By: Tony Liu
Survival of the fittest. A term that has so often been mistakenly attributed to the great Charles Darwin, is generally accepted to apply to all facets of the evolution of life, and believe it or not, towards Counter-strike as well. Imagine this scenario: within a public server you will find a variety of random players that carry with them a range of skill levels, from the highly experienced CAL-i caliber player to your typical newcomer still trying to figure out which button is jump. The game is set up in such a way that players that are killed early on in the round will be forced to endure the most amount of idle time, sitting and waiting for the others to finish. More idle time means more boredom. More boredom means less interest, which eventually leads to that individual switching over to games like Yahoo pool. Then take into account the type of harassment and flaming that usually occurs once that individual makes it apparent to the rest of the crowd that he/she is a “noob”. The picture doesn’t get any prettier. In the simplest terms, when you have a situation where the strongest mingle with the weakest, the latter usually aren’t able to keep up and subsequently filter out. Sound simple enough? Don’t let this simplicity deceive you.
One might argue that leagues have accounted for the differences in skill among players through the implementation of separating clans solely based on their skill and experiences. These divisions are most often designated as open, main, or invite levels. This may resolve the issue in the interests of fairness during league matches, but does it actually address the broader issue at hand? As a CS community, have we, as a whole, made an effort to welcome those newer players that are trying to be a part of our community and make a name for themselves? No, we have not. Furthermore, would it even be in our best interests to do so? Yes, it is, and soon you will see why.
To answer the first question, no we have not made the effort to incorporate newcomers into this game. In fact, one might say it was the complete opposite. To prove it, examine the extensive language that has evolved of which the CS community is responsible for, words such as “noob”, “newbie”, “nub”, “nublet”, “narb”, and the list continues. The negative connotations attached with these words are meant to insult and flame others. Isn’t it interesting that people attack others by calling them “noobs” when in actuality it is a known fact that everyone, at one point in time, was one themselves? Didn’t we all download the program, install it, and learn the buttons for the very first time before? As I explained earlier, it’s already hard enough for people just starting to learn how to play to adapt quickly in the game, but to enter a community with this type of stereotype towards anyone that might not know every command that is programmed into the game is expecting a little too much these days. Imagine coming into your first day of class in high school or college, or your first day at work and your professor or boss says to all of you, “You’re all noobs, good game k thanks.”
In regards to the second question, yes it is in our best interests to promote a friendly and supportive environment to those newer players. Counter-strike is not an individual game, competition relies on the fact that other people are out there willing to put in the effort to beat you. Basically, you cannot play Counter-strike alone, and if you do, well that’s another article. For those players that truly want this game to become even more widespread and prevalent around the world more than it already is, then it is in our best interests to welcome the new generation of players that come in. But even more importantly, if we want this game to continue evolving the way it has been through all the different versions that have been released over the years, then we must rely on the fact that people that have never heard of the game will download it, play it, and enjoy it. Evolution relies on a source of variation. Why is it that we have put so much negative emphasis on the word “noob” when it is those people that we rely on to have fresh and novel competition in addition to the reason the game remains interesting over the years?
Believe it or not, this simple act, the effect of which is being compounded by the numerous veteran players that partake in it, creates “elitism” in CS society. Elitism is a societal construct whereupon the members of the community are divided by social class and the upper, or elitist class (veterans) dominates over the lower class (noobs). Although this type of behavior can be most readily found in any public server, I believe it is within the IRC community that one can truly notice the pattern. Only in IRC will you find people gaining “respect” based on which channels he/she is opped or peoned in. Certain clan tags will give certain benefits. As a result, players begin to refer to themselves as to which caliber of play they are in. For example, a player might say, “Dude, I’m CAL-i, give me ops.” And if you don’t, well then you’re considered a “noob”.
Admittedly, there are many veteran players out there that truly work hard to get to where they are today and perhaps they deserve the respect that they have gained. But does that mean they have the right to look down upon the “nubs” that are trying to learn more about what the Counter-strike community has to offer and to become a part of it?
I still remember the days of playing CS before discovering Internet Relay Chat, something that probably 75% of today’s CS gamers still don’t use or have installed (but they’re all considered “noobs” right?). Those days my clan members would meet on other chat programs such as AIM or ICQ for scrims or matches and I would contact other clan leaders that way as well. Then IRC was introduced to all of us and I saw the potential of it creating a great community and bringing everyone together. To my disappointment, it has become far from it. Power struggles, flame wars, and other distasteful aspects of the CS community started to rise from the darkness. And worst of all, elitism.
Granted, there are only a few out there that are struggling to turn Counter-strike into a professional and legitimate sport. Partnerships between clans and businesses have become much more common as organizations such as the CPL and WCG continue to host worldwide gaming events. But as long as kids are running the show, I don’t see that coming any time soon. And perhaps that is why gamers don’t gain the kind of “respect” they truly want in the real world. As long as veteran gamers maintain the type of immature mentality towards the stereotype of a “noob” in the gaming community, people will continue to maintain the geeky, nerdy, immature stereotype of a “gamer” in the real world.
Maybe it’s time to grow up.
Maybe it’s time to evolve.
I had the chance to sit down and chat with three well-known members of the CS community today and ask them what their thoughts were about this issue:
The Elite Clan
Clan Killers 3
Here are their stories:
try to remember back in the day when you first started playing Counter-strike. give us a rough estimate as to when you started playing CS.
tec|gouki: It was ALMOST 3 years ago, a little less. me and my friends were playing HLDM and UT at some boring LAN and we decided to test out some mods
[rs]-grasle: october 18th 1999
[CK3]-Big_V: Beta 1 – week 1. a friend of mine downloaded it the day it came out. came to work the next day and said “man you GOTTA check this out…you’ll LOVE it”. so i did….
how long after you started playing CS on a regular basis did you start participating in the CS community via IRC?
[rs]-grasle: about 3-4 months, once dop rs, and tru came to irc
[CK3]-Big_V: almost immediately. although back in that time a lot of the community worked over ICQ as well, so we did both.
tec|gouki: 6 months to a year after pubbing and OGLing with friends
what was your first impression of the community back then? was it what you expected based on the people you knew and talked to in-game or different?
tec|gouki: It was interesting to say the least, since I’ve somewhat “matured” in the cs community, I look at a lot of things in different aspects compared to then. nonetheless, the community was a lot more real back then, it seems like it just rottens over time. Well it’s hard to explain the difference, it feels more like everyone was having fun, and now everyone is too good for you to just chat, matches are NEVER friendly anymore. everyone was more friendly, it wasn’t like this huge popularity contest, or trying to get recognized as the best.
[CK3]-Big_V: the community is MUCH different than it was in the beginning. back when it all started it was more of a brotherhood. and while there were times of people that you didn’t get along with, everyone kinda worked together. it was very tight nit.
please give us a brief timeline of your previous clan experiences, as well as your journey through the CAL ladder (from open to invite). approximately how long did it take you to become invited into CAL-i?
tec|gouki: Well, I’ve been the leader of TEC for well over 2 years now, I created with friends, and I’ve pushed it through many roster formations. We were in the original DoG League, and we competed for a few matches in the original CAL Main/Invite Season. We left mid-season to play 6vs6 and 7vs7 because we weren’t big fans of 5vs5 at the time. We eventually re-joined CAL-main and made it into CAL-Invite after a partial season. (this was about 3 Invite Seasons ago) Been there ever since 😉
[rs]-grasle: I was always in cal-i. I never played in any lower ladder.
[CK3]-Big_V: We played in the DoG/CAL league…won a few titles. Then CK3 retired from active play. The guys that wanted to keep playing formed X3 (who most of the new CS community remembers). We came back out of retirement with a new lineup back in Feb and went through CAL-M and got into CAL-I after our first season back.
can you give us a brief synopsis of your LAN experiences?
tec|gouki: Well, albeit our thick online history, we haven’t been the most active LAN clan. We competed at an iGames Qualifier in Arizona last CPL, lost to tso in the finals. We weren’t signed up for CPL, but franked managed to provide us with a spot a few weeks pre-CPL (the Qualifier we attended was supposed to have 2 autoberths, but they were a few teams short). We ended up making it to CPL, and got knocked out second round by sW in single elimination. We’ve attended a lot of small LANs here and there, but mostly with ringers, We’ve yet to place well at a national event, hopefully that will change this CPL 🙂 We competed at an iGames Qualifier in Arizona last CPL, and lost to tso in the finals.
[CK3]-Big_V: we went to every CPL CS tourney for quite a while starting with the Tourney right before Frag 4.
compare and contrast the attitudes of the people you meet at LANs vs. the IRC community? do you see any differences in peoples’ attitudes?
tec|gouki: I think that’s the biggest problem with the CS Community, 99% of the CS Players I meet in real life are NICE guys, but when you go back to the “internet”, everything changes =\ But this about sums it up : [22:35] [tec|foogle]: in real life, people arent there to be on your bad side.
[rs]-grasle: Well, of course people are more open online than in person.. When I go to cpl everyone is usually quiet or real nice, and it is usually very suprising 😉 The fact that people act like hardasses online and are really just nice people in person. I am used to it, but there is the few people who are extremely annoying, asking hundreds of a questions.
[CK3]-Big_V: of course…these kids, who are mostly comprised of teens with low self-esteem and self-confidence, can no longer hide behind the anonymity of the internet at a LAN.
in certain countries like Korea, gaming has become a profession, and the people that go into that field actually make a good living. how likely do you think CS will truly become a professional sport, or even a career for that matter? what factors or current issues, in your opinion, hinder or accelerate the progress towards making CS a profession?
tec|gouki: Well, the number one problem is the community. If you’ve ever watched European clans play, you’ll notice how excessively friendly, and respectful they are. This is the complete opposite in the US. That’s why you see a lot more Pro clans coming from Other Countries. I honestly think there will never be a point in time when gaming can truly be considered a profession, maybe for a select few, but in the team aspect, I don’t think so. Granted, the prizes will continue to rize, and the game will get bigger, but counter-strike will eventually collapse on itself and the “gaming rave” will start all over on a different type of game. cs will last a few more years I think.
[rs]-grasle: Money is everything, and the more money the more cs and computer gaming can become a sport, career it is like any other sport, you cannot rely on a game/sport to make a living. The gaming scene is only getting bigger and bigger, the major issues I see right now is the cpl and it’s more of a business than a gaming tournament(meaning in the money rather than the fun), and that will kill gaming, but luckly samsung stepped up and put millions into gaming to make it what it is.
[CK3]-Big_V: well…i think those stories from “across the Pacific” get exaggerated by the same teens i spoke of earlier. How many truly professional gamers are out there? That mean, how many people are actually making their livelyhood by playing competitive computer games? 10? 20? Let’s exagerate and say 50 for the sake of argument. Now, how many kids are actually out their playing the games? 100,000? 200,000? Probably a LOT more than that. The ratio is pretty damn poor actually. And it’s even worse here in the States and in Europe. The right ingredients haven’t come together yet. CS certainly won’t be “THE” game to make Pro Gaming a reality. We’re coming to the end of CS here shortly. What CS HAS done is to show the major corporations that there ARE markets that can ge targeted that have gone untapped so far.
would you ever consider becoming a professional gamer?
tec|gouki: If I got paid like 50K+ a year, yes. I’d rather spend my time gaining some skills that work in the real world, in school :O although i am a bit preachy, i’m still not entirely sure what I’m going to do with my life at this point in time.
[rs]-grasle: Hell yeah, sitting on my ass playing games…getting paid, it’s the life we could all dream for 😉 and of course, drinking beer 😉
[CK3]-Big_V: well…by definition, anyone that’s been compensated for their performance at a competition IS a professional.
do your friends and family know how involved you are in the Counter-strike community? if so, what was their initial response? have their feelings changed over time? do you ever become stereotyped into the “geeky gamer” profile by your peers?
tec|gouki: yea, almost all of my real friends are aware of my absorbment into this game. Most of them played with me for a while, but their real life plans took off. My parents know about it, they think it’s “neat”.
[CK3]-Big_V: Yes, they all know about my involvement. Initially, they are VERY suprised by the sheer amount of $$ that we play for at events like CPL and WCG. But, being that they’re, obviously, not in touch with the community they have no real frame of reference for what it is we do and why. As far as being stereotyped, most of the prominent figures in the community know me pretty well and so i don’t get that as much as others. Having played collegiate sports and having spent a tour of duty in the Navy before that, i’m not the typical gamer by default 😉
[rs]-grasle: Well, at first my parents were against me playing so much, but all they mostly said was “How come you play so much.” Now that I go to dallas once a month for practice and go to tournament’s all over the usa they support me, and my friends…they idol me.
do they ever make fun of you?
tec|gouki: yea, but I’m not a “pro-gamer”, most of them know I spend my time playing CS because I have nothing better to do at this point in time 😛
are you involved in any sports or other extracurricular activities? other hobbies?
[rs]-grasle: I believe if you want to be good and win, you play non-stop, and between work and school I have no time for anything else.
if there were any changes that you would like to see coming from the CS community, what would they be and why? try to be as specific as possible.
tec|gouki: hrm, that’s a tough one. lol this is like the question they ask the beauty pagent and everyone says “world peace” :> ok here i go (clanmates are helping me :P) A more MATURE community, one that isn’t out to make you look bad. New players that respect the CS veterans and don’t think they’re better just because “they own them”. Removal of all flaws in the game (Cheating, Configs). There has been an extreme effort as of late, and I think if they are removed for GOOD, then maybe the maturity level of players will increase tenfold when they have nothing to blame other than themselves.
[rs]-grasle: Well if zex ever flys to a tourney, their plane crashes, and moxeley’s too… jk 😉 I would like to see CPL start to be more active with the community and get more tournaments running all over the nation besides the 1,2 events they have in Dallas.
[CK3]-Big_V: I would like to see Pro Gaming become a HUGE success….just not at the expense of the communities upon whose shoulder’s they stand. I certainly hope that as the current crop of serious gamers begins to grow up, that they begin to understand the ramifications of what they’ve done and actually take steps to rectify the problems that have been created. My hope is that includes integrity, professionalism, and an increased sense of ethical behavior. But then again…wtf do i know 😉
any parting comments for the Got Frag community?
tec|gouki: no, not really
[rs]-grasle: Come to LethalGamers Decemeber 14th, in Dallas texas for pre-CPL practice with all top american and european clans.. Also free drinks at the tournament and good cash prizes 😀
[CK3]-Big_V: gg to all my brothers in arms over at UGP and GB
Thank you to all who participated in this interview.