Matt Chat 36: Starcraft and the RTS Genre

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Matt Barton's picture

In this week's episode, I review Blizzard's 1998 masterpiece Starcraft, widely considered the best real-time strategy game ever made.

I imagined a few people might respond to my claims that most people online are jerks, but all I can say is that's my perceived experience. In reality, there are probably mostly good people online, but they tend to get overshadowed by the cretins, and if a "good guy" is just standing around as jerkwads trash the noobs--how "good" is he, anyway? I've never had much patience for either behavior, and that's probably why I don't last long in online games.

As I mentioned in the video, I was easily able to meet a friendly player who gave me lots of tips and talked to me about why he liked the game. However, the first time I played, it was with a group of jerks. They kept calling me "noob" and one of my own teammates attacked and killed me while the others encouraged him. I was having trouble figuring out how to use the chat function, but it's probably a blessing I didn't communicate with them. If that had been my first and only experience, I wouldn't have played it again. In general, though, I just haven't been at all, and I mean *at all*, impressed with the maturity and pleasantness of online gaming. It feels like most of the time I'm playing with very badly behaved kids. I suspect a lot of my impatience might stem from my job as a professor; if you had to deal with that kind of behavior on a daily basis, you sure as hell wouldn't want to throw yourself into it during your free time.

Only very rarely do I find the sort of folks I'd like to hang out with in real life when I'm playing online games. That's another reason I'm sad that we've never been able to assemble any kind of online group here at AA; I'm sure I'd like that much better than playing with random strangers. I remember a few weeks ago someone here had made a comment about how we should be lucky AA is as small and intimate as it is--at first I thought, nah, I'd still rather have a few hundred more members and a lot more participation. But if that "participation" amounted to the kind of trash I see in online games, then I should be careful what I wish for. I would 1000 times rather have a forum with 5-6 good folks than 500-600 kids who couldn't write a coherent sentence (in any language, mind you) and whose "mommies" had never so much as raised their voice (except to apologize that the grocery store ran out of their favorite juice box). Heheh...Yeah, I'm becoming an old fogey before my time.

I apologize for the boring still shot for this video. I still haven't mastered the art of timing the video in such a way as to get decent still shots for the video links, and all three were just like this. Grrr...It's definitely one of Youtube's big limitations (other services I've used will let you choose from a much wider series of thumbnails or upload your own!).

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John Denver (not verified)
I've had similar experiences

I've had similar experiences attempting online gaming. What's interesting is I read somewhere (afraid I can't remember where) that these types of games are actually really good for our brains because they use long term planning etc and all different parts of the brain, so don't feel bad for playing it a lot! If it's just Starcraft your after though and don't want to be called 'noob' all the time there's always the StarCraft board game, I find playing that face to face with people they are a bit more hesitant to harshly insult amateur mistakes :p

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