“Hey Orisa, awesome tanking!” one of my Overwatch teammates typed into chat after we lost a match a couple months ago. “Our Mercy was great, too!” The first time I saw this happen, I was pleasantly surprised. These days, though, I find myself overcome with a different emotion when confronted with an egregiously kind Overwatch teammate: resentment.
To all of the dear, sweet randos I’ve met who spit in the face of Overwatch’s toxic reputation and then apologise for it, I have a confession to make: I hate you. Don’t get me wrong: I really appreciate what you do! Your highly specific, often unwarranted bursts of positivity defuse countless volatile situations. You come into matches with sunlight beaming out of all of your orifices, and whether you’re forcing it or not, it’s inspiring. It makes me want to do my best, be a team player, and reciprocate your kindness. And then, even if we lose, you’re just so dang cheery about how hard everybody tried. How can anyone get angry and start barfing insults when you’re over there saying to each and every one of us, “Hey, hey you. I noticed you.” Individual compliments! A revelation!
If everybody—or most of everybody, or even a slightly more significant portion of everybody—was like this, Overwatch would be a tangibly more enjoyable game. So naturally, when I see people behaving this way, I think to myself, “I should be like that, too!” Being nice? It’s a piece of cake, and it’s good for everybody involved. There is literally no reason not to do it while playing a video game where people are strangely mean even though nothing of lasting importance whatsoever is on the line.
So I join a match, and I take stock of my team’s composition. Cool. Good. I can work this. Maybe I’ll mimic a popular Lucio line: “Look at this team. We’re gonna do great.” Before hitting enter, however, I stop. I don’t know these people! What if they think I’m a total dork, or they ask me why I’m being so nice, or they yell at me? And then I have to say more things to justify the things I’ve already said? I panic internally. Crippling social anxiety, you see, is one of my signature moves, and it manifests only slightly less in video games than it does in real life. So I do my other signature move: instead of saying anything, I say nothing at all.
Then the moment passes, and we play the game. It goes fine, or it doesn’t. We get to the end-of-match screen, and I upvote a healer like always (because if you don’t upvote healers every time you’re given the opportunity, you’re a psychopath), and I try to think of nice things to say to everybody. “Great healing, Moira!” “Clutch ult, Genji!” “You did a really nice job of trudging stoically forward, grim determination lighting your path, despite the fact that we were definitely not gonna win that one, Reinhardt!” All of these things come to mind, but saying them is hard. What if somebody I don’t compliment feels left out? What if everybody’s already so tilted that they just tell me to fuck off? Or, worst of all, what if they just say nothing at all, and I’m left hurling sunshine into the void?
This actually happened to me recently. During one match, I kept getting owned in Pharah duels by a member of the other team. Their aim and timing was preposterous, so I typed “Hey [other Pharah’s handle], how are you so good at aiming in Pharah vs. Pharah battles?” into match chat. Five seconds passed. Then ten. Then twenty. No response. Finally, somebody else on the other team just said “lol.”
I’m not entirely sure why that moment was so embarrassing for me, but it was. I still think about it and wonder what I could have done differently sometimes.
You can understand, then, why I resent you, egregiously nice Overwatch players. Please, by all means, keep doing what you do! The world needs you. I need you. But also, I despise you because by being so cool and kind, you hold a mirror up to my actions, and I see someone who can play a first-person shooter for hours and hours on end, but who can’t pull the trigger on being kind for just a few stinking seconds here and there.