to play more.
Richard A. Bartle wrote an article about player types within MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons, old text-based video games before modern graphics). He described four main player types, likening them to a suit of cards. The Diamonds were the Achievers, always attempting to gain the most prestige and accomplishment within the game. The Spades are Explorers, attempting to figure out what every little obscure thing does within the game. Hearts are Socializers, gaining satisfaction through interpersonal interaction. Clubs are Killers, their true enjoyment coming from the suffering of others. What I’ve found is that despite the name, PvP servers tend to have the most well-rounded appeal for all four basic personality types. Achievers building the best bases and gathering the most resources while the Explorers are busy finding the most efficient manner to defend a base using a mix of resources as the Socializer builds the largest town and community of players and fills the chat with vitriol for their opposing Killers who are, as always, circling around, waiting for someone’s guard to slip.
One of the things, that you might have yourself do, before you play a PvP server, is ask yourself what kind of player are you, what your goals are. When you die and lose your things, perhaps question whether or not you’re going to further your goals more by simply rebuilding and restocking or by begging. Weigh the costs of your actions and realize that a community’s respect is also a type of currency. I found that I more often got help from people if they respected me, sometimes I’d even have people offer help without me ever asking if I found my base had been devastated.
You make more out of your experiences if you go into a game understanding what you can lose and being okay with losing it. I used to work in a casino and the only happy people I ever saw in that place were the ones who came in understanding what they were trying to get out of their experience. If you walk into a casino and expect to come out rich, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. If you whine and cry, you’re going to get a whole lot of absolutely no interest from the people in charge. If you go in, risk everything, lose it all, and are smiling and laughing about it the whole time? Chances are administration is going to notice that, and they’re going to enjoy the fact that you’re understanding the stakes and they’re going to be more helpful; throwing in a free dinner here, comping a stay in the hotel there. When you risk it big and then win big? Administration is going to enjoy that too. Try to remember, this is just a game, this is one of the features of the game, and like any game, someone’s got to lose. Perhaps today wasn’t your day, but if you take the lessons you’ve got and apply them to tomorrow, you’re going to be that much further ahead in making it so that tomorrow isn’t someone else’s day. I’ve been playing Player versus Player style games for over eleven years. I’ll probably be playing them until the day I die. PvP isn’t about getting everything handed to you and then stomping on everyone. Believe me, I’ve done that, It’s boring. PvP is about getting stomped from time to time and learning how to roll with that. It’s about bettering yourself every day.
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