Try Hards: The Future of Gaming

I decided to jump into Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 for the first time since it released. I blew the dust off the old Xbox 360, plugged her in, set up my headset and dove in. We all know the Call of Duty (COD) formula, everyone runs around and tries to shoot everyone else while trying not to get shot themselves. Simple enough, but there seemed to be something different this time. Two words kept popping up with negative connotations, the first was nerd.

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I haven’t heard the word nerd used negatively in a long time, but it was the go-to-word while I was playing for anyone who was a higher level (and thus had to much time on their hands) and better at the game then the player who was defeated. It didn’t seem to matter if the complaining player was level 3 prestige and the offending player 4. Anyone who was deemed as playing to much COD was a nerd.

I had honestly hoped we were passed that, after all just look at the name of this website. When I was in high school, it had almost become a term of endearment between friends, who knew they were obsessed with things that others thought were a waste of time. It was also almost cool to be a nerd. It meant you were interested in technology, the stuff that everyone was finally interested in (even cookie-cutter teenage girls with their iPhones). It meant you were ahead of the curve, you knew about the next cool thing when it was first announced, not when someone showed up at school with it. You knew everything there was to know about the next COD game, while everyone else was speculating, you had hard information to spread. You had been using Xbox Live since the original Xbox. You were the originator, you were, for lack of a better phrase, a pre-hipster hipster.

But, now, we seem to be back to square one. We’ve started the destruction of the positivity behind the word nerd, geek, or anything else like it from within. Soon the only people using the word positively will be teenage girls who think they look cute in their “nerdy” clothes, while we’re sitting on the internet using the word to bash each other and make others feel inferior.

The other word (or really a phrase) that came up every 2 minutes was “try hard”. This phrase was used to bash on people who were trying to win in a game of Call of Duty. For example: “Naw, lets not play hardcore mode, it’s full of tryhards” or “F**K THAT TRY HARD”, or “only try hards use that gun.” Simply, it meant that the person was, as the name implies, trying too hard to be good at the game. This really rubbed me the wrong way, isn’t the whole point of these games to have fun, isn’t it fun to do well? Why are you playing a competitive game when you don’t care how well you do? But, I quickly realized that it wasn’t bad players calling others try hards, it was the top players. People who were getting 6.0 kill/deaths ratio’s. The guys who were using the “cheap” combination of weapons for every level. It was almost always only people obsessed with their k/d, not players just playing for fun like myself.

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Wait for it…Back in my day, which is honestly just before online console gaming in general, a phrase like try hard wouldn’t have existed. Sure I had friends who were obsessed with doing well in multiplayer games, but never did I show them disrespect for caring. After all, we were all playing these games with each other not only to have fun, but to get better at them, because as we got better and we learned the ins and outs, we were able to all play on the same level. Trying hard was implied in my circle of gaming buddies, people who weren’t trying were often considered to be the annoying ones. On top of everything, the fact that the best players were complaining about other good players, was just sad. You’re already good at the game, you don’t have to pretend like you weren’t even trying’.

In all fairness, it’s a much more constructive way of insulting someone than saying “F**k you”, but the roots of both words are just showing me a coming generation of online players who don’t have respect for the thing they’re spending hours a day doing. Like a constant high school scenario, anyone who has passion for something should be put down. That begs the question, if you don’t have passion in video games, why are you playing them at all?

Written by: Michael Rose

I was 5 when my dad came home with a Sega Saturn, beginning my life of choosing the "wrong" console and loving it. You can catch me on the PSN playing anything from indies to AAAs and everything in between, or watching entirely too much television.

  • http://twitter.com/abadmotivator Ace

    I’ll never understand the Nintendo fanboys who were glad SSBB was dumbed down just because there are gamers who enjoyed getting better at the game and playing it competitively. You’re a tryhard if you don’t let your opponent land safely back on the platform. Sakurai hates tryhards, nerd!