The joys of playing with new players

When you look at SPUF, you see a lot of spitting and huffing and puffing and complaining about how new guys are ruining the game. There’s sometimes venom dripping down the walls. Almost literally, if you listen to some of the much angrier members of SPUF. But the really weird thing is how all that hatred and anger disappears almost completely when a legitimately new person comes along. No matter how much we say we hate newbies and how they’re ruining the game, part of us loves them dearly.

The reasons for this sudden change in attitude vary from person to person, but for me, helping others has always been an important part of my life. Why? Because I remember when I was a newbie. I was a really bad newbie, I barely understood everything, but I took the time to listen and I learned. I still remember playing cp_junction for the first time and asking why there was someone with the same name as me. After that Spy backstabbed me, he explained that Spies could disguise as you. I learned something important that day: never trust anyone. I also learned that Pyro is fun.

But even before I started playing TF2, I’ve enjoyed helping people. Team Fortress 2 has a lot of people who need helping and I feel obliged to help. So that’s what I do. It makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. One of my crowning moments comes from helping a struggling new player. You’ve often heard me talking about the first day of TF2 being free to play and me visiting game modes I hadn’t played before. The story’s sweet. I enter a Surf server and save a Heavy from a mean old Spy and a grumpy Sniper and the Heavy’s so grateful for my help. It makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. Helping people makes me feel warm and tingly.

I have tons of stories about me helping people. Many of my best moments are from helping people. But even when I have nothing to gain, my newbie friends have something to gain. They learn from me. And they’ll probably get a weapon from me too.

There’s other reasons though. Friendly newbies, your friends who are willing to learn, are fun to play with. They can surprise you.

The ways a newbie can surprise you really do vary. Generally it’s a skill level thing, or maybe that newbie will get a kill you certainly didn’t expect them to get. Perhaps the surprise is simply from a real-life friend asking to play that cool cartoony shooter with you. And it’s certainly surprising when your newbie friend gets their first achievement. First time my sister played TF2, she played on ctf_turbine with us. She picked Sniper, staggered out of the spawn room and wobbled precariously down the stairs to the main room. Her very first shot managed to shoot an invisible Spy through the head. Her first achievement popped up a second afterwards.  It was amazing.

And let us not forget the laughter we get. Newbies do a lot of things wrong. They’ll die in silly ways. It’s hilarious. It’s amazing. Okay, not so much after the twentieth time, but the first nineteen times were all funny.

The most important thing about newbies though is that they remind you of things. A new player doesn’t know whether X weapon is bad or Y map is good. They have no idea. They’ll learn eventually, but they have no idea. Someone who has no idea is more likely to pick up an awkward or unwieldy weapon, like the Cow Mangler or the Fan ‘o’ War and thoroughly enjoy it. Or they’ll join a plr_pipeline map and have fun. More importantly, they’ll play with you and maybe you’ll remember how much you enjoyed that map or using that weapon. You’ll learn something too.

For all the awkward and flat out rude newbies out there, remember, some of them, perhaps a lot of them, actually wish to improve. And a lot of them are just there to have fun. Go on, join in on the fun.

There's a whole world out there waiting for you...
There’s a whole world out there waiting for you…

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