Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Reading: The Little Lord of the Flies

lord_of_the_flies Every gamer’s been there: you’re getting pounded in a game of multiplayer deathmatch, and the slurs start flying.  Some of the most ignorant, racist, deplorable vocabulary begins spewing from the mouths of pre-teen Halo gods.  Not only are you dejected by the horrific loss you were just served, but you just can’t seem to shut them up – not without wussing out and hitting the Mute button.

Once in a blue moon, however, one of those little brats turns out to be a godsend.  An Ender with an Xbox controller, sent to boost your gamerscore and restore your faith in the youngest cross-section of humanity.  It’s rare, and it can be a bit emasculating to take digital orders from an adolescent general.  But if you care about winning in the cesspool that is Xbox Live, you’ll take what you can get.

Writing for The Escapist, Chuck Wendig shares an anecdote about a child he dubs Pip, “The 12-Year-Old English Kid Who Carried Us To Victory.”  In a game of Call of Duty 4, Wendig had his butt saved by the unlikeliest of commanders:

“I do not know what Pip looked like. Fat or thin, blonde or raven-haired, tall and reedy or squat like a diseased tree stump. I know that here, in the online space, his looks didn't matter. I do know what he sounded like. Despite a voice indicating that he hadn't yet known the touch of a woman, he was calm, assertive, and utterly certain of his plan.”

Cleverly, Wendig uses William Golding’s Lord of the Flies as a framing device for the childish bedlam of the online battle space . Just remember, for every island of deviants, there’s at least one commander-in-the-making, ready to lead you to victory.