We often fear powerful things, because we can’t control them. A giant, unstoppable bear. A deadly bomb. An unfeeling, AI-controlled drone with missiles. Or even, a player wearing some sick threads in an online video game, indicating they’ve been playing longer than you and will likely kick your ass.
Knockout City is a lot of fun. I probably don’t need to tell you that, because millions of people are playing the game already. We’ve written about how cool it is before and why it’s so surprisingly fun to play online super dodgeball. And like most online video games in the year of our lord 2021, you can find, unlock and earn new cosmetic items. As you would expect, some of these items are rarer and harder to get, meaning you’ll only be able to unlock them if you are really lucky, or have spent a lot of time playing the game. Or have spent a lot of money in the game.
Both of these last scenarios, expert players and whales, are what I often want to avoid when playing an online game for the first time. So when I started playing Knockout City, I would become filled with fear if the opposing team, shown at the start of the match, was packed with players rocking fancy clothes and over-the-top animations. That was a very good indicator that I was about to get hit with a lot of dodgeballs and lose the match.
Ari and I played together one night, and we both audibly groaned and complained when we spotted these fancy-dressed players. “Oh we are about to get our shit kicked in, aren’t we?” I would ask. “Yeah...probably,” Ari would reply. Of course, if the well-dressed person was on our team, our tune would change. Suddenly, we felt pretty good about our odds. Life is funny like that.
After noticing these sharply dressed players over and over, I started to keep track of how often they won. And the numbers weren’t great. After logging 30 matches with these fashionable folks, I think they won about 24 times. Now that does mean that they aren’t unbeatable, ball-catching machines. They are humans, just like you and me. Well, better-dressed humans. These players turned some matches into tense struggles, and if we came out the other side the winners, the victory was all the sweeter.
Still, as I play more Knockout City or other online games, I’m increasingly wary and nervous whenever a person appears sporting some sick masks or a rad jacket. If I win, awesome. But if I lose, which is likely, at least I’ll be prepared for it. But ideally, I’ll look to play with others as scruffily dressed as I am.