Monday, January 19, 2009

What makes a good player?

We all have our stories of the "best game ever", one where we performed so well it was almost as if some higher force was controlling our hands as we fragged through the masses. What i'm wondering is how do we actually determine what makes a good player, we all see the MVP choice at the end of each match in Halo 3 multiplayer, and can go through the post game carnage reports for many of the games we play today, but those aren't an indicator of a good a player in my eyes. There is no doubting that some players out there have the best skill, and can "no scope" you from across the map as you spawn, or stick you with a grenade that makes it seem as though the sticky appeared from nowhere. But that only means the aforementioned player has skill in a game we all play. When I consider what makes a good overall player, or evaluate myself in that context I don't look at strictly kills, or other arbitrary numbers. I look for how did that person play with his/her team, how were their assists, did they steal kills by letting others do the heavy lifting and then used a single shot to finish their opponent? These are all factors which must come into consideration when a person decides whether or not this player is a good player.

We've all played matches where despite us getting 20+ kills our team still lost because our team mates got slaughtered by a well balanced team who all had a similar amount of kills to their names. I'm inclined to believe that when such a scenario comes about we are partially responsible, if we were so good as to get the 20+ kills then perhaps we should have stuck with our team a bit more and help keep them alive, give some assists, team shoot, etc. This isn't meaning that we should sacrifice ourselves for the team, or that we should carry every weak player we have all the time, but it does mean that we should at least try to help our team succeed. I played a match once where I was playing some phenominal players and what made them even more dangerous was that they worked as a team. If you found one of them, chances are you'd find at least one more if not the whole team and they all put shots on you and there is no escaping that type of barrage. As I was trying to pick apart this well oiled machine, my team was very much a group of lone wolves who all got slaughtered as they were only thinking of themselves. The high scorer of our team was getting his high number of kills, but the cost was we were getting tanked because he was nowhere near us. I couldn't help but feel frustrated by this as I knew that if I just had some backup I could contribute, but for every one time I got them, they each got me, thats 4 to 1 against me, hard to fight those kind of odds.

There is always the flipside to that coin where the team you've been matched with truly are bad players and will get you killed if you stick with them, so in my mind what makes a good player is balance. When I pull up the post game stats I look at all of them, and if I dont have a good number of assists I silently reprimand myself because assists should be just as important as kills as it demonstrates you worked as a team. Another example would be when my friend and I played a match together and I drove the warthog while he gunned and we were for the most part unstoppable. In a few maps in Halo 3 the tide of the game can very well be controlled by whichever team posesses the vehicles and knows how to use them. I scored very few kills that game as I was just the driver, and we had enough of a run going, that save for the few splatters I got as I cut my way across standoff, I was primarily just the wheelman. But i've not ever taken so much pride in medals than the 12 or so wheelman medals I earned that match. Because those medals show that I kept my teammate alive so allow him to get those kills. The next match we played he took the wheel and I gunned, and we did equally well again, this is what makes a great player to me. The willingness to play a balanced game, working with your team to accomplish a goal and sticking with it until that goal can be accomplished. Skill will always play a part in these matches, and will thus always be important, but I say we should not sacrifice the unity of a team just for the sake of getting our picture in a little box with the letters MVP below it. Finding the balance is always the hardest task, it is something that I have to work at everytime I play, some games I do better than others, but the fact i'm still trying is what matters to me.

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