Yes, being mean or trolling someone isn't exactly recommendable or even particularly empathetic, but that doesn't mean both are completely off the table all the time. Not if you're playing a game, anyway.
Sometimes, being a jerk can be a playful thing. That's why we like banter and teasing. It's also why games are often perfect safe spaces for us to be jerks to one another; we can be jerks without necessarily being malicious. Many of the mean things we can do in games are either intentional mechanics meant to make things more interesting or chaotic, or they're genuinely innocent things we can do that keep things fun.
Here are some of my favorite mean (but cool!) things we can do to one another in games.
Nothing like finishing a level and smacking the crap out of your co-op partners, particularly whoever came in first! That'll show em.
(Video via pwncesas)
What's that? You worked hard for that star by winning mini-games and saving up coins? Well, too bad. For a price, your opponents can steal that star...but that's okay, everyone might get screwed over at the end, when the game awards stars to everyone for random bullshit reasons, too.
(Video via SlashersElite)
Ah, the blue shell. This devilish item doesn't mess just anyone up—it only targets whoever is in first place. Meaning, it's an item that punishes you for doing well! It's also an item that helps keep things interesting, since you can't exactly rest on your laurels if you're in first.
On this note, man, Mario games sure make it easy for us to be jerks to each other. Heh.
Playing Spelunky with a friend might mean you can go farther than you would normally—if someone dies, they can be revived by players in later levels—but it's also one of the most chaotic experiences in multiplayer gaming, if you're not careful. You can pick each other up and throw each other into danger. You can whip each other. Various items have friendly fire, making even the most powerful items (like shotguns) a huge danger to use, too.
These are just a few of my favorite jerk-things to do in games, but they're far from all the mean (but playful!) things we can do to each other in games. Do you have any favorites? Let us know in the comments.
The Multiplayer is a weekly column that looks at how people crash into each other while playing games. It runs every Monday at 6PM ET.