How to explain a theory on general behaviour that is based on games in a way that makes sense, while being fun at the same time? I don’t know, how about games?
I will attempt to transfer game situations to real life situations and explain why being a dick ruins things for you and for the other.
PvE (Player vs Environment)
In games where you play PvE (Player vs Environment) you basically can not do that much harm, unless it concerns a multiplayer mode. I used to play some silly game with my brothers where you go through a maze with your avatar and shoot monsters. You could also shoot eachother, by accident or on purpose, not that it had any positive effect on the game if you did, just negative. Now, one of my brothers thought it was hilarious to kill you, when playing together. One time is funny, after that it starts getting quite dickish. It takes the whole fun out of trying to make an achievement.
Now, another example can be the MMO. I used to play WoW in a quasi-hardcore way (oh yes, we sucked), meaning 10 and 20 player raids. So often, when a big boss was defeated an item would drop that multiple players desired. Guild leaders (a guild would back in the day form the core of how you would get together 20 dudes on a monday night), would try all sorts of systems to sort this out fairly. Still people would start insulting the player that would receive the item and just quit the guild or leave the raid group at its critical stage. It sucks not to get the item you want, obviously. That’s why there are pre-made arrangements for those, so everyone gets their share. Ignoring that is immature and also…well, being a dick.
Basically, you ruined the game for everyone, just because you couldn’t just ‘not be a dick’. Due to the game mechanics, this raid is probably over and everyone can get back to whatever else they were doing… like, reading a book….
An MMO where you play PVE is all about teamwork. Teamwork is very recognizable in any situation where you work in a team to achieve a bigger goal. The choice for a team is necessary, but you might have that one guy that refuses to budge. Everyone needs to put in something to make this project succeed, but not him because of reasons. This person will continue to frustrate your project and take all the fun out of it. You might still finnish it, like the WoW raid, but it’s much harder and much less fun.
You can be a dick in all sorts of minimal ways. Imagine, you just didn’t do your bit. It was too hard or there was another reason why you couldn’t make time for it. Now, that does not make you a dick. The way you handle it can though. Be open and honest, ask for understanding and peace be with you. Be a dick and blame everyone else or point to others and there you go!
Be nice = get epics!
PvP (Player versus Player)
You would think that it is almost logical that being a dick ruins a PvP (Player vs Player) game, but it really is a bit more complex than that. Sure, being an utter dick ruins it, but being all kind and cuddly doesn’t cut it in PvP either, because you’ll die… (which according to some research actually hurts you, somewhere deep inside). Healthy competition, playing hard, a bit of tactical trickery and such, it’s all part of the game. In a way, it’s fair to say that all is fair in love and war and PvP, but there’s a limit to that. If you’re being mean for the sake of being mean, then it serves no tactical use, you’re just being a dick. A good example is a pest in hockey.
In PvP it’s rarely all for themselves, it’s usually one for all and all for one. Think of a battleground in WoW, like Warsong Gulch, Alterac Valley or Arathi Basin. You can’t win if you don’t co-operate. Sure you can get ranked the highest on your own, but what is that without the sweet taste of victory? Not much, rewardwise… There’s no point in capturing the flag in Warsong Gulch and then running while 10 opposing players try to kill you, you need others to defend you and vice versa. Capturing resources in Arathi is great, but yields little if the opponent captures yours at the same time. I can go on about this, but I think the point is clear. There is no I in team and all.
On the workfloor or in your personal life, this works out in various ways. In some sense you are always able to go for personal glory, but whenever that comes by pushing someone else down or throwing another under the bus, it’s not the constructive sort of progress. Working WITH others is always easier than working AGAINST them. Obviously there are opponents, but those are the competition of your company and even with those you can better try to be on good terms. Sure, in one of the earlier mentioned battlegrounds you have an enemy, but that enemy becomes nothing else than the obstacles towards your final goals. In Real Life PvP, working together can help you overcome all sorts of stuff. On your own, you are all you can rely on and that might be very little when you wish to build something larger than life.
In many ways it sounds a lot the same as PvE, but don’t forget that in this case there is glory for those who work alone as well. If you can’t work together on, say a software development project, then you can still get credit for doing your part. Your part will be worth hardly anything though, but atleast you get of looking a bit less bad. By not being a dick and going for yourself, you can get shit done. It does require some maturity and the ability to put the team ahead of the self.
RP (Role Playing)
When I play WoW, I rarely feel like I’m fully myself in there. I’m playing as a night elf hunter or a gnome warrior, I’m that character and the more social interaction I’ve had with the character, the more specific characteristics it develops. My warrior is loud and boisterous, mainly because he’s also very small for example. We all roleplay in some way and if you like you can actually join a roleplay server and start roleplaying in Warcraft. There are many games where this is part of what you do, even table-top game Munchkin (ok, let’s not discuss what is and what is not a table-top game) requires some character building and ways of playing. It makes it fun, it makes you able to be what you need to be to achieve goals. If you want to ruin it for everyone, than you break character or you stop playing by the rules. If you don’t obey the rules, you mess up the game for those playing.
In real life, this is much more severe. We play roles constantly in the situations we find ourselves in, we adapt to new social structures and try to stick to the rules. If I would behave at work, like I would when I go out, people would think I’m an idiot. It would not fit in the role I have at work. We all do some sort of role playing, otherwise we wouldnt be able to play the daily game we play. Its a dense structure of hierarchies, interactions, codes and ways of conduct that instantly get broken if someone doesn’t play by his or her role. The whole integrity of a team breaks up when one member is playing manager, while thats another one’s role. Like a raid in World of Warcraft, everyone follows their own role, if not, everybody dies.
I mean, it makes you untrustworthy if you don’t stick to role patterns, consistency is what makes you reliable. If you are unable to take the role you have been given, you’d end up the village fool. You don’t want that right.
All may be fair in love, war and the daily game, but not working with others, not playing fair or just being a dick that doesn’t stick to the codes of conduct just messes up the game for everyone. On top of that, it can really make things impossible for yourself so please, don’t be a dick and treat others the way you would want to be treated (or better) and focus on the roles, not the little things that bug you.
Life is a battleground and the most kills count for nothing if there’s no team win.
Next time, I’ll try another game element. Cuz you know, games are like Real Life.