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All for me, myself, and I! The killer of co-op games
Posted on Monday, August 2 2010 @ 08:56:48 PST

Co-op. It’s an abbreviation of cooperate or cooperation. Video games use co-op as a selling point because who wouldn’t enjoy slaying hordes of monsters with several friends watching your backs? Games like Left 4 Dead, Alien Swarm, World of Warcraft, and many others are co-op games and players are naturally expected to support each other or fail. However, many people do not grasp the concept of co-op and would rather play lone wolf and go do their own thing while the rest of the team gets mauled and pissed off at the defector. Why does it happen so often? Why do people want to go and do things their own way while ignoring the needs of the rest of the team? It highly varies from game to game, but there are a few key points that can be applied to all co-op games when this problem rises up:
 
  • They want to finish a level as quickly as possible
 
In games like Left 4 Dead and Alien Swarm, enemies respawn if you are progressing slowly. Because of this, many people adapted to the belief that the faster you go, the less time enemies have to react or respawn. This is true in some cases but the problem that lies here is other teammates may not want to speed run through a level. Co-op games require everyone to be on the same page. If someone is not on the same page, the team will crumble and many swears will be said. Speed running can be good, but only if everyone agrees to it. You try to blaze through a level and not tell everyone else about it, then don’t be surprised if your teammates get pissed off at you as they get swarmed while you leave them behind. Have them agree to it first or find another game.
 
  • They think their method is the only one that works.
 
You know these types of guys. These are the ones who try to play leader and boss everyone around because they think every strategy they come up with is the one that is foolproof and will always succeed. They will also never admit that they are wrong. Because of their stubborn nature, they will not listen to the rest of the team when they need help or have a better idea. If the “leader” had enough of the group, he can turn into the speed runner as mentioned above and ditch the rest of his team as punishment. It is not a team if someone only thinks about themselves.
 
  • They believe nothing will happen to them.
 
Like Francis from Left 4 Dead, you have players who think they are indestructible and will pretty much turn into a Leeroy Jenkins and will gladly try to take on every single enemy they run into and/or waste limited supplies. This is most likely due to many FPS games (although others can apply) where players can run around and be “brave,” coming out as a winner, even in a team battle. In games that heavily rely on teamwork, trying to do your own thing and acting like nothing can happen can be a one way trip to disaster plus many people hating you for making it happen.
 
  • They are going for an achievement.
 
Almost everyone wants to get a shiny new achievement these days. Some are easy and others are hard beyond words. Like the speed runner problem, a good chunk of people try to earn an achievement without telling the other people first. This causes a mess of problems as a tightly formed team falls apart because one guy runs off trying to kill a monster and steal its loot so he can get the achievement for it. Again, not telling people what you want to do is the ultimate team killer.

  • They refuse to help the new guy(s)

This is also quite the common problem of co-op games. You will have players who will have tons of experience in a game and know all the tricks and secrets. However, the expert player jumps in a game expecting everyone else on the team to be as good as he is and when the said new person doesn't live up to the expectations that has been set, the veteran player will swear and rage as he decides to "punish" the newbies by either team killing them, leaving them behind when they need help, etc. Not only it makes experienced players look like total jerks, but it also kills the mood for the new guy as they get pissed off at the team not helping out and may never want to play the game again. This behavior kills teams since no one wants to show the new guy the ropes when he screws up.

 
These are the general points on why people do what they do that ruins co-op games. Selfish motives and lack of communication as described above is what will make a co-op game feel more like a job than an actual break from life. Of course no one is perfect and some of us probably have been guilty of doing one the above at least once, even me. It is up to people to stop and think about what they are doing and think for the team as a whole. By working closely with your team, you may get another friend request to play again later.
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