8 signs you might be playing with a gaming noob

Much to learn, you still have

It's easy to forget just how capable some gamers really are. No, not the elite-level tourney champs, I'm talking here about the average, ordinary enthusiast. The kind of player who holds his/her own, has a laugh and hovers around the mid-table mark on any leaderboard you care to mention. Solid, if unspectacular by industry standards, this middling schlub suddenly becomes a bona fide gaming god when judged against his non-playing pals. "Did he just perform TWO consecutive hadoukens!?". "Was thata headshot!". "You finished fifth?! Unbelievable!".

It may not be much, but it's a damn sight more than any fledgling rookie can muster. Of course, when it comes to educating these struggling saps it can often prove useful to point out the error of their ways (watching them fail is just a small, sadistic bonus). With that in mind, I've compiled a mini-list of general gaming behaviours often associated with the fresh-faced, fail-heavy recruit. See to it that none of your loved ones exhibit these shameful symptoms.

'The swerve'

E-gad! What on earth do you think that you're doing? Desist! Put that down! Stop twirling at once! For the very last time, I'm telling you: Ms. Pac Man doesn't have motion controls, she doesn't even have a proper face. Just look at you--flailing around, bashing into things, miming like a wounded goose--one more step to your left and you'd have crashed face-first into my 'razor blades, rattlesnake and lemon juice' display.

Yes, we've all been witness to the ceaseless enthusiasm of 'the swerve'. Typically performed by excitable siblings--i.e. the same sugar-coated folks who insist on 'reaching for the screen' at a 3D movie--this noobish move is most often encountered via multiplayer racing games. By mimicking the movements of a wacky inflatable salesman--you know the ones i'm talking about--these filthy 'swerverts' hope to will their unresponsive rides across the finish line. Too bad that roadside chasm isn't it

The audible clack of buttons

"Wait, what is that? That racket. That god-awful din. Oh god, the noise, it's burrowing into my skull. Yeeeeaaargh!" Alright alright, so maybe your inexperienced co-players aren't quite that loud, but have you ever really stopped to listen to a newborn gamer in action? It's so damn noisy. So clicky and clacky--and why can't they just squish these multi-coloured inputs like everybody else?

Adhering to the Han Solo school of 'if It won't work, just punch it' many unproven players tend resort to clattering their pads in a vain attempt 'to just make it work'. However, unlike the gunk-covered TV remotes of yesteryear, our precious joypads just don't respond all that well to a savage thumb-based beating. Your buddy may eventually get over his squeeze-until-it-bleeds fixation, but you'll still be the one left playing with a squeaky sounding input. Move over typewriters, there's a new brain-mulching sound in town.

Reading the manual

There was a time, not so long ago when studying a game's paper manual was considered nigh on compulsory. Brimming with fun facts, cryptic info and a wealth of poorly written instructions, these chubby little pamphlets were often all that stood between you and a total psychotic episode. Forget to flip that page at precisely 85 degrees, on New Year's Day, with Halley's comet overhead? Ah, tough lucky buddy--I guess you aren't getting to level 8 after all.

Fortunately for today's gamers, modern software tends to be that much more forgiving. So much so, in fact, that most recent manuals clock in at a less-than-impressive ten pages (the vast majority of which is then given over to kebab recipes and toilet door doodles). Still, for many newbies, this humble booklet remains the go-to guide for all things gaming (it isn't). So, the next time you see a wide-eyed Padawan frantically scanning through pages, pass them a pad, slap 'em on the back and shoot that virtual noob square in the face. You'll be doing them a favour, honest.

Holding the controller strangely

It's amazing what a bit of muscle memory can do for your street cred. Take guitarists for example. Any right-handed rocksmith worth their salt can wow a crowd using a favoured paw, but ask them to switch it up goofy i.e. to their left hand, and suddenly everything's gone wrong. The crowd's started booing, the band's getting nervous, and someone who-shall-not be-named is flinging a warm, yellow liquid up on stage What? I told them to hurry up.

This--minus the piss--is more-or-less the situation faced by every single gaming initiate. Despite having a rather good idea of how to hold everyday, regular items, most normal folks are simply dumbfounded by the easy ergonomics of the gamepad. Grasping like the crab-handed horrors of GTA: Vice City, these hapless greenhorns are gaming's very own 'monolith monkeys'--and just like 2001: A Space Odyssey, their virtual enlightenment remains well within grasp--if only they had the sense to notice.

Being infuriatingly brilliant at fighting games

Is there any other genre that so rewards the fiendish act of button bashing as fighting games? Sure, a top-level technician can always outclass a mad basher, but what about the rest of us--the mediocre players, the down-and-outs, the average, everyday guys who live and die by their five remembered combos? Should they really have to suffer at the hands of a know-nothing noob simply because they were born without the benefit of reflexes? Is that justice? Is it! *falls to knees screaming*

It's actually rather ironic that a genre lauded for its genius-level competitors should play host to so many 'little brother and girlfriend victories'--i.e. the kinds of shocking losses that convince many-a-gamer never to play again. It's a bit like winning the Nobel Prize for lighting up a bunsen burner and running around screaming "SCIENCE!" It just isn't fair. And no, I'm definitely not bitter Rematch!

'The grenade drop'

As far as 'dropping clangers' is concerned, it doesn't get much more aggravating--or literal--than the ill-timed grenade drop. One moment you'll be leading a rookie patrol, checking the environment, scanning for tangoes, the next you'll be gazing up in horror as an all-too-familiar torso enters orbit. The culprit: none other than private '12yearoldjoker'.

To be fair to the foul-mouthed hellion, he probably didn't mean it: the odds are he just forgot which identikit military shooter he was playing this week. "Left bumper equals jumper, right? I'd best find a friendly spawn point to test that one out." Of course, dropping deadly bombs is only one of many potential outcomes. Green gamers are just as likely to pause play, slam into a wall or smack down their ally while navigating an unfamiliar setup. It's almost as if they were channelling the spirit of The Three Stooges--just, yanno with plasma rifles.

Celebrating absolutely everything

With the influx of casual gamers brought on side in the last 10 years, the look of the average player has begun to shift rather sharply. It's just too bad most of these folks seem to be taking their cues from Ninty and Microsofts highly-sanitised TV families. Whooping after every point, high-fiving after every roundclapping? How are they supposed to maximise their kill/death ratios like that?

It's a good thing advertising execs know their own game, because they sure as hell don't know ours. Bright, happy, smiling families? That's not how video games were meant to be played. Where are the 'pissed off', the 'filth-encrusted', the 'shifty-eyed weekend hermits'? Real gamers stare at the screen until their eyeballs tear up. Proper players bask in the darkness to shut out screen glare. True believers refuse to bathe for days at a you know what, maybe those execs are on to something after all. Im off for my annual bath.

Girls do what?!

Hey ladies, remember all of those great games you've played over the years--yanno, those timeless, classic adventures--the very same ones you've been talking up, chalking off and committing to blissful, wistful memory? Well tough luck toots, none of that actually happened, at least not according to some of the less-knowledgable newbies out there.

You see, regardless of their gender, most untested players tend to fall in to the trap of considering video games as a purely male pursuit. It isn't. Maybe it was at one time, but then again, there was a probably an era in which 'surviving the bubonic plague was still considered a neato party trick. Do these poor saps a favour and set them straight, preferably by finding some gaming goddess to utterly annihilate their avatar. After all, we'll all be on the same side the day the Plutonians attack. "Rescind our planetary status will you!"


Curse those wretched casuals and their unfettered fun! Don't they know video games are a serious business? That meaningless achievement won't just unlock itself! Do you have any other suggestions for newbie tics and tells? Post your ideas--and rambling slurs--in the comments section below.

Want more GR features? Of course you do. Here's one on 11 Bizarre Video Game World Records and another on the 8 Things That Make Gamers Sad.

Samuel James Riley
When he's not busy saving small animals from dangerous brush fires, Sam enjoys writing about the weird world of video games. All-time favourites include Half-Life 2, Knights of the Old Republic, GTA: Vice City and Final Fantasy 10. Last year, Sam finally succeeded in besting Rayman 1 for PlayStation, leaving his life utterly without meaning.