"I'm guessing Pink Taco is Douglas."
"Heh, get it?" Douglas says. "Pink Taco."
"Quit teamkilling me," Jude yells. "I'm not forgiving you, you know. The game asks, and I tell it, 'No, I'm not going to forgive him'. That's going on your record. I hope the server kicks you."
"I'm calling artillery fire on the beach," Douglas says. "If you'd quit running around down there, you wouldn't be getting hit." Douglas is, for once, not being a jerk.
"Jude, stop doing it wrong," Mike adds.
"Just watch out for the red circle when Douglas calls artillery," I point out. I hadn't gotten that far in my tutorial. "It shows up on your minimap."
"Oh, I thought that was the objective. That's why I'm down here."
Once we've spent twenty minutes shooting Strogg on the beach, Jude has racked up 119xp. Douglas has four teamkills, all of them Jude. Trevor is listed as the Best Medic. He is also the only medic. Mike has earned 7xp and wins the Newbie of the Battle Award. He also has an Accuracy of 0%.
"How can you have an accuracy of 0%," Jude asks. "Did you not hit a single fucking thing?"
Mike isn't sure whether he hit anything. I suggest he was probably doing just fine laying down suppressing fire. I instinctively feel the need to stick up for the guys who aren't very good. I have flashbacks to gym class and getting chosen last when teams were picked. Well, next to last. There was always that one fat girl after me.
I change us over to Outskirts, which is one of my favorite maps, and not just because it's a slam on New Jersey. I also boost the Strogg combat skill from Easy to Medium. That should make things a bit more competitive. Unfortunately, given that there are six of us and ten of them, the battle for Outskirts turns out to be like Verdun, but with respawning. We constantly throw ourselves at the barricade. We're constantly shot to death. Mike gets lost, wanders off the map, and is executed.
"Quake Wars sucks," one of them says after dying again. Uh-oh. Dissent. Which is worst than apathy. Dissent can lead to full scale mutiny. I have to move quickly, or Quake Wars might end up in the Shoot Club Dustbin of Games the Other Guys Didn't Get, next to Sacrifice, World in Conflict, and Psychonauts.
"Okay, I think you guys are ready for the real game," I announce. "We're playing teams. Three vs. three, with three bots on each team. Ready? This the real deal." Of course, I can tell what everyone's thinking: Whose team is Mike on?
To be continued...
Tom Chick has been writing about videogames for fifteen years. His work appears in Games for Windows Magazine, Yahoo, Gamespy, Sci-Fi, and Variety. He lives in Los Angeles. Shoot Club appears in this space every Thursday.