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The Devil's Advocate: The Players and Their Choice

Column By Victor Barreiro Jr. on December 28, 2012

I'm going to keep this relatively to-the-point, as much as my verbose self will allow.

We discussed the Teardown Mentality in MMO gaming twice already, and we even talked about crab mentality quite a bit. I know my readership probably isn't in the hundreds of thousands, but what the heck happened to the commenters on MMORPG.com's Player's Choice Awards?

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I scrolled through the first 150 or so comments. Off-hand, I'd say maybe a near 60-40 split between people who thought MMORPG.com was either going down the drain to irrelevancy or otherwise wished ill or sought corruption in our ranks when Pirate101 won Game of the Year as opposed to people who actually thought it was amusing that Pirate101's campaign to victory garnered them a narrow win.

Here's my unofficial take on this: you don't get it. You don't get what an award for Player's Choice is about.

In the first case, the “Player's Choice Awards” is a statistically unscientific measure of interest in a given topic where people who are interested in the topic actually choose to vote for something they want to win.

Unlike a scientific mechanism (should one even exist) where all other variables aside from their choice is mitigated to ensure accuracy of data, there are a ton of things in an unscientific poll that would affect the outcome.

Some potential factors:

  1. People campaigning for their favorite game.
  2. People caring enough to actually go to MMORPG.com to vote.
  3. Not every MMO is listed in the choices.
  4. Not everyone visits MMORPG.com.
  5. A leading choice gets bumped up by those psychologically primed to vote for the leader to ensure their vote counts for something amounting to a win so they can feel good about themselves.

Simply put, those folks who care about a game winning an award, and those companies and guilds that rallied their players to vote for their game of choice? Those are the folks that voted, and their votes helped determine the games that won out in the polling in the end.

You can disagree with the method, but the fact remains that this is a result of the players banding together to support one another.

Which leads to point two.

The MMO community that encompasses sore losers in polls is nearly as bad as the community that houses the sore losers among those rooting for specific countries in the Miss Universe pageant. Yes, I'm going there.

While the pageant was playing at work, I watched Twitter to gauge the reactions of people whose bets had lost. As the competition slowly wound down to Miss Philippines and Miss USA, I noticed that even the people online had stopped tweeting for a short while.

Then Miss USA won, and the crab mentality of the entire pageant-loving sector supporting the Philippines went absolutely insane online. Among the list of utterly horrifying things mentioned were wishes of something (from sex scandals to pregnancy) happening to Miss USA so that she would abdicate the throne, to cries of corruption in Trump's tower of pageantry, to simply connecting the win to the USA's need for good cheer due to the Newtown shootings.

I mean, what the bloody hell, right? Most of you out there would think that wasn't cool at all, especially the last bit.

At the same time, some of you might be considering posting something just as weird in an unscientific, people-supported poll from a MMO gaming website. If we have litigation-loving folks talking about taking Funcom to court over their displeasure at a revenue model shift, such an action seems just as plausible.

The funny thing is, Player's Choice Awards and beauty pageants are similar in more ways that you'd expect. We look to games and pageants to see something greater than our individual self can sometimes muster, and when the illusion of awesomeness is shattered, we get angry and we may say really insensitive things while trying to justify our outrage.

It's understandable to be upset when we lose something, but it's not okay to be less-than-respectful in the method in which we show our disappointment.

Before I end this piece, I'm going to paraphrase the Miss Universe Creed that was stated in each pageant from 1960-1990 into something gamers can understand.

The paraphrase follows: “We, the gamers of the universe, believe people everywhere are seeking peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. We pledge to spread this message in every way we can, wherever we go.”

Here's to hoping we can better ourselves and really spread a positive message to others, even in our disappointment.


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