Online Gaming and “Squads”

This article is focused solely on 1C Maddox and Team Daidalos’s IL2 Sturmovik 1946.

A recent squabble on an on-line Squad’s forum got me thinking about how on-line “squadrons” view themselves.

Online Squad Defined

Synonym: Clan, Group, Club. Two or more people that participate in an on-line game that typically represent a historical unit from World War II. Usually with a controlled roster of individuals that all agree to adhere to pre-defined rules.

If a “squad” plays a game that is only available to that squad, things usually are okay. Everyone understands what’s what and so on. Chains of “command” are defined, grievances are handled in a predermined way. The problem starts when a “squad” opens up access to others (generally for its own survival), people begin to have a hard time recociling where boundaries lie and many grey areas surrounding authority materialize. The squad that is being “represented” then begin to erroneously think they have power by assuming:

  • They have a fancy name.
  • They have a web site.
  • They have a forum.

And the number one sin of all on-line squads today is they feel in control if they have…

  • A TeamSpeak Server

In a game that is reaching 15 years old, and with the ability to collaborate and communicate almost anywhere, some on-line squads assume that just because they are providing the TeamSpeak server, they are in control. This simply just isn’t the case and folks need to understand this. If you become so inflexible that you are pushing people away, then your “squad” will die. You’ll be flying with less and less people, flying the same missions over and over again ad naseum. DangerDogz, I’m talking to you.

If you want control, you must simply be a members-only endeavor. Unfortunately, with an aging game, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Adapt or die.

My experience with “squads” is that most feel that they can affect change in a game that is accessible to anyone even though they know they really aren’t a squad in the strictest sense (or in the early days when the game was much more popular). They are just some group of guys who elect to identify themselves under a monicker. This is where things inevitably begin to break down due to egos, the notion that “they’ve always done it this way,” and other issues.

Hyperlobby is a player aggregation service (like Gamespy, QuakeWorld, Battle.net and many others). Anyone can host or join missions. I for one am an active contributor through donations to this service, so if I host a mission, you should capitulate to my opinions to me because I’m essentially paying for it. What? You don’t agree? Therein lies the dichotomy of your views.

I even read the statement by a member of a Squad (that has its own forum) posting on a different forum (of another squad) say:

[this squad] in my opinion is one of the most popular servers on HL so we must continue to uphold that.

What?

But, this squad does not have a dedicated game server. Any one of the current participants on their TeamSpeak server can host a game. That doesn’t make the game your squad’s server, nor should that host have any obligation to be identified by your squad. It’s their game session. Not yours. Yes, we may all gather on the TeamSpeak server, but those can be created with very little difficulty and cost.

Be flexible or die.

What we can agree on is whoever hosts the mission has a choice to allow or disallow people connecting to their game. In addition, the fact is that whoever owns the TeamSpeak server or has been granted authority to moderate those connected to it has power as well. But that doesn’t mean that you have any right or authority to expect those people you fly with to adhere to your “squad’s rules.” Especially if others that participate aren’t “members” of your squad.

So you may kick people from mission if you happen to be the one hosting. You can kick or banish folks from your TeamSpeak server to uphold your ideology, but is that what you think is going to be a good thing in the end?

If you want to be that person, or that “squad” go for it. Your numbers will likely dwindle unless you are organized and have lots of online battles lined up. Be aware that you are just going to fragment the main point of why we show up every day.

The Utlimate Goal of Online Play

To fly with folks we want to fly with. Friends. That’s you, reader. Yes even you. No… not that guy over there… YOU.

This has nothing to do with websites, forums, TeamSpeak servers, or whatever. I can set up web sites and forums at any time. I can set up TeamSpeak servers at any time. The goal is to fly together with people you like. And try to tolerate people you don’t.

But the notion that you can affect change or more importantly dictate a behavior or social construct on other people that fly with you is stupid. It always comes down to communication. And that is manifested on-line via TeamSpeak or hosting a game via Hyperlobby.

Alternatives

  • When you host a mission and you don’t want Bob to fly with you, kick Bob. That’s your right as the host.
  • When you host a mission, by all means, use HSFX or any mod you wish. Your call. The rest of us are under no obligation to join.
  • Some missions require HSFX, and if you can’t be bothered in figuring that out, that’s OKAY. Wait for other missions.

We can all find each other without the need to come to your squad’s site. We can all find alternative ways to communicate with each other without the need to visit your Teamspeak server.

We can all Choose to Fly or Not

I agree that roleplaying is important. If there’s an organized event or campaign, that’s all good. People that elect to participate in that need to abide by pre-set rules.

But in ad-hoc missions, I will put whatever noseart I wish on my plane. If you’re hosting the mission and don’t like it? Here’s what you can do:

  • Don’t use external views and look at my plane
  • Don’t fly close to me so you can SEE my plane
  • Also, if you elect to “stream” the mission? That’s on YOU. If you’re hosting and streaming, fine, you can kick me
  • But if you’re not hosting the mission, tough luck. Accept the fact that people don’t have to agree with you.

If you’re paying for that TeamSpeak server and don’t like someone on it? By all means, ban them.

So we can choose to argue like little girls or get over it. If you want to take your ball and go home, by all means, do so. You can also pontificate on a forum and gripe about other people and your perceived rights. That is fine too.

But ultimately it comes down to:

The person hosting the mission. And don’t we want more hosts? More missions? More adventures?

Outside of that, shut up and fly. Or don’t connect to begin with. If you’re the latter, you will see a decrease in available people that wish to fly with you. People that patronize your TeamSpeak server will find other TeamSpeak servers to join.

If you’re easily offended? On-line gaming simply is not for you.

And if you do get offended, that doesn’t give you some special right to make other people act in a way that solves your problem. YOU being offended is a YOU problem.

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