“The Blame Game” or “The Ballad of the Collapsing Raid Group”

Tank dies, blame healer. Healer dies, blame tank. Group dies, blame the hunter.
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Warning : This article includes adult language originally spoken by someone who is not an adult. And because of that, I’m just letting it all hang out at one point or another here so… 

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I don’t think I could make it any more obnoxiously larger.  Reader discretion is advised. Or something.

Let me tell you a little something about pain. See, pain and me go way, way back. It’s a constant companion, like a needy puppy that gnaws on your ankle. On the good days it’s only a teething puppy, anyway. This week, I think it’s a rottweiler, possibly a schnauzer, it’s hard to tell really. But some days it’s worse than others. Oh, and it travels too. So what hurt a week ago is now fine, and what was fine a week ago is now literally causing you to change everything about your life so you can keep living it.

See, this is the other side to extreme sports that people don’t talk about too much. The “what comes after” phase when you’re not really in any shape to do what was fun, but you still love the things like competition and teamwork. It’s why I’m naturally drawn to MMOs actually. I play World of Tanks like I used to play paintball. When I had knees and joints, I mean.  Minus the knee pads and goggles while playing, that’d just be weird.

One more thing about pain, and I’m now telling you all something you already know but… Pain makes you irritable. Not just growly irritable, not snarly irritable, but “I will bite your face off using the rottweiler currently gnawing on my wrist then feed your entrails to the schnauzer” levels of irritable. Which is probably too articulate for how I honestly feel sometimes, but you get the basic idea. Now that we have all of that set up, it’s story time again.  Or, as it’s been put by Monty Python’s traveling show…

“I’ve suffered for my art, now it’s your turn.”

DC Universe Online has certainly been a fickle mistress for the last week. The gold spammers have been working overtime on the chat. The summer event is almost over and the loot drops to complete once-a-year achievements aren’t coming, spent a whole week losing loot rolls in all instances, subscription is about to lapse, the last hotpatch disabled keybinding for movement powers onto gamepads… It’s been a really, really bad week. I stay because I genuinely like the game.  It doesn’t hurt that at 3 AM, people are on and willing to go on adventures.

So 3 AM, I’m awake, log in as my healer. I’ve recently been told I’m an “alt-o-holic” because I like playing several characters, I just figure I can play to suit my mood. Do the daily, another freaking giving helm and not the achievement gear drop.  Oh well. Do a 4 player mission and rock the achievements out of it, cool. And then the 8 player raid pops up that I once again forgot I had queued for. Well, it’s only 0400 or so, and it’s Outer Caverns. I know I won’t be chasing the clock and I know this instance…  Sure let’s do this thing. It doesn’t take long to notice that I’m the only healer in an expert 8 player event. Well… Ok, I can do this. I’ve got hard armor, hollywood clips in my fully automatic pistols and insect wings. I got this.

The group is good, We have one hiccup after the first boss when we kite the trash into our spawn area. (Umm, oops.) But we recovered. It was going pretty well ’till the final fight. It’s always the final fight. The group is arguing on what to do, and can’t agree on kill order. Our hand is forced when someone decides to scream “LEEEROOOYYYYY” and starts the fight.

This pattern repeats another seven times. With each successive wipe, the language gets harsher. It’s coming to a head between two self-proclaimed experts who are both starting to get personal. One is going to the tried and tested “noob” name calling, while the other is using “idiots” to describe the group. Now, call me odd, but inspiring troops by belittling them has really never worked in my book but hey, what do I know. I’m just an insect who can keep people standing in spite of their best efforts to not be.

“Shutting down the world in 0h 30m 0s”

Oh hell, not again.  Not now.  It’s last boss. We can do th… oh people are leaving. You know what though?  I came to finish the fight, the game’s gonna have to throw my sorry stinger out of here before I leave voluntarily.  I’m stubborn like that.

And, we get lucky. A couple people come in and fill the gaps. I’m still the only healer in a 4-way end fight but I still got tricks I can pull.  I’m sorting out my trinkets and load out when one of these new people roars past our group, into the fight room, and starts “mosh-pit 101” classes minus the punk music. That didn’t go well, we wiped in record time as we were all caught flat-footed.

This pattern repeats three more times in rapid-fire succession.  Morale is low, people are talking about hanging up the cape for the night. That is when the aforementioned new person…  My favorite Mospitter?  Yeah, that person… says something irksome.

“need new healer”

They said this not in group chat, but in “limited range” public chat thinking I wasn’t in earshot. I was. Meanwhile, in the real world, my wrist is screaming in pain. I can barely squeeze the right bumper of the controller and I’ve been playing the controller like an accordion to try to reduce the pain. Remember all that stuff I said in the opening paragraphs about pain making one irritable? Yeah, if this were in the real world this snot nosed punk would have been swallowing a rottweiler whole.  Why?  I’m SO glad you asked!

I will have to make a full blown video show of it someday but this is what’s lovingly called the “blame game”. To play, you need a group that is failing at a task. The game begins when someone decides that the failure is the absolute fault of everyone else, and not them. See, if everyone in the group would just do exactly the plan that they have (and consequently never share with said group) then the group would win every time. But no, it’s the fault of everyone else, not them. Spoiler alert. The one who complains the loudest is usually the weakest link of the chain.

Occasionally, the blame game is directed at a scapegoat. One person is blamed for the group’s failure, and they’re unceremoniously booted from the instance. No refund on the time spent, the money spent on health potions or armor repair, or the emotional investment in making the group work… Nope, you’re the one to blame, you’re out.

Would you like to know the truth? You would? You won’t like it. Nobody does. But, I’ll tell you. It’s a simple, universal truth of games like this. Brace yourself, this is mind-shattering. *ahem*


We may not have known each other before this instance, but we’re all here and we are a team. We all have roles to fill. We all have a responsibility to the other people we’re playing with. I got your ass covered because you have mine covered, but that doesn’t mean I can slack off. I can’t let the other seven carry me to victory because if I do, we’ll never get there.

Blaming one other person, or declaring yourself superior and blaming the group is not helping. It makes you “That Guy”. Nobody wants to be “That Guy”. All that time blaming everyone else for sucking could be used to explain the mechanics of a fight, or the do’s and don’ts, or offering advice on how to optimize the damage or heals.

Playing the “blame game” is the coward’s way out. It’s what you do when you’re too afraid to admit that you goofed. You missed that shot. You missed the telegraphed animation of “I’m about to kill you if you’re close to me” and died. Your camera was in a weird spot and you didn’t see the healer go down to revive them. Or you tried, and got knocked off them before you could revive.

Shit happens, it’s all cool and I for one won’t be mad for a single misstep. Unless…  Well a few notable exceptions.  If you tell me you’re the best thing since sliced bread then your messing up will be Schadenfreude at it’s finest for me.  If you’re sitting in the back and doing nothing, or you’re obviously not doing your actual role, we’ll have problems.  Do another role, that’s fine, just don’t cue up as a “healer” to get into groups faster when you don’t want to heal.  But one fuck up?  Hey you should be so lucky if that’s the worst thing that happens to you today.

Getting back to this situation, however…  A better man would have ignored it. A better man would have walked away and taken the high road. A not-so better man may have ragequit the instance. But you see, there’s this hungry rottweiler next to me licking his chops for entrails while still gnawing on the rawhide that is my wrist. I think it ate the schnauzer. So at that moment…  I was not that better man.

“Say that to my face.” I say in group chat. This person actually walked their avatar up to me, made a “rude gesture” and told me I was a “stupid noob” and “not healer”.  I check my stat sheet, I’ve got almost a million points of healing on this mission, so I think I’m doing fine in that regard.  So I call them out publicly, reminding them they rushed into battle without the group support and apparently I’m the bad healer because I can’t keep a toon with a death wish alive. Response? And this is a direct quote from open chat : “just %*@@ you loser”

I hit a soft spot, and that rottweiler is salivating. I asked for a full essay on how much I suck, asking for measurement in liters.  They walk their avatar to mine, literally bumping me backwards, and says in open chat “i say…just….F U C K you noob”  Yeah, I hit a nerve.  I asked for a full explanation as to why I was solely responsible for this players ineptitude.  The $5 word threw them, I think.  Instead of answering, they left the instance. On the bright side, the rottweiler gave chase and I understand the scene in the watchtower must have been pandemonium.

This is the final lesson in the blame game. It’s all hollow. When called to defend it, they can’t. Why? Because somewhere, they know that they messed up. But to SAY it publicly is another story entirely. That’s admitting WEAKNESS! That’s saying you’re not PERFECT! That’s opening yourself up to ridicule!

Let me tell you something, and this does not go for everyone but it does for me. I find it a strength when someone can say “Yes, I fucked up.”

Many years ago we had a casual team of paintball players who would go to big events. Routinely, between games we would self-critique. “Lesson learned, I can’t make the center on the break.” “I couldn’t reach that guy in the corner.” “I tucked in to reload and they got you.” “I got too greedy, tried to take too much ground and boom.” “That guy got me out, and that’s when he came after you.” And every time, we’d let it ride because dumb thing happen. Ok, you fucked up, I fucked up, the other guy covered our fuck up and we recovered as a team.  We’re all cool with it, we learned from it, we move on.

Oh, there’s that word again. Team. Being a team player means saying “Ok, I fucked up.” It also means you don’t blame someone else when the team as a whole lost.  Individuals can be taught how to do something right, but it’s easier to be blamed for doing it wrong.  It also means, in a PUG setting, your team isn’t going to be perfectly suited to what you exactly want. Deal with it. If you’re just that good, you should be able to pick up the slack where someone else can’t cover.

Most of all though? “Team” means that you have an obligation to everyone else to not be “That Guy”. I will grant that in MMO’s, sometimes your team can’t win an instance just because of the numbers. Not enough “important statistic” or “insufficient dakka”. You don’t need to be an ass, and you don’t need to be the drama king/queen. “Hey guys, I don’t think we have the power for this.” will win a lot more favor than “y u pla so noob loosers!!!!!” Of course, I realise that writing that here is preaching to the choir. Most people who think “you” is spelled “u” tuned off this article about fifteen paragraphs ago to go read Twitter. “ZOMG TAKO BELL!!! #omnomnom” (just don’t tell them what “tako” really is, ok?)

Needless to say… kinda useless wording if it’s so needless… but we never finished the instance. I did go out of my way to thank the remaining two players before the shutdown. I’m debating if it’s worth reporting the player in question for terms of service violations because it could be argued that I was antagonizing them. Well, you spit in my face, I’m gonna want answers. Either way, when I log back in I’ll be in the watchtower. A few thousand virtual dollars poorer, a dozen healing colas lighter, but in all, I guess it really doesn’t bug me. I got hard insectoid armor for a reason.  Let’s see that damn dog chew through THAT!

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I'm a gamer. I'm a reality junkie. I'm a cynic. I'm a dinosaur. I'm a writer. I'm so much more than a paragraph can say. You want more? Ok. I started a video game show on the internet some time ago. See, I've played video games since Intellivision and Atari 2600 and PONG back in the day. Retro-gaming doesn't really fire me up as much as seeing how the community ticks. And after seeing way too many "I'm too young to have played this game when it first came out but it MAKES ME SO ANGRY" reviewers who would happily eviscerate my childhood for lulz... yeah I tossed my hat into the ring. the quickly scooped it back up, I'm told I have a bald spot that needs covering. Outside of gaming... yes I go outside shut up... I like to play paintball when I can. I snowboard a lot, when I can. I go mountain biking, when I can... seeing a trend yet? I prefer reality to video games, but at 4 AM it's hard to find a paintball game going on. Lately I livestream a lot, playing video games for an audience.