It’s beginning to really bother me: the number of people asking what SWTOR server I’m on, what my character’s name is, whether I want to group with them and hey girl do you wanna join my guild, I can help you level up and shit.
I’ve had people get angry when I’ve declined to give them my character’s name. I’ve had people adopt the condescending “disappointed” demeanour. I’ve even had someone imply that I deceived them because I was the one who had “convinced” them to buy the game, with some implication that I would indeed play it with them. (I have never, ever said to someone: “YOU HAVE TO GET THIS GAME SO WE CAN PLAY TOGETHER.”)
Nobody has the right to get angry with me. Leave me alone. I have played with a grand total of two people outside of my usual gaming group, and both times were mistakes that ruined the experience enough to make me want to ragequit. I’d rather stick to the very small number of people I know I can trust.
Here is why I do not want to plat SWTOR with you, or really, any other game either.
1. I want to play – and enjoy – this game at my own pace. I want to listen to all the dialogue and be able to stop to gawp at the surroundings whenever I please. I want to carefully consider the placement of each talent point I receive, and have the time available to me to read each skill I put on my bars so that I know exactly what the hell I’m doing with my character.
I have played with people who have not respected this. I played with someone who sat on Vent with me, grumbling and sighing as I carefully considered my dialogue choices during a cutscene. This person said, “You know you can hit space bar to skip dialogue, right?”
This sort of condescension is not tolerable. Of course I know the dialogue is skippable. The fact that I am sitting here, knowing that the dialogue is skippable but going through all the lines anyway should be enough of an indication that I do not want to skip the dialogue, right?
Still, I have been made to feel as though I am holding others back. I have even relented, skipping conversations and choosing random dialogue choices to expedite getting to the killing part for the sake of pleasing some blundering team members. What I was left with was a character I had no connection to, in a world where I had no fucking clue what was going on. I was bored and felt terrible for giving so little consideration to the work of the game’s writers.
My playstyle may not gel with others’, but for some reason I’m made to feel as if I’m in the wrong for it, or as if I am stupid for wanting to enjoy a mechanic that the developers spent a lot of time refining to put into this game. It’s not okay for me to “play slowly”, but for some reason it is okay for others to ruin the playstyle I find enjoyable by forcing me to blow through it in a frantic race to endgame.
So no, sorry, I am not going to play SWTOR with you even if think you are going to be the most respectful person in the world. The same people who say this have been the same people who mindlessly killed things while I was in a cutscene and then said, “Oh, sorry. Thought you liked talking more than killing.”
2. How many times – not just in SWTOR, but in any online game – has a gamer tried to badger me into playing a game with him in which I am at a distinct disadvantage? Given my playstyle, why do I feel that so many people who want to play with me are just after a way of asserting their dominance and purported expertise at the game?
In other games, this might be about getting me to play a game or genre I’ve never played before with which they are extremely experienced. In the context of SWTOR, this means putting up with someone several levels higher than myself.
Of the level gap, the person will always say, “It’s okay, I’ll carry you until you are my level.” That’s nice. But maybe I don’t want to be carried. Maybe I like being a lowbie. Maybe I just want to play the game the way it’s intended for my current level without being made to feel as if I’m “too low” and that I should be trying harder to kamikaze towards endgame.
Even if I make it explicitly clear that I want to take my time, this person will still hover around me, doing the sighing-and-grumbling thing on Vent, one-shotting enemies around me and talking constantly about how bored he is because he’s already played this area on three different characters. If I’m lucky he’ll even challenge me to a duel that he knows he will win due to being seven levels higher.
Look, don’t ask to play with me if I tell you that I want to play at an enjoyable pace and am several levels beneath you anyway. In fact, just don’t ask me. So you hit the level cap fast: good for you. I might actually be vaguely interested if, say, you were paid money for it.
3. I mean, what’s the incentive for this behaviour anyway? If I am so boring to play a game with, why do people still insist on doing it?
This is where I get really, really wary. See, I’ve played games with people who had entirely the wrong reasons for wanting to play with me. An ex-boyfriend would force me to sit through his insufferably boring Total War games so that he could tell his friends that his girlfriend was a gamer. A girl he could play games with. Never mind that I hated his games and he didn’t think mine were “real games”.
Possibly the most disturbing thing that has happened to me after playing games with someone else, though, was that I added to Facebook someone I thought was a decent gamer for once – and he violated my privacy by sending my photographs to a fifteen-year-old we played WoW with. Keep in mind that this was someone I thought was a genuinely decent person – someone who considered himself a nice, considerate guy, just like everyone else who has tried to pressure me to play SWTOR with them. I’m just not trusting anybody any more. I’m not opening myself up to any more violations of my trust. Sorry.
End: I’ve been forceful enough that some people have backed off and said, “Fine. Play by yourself. SWTOR kind of works as a single-player game anyway.”
To which I say: don’t you dare try to imply that I’m being antisocial, or silly for wanting to play “by myself” in an MMO. The notion itself is silly, condescending, and selfish, too. For one thing, a refusal to play with you is not the end of my social gaming world. Sorry, but you’re really not that important to me. Especially not the Twitter people I’ve never once spoken to but who still keep asking me to roll a character on their server.
I play games with a very rigid group of three people I am comfortable with and do not wish to defect from: my brother, my boyfriend, and a gay friend. Years of playing games with these people has assured me that while they are not perfect, they certainly don’t behave in any of the douchebaggy ways outlined above. And best of all: none of them are going to hit on me. So seriously, stop asking. I’m happy where I am in SWTOR, and I don’t want any self-proclaimed Nice Person ruining that for me.