1. Be Like State Farm – Being polite in a game is just as important as in real life. It makes everyone enjoy the experience. Send gifts to your friends, help out that little rogue that’s being eaten by wolves, give away potions you’ll never use, let that other guy lead the way. Be a good neighbor and you’ll get back what you give.
2. Speak Up – Don’t be afraid to be the “bad guy” in situations. If that 12 year old is shouting racial slurs tell him to stuff it. Sexist remarks and all-around childish behavior is so prevalent in games that staying quiet is just as bad. Calling them out isn’t being a killjoy, it’s being an adult. I guarantee others will back you up. Here’s a link to a site that keeps all the messages women get from online players. (Warning: Some of the things they say are pretty atrocious. http://fatuglyorslutty.com/)
3. Shut Up – Contrariwise, if you’re the asshole doing all the hate-speak, stop it. There is a HUGE difference between friendly smack talk and being a despicable human-being. Use the same sportsmanship as if you’re playing face to face. There may be a lot of tension and hissed words exchanged on professional courts, but you don’t see LeBron tea-bagging Stoudemire after a game. Just…grow up.
4. You’re Doing it Wrong! – Please stop trying to help. Yes, you may have a higher kill-count than your friend, or have logged in more hours, or can solve that puzzle faster, but guess what? No one cares. Your friend just wants to sit down and play the game without the constant “Here, let me show you how to do it.” If they need help, they’ll ask. The “friendly suggestions” you keep giving them aren’t helpful, they’re annoying. Stop stressing that the game “isn’t being played right” and just enjoy that you have someone to play with.
5. Read Game Reviews: Then Ignore Them – Game reviews are a good source of information about a title you’re interested in. Generally, a review will tell you enough about the game to help you decide whether you want to try it out. But don’t ever let them decide how you feel about the game. People may give bad reviews to over-the-top monster movies or terribly dubbed Kung-Fu, but we love them all the same. So make up your own mind about what you dislike and what you enjoy.
6. Smell the Digital Roses – Games are pretty! Developers work hard to make it so. While we watch a movie our passive minds take in all the beauty the film has to offer, but when playing a game we’re so focused on the gameplay we miss the environment around us. Take the time to stop and appreciate the visuals, your devs will love you for it.
7. Try – Today we have all the answers at our fingertips. There are strategy guides and walkthroughs for everything. The idea of getting “stuck” in a game is no longer an issue. I believe this is essentially a very good thing….HOWEVER players often simply stop trying. It’s too easy to dive for the internet the second something gets tough. Give yourself a good 20 minutes before you look it up, you might even come out on the other side just a teenie higher in the ol’ cognitive function area.
8. Lose – Along those same lines, go ahead and purposefully lose sometimes. This may be one of the hardest things for gamers to do. We’ve trained ourselves to win. We always beat the boss or make that jump or solve the puzzle. But a key to understanding games is experiencing all the things the game has to offer. Force yourself to put that little pride-chip aside and walk straight off a cliff once in a while. Learning about the losing conditions and their affects can make you a better player and teach you about the game.
9. Go Old School on your Ass – We watch old movies, we read old books, but we rarely play old games. There are technical barriers such as not owning that old console anymore or our PCs are just TOO good now, but there are ways around these things. Borrow a game from a friend, find an arcade, or download an emulator. See what games used to be and how far we’ve come. It will help you build a greater appreciation of your current games and understand the game industry as a whole.
10. Play Games! – Obvious right? WRONG! Being a good gamer is about playing ALL types games. If you spend every bit of your time in one genre, that’s not really a “gamer.” Everyone has a favorite type, but being a well-rounded player is important to understand what games are about, ESPECIALLY if you are or want to be in the industry someday. Try at least one game a month that you never thought you’d give a minute to. Hate shooters? Rent Halo 4! Make fun of social games? Try out Cityville 2! Annoyed by sports titles? Put an hour or two into Madden! If you just open your mind a little I guarantee you’ll find something out there you’ll like. Experiencing the variety the industry has to offer is the true difference between being someone that just plays games and being a Gamer.