At time of writing Steam has me clocked at playing Infinite Crisis for 72 hours since I got it a few weeks ago. For me this is a significant amount of time spent in one game, since my ADHD rarely lets me stick with a game for longer than a week.
For the uninitiated, Infinite Crisis is a MOBA or whatever MOBA stands for. Basically it's like getting all your friends together for laser tag, except instead of running around with lasers here you're DC Comics super heroes and villains and instead of necessarily zapping each other you're punching each other into orbit with Kryptonian fists. I'm told that it's reminiscent of another MOBA virtual laser tag game named League of Legends, which is the whole thing but with fantasy and Anime characters, which is a game I've never really gotten into but a large basis of Infinite Crisis's players are quite familiar with.
The game came out in beta last year and since I'm a huge fan of DC I decided to give it a whirl. An hour later I uninstalled it from my computer because according to the other people on my team I wasn't pretending to be Shazam the right way and was messing up their game. THis is one of the reason I hate playing online games with random strangers. I play games for fun and to relax, not because I want to get yelled at by someone ten states away.
Anyhoo, the game came out in its full version on Steam for free and after learning that Harley Quinn was one of the characters you got to unlock right away I decided to give it a try. After a couple hours of tutorials and practicing with robots I figured I was ready to try the whole thing again, this time as my favorite hench-girl.
Time had not sweetened the other players.
At first I was shrugging the more obnoxious comments off, but one game I was doing particularly bad since I had switched from my usual Arkham clowns to Doomsday, and kept dying. One player became increasingly agitated with me and another person's style. The conversation went like this:
Other guy: WHAT ARE YOU DOING? DON'T PUT YOURSELF OUT LIKE THAT! HAVE YOU NEVER PLAYED BEFORE?
Me: Dude, I'm still learning
Other guy: I ASKED YOU IF YOU'D PRACTICED AND YOU SAID YOU HAD! YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVEN'T PRACTICED ENOUGH!
Me: Dude, I'm trying
Other guy: I AM AN EXPERT AT THIS GAME!!!
His last phrase struck me. I had frankly had enough of people like this spoiling my game.
Me: You're an expert at pretending to be Batman. My, that's a real talent. You and Michael Keton and Adam West and Kevin Conroy should really get together sometime.
Third guy in the game: LOLOLOLOL!!!!
Then a weird thing happened: By this time we were going to lose so our little characters just stood around the base and played Candy Crush on their phones while the players chatted. The angry player apologized and said that he had been in 3 straight games with new players and was sick of losing. He had dumped mounds of hours into League of Legends and had switched over for a change of pace. He then offered to take me and the other new guy into a private arena against bots and teach us how to use our characters. I was stunned! We played and I learned how to be a better Doomsday (Which means don't charge into Superman and expect everything to go well) as well as tips on how to play the game better in general that I still use to this day.
Fast forward several weeks: I'm now an okay player, and after weeks of begging my friends we finally have a game together of Infinite Crisis with my former roommates and wife. Some of these guys were League of Legend and the like players back in the day, and my wife is just super smart, but I noticed my one friend was having some trouble. At first I was finding myself getting annoyed and angry at him. Why couldn't he just perform a basic attack? Why didn't he move when the other guys were coming?
Then I remembered my friend from before, the one who was taking the game too seriously and yelled at me. I remembered then that it was just a game, and the point of a game was to have fun. I calmed down after that, and my friends and I set about the task of teaching my buddy to play. By the end of the night he was holding his own, getting kills and staying alive himself. I was proud of him.
At the end of the day, video game immersion is supposed to bring players further into the game, and while it's fun to be good at something, it's even more fun to build a community of players who can all play together and strengthen each other, instead of tear each other down. Maybe if these communities were built out of friendship some of the stigma that still wafts around gaming can finally disappate and we can focus on the real enemy: Orcs.