So "try-hard" is an insult, I guess? [video gaming]

I got called this in a public MW3 lobby the other day and I’ve heard mention of the term in some gaming videos.

I know that FPS public games breed antipathy and that most people* will require some form of insult for their opponents. If you’re beating someone, you call them garbage, noob, etc. If they’re beating you using what you consider to be cheap tactics, you call them a camper, noob-tuber, etc. However, if they’re beating you by dint of non-cheap tactics and a higher skill level than what you’ve got, you’re kind of stuck in your choice of insults. But you’re still angry, so you’ve got to insult them somehow.

Hence “try-hard,” I guess. From what I can tell, calling someone this is essentially a compliment: you’re saying they have more talent than you do. Is there anything else to it? When you call someone this, are you saying he has more skill than you, but he fails to make it look easy? That he lacks some kind of in-game grace or poise? I don’t know, but I’m puzzled what goes through players’ heads when they use this term derisively.

  • For what it’s worth, I don’t insult people in-game, no matter how much they deserve it. I find it more rewarding to be extremely civil, telling people quite earnestly “nice kill” when they get me, and being totally sympathetic in post-game lobbies: people are absolutely flummoxed by this attitude.

It’s not a compliment at all unless the meaning has morphed while I wasn’t looking.

This excerpt from urban dictionary matches my understanding of the term:

It may be that you are coming across as a try-hard in some way, or it’s just a meaningless insult.

It’s a common insult in DOTA 2. For example, I played a Captain’s Mode game and the other team picked very difficult to play heroes that are popular with pro players, and then they handled them miserably and we won. So they were try-hards.

But usually it’s just an insult lobbed at someone who’s beating you without any sense behind it.

Everyone you beat is a noob. Everyone who beats you is a try-hard.
At least, that what I gather from my (thankfully limited) interractions with the 12 year olds who use the terms in earnest.

The implication of “try-hard” is that you’ve spent too much effort getting good at the game, whereas they, being hep cats with lives and girlfriends in Canada and all that, are above such trifles and look down upon your feeble and shall they say nerdish attempts to achieve “cool”. Why, they weren’t even trying to beat you and barely paying attention to the screen - it’s all just a silly game nobody takes seriously but you, ha-ha. Aren’t you precious ?
Of course the aloof, post-ironic, martini-sipping, face-in-dire-need-of-a-punch mental image necessary to make that insult really *work *is most often marred by the fact that the little shits bark the insult at the top of their foaming lungs.

I agree this is what it boils down to. Kind of like on the highway everyone driving slower than you is a moron and everyone driving faster is a maniac. Also agree with you that in order to be effective, this particular insult must be delivered with an attitude universally absent from the people actually slinging it.

I don’t think that definition applies in gaming. At least not the types of games I’m talking about here. In other words, yes, the meaning has morphed while you weren’t looking. :slight_smile:

It might have morphed. I’m guessing the implication is that although you won, it is only because you put a disproportionate amount of time and effort in to practising. I think it’s the “disproportionate” bit where the insult lies and where it ties in with the urban dictionary definition.

God damn! People can’t even lose a game fair and square anymore! I swear, this lack of grace and reasonable humility is a bad, bad thing.

(Except about people who camp at the spawn site. I hate that – it’s lame. But, do people still do that these days?)

Most games have some way to prevent that nowadays. Spawn sites are often protected in some way or inaccessible to the opposing team, often with multiple exits. That gives you a pretty good chance to escape.

This is why you should play fighting games. NOBODY wins at those without disproportionate amounts of time spent practicing. :wink:

Of course, there’s an 84 page thread over on SRK full of funny “insults” people have been sent for winning, so…

Man, talk about a whole new level of fail.

Y’know, it was plenty irritating when Street Fighter 2 came out and there were about 8,000 accusations of “cheating” every friggin’ day, and that’s not even including Tilt. But see, that’s a normal response. Fighting games are amazingly complicated, and it take a long, long time to get any good at them. So if you haven’t put in your hours (days, weeks, months) and face someone who has, you’re going to get obliterated in ways you can’t even begin to comprehend. And yes, to the inexperienced layman, it looks exactly like something you’d need a Codebreaker for. Shock, disbelief, frustration, anger, and then people start whining. That’s just human nature. I may not like it, but I understand where it’s coming from.

But “try-hard”? If you ever reach the point where you rag on someone for spending a lot of time playing video games on an online video gaming site where you your damn useless self are a member, it’s time to step back and make a serious reassessment of what you’re doing with your life.

Swear to god, at this rate I fully expect to hear about someone say “You only won because your keyboard doesn’t have any missing keys!” If it hasn’t happened already.

Every time I hear a discussion about this, I feel obligated to link to “Playing To Win” by Mark Sirlin. Now, this sequence of articles is especially interesting, because Mark Sirlin works in the field of game balance, or making sure games are fun by ensuring nobody gets an unfair advantage. He balanced “Puzzle Fighter HD, Kongregate’s CCG, [his] own three card games, and Street Fighter.” So when he talks about “scrubs” and tactics being “cheap”, he has very immediate first-hand experience to offer. He’s also a good writer.

Sirlin’s play to win attitude is dumb. There is a time and a place for everything. Priority number one isn’t to play for the win; it’s to make sure everyone has a good time. Don’t be an AM-picker.

A quick Google didn’t tell me what this means, so now I’m asking you.

As for the rest of your post, Sirlin does tend to focus on competitive play. And his beef isn’t with casual gamers, or with people who only play as a social exercise, but with ‘scrubs’, which he essentially defines as “people who make up nonsensical new rules to ban behavior that they can’t counter within the game’s existing rules.” (And since he works in game balance, he knows about the existence of unbalanced games, which can be defined as “games where some strategies can’t be countered within the existing rules.”)

Actually I find I still get called a noob or that I suck etc when I beat people.
Believe it or not I get it a lot on chess sites: “You suck, you were just lucky”.

I share the same bewilderment at why people are like this (if someone beats me, I congratulate them…then ask for advice ;)), but I try to remind myself that I may be playing a 14 year old or whatever.

It’s another reference to Dota. This guy. Don’t be an Akuma-picker, if fighters is what you know. Don’t sit in a corner with an AWP, if FPS is what you know.

Seriously ? Are you sure they weren’t being ironic, considering chess is one of those games that factor exactly zero percent luck or randomness ?

Pretty sure they never, ever did :).

That’s pretty much the thing and the whole of the thing right there, and it’s even more pronounced in online games where a) you play with complete strangers and b) there’s little context or communication to the game, so people can and do approach the same game with very different attitudes.

Whether it’s playing rah-rah shooters like CounterStrike or Modern Warfare ; fighting games like Tekken or Soul Cal ; RTSs or MMOs you’re always going to have some people who play to have jolly mindless fun with the game ; some who are into trying to make whacky suboptimal shit work for the hell of it ; some who are just there to kill time between two meetings (or during one) ; and some who are into it to crush the enemy and hear the lamentations of their women at ALL costs. Oh, and some just want to get a rise out of the other players and are playing a different game altogether.
And never the twain…thrain… it’s never gonna work out for all of them at the same time.

Yeah, but with the exception of Akuma, he’s deliberately advocating the exploitation of bugs and oversights in the game. I don’t mind getting beaten fair and square (Lord knows it’s happened enough!), but it really pisses me off to no end to get repeatedly killed by some ass who figured out how to exploit a bug and give himself an invisible sniper perch.

That kind of thing isn’t “playing to win”, but rather it skates damn close to outright cheating.

I think a lot of the “try-hard” vs. “noob” stuff is basically the response of immature people (i.e. 12 year olds and nookieless nerds in basements) I mean, there is a kernel of truth in both labels- noobs ARE going to suck relative to everyone else.

The real “try-hards” though are the ones who have maxed out the rank structure of the multiplayer game in less than a week after when it drops. You know, the guys who have already prestiged on Call of Duty in like 3 days. That’s putting a ridiculous (IMO) amount of time into playing the game in a short period- pretty much “trying-harder” to me.

I’ve read Sirlin in the past, and his philosophy is kind of bleak and objectionable at first glance, but sensible nonetheless, especially in the context of competitive rather than social play.

The player’s responsibility is to use whatever means are at your disposal to win regardless of whether it’s an intentional feature or not, because if you don’t, your opponent will, and will beat you because of it. The game designer’s responsibility is to make sure the game is properly balanced and that no unintended features are present in the final product.

In other words, it’s not the player’s fault if there’s a game-breaking bug in the game, it’s the designer’s, and the designer damn well needs to be on top of that kind of thing.

Fwiw, i’ve also heard the term with regard to bands and musicians.

I’ve heard (well, read) many a complete tosser make that selfsame argument to justify their abusive behaviour. “Hey, it’s in the game, the devs must know about it, and they leave it in the game, ergo it must be kosher as Christmas !”. The problem is that it’s a) completely irrealistic because as any game designer will tell you, not only are they not aware of every last bug there is in their game, but it takes a loooong time to fix a single one of them without busting up the rest of the game (and that’s even if they can find the wheat of bug reports from the chaff), so even if a given exploit has been identified as being problematic it may take months for it to get officially fixed (if it ever is - outside of MMOs, a patch is a net money loser) and b) every single complete tosser who makes that argument in order to justify their exploiting of a given bug clams up when that bug gets stomped, only to refurbish the argument once more when a new bug or unbalanced “feature” crops up. They never go “Oh. Well, I guess I was being a tosser all along. Sorry about that.”
Hell, more often than not they bitch at the devs for “caving to the whiners” or whatever dumb shit complete tossers come up with.

In short: it’s bullshit. Everybody knows it’s bullshit. The people who abuse it know damn well it’s bullshit and why, else they wouldn’t be doing it. Don’t fucking do it. Whatever “it” may be.