Saturday, March 21, 2009

An Open Letter to ReckingBall118; Or, A Study in Stockholm Syndrome

It’s not that I’m a crap gamer. Everyone else is that much better than me, and shame on them. If you can hit me from across the map with a sniper rifle while jumping, you need to reevaluate the way you spend your leisure time. Plant a garden. Pet a dog. Do something that doesn’t involve making a 24-year-old foam at the mouth and pound invectives into the keyboard such as:


It’s not that I’m a bad sport. You, ReckingBall118, just unsportingly good.

I’m pretty sure this started with Counterstrike. You were the reason why every round ended with “TERRORISTS WIN.” My philistine teammates called you a n00b, and your sniper rifle a n00b cannon, but I knew better. My body crumpled before I even heard the gunshot, time after time. You were no n00b. You were an artist.

I tried bargaining. “HEY LET ME SHOW YOU SOMETHING,” I’d say, approaching the bomb site. No laundry. “HEY LET’S JOIN FORCES” I said, increasingly frantic. You responded: “were on different teams, you twat.”

Right you were.

I saw you again in Battlefield 2. The sunlight slipped off your F-15 as it vaulted off the tarmac, despite my frantic cries of “HEY WAIT LEMME GET IN THE BACK.” I stood in the middle of the runway, watching you become a speck. But you turned around. You were coming back for me.

“ANGLE OF DESCENT IS PRETTY STEEP, THERE,” I cautioned. Then I saw the bombs drop from your fuselage. I hoped the thirty-second teamkill penalty was enough time for you to write your apology, but I hoped in vain.

Still, you were like Achilles on the field, and I knew better than to turn against you. I managed to hop in the back of a Humvee you were riding to the front lines. “ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH,” I bellowed. You stopped the car. You got out and walked to where I sat. You shot me in the head. My body tumbled to the dirt when you pulled away.

You left me in the dust. The time for peace had passed.

In Halo 3, I spent exactly 34 rockets trying to slay you. 22 of those connected with shrubbery, 6 with teammates, and 4 landed yards away from your feet – enough to rattle you, but not enough to kill you.

In Left 4 Dead, you wouldn’t let me be Zoey. I couldn’t have expected you to have known, of course, but when I asked politely, you said, “Dude, just be the old guy.” I was a Boomer instead, and from the snarling horde of undead window shoppers, DHL deliver men and bike messengers, you singled me out.

“Just let me spit on you once,” I said, “just once. Then I can sleep tonight.”

“You really need to see someone,” you said.

“Fuck my shit,” I replied.

ReckingBall118, you then left the game.

I’ve since pursued you across multiple games and platforms. Far Cry 2, Gears of War 2 – only smoking corpses, your signature memento. I know I’ll find you in Quake Live, where your pure, unbridled id will reach for the nearest rocket launcher and deal death mechanically, with godlike disinterest.

I’ve given up on killing you. It would seem I exist solely to fall before your munitions. And curse your brilliance, you morning star, you Lucifer.