Life in an FPS Clan, part 1
by Wayne Cole

There are some common misconceptions about first person shooters that exist among MMORPG and role playing circles. They are seen as “twitch” games where the only thing that matters is how quickly you can physically move and click. Players are seen as egotistical and people envision them locked away in their parent’s basements rambling on about “pwning noobs” to no one in particular because they don’t have any real human interaction. Generally speaking they are thought to be less sociable than RPG players.

For this series of articles I’m going to show you that these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth. Ok, well the rambling on about “pwning noobs” is actually pretty dead on, but the rest could use some clearing up. Since I was a member of a clan that spent some time at number one on the TWL ladders I think I would be the perfect person to clear some of that up. Ok, so maybe the ego and bragging could be based in truth too.

I would argue that First Person Shooter clans are just as sociable as RPG groups. They may not meet each other in person (though some certainly do), but they talk just as much, if not more. Don’t think that clan members can’t get drunk with each other just because they are in different cities. Every clan has voice communication; most have forums, and some use messengers. In our case we also had each other’s cell phone numbers. After an initial period of getting used to, the group members would build a strong trust of their fellow clan mates. No topic is off limits for conversation. Over time you build friendships and rivalries both within your clan and without. They could be friendly rivalries or they could get as bitter as two rival high school football teams.

A clan is like a family. They stick together for the good times and the bad. For example one member of our Clan went through a divorce. We were there to support him emotionally, but we also took up a collection to help pay for his lawyer. Later we built him a computer so he could rejoin us online. Why would we do this for someone we had never met? It’s simple because he was one of us. To a clan that means he is family. I wouldn’t try to say that everyone always gets along. You don’t get along with anyone all the time so you couldn’t expect a clan to be different. Occasionally people leave because of fights, or the group’s very survival is threatened by strong emotions and words that can’t be unsaid.

So while FPS gamers are thought of as less sociable than RPG players it is actually the social aspect that keeps a clan together. It is the closeness and the camaraderie that keeps the group together sometimes long after the game itself has faded. My clan has not competed in at least two years, but we are still together. Some of them have moved on to WOW and some like me just stick around to talk. We have played other FPS games, MMORPGs, and even racing games together since our game of choice gradually died out.

Come back for part two of my series where I will discuss how a FPS clan prepares for a big match.

Comments (6)

ShatterhandDecember 11th, 2008 at 1:08 am

I must say that i agree. I play CoD4 at the moment (and considering my playstyle, i’l be playing it for months/years to come) and one of my favourite servers to play on is a clanserver that plays pretty much every map that i dislike. But i keep going back to that server partly to broaden my knowledge of maps but mostly because of the clanpeople that play on it. One of the funniest times i’ve had recenly while lstening to someone talk. The other moments would obviously be while listening to FtB ;)

BTW: Squirrelboy on CoD4

GrungydanDecember 11th, 2008 at 12:44 pm

The issue that I have run across the few times that I’ve been on any kind of FPS with people online is that the channels are filled with 13 year olds that pretty much counter every argument you’re trying to make here. I’m sure that there are groups out there that are what you speak of, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to try to paint the picture as though the other side isn’t out there.

The same is true of online RPG players. For every group of people that is on there having a good time and treating each other with respect and forming bonds, there’s a group of 13 year old twerps out pwning nbs and trying to out-mom joke one another.

It’s just the way it is with online games. Some people are there to cooperatively have a good time (even in competition), and some people are there because the online realm is the only place where they can satisfy the need for stroking their own ego.

ValegorDecember 11th, 2008 at 5:55 pm

To Grungydan: You make a good comment and actually ties into one of the themes in part four. Keep reading and I will address your points directly in the upcoming blog.

David GrayDecember 11th, 2008 at 6:25 pm

“There are some common misconceptions about first person shooters”…

There certainly are. For example, I suspect the average non-FPSer (like myself) would not expect that being part of a group is typical. The stereotype is of the *lone* noob pwner… and from what I can tell has just about as much validity for FPS games as “the Dark Lord of Dennys” has for tabletop RPGs.

Frankly I’m suprised to hear that group dynamics is such a significant part of FPS gaming.

ShatterhandDecember 12th, 2008 at 5:17 am

I’d say it greatly depends on the game being played. Americas Army for an excample has a certain feel to it that encourages team-play or atleast not going on a rambo-style killingspree (which wouldnt work very well anyway- not in that game). Then there is Unreal Tournament with its armor and hp packs and insane weapons- much more macho (not that its bad- its just totally diferent from some of the more strategic fps’)

Jonathan LandrethDecember 13th, 2008 at 3:35 am

I agree, Wayne. Since February, I’ve been part of a clan in Day of Defeat, and I am much closer with them than I’ve ever been with a guild in an MMO. To me the difference is this:

In an MMO, you have a goal you’re trying to accomplish (leveling, farming, ect.). While you’ll speak with your guild quite a bit, the conversation focuses on the game and what your characters are trying to accomplish.

In a FPS, you’re there just to have fun and kill time. It’s been my experience that there can be times where conversation can dominate a map/ round to the point where no one’s really taking the game seriously or even paying attention.

I’ve encountered the other side of both gaming experiences, but I feel that if you look around a bit, you can break away from the stereotypes and find the atmosphere you’re looking for.

*SHAMELESS PLUG* That being said, if anyone reading this does play Day of Defeat, you are welcome to join the clan I’m in. We’re a bit different from many FPS clans in that our servers are G-rated. The general rule being if Mickey Mouse wouldn’t say it, it’s not allowed. Many of our members have children that also play with us and this creates a fun and friendly enviroment for everyone.

Clan: Angry Old Farts
Website: http://www.angryoldfarts.com

Server information can be found on the website. Again, if you’ve been turned off in the past by FPS’ (as I was) because of the abusive language and name calling, you’ll find that our clan has hundreds of members that felt the same way and found a nice place to play and have a good time on our servers. My name there is Sabre[AOF].

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