I want to play every game out there. This, apparently, makes me stupid.

I play some more than others — City of Heroes, World of Warcraft, the Tony Hawk games, Guitar Hero — but I never really seem to master anything. So today in WoW, I found myself in a dungeon (which I rarely do, due to the time needed to complete these big group missions) that looked uncannily like this:

There was a guy in my party who totally mystified me with acronyms and shorthand that he obviously felt I should have known. My character was level 18 — not super high, but my l33t little Mini-Diablo pet, which was only available in the Collector’s Edition of the game when it came out two years ago, suggested that I had been around long enough to know what I was doing. (Not really; I stopped playing the game for roughly a year, then came back to it, and even now, I have several alternate characters, none over level 40.)

Anyway, our experienced guy in the party started typing “oom” and “shak” and “pass bop need boe” and I suddenly went “wtf?” We had to ask him what language that was. Turns out they mean “out of mana,” “shackle,” and “Pass on taking items that bind to your character when you simply pick them up, but do a Need roll on items that bind to your character when you intentionally equip them.” Clearly, acronyms serve an important purpose here. But they also confused the living shit out of me.

Plus this guy did one of my pet peeves, which is typing an ellipsis — you know, like “…” when you pause or are speechless — whenever something happened that he deemed to be incorrect or a bad decision. Instead of saying “Hey, keep in mind that blah blah blah helps or hurts us when you do that” or something in constructive English, I got the equivalent of staring in disbelief or a heavy sigh while saying “Dude, what the FUCK are you doing and how the FUCK did I get stuck on this team with so many IDIOTS.” Three dots = value judgment.

Naturally, this enrages me. It’s just a game, which means I can take it or leave it and play another one. I damn near logged off rather than have some invisible Comic-Book Guy deem me unworthy. Instead I whispered to him and said, hey, what am I doing wrong and eventually we got to talking. He was nice (he even noted that I “communicate better than the average WoW player” by typing out in full sentences — oh, the irony! And was he being nice or judging me yet again, this time as “not as bad as I thought you were”?). He was just super-experienced and assumed everybody else was just as experienced. And again, I did display signs of implied l33tness.

Which leads me to the problem. I’d say maybe 90% of people who play MMOs assume that everybody else has been playing as long as if not longer than themselves. I think that’s exactly the opposite of what should be happening. Assume that your random, pick-up teammates are not experts. If they seem like they are not moving like a well-oiled member of your guild’s inner circle, it should be assumed at the very least that their customs are not your customs and, at the worse, that they are stupid like me. Be ready to help create an expert, without being a condescending cock about it.

First one of you who posts “…” as a comment gets banned.

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