Like many males growing up in the 90’s, I played Counter-Strike. A lot.
I was all too eager to relive my glory days countering global terrorism while drinking Dr. Pepper when I saw CS:GO on sale through the Steam Store. Childhood: revisited.
The Counter-Strike community is intense. This was true even during the classic era, although there were significantly less microphones involved back then. Now virtually anyone can tear you a new asshole in crystal clear quality, an experience dramatically different from single player games.
The last time I played Counter-Strike was when I was in 8th grade. I connected to the Internet through a horrid 56k wired modem jutting out the wall in my living room. N’SYNC had reached their peak in popularity and Lance Bass wasn’t even gay yet. It goes without saying my skills were rusty.
I connected to a random server and suddenly I’m 15 again.
We’re playing my favorite mission scenario. One team tries to plant and detonate a bomb, the other side tries to prevent it entirely. I am on the team trying to plant the bomb. We are going to fail spectacularly in this endeavor.
“All right. First 4 go mid-A. Everyone else, water to ramp.” This means nothing to me. As everyone begins charging out the gates I’m left deliberating which gun to purchase and not kill anybody with.
The majority of my team is dead. The ghost cam now ensures my every movement is marked with immense scrutiny.
“Tyrannosaurus. What the hell are you doing?” A second later my character is riddled with bullets.
A discussion takes place regarding how “fucking stupid” I am. I don’t have a microphone to respond. And although I clearly have a keyboard to respond with, I have no idea how that works either.
A new round starts and I have the bomb. Anxiety sets in. How is any part of me getting stressed out over a video game?
“Tyrannosaurus, listen to the calls goddammit … or I’ll rip your dick off. Everyone rush mid B. First four take stairs and walk through.”
I blow it immediately.
“Toggle walk, Tyrannosaurus!”
What key is that?
“Jesus, you fucking idiot. Hang back. YOU HAVE THE BOMB, why are you running out?”
I botch whatever call and I’m mowed down in a hail of bullets.
Following this, real life me is mowed down in a hail of anti-gay slurs. Someone is clamoring to have me banned from the server entirely. And just like that, my screen locks and I receive a notification that I’ve been kicked from the game.
I’m not oblivious as to how the Internet works. This isn’t the first occasion I’ve been flamed out over something totally trivial. I have a good enough sense of humor to actually enjoy the criticism as well. But the experience has me wondering, is there no room for the casual gamer? Why the hell can’t I just die in peace?