Wouldn't it be nice to hop online and be consistently teamed up with pleasant teammates? You know, the kind of people that like working together and going for the objective? Ah, if only.
Instead, it's more likely that you'll come across a wide variety of people that make multiplayer gaming difficult. You're probably familiar with at least some of the more common ones, like those who like to rage or shit-talk in the game's lobby. Oh, but there's more. Enough to make a compendium of people you never want on your team. Let's dig in, shall we?
If the shooting world has a rockstar, without question that rockstar would be the sniper. Think about it: you have this powerful, deadly weapon at your disposal which you can use to cleanly take someone out with one shot from a huge distance. It's a class that, in the right hands, is exclusively about headshots—and headshots are probably the most satisfying thing in any worthwhile shooter. For the sniper, landing the headshot is a powerful feeling—if the game is balanced, landing headshots isn't easy—and for the receiver it can be frustrating or humiliating.
Most people agree that all of that is cool...and that's kind of the problem. It means you'll get into matches where there are players play as the sniper even if it means they'll barely contribute to the task at hand, all for the elusive headshot. Worse, sometimes you'll get into a match where an absurd number of people on both teams pick the sniper class for some reason—Battlefield is a game where this isn't so uncommon, but I've seen it happen in games like Team Fortress 2. The "best" part is when you get so mad at the situation you go sniper too, just to get back at the jerk that last popped your head off. Ugh. At that point, matches feel like they come to a masturbatory halt.
All games should kick people out for not playing, and many do. But there's always that one person that seems to go AFK long and often enough to be an annoyance, but not enough so that the game actually throws them out. This will happen even if the game has short timers. It's like they know they'll get kicked out if they don't move, but they're still not able to sit down and play the dang game. You'd think this would mean they'd leave the match, but no. It's important to stay in it even if you're not doing much, for some reason!
In TF2, ostensibly this can happen because someone is farming for hats, but most games don't work like that. Some games do give you some bonuses for winning a match, although I'd think your chances are better if you actually helped out, no? And although more games incorporate a feature that lets you kick people out, it's usually difficult to do. It has to be, else people would abuse it and just throw folks out of matches willy-nilly. This means the idler is probably not going away anytime soon.
This person is loud and obnoxious, no matter what the situation. Are they losing? You'll hear about it. Are they winning? It might be hard to tell, because their joy sounds eerily like angrily frothing at the mouth, but yeah, you'll hear about that too. It's kind of impressive, actually, to think about how this person can angrily string together so many swear words, but boy, can they. It doesn't even have to make sense, either (and it often doesn't).
Closely related is the shit-talker, who may not always be in rage-mode but not exactly happy, either. Usually you only have to suffer these people in-between the matches, in the lobbies....unless they're on your team. In which case, I'm so, so sorry. Better make use of that mute button!
Rage is not always audible, of course. This is where the infamous rage quitter comes in. This person will leave the game the first sign that things are going south for their team, sportsmanship be damned. This person is likely familiar with the ways they can disconnect without suffering consequences—even if this means faking what seems to be a legitimate disconnect from the game.
Some people use This Is My Jam to broadcast what they're listening to the world. Other people like to get into lobbies and blast their jams on the mic—often loudly enough that, regardless of how amazing the song might be, you can't actually make anything out. The song is usually a rap or hip hop song, because this means the person can casually rap while it plays. They're never really good but, bless their hearts, they'll keep rapping to static gibberish anyway.
On one end of the spectrum, we've got people—like the idler—who don't take the game seriously enough. But the other end of the spectrum is just as awful, as people who take the game waaaay too seriously can ruin the experience as well. At their most stereotypical, this person seems to be out of touch with reality, often using military terms and ideas to explain everyday things. If that wasn't intense enough, they'll insist that you play the game in a very specific way, because really, if they could, they'd be controlling everyone on the map. This person is a bit of a control freak, you see, to the point that they might even rage if you ever finish off one of their kills. You filthy kill-stealer, how dare you steal someone else's digital points and glory?
This player would make Ayn Rand proud, because they are ruled by the idea behind me, myself and I. Typically, a high kill-to-death ratio is the primary concern, although more and more you're likely to get people who are only looking for moments to put into their montage. Despite these traits, luckily sometimes the goal of this player is the objective, and nobody else seems to be helping them out. Tragedy in the age of the FPS, people.
And sometimes, the lone wolf is none other than the camper. Sure, the camper is useful if they're on your team and the gametype happens to be about kills, although it's not the most "noble" way to win. But if the camper is on the other team? Then they're a problem, especially if the gametype has nothing to do with kills.
The troll's sole purpose is to get a reaction out of other players, and they'll use a variety of tactics to accomplish this. A popular one, for example, is to pop into a game and only use a soundboard of a popular character to communicate with others. If the game lets you customize your appearance, chances are that the troll likes to roll with the most flamboyant, eye-catching loadout, like pink or rainbow outfit. And you'd best believe they won't let you forget they're dressed like that—often, they'll chase after your corpse and teabag you because it's supposed to be super humiliating or something. None of these are as bad as the troll who loves team-killing, though. These trolls can sabotage your entire match, rather than just providing a passing annoyance.
To their credit, even at their most stupid and juvenile, the troll is sometimes good for a quick laugh (if you aren't the target). Observe:
This is far from an extensive list of unsavory characters you'll find in online games, of course—so if you have any of your own to add, feel free to comment with more. God knows there's no shortage of awful people online!
Top image via the Team Fortress Wiki.
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.