Over the summer I was spending some time catching up on Destiny 2. For those who aren't familiar with the Destiny franchise, every summer they begin a themed event called "Moments of Triumph." The basic idea is to encourage everyone who has been playing throughout the year to finish off the high difficulty challenges (like a Raid or the quest for a special item) that you may not have completed yet, but also to go back and indulge in all of the content that you may not have visited and tried out in a few months. This is a kind of a "victory lap" of all of the games activities for the year before they release the new years content in the Fall.
Though I play on and off throughout the year (see my previous post about my "Relaxation Paralysis" experiences) this is a reminder to go back and finish things up that I might be missing. The folks over at Bungie, who create Destiny, create incentives to complete the "Triumphs" by adding unique emblems, cosmetic items, and even a t-shirt you can earn in real life. This year there were a series of challenges that needed to be completed to earn a unique set of armor. These challenges were mostly low level in nature, but there were a lot of them. These, along with some of the slightly higher difficulty challenges either required, or were made easier through completion by a team. Sounds great right? The catch to all of this is that I'm mostly a solo gamer these days. Many of the people I used to game with just aren't as involved in gaming or we don't play the same things anymore. My schedule is non-traditional at work, and trying to find new consistent people to play with is difficult, because I'm very inconsistent right now. So that leaves me one option to complete challenges like this. I have to searching on "Looking for Group" forums, abbreviated to "LFGs."
LFGs are a really mixed experience for me. I've met some great people out there by randomly connecting with them. However, I've also met some people who weren't willing to be patient with anyone who needed to learn something new. I get this to some degree, some people play a lot more often, and are just trying to find some random additional players to jump on and quickly knock out a bunch of challenges. Unfortunately, there's many of us who never have the opportunity to learn how to achieve these challenges, but would like to. The reality is that I've run into many Gamers who can play well, and are interested in playing socially, but are too uncomfortable to put themselves out there and risk rejection or negative feedback by their peers. However, occasionally, there are posts that come up in LFGs that encourage new people to jump in. I began my search looking for these sort of posts. They're very few and far between. But this is when I discovered a new tagline that ignited my curiosity.
In order to group LFG posts, people use short phrases or hashtags to help interested players more quickly find what they're looking for. So you'll see posts labeled "#Raid," or "#KnowWhatToDo," or "#BeLevel350." The ones that caught my eye were those labeled "#NoMicNeeded." What really shocked me about these posts is how quickly these parties would fill up. I immediately realized why. If I don't have to have my in game mic active, then I don't have to communicate with other players in real time. As a result, the pressure to get rejected or experience negative feedback is significantly diminished. This is great for a lot of players. Many of us know the basics of what to do, but we don't want the pressure that comes along with having to perform cooperatively at a high level with people we aren't familiar with. Hell, much of the time I can even perform at that advanced level, but I don't want my gaming to feel that pressured. Additionally, a lot of the time that I do get to play, I'm streaming my Xbox onto my laptop, so that I can spend time with my wife, but we can enjoy the experiences that we prefer. If I have my Mic on I'll be talking in the room with her while she's trying to watch TV or read, and that totally defeats the purpose of trying to hang out and talk to one another while we're enjoying our own interests.
So finding this #NoMicNeeded tag was a breakthrough for me. I tried a bunch of times to get into these rooms, but I had to be extremely fast because of how quickly they'd close. Then I came to another realization. What if I made a post with this tagline? Would I have the same results? Yes, I absolutely did. I began creating my own requests for the things I needed to finish in Destiny 2, and posting a request for players with the tagline #NoMicNeeded. I would sometimes have so many immediate requests to join I had to turn people away. I started logging those peoples Gamertags and would contact them directly with the next activity I was planning to play, to try and be fair.
This little experiment has been eye opening. I fully completed my Moments of Triumph in record time (for me) once I landed on my discovery. The number of Gamers who are willing to play together, but are intimidated by the pressures of interacting with people they don't know and that they can't be sure will be safe or friendly, was significant. It's resulted in me spending a lot of time thinking about ways to be more inclusive in my gaming, and how I present myself to others online. Definitely more on this as it evolves.
All the best,
- This post written by Dr. Steve Kuniak