Why Manners Matter - In Defense of the "gg"
Written by Joel Hakalax
StarCraft has its own trends, culture, and social norms, and pretty sophisticated ones at that. Typical behavior and language from a twelve-year-old on Xbox Live would likely be thoroughly nuked from orbit in a StarCraft setting. The social norms of online gaming are not universal; people wear different hats for different places and the StarCraft hat is quite distinguished by comparison.
In a game such as StarCraft, where victory or defeat entirely comes down to how strong your decision making is, we still maintain a social norm that tells us to "gg" before tapping out. Even when self frustration climbs to heights previously unknown, our culture STILL dictates that we should compliment and thank our opponent through the "gg" and then honorably accept defeat.
This is generally how it goes anyway, but not always... Just like any social custom, the code of honor is broken from time to time, by some more often than others, and by some more blatantly than by others. Yet it is quite astounding that this standard of etiquette is still in place despite the explosive growth that the community has seen with the release of StarCraft II. A ton of new players have arrived, more are still coming in as we speak, and right now at least, the "gg" remains. StarCraft II is the fastest selling strategy game of all time, yet its original culture remains, for now.
But is SC2 immune from devolving into the virtual bad-mannered slugfest that is present in countless other games? Can we confidently say that SC2 simply is too high-brow and intellectually demanding when compared to other games whose standard of etiquette is seemingly non-existent? Is StarCraft culture strong enough to withstand its own growing popularity and convert the virtual flood of new players to adopt its higher-than-average standards?
All of us want that answer to be yes.
But would we notice the decline if it was happening? And more importantly, would we be willing to protect those ancient customs if people around us were beginning to ignore them?
Some would argue that the "gg" has long since lost its authenticity, that it does not truly mean much of anything anymore. Quoting from UrbanDictionary.com the second most popular definition for "gg" has this to say:
"Overused to the point of vulgarity. Abbreviation intended to stand for "good game". When people say it no matter what it dilutes the phrase to the point of meaninglessness." - Source
Now this could most certainly be true, at least for some of us, perhaps even for most of us. But one could also argue that it is beside the point whether or not we are sincere when giving the compliment of a good game. The term "gg" has transcended its definitions and established itself in StarCraft culture to the point that things like GG Buttons are seemingly impossible to get a hold of. The manufacturers run out of stock faster than they can resupply. The "gg", whether honest or not, is still a pleasant and polite custom worth holding on to. It is a norm that puts StarCraft well above other games in terms of class and respect.
However, let’s not kid ourselves; we do have a fascination for the dark side. Like a guilty pleasure, drooling over IdrA rage is a favorite pastime for many. Remember when MC taunted IdrA at MLG Columbus, and IdrA responded by giving him the finger? StarCraft fans were geeking out over that worse than tweens at a Twilight premiere. We ate that up and loved every bit of it. That's okay. We need anti-heroes, just as any other sport does, to spice things up and provide additional story-arcs for people to enjoy beyond the game itself.
In fact, most sports have established themselves with enough wiggle room to promote sportsmanlike conduct in general while still having space for their own trademark bad-boys. Ice Hockey enforcer Tie Domi could fill arenas on his own because hockey fans knew that his fists were likely to connect with a face before the game was over. Similarly, in StarCraft, we gather around to watch Destiny stomp all over stream-cheaters and join him to flip tables in creative ASCII fashion. Again, that is okay.
But hockey fans don't actually mimic that on-ice behavior. They don't generally start brawls in the stands or when they play casually themselves. In the same fashion, there is no reason for us to copy the bad manners of some prominent players. Yes it sucks to lose, and we should never enter a game expecting to lose, but we should be brave enough to accept it when it happens without blaming the game or the opponent. Getting cheesed to bits is frustrating, and controlling our impulses is no walk in the park, but our first impulse is often the worst one.
If you want to win a war, be prepared to suffer losses. Being bad mannered over a loss won’t teach you the lesson that the battle tried to teach you. Man up in order to manner up so you can learn from that loss without distracting yourself with superficial blame. You have a chance to win every game you start. We never begin from a guaranteed loss, and if later in the match we find ourselves in a position where a loss is guaranteed, it is only because we made mistakes or missed opportunities along the way.
It takes a classy individual to remain consistently well mannered. Class commands respect, and respect is of extraordinarily short supply online.
Our community is still growing; we're only one year in, so let’s make sure it doesn't degrade and instead becomes a bastion of hope in a sea of Internet assholes.
Now go out there and be mannered, Sheth style.