Typecasting Aspersions
Originally Posted 8-15-03

Hello, my intended...

Well, your old buddy Bobo has some time to kill while he waits for the auto glass guys to replace the windshield on his company truck that some kids bashed to hell last night; so he decided to make with the ol' palabra jot for your entertainment in the interim. Lucky you.

As you probably know if you've read any of the articles I've penned here at The Ring Post, Mr.Fiendish has a vigorously mixed bag of interests and hobbies that somehow he's able utilize to draw comparisons to the grap-game in ways that most people never would have considered. To put it mildly, there's a thin line between genius and insanity, and I use said line to play jump-rope. This pleases me.

Now, as fair warning, this column is probably going to piss off a LOT of people before they hit the end. One of my little quirks is taking a step back from the microscope we generally put the business under and check out the bigger picture as impartially as I can. My findings on these discoveries by said detachment are considered by many as a sweeping indictment, and in some cases this 'flamebait' nets a nice haul of angry mails filled to the brim with curses and insults. However, here's the straight dope FROM the straight dope: If you feel there's some 'hidden attack' in there, it's not because I put it there. It's because you did. If the 'allegations' herein hit you a little too close to home, it's not because of me firing off some imperious judgmentalism from on high. No, the level of offense people take to these observations is in direct ratio to their level of 'guilt' to said 'allegations'. I don't judge you. I just see you a bit differently than you do; which is comparable to how most people don't recognize their own voices on a tape recording...

That said, strap yourselves in. Bobo's Wild Ride begins... NOW.

It's no secret that one of the most enjoyed of old Mr.Fiendish's diverse pastimes is videogames. You name it, I've probably owned it. Lately, a greater - and increasing - number of these games present an online component that allows the players (for a monthly fee) to test their mettle against other players scattered hither and yon across the blistering binary. One of the most popular genres of these is called the Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) wherein your everyday normal-type person can assume the identity of the mythical critter of his choosing and interact in a social sense with similar mythical critters of all knowable stripes.

As I've progressed, I've noted some eerie similarities in the 'types' of folks who play these games and the 'types' of folks that consider themselves wrestling fans... Scoff if you like, but I've said more than once that geeks are geeks the world over, and the only differentiation is the object of their passions. If you know someone's batting average, or the amount of yards they rushed last season, you are sadly no less a geek than the guy that can quote 80s movies or tell you how the 'transporter' works. Sorry, but someone had to tell you - and it was ME! You know that feeling you get when you see some dork dressed up as Han Solo? Guess what? Some people feel that SAME way when you 'dress up', which is to say don some team-paraphrenalia - such as hats or jerseys. Like it or not, you have JUST as good a shot at being Shaquille O'Neill or Mark McGuire as that 'dork' has of being part of the Galactic Republic or the Round Table.


Accept it.

Those of you that haven't punched in your monitor or committed sepukku can now consider yourselves privy to one of the Great Truths of Our Time... "Being a nerd is okay, because everyone is a nerd." Before you start writing that angry flame-mail vehemently elucidating your denials and insulting me, ask yourself this: Do you know more than five things about any subject or pastime you enjoy? Who doesn't, right? Gotcha.

Now that we've learned you can never defeat me debating this, let's get back on topic shall we?

The Online Gaming Community is probably the most diverse group of people you can possibly collect in one place that share a similar interest (the game) while possessing VASTLY dissimilar mindsets about it. The Democratic Party being a close second... Heh. These differences of 'style' are more or less static regardless of the game in question, so if I use examples it's not to single out any particular game or personage. Further, as before, if you find yourself becoming 'pissed off' by some of the more negative observations about the 'types' illustrated herein, do note that it's by design. I'll try to present 'both sides' of every type I mention.

The HAM-Type: 'HAM' being an acronym for 'High And Mighty', this type generally learns all they can about a given subject, so as to achieve 'expert' status on said subject. The inside information, the upcoming improvements, the subtle nuances of the game's strategies, the biographies of the designers... Everything. The HAM's love whatever pursuit they devote themselves to, and do such devotion with a feverish level of dedication that borders on the fanatical. Sadly, the primary motivation for this is generally to elevate themselves above 'the rabble', and they dedicate themselves to 'maintaining the integrity' of said pursuit - and of course their vaunted status regarding same. Nothing pleases a HAM moreso than someone - after the required 'respect' they deserve (begging and obsequious flattery, mostly) - asking for their opinion on their field of expertise. The HAMs further respond to any 'challenge' or 'threat' to said status as ferociously as possible. They've spent alot of time putting themselves on that marble pedestal, and they'll be DAMNED if some jackass like YOU is gonna rock the boat on THEIR watch. The HAM-Type takes a VERY dim view of anything that could threaten their 'elite' status. Hacks, cheats, codes, anything that could allow someone an easier time than THEY had 'working their way' to the lofty position they 'earned' is the quickest way to earn their hatred. Forever.

Anathema: People who don't 'buy in' to their hype, or similarly don't 'respect all that they do for the scene'.

Synopsis: As stated, the HAM-type jealously protects their status and reputation. However, that reputation is pretty much that they're a sanctimonious prick. On the bright side, they earned it fair and square. Heh. The ranks of the HAM are primarily twenty-somethings with something to prove, if only to themselves. Being 'right' or 'wrong' doesn't matter - only that they do so on their own terms. The best way to make an enemy of a HAM is to 'prove them wrong' publicly, which especially includes beating them in game or in debate.

Comparison: Ever read the columns by the guys that try to be 'bigger than the business' or 'smarter than the average smart'? The ones that insist things are just peachy over at the McMahon Empire, and they'll pull out of the downcycle any second and vindicate them? The ones that call anyone that has anything to say about the product that doesn't completely agree with their own opinions as 'Keith clones' or 'Zenk wannabes'? The ones that agree with what HHH and Undertaker say about their online critics? The ones that feel their place is being usurped by these johnny-come-lately bastards who can get all the info they want easy as pie where they'd busted their asses greasing the wheels to make 'contacts' in the business to interview for the dirtsheets they had to run off on the mimeograph at school and snail-mail to their subscribers? HAMs.

The Slash-Type: On the other end of the spectrum from the HAM, yet possessing strong similarities as well. The Slasher will, much like the HAM, immerse themselves into the inner-workings of the game in question, but instead of a purely empirical pursuit as with the HAM, the Slash will find all the weaknesses they can in said game - and then exploit them to elevate or simply amuse themselves. The Slasher takes many forms in the gaming universe, including The Camper, The Turtle, The PK, The Duper, The Farmer and The Hacker. All of these use bugs, flaws, cheat codes and similar unethical contrivances to give themselves an 'edge' against the rest of the community - which they use to 'slash' away to their heart's content. The Slash is easily bored and always on the lookout for another source of amusement - the more mean-spirited the better. Slashers are quick to point out that 'it's only a game' when confronted about the way their actions 'ruin the fun for others'. But the fact is the Slasher doesn't give a rat's ass about others, only themselves. The other strong similarity to the HAM is that the Slasher is very interested in his status amongst other gamers, of course placing himself far above the 'common rabble' or, in the vernacular 'lamers' and 'newbies'. While generally solitary creatures due to their poor social skills, they tend to gather together with similar like-minded people (or 'clans' if you prefer) and wage war against the world. The Slasher loves one thing - being hated by as many people as possible by any means necessary. The guy in voicechat singing offkey, cursing like a sailor, or playing annoying/inappropriate songs? Slasher. The troll on the message board? Slasher. Anyone who uses 'biznatch' in a sentence - especially as a term of endearment? Slasher.

Anathema: Slashers crave attention and 'fame'. Thus, the 'ignore' or 'ban' function is primary amongst their enemies. Secondary to that would be the 'patches and fixes' that take away their 'edge' in said games.

Synopsis: Slash-types are never happy, and their response to their unhappiness is to make everyone else MORE miserable than themselves so that they're happy by comparison. It's all about comparisons to these folks, as they - much like the HAM - equate their 'l33t' status to their self-worth. They desperately need to feel superior to someone else as often as possible, at any cost. The ranks of the Slasher consist primarily of children, who usually lack the patience required to get anywhere 'legit'.

Comparison: Ever read the columns that are front-to-back negative? The ones that couldn't find a good thing about the wrestling if they tried, and don't particularly enjoy trying? The ones that are hissing, miserable sprays of caustic vitriol that make the reader wonder why the writer even watches wrestling at all if they hate everything about it? The ones that find mocking the product and the marks is the only fun they can glean from it? The ones who try to make you feel like some sort of idiot for watching the product at all, when all you really need is to get the spoilers or recaps from them? Slashers.

The Shepherd-Type: This is a strange bird in online types. Possessed of very nearly the level of 'inner-circle' type knowledge enjoyed by the HAM, as well as very nearly the level of 'workarounds' possessed by the Slasher. The Shepherd's intention is not to play the game, per se, but to 'enjoy the experience'. The Shepherds usually play with 'lower level' gamers, both to 'protect' them from the harsher elements out there and to lavish upon them gifts and items in 'hand-me-down' fashion to give them a leg up - as well as clear up space so that they can go get even BETTER stuff on the harder levels. Lather, rinse, repeat. The Shepherd's 'status' is measured not simply by the 'power' of their character in-game, but by the 'goodwill' they cultivate in others. Every newbie out there that pulls out something they 'shouldn't have found at their level' will quickly explain they were given it by 'this cool person', adding to the Shepherd's 'fame'. The Shepherd's goal is to share their knowledge of the games with others, so that all may enjoy it. Shepherd's spread the fastest of the online types, as they explain to their charges that 'we were all newbies once' and encourage them to remember that when THEY chance across someone that 'needs a little help'. In short, while the HAM and Slasher expand themselves along their lines as a solo pursuit, the Shepherds expand primarily in groups. While slow to anger the Shepherd can draw on their 'best of both worlds' abilities to dish out some devastating heat. Nothing pleases a Shepherd more than 'bringing someone down a rung or two', preferably by using their own tactics against them.

Anathema: The Shepherds dislike things that 'spoil the experience', which includes BOTH the Slasher-type (Dirty Cheats) and the HAM-type (Snob Assholes). The other thing the Shepherd's hate is either type doing harm to their friends - or those 'unable to defend themselves', such as 'newbies'.

Synopsis: Shepherd-types are generally regarded well amongst those that they play with. That is, after all, the plan. Everything the Shepherd does is for the sowing of 'goodwill', both to the game and to a lesser extent, themselves. This is, impartially speaking, a fairly pathetic method of 'making friends', but those that 'hate on' them are either simply dismissed as 'sad little things that nobody likes or listens to anyway' or are simply destroyed outright. The ranks of the Shepherd-type is immensely diverse, but a Shepherd-Ripple tends to be initiated by an older (30 and up) gamer, who considers themselves as 'understanding the point' of these games - which is, according to them, positive interaction with others towards a common goal.

Comparison: Fan-wise, there's not a bunch of Shepherd types out there. But they do exist. The Shepherd will educate the other marks to the best of their abilities, and toss in just enough smart-ass to be an entertaining/provocative read in the process. These are intensely rare critters in the wrestling circles, to say the least.

The ME-Type: ME being an acronym for 'Multiple Expressive', this type is not particularly 'into' the game so much as they are the 'world' it presents to them for use, or more accurately 'draw inspiration from'. The ME is usually of an artistic lean, and the enjoyment they derive from the game is based solely on their 'creative endeavors' based in it. In fact, they hardly PLAY the game at all, preferring instead to express themselves over the backdrop of said game. The primary motivation for the ME is generally to solicit praise from others for these creative, if derivative works. The ME-type has a macro in their chat-client or message board signature aiming anyone that they come across to their 'web-folio', so that they can garner praise for their work. The game is not important, only their uses of it to 'express themselves'. If there's a rule they don't like, they break it in their work. If there's something they don't like about the game, they lampoon and satirize it in their work. The ME type, impartially speaking, is stacking the deck to garner praise by using already popular 'worlds' or 'characters' - and it's generally because they don't particularly have much faith in either their talents or in their own 'original' works to be able to net this affirmation they so crave.

Anathema: Anyone who learns the information stated above, as well as those that they perceive as 'better' than themselves at a particular endeavor. For every ten or so 'fans' someone has for their work, there is at least one person who hates them for it - or more precisely for being better at it than themselves. As the plan is to gather fans to manufacture a steady supply of kudos, any threat to that is bitterly contested or staunchly ignored.

Synopsis: The ME-type is the most nakedly egotistic of the types listed here, and the least likely to ever admit it. In fact, even suggesting that they're possibly perceivable as cowards for 'playing it safe' with other people's creations rather than risking less-than-stellar reviews for their own creations is enough to send them into a venomous rage.

Comparison: Fantasy bookers/workers, vidcap cartoonists, Flash directors, fanfic writers, and Photoshoppers to name a few...

Now, you might ask, 'But, Bobo, aren't YOU categorizable as one, if not ALL of those types you're describing at one time or another?'

Yep. That's the ironic and surprising beauty of it! We all are. Watch this...

My intent with this article is not to foster antagonism, but to promote understanding. (Shepherd) I can do this because I'm pretty darn smart and insightful. (HAM) If it pissed you off, I don't particularly care. (Slash) Why? Because it's my article, kid. (ME)

That's the Bobo Way, folks... Yank 'em back so they can see the obvious.

You're welcome. See you SOON.