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Friday
Oct242008

Elite Player's Guide

If you are truly the best player at your chosen game, or one of the very best, then you don’t need my advice anymore. In fact, I invite you to give me yours. But I can offer some cautions on issues you will face. You must:

  1. Recognize that you have power, even if it is over the small group of people in this world who play your game.
  2. Understand that your power is fleeting. There are many forces seeking to revoke your power and you may choose to combat them, or to give in to them.
  3. Decide what to do with your power while you have it. What good or evil can you do? Who decides what is good or evil in the first place? What obligations, if any, do you have to other players and community members?

Now You're Playing with Power

You got the touch,
you got the power! “The Touch” by Stan Bush; Transformers: The Movie Soundtrack

If you are merely “theoretically” the best player of your game, I hate to break it to you: no one really cares. Instead, let’s focus on players forged in fire who have proven themselves in organized competitions. These players have taken on all challengers and have publicly demonstrated their dominance of the game. These players have power.

Competitive gaming communities are naturally hierarchical organizations with the very best players in an elite club at the top. Sometimes accompanying the best players at this highest echelon are other leaders: tournament organizers, website administrators, or presidents of player organizations. The only thing certain is that the very best players are always in this unofficial club, and they have enormous influence over the masses below them.

When these players speak about how to play well or correctly, the masses listen. If they believe that the game or the associated tournaments need rule changes or bans, they can rally support among the troops to effect change. (Maybe their ideas about things outside the game are ill-conceived, but their power does allow their message to be heard.) And whether they are seen as villains or heroes, they can assert dominance over anyone who disputes their in-game techniques. The high expert need not listen to the cries of scrubs, because the ultimate power—the power to win—is the final arbiter in any competitive gaming community worth its salt.

When the misguided scrub complains to you, or the earnest beginner challenges you, their fate is in your hands. You can strike them down without mercy. You can nurture and teach them. You can lose on purpose to them, either secretly or overtly. You control not only the outcome of the game, but also, to some extent, the perceptions of your opponents about the game, about you, and about competitive gaming in general.