Daily Archives: 2006-10-02

Boom! Headshot!

It’s about time I confessed to playing online tactical shooters. These are warfare-themed multiplayer games that pit two teams of 16 — 32 players against each other, to capture territory and score points. These things can be great fun if you are so inclined, but what’s more, they’re big money these days. A big online shooter like Counterstrike might sell maybe 2 million copies, and tactical shooter Battlefield 2 has almost 500,000 accounts on the main roster. The modern blockbuster game grosses several times more than a blockbuster movie!

In this post, I consider a vital problem for game designers — maintaining the quality of experience for the casual gamer — and it turns out this is somewhat a security problem. People gravitate towards these games because the thrill of competition against real humans (instead of AI) is tangible, but this is a double-edged sword. Put simply, the enemy of the casual gamer is the gross unfairness in online play. But why do these games feel so unfair? Why do you shake the hand of a squash player, or clap your footie opponent on his back after losing good game, but walk away from a loss in a tactical shooter angry, frustrated and maybe even abusive? Is it just the nature of the clientele?

This post introduces a draft paper I’ve written called “Boom! Headshot! (Building Neo-Tactics on Network-Level Anomalies in Online Tactical First-Person Shooters)”, (named after this movie clip”), which may hold some of the answers to understanding why there is so much perceived unfairness. If the paper is a little dense, try the accompanying presentation instead.

Do you want to know more? If so, read on…
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