Do people like to be abused?

A strange realization came to me yesterday, while I was playing Left 4 Dead 2. Not much unlike Wow, this is a coop dungeon game, mostly PvE, but with PvP options. Some of the latest additions in wow have also clearly been copied from this game (dungeon queue, votekick system): there are many similarities.

One of the things that is similar too is the abundance of stupid people and assholes.

Of course, that goes for any game on the planet.

In any game you’ve got three types(*) of players:

  • Stupid players (have no idea what they’re doing, and also not listening, or cooperating)
  • Abusive players (decent to good players, don’t cooperate, blame anyone but themselves, but never help)
  • Normal players (decent to good players, who cooperate, give advice and help)

*) there is a fourth kind: the griefers, who are a combination of assholes and stupid people, but they’re always handled correctly so I’m leaving them out.

In game these work like rock, paper, scissors.

At least they should.

  • Stupid people will pester the normal players away.
  • Assholes will kick, or pester the stupid people away.
  • Normal players.. SHOULD kick the assholes for being an abusive prick.

The reality is, that assholes never get kicked. The normal players just put up with their shit, long after the stupid people have left.

Normal people are (still) in majority in most games. This should mean that the system would work itself out. The asshole will get rid of the idiot before the normal people leave, then the remaining normal players will get rid of the asshole after being tired of him/her.

I consider myself one of the normal players that wouldn’t hesitate to kick an abusive prick (also hopeless stupid people btw). And believe me, I’ve tried each and every time.

It nearly always fails. Most of the time, I get nobody else to vote yes.

What you need to know is that, in left4dead, votekicking is almost automatic. Whenever you votekick some random guy, people will just press yes without going through the enormous trouble of thinking for a split second if there’s actually any reason for this: “it’s probably deserved”, they seem to think. And yes, this get’s abused by funny guys a lot.

In wow, this may be less so, because you’re more aware of your groups actions (3rd person (over)view, out of combat kick restrictions, having to cope with one less (in l4d the computer takes over)), but it still happens.

Therefore I’m so surprised that in the case of kicking an asshole, there’s a clear favoritism for this kind of people. They’re the hardest to kick of all, by a mile.

So, I’ve been thinking about this, but I can’t really find a logical answer.

Why would any sane person want to have an asshole in the group, who’s constantly blaming and calling names? Even when this guy is clearly not THAT good himself?

  • Is it because this guy gives the illusion of being a good player, because he criticizes the other people?
  • Is it because people are afraid of him? Even though he can’t do much about it, and there’s no way he can get back at you?
  • Is it because people automatically see him as leader, and protect him, even though him being around or not does not change anything? because he’s not actually leading, he’s just blaming?
  • Is it human nature to respect assholes? Do a lot of people actually LIKE to be abused? Mildly comparable to S&M, where people enjoy being the slave.

That last one might seem extreme, but if you’ve ever heard of the Stockholm syndrome, it’s not that odd at all.

The main concern I have with this is that if people continue to let these guys be the assholes they are, it will only encourage them to keep doing so, and encourage others to become that way. The problem is, there isn’t anything I can do about it alone and I’m predicting that the amount of assholes will only grow more and more, unless more decent people snap out of it and act against those assholes.

Or… is there actually a good reason for allowing these guys to do what they do that I’m not seeing? I can hardly believe it, but I’m keeping all options open, hoping to find one that makes sense…


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April 2010
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