PlanetQuake: Nice Guys Finish Last by Dan Lichtenberg

Nice Guys Finish Last: Newbies and internet etiquette  — by Dan Lichtenberg


In today’s society, there is always some unfortunate chap being picked on. Whether the bullies at school are giving the little guy a hard time, or a group of avid Quake players are having a field day with an innocent newbie, it seems as if someone is always getting the short end of the stick.

Thankfully, there are those among us who are kind and intelligent enough to try and put a stop to this – helping the newbie out and answering his questions before hunting him down and beating him senseless. Still, are efforts such as these even appreciated, or is internet etiquette slowly fading away in favor of the teachings of the llama?

New Kid On the Block

Imagine playing a heated game of Quake with a group of hardcore players when suddenly… the new guy drops in. You can easily identify him as the guy who stands absolutely motionless in the middle of the battlefield asking such questions as, “How do I jump?” or “What does that glowing blue thing do?”.

Chances are you’ve all seen (and maybe even lived) a similar situation before, and have no doubt witnessed the poor guy get ripped apart by the competition, with everyone cursing and shouting at him until the message “Newbie1 has left the game” appears at the top of the screen.

Occurances such as these are anything but rare, and with the age of online gaming looming ever so close, chances are we’re going to see more and more of them as time goes on (especially with Quake III supposedly offering more support for newer players). But honestly, what can be done about it? Face it, you’re never going to change the minds of those who eat newbies for breakfast – if they want to pick on the new guy, chances are they’re going to do it, regardless of what anyone tells them. But can the new kids be saved?

Your Sympathy Will Get You Left Behind…

As I mentioned earlier, the players who pick on the newbies are not going to be dissuaded easily – therefore, it is our job to make things a little better. Remember, we were all new to the gaming scene at one point. I remember getting eaten alive quite vividly when I first started playing, and to be honest, it sucked. I hopped from server to server asking people questions and trying to find a group of players who would help me along a little bit and pass down their almighty wisdom to me – needless to say, it didn’t happen.

Some people are even so rude as to kick you from the game. It’s a terrible feeling really, and it makes you wonder whether there are any nice guys left, or if the llama has finally taken them all. That’s why I usually try to help those in need – if someone asks a question, I try to answer it as best I can, even if they could’ve easily found it in the help files (which I’ll discuss a bit more in a moment). And while I can’t honestly say that I let the newbies survive, if I see someone facing the wall, not moving, I usually shoot them once or twice and then back off – after all, facing the wall while remaining motionless is supposed to be a universal signal for “I’m having trouble with my connection” or “I’m taking a leak, hold on!”, if anyone actually remembers that.

Still, are my efforts, combined with the efforts of others, enough to make things alright? Does anyone even care? Although I don’t cut the new guy some slack just to get attention, I sometimes feel as if my efforts are meaningless. People will so often flame the guy who tries to help, and of course giving the newbies a break will no doubt decrease the frag count. The point I’m trying to make is this – is going out of your way to help those in need even worth the effort, or are you doing yourself more harm than good?

Who’s Fault Is It Anyway?

I mentioned earlier some of the unfortunate mistakes that newbies make, and while they are new to the game and for the most part uninformed, I think that a little effort on their part probably wouldn’t hurt either. A recent editorial on PlanetQuake brought up a similar point, saying that hopping onto a heated sever as a newbie, interrupting the game with simple questions that could have been found in the help files is a no-no.

I couldn’t agree more. Yes, newbies are often unfairly battered and beaten by the longtime players, but perhaps they need to do a little research before jumping into a game. I can’t stress it enough, if you’re planning on surviving or even being accepted in an online game, you have to know the basics. Asking questions is great, but I wish that people would hit the Readme’s and the FAQ’s first – it may not answer every question they have, but it will certainly get them off to a decent start, therefore making the game a little more enjoyable for everyone.

Doing Your Part

Even though new players could put forth a little more effort to get in the game, that gives us (the old guys) no right to make their game a living hell. We have to understand that this is all new to them, not to mention a little overwhelming. Instead of ripping them to pieces or merely shaking our heads in dismay, we should try a little harder to be helpful.

That’s not to say we have to watch their backs or be their best buddy, but maybe just answer one of their questions, or give them a little advice – you may not be compensated for your efforts, but who says you need to be? Remember, we were all new to this at one time, and we all wanted someone who could help us along – these guys are no different.

While there will always be players who prey on the newbies, we can counteract that concept by doing our part, and allowing more and more players to enter the game, have a good time, and learn a little more about it, thus strengthening the online community as a whole.

— Dan Lichtenberg

The views in this editorial are not necessarily those of PlanetQuake, it’s staff, cheerleaders or Joe Newbie. If you want to try your hand at writing an article or editorial, send it to All contributions are welcome.

Featured Quake 3 artwork by Error313 on Deviant Art:

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