Thursday, January 24, 2008

Internet...Serious F***ing Business.

Man, Xbox Live has to have one of the worst online communities I've ever seen.

Now, if you know me as well as you think you do, you should know that I'm pretty heavy into online gaming. Online games consume a great deal of my gaming time, since single player games seem to fly by all too quickly these days. Thus, you'll frequently find me online on Xbox Live playing Halo 3 or Forza 2 or Call of Duty 4 (my most recent fave) so; many of you may be wondering what prompted me to say such a thing. Well, it all began earlier this very evening.

As many Xbox 360 owners already know, some nasty performance problems befell Xbox Live over the holidays, attributed to a massive surge in new memberships. People complained. To compensate for these issues, Microsoft announced that they would be making the Xbox Live Arcade title Undertow (really great game, download it if you haven't already) a free download. Well, I've had the game for quite a while and was disappointed that its online community was sorely lacking, to the point where finding a match was like trying to find a sliver of glass in the middle of a blizzard. Next to impossible. Well, I loaded the game up today and I'm happy to say, the online community has exploded for this game, which I'm very happy to see. Having a choice of which (populated!) server to enter made was a sight I never thought I'd see...but I digress.

I hopped into a team deathmatch server and immediately got to fraggin. Now, because of some rather...unsavory folks I've run into on Xbox Live in the past, I tend to play with my microphone muted or just off entirely. I heard the muffled voices of numerous players coming though my speakers. The sound wasn't quite loud enough to hear what they were saying with any kind of clarity but it didn't matter because I paid it no mind, focusing my attention on the game itself. Suddenly, I heard the all too familiar -blip- as my Xbox 360 told me someone, (for the purpose of discussion, we'll just call him "Billy") had just sent me a voice message.

I raised an eyebrow. Hmm...sounds familiar. I called up the player list and here I saw Billy. The same bloke I'd just received a message from mere nanoseconds ago. Well, I found myself dead at the hands of some enemy soldier and, being able to pick where and when to respawn, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to go check the message. I fired up my wireless headset and clicked "play voice message" from the Xbox 360's Guide menu.

They always said curiosity killed the cat...

The message began to play and instantly, Billy proceeded to berate me, saying all manner of hateful things like "get a life" and many other nasty things I won’t bother to print here. Within a matter of seconds, my curious, inquisitive expression darkened significantly and by the end of the message, a frown was quite apparent. In that instant, I was ready to tear good old Billy a new one. But something happened. Just as I was ready to record an even more spiteful and malicious message to hurl back across the internet with a vengeance, I stopped. Instead, I merely sent him a text message saying: "Wow, you really told me." and blocked any further communications from him. I realized, as I filed a complaint on my new friend Billy, I was about to engage in a vocal quarrel with someone...over the internet.

It's amazing isn't it? The internet has evolved so much from the days when University Professors and Graduate students used it as a means to share data. Now, some unsavory folks use it as a means to share insults with a wide range of unsuspecting people. Ah...we've come so far haven't we?

I'm not writing this as some desperate plea to the many people out there like Billy to stop because I know that's never going to happen. I know how it is for Billy and his moronic friends, who are too cowardly to actually say these kinds of things in person and instead rely on the internet to vent their hatred toward society or...anyone who kills them in an online game. They scream these insults from the comfort of the couch in their mother's basement because they know that the odds are in their favor that they'll never run into the people they're insulting and thus, will never have to own up to their actions.

All I have to say to Billy and those who think like him...I hope the message I sent you provides you with the attention you seem to be desperately craving right now and if you were expecting to get a rise out of me, you'll be sorely disappointed because I don't take the internet as seriously as you apparently do.

Or maybe I do. This is the Internet after all...and it’s serious fucking business...

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