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An Anonymous Letter to My Temporary Overwatch Son

When Social Gaming Goes Right

As a woman on the Internet person who plays social video games online, I know that the community out there can be a pretty gross place. Okay, that was an understatement. People quite plainly, can suck. They can suck a lot. I have seen it plenty of times in frankly, just about anything I have played with a random group of humans. Now, as a disclaimer: I am not talking about when a player can come across as brusque or impatient, or offers critique to help another improve. The toxicity I am referring to is the kind of bad behavior people write about all the time across many games. It sometimes almost makes me wonder how people ever play with anyone but friends they already know.

Hello I am here to destroy you in my pretty dress with my lasers. Because you decided to be a jerk.
Hello, I am here to destroy you in my pretty dress with my lasers. Because you decided to be a jerk.

The choice to respond can vary — generally, all I do is say something polite, then write up a report to have the other player reprimanded or banned. In a lot of games, that feels like dropping a slip of paper into a black hole, but all I can do at the end of the day is hope actual a human reads what I said. Other times I take the passive aggressive route and try to destroy them in-game for some petty satisfaction. A tactic popular among others as well.

“But Lyndsey,” I hear you say, “You like these games. You play them all the time.” And you are right! I do like these games. I like them a lot. Solo ventures with a strong story are also my jam, but in certain ways, social games become something of a second home due to the same factor: people. In a way, there is a certain charm to knowing there is a person on the other side when you get off on the right foot with them.

Generally speaking, when I feel like other players are enjoying themselves, I usually enjoy myself more too. So while we can all swap horror stories about someone who spouted a bunch of slurs or called a character/class we like to play garbage, I am instead going to relay a very charming story about an instance I had the other night when the latest Overwatch patch came out. We came together for a short time, but I hope we both got a lot of enjoyment out of our moment.


On Tuesday night, I decided to play a match with Ana, because I was both a) really charmed by her design and b) a glutton for all the support characters. I had my concerns — I rarely play sniper characters in games because frankly, I cannot snipe for beans in most of them. But I figured I would try a round, and if I was awful I would go crawling back to one of the other healers and call it a night. I load into the Ilios map; various hellos and emotes are exchanged, when the Genji on my team suddenly pipes up with, “HI MOM.” I say hi back, because I usually do if people are friendly. They then ask a favor in a very eager manner.

Genji: “Mom!”

Genji: “When my ult is up and your ult is up will you nano boost me?”Ana_Spray_-_Pixel

Me: “Sure, my robot ninja son!”

We were on the attack team, so we charge for the point. Things are going pretty smoothly and, sure enough, when Genji’s ultimate comes up they let me know. Mine pops fairly quickly after that, causing them to run over like an eager puppy ready to go fetch a ball. I give them the nano boost, they hit their ultimate and charge off into battle… to be immediately killed. I follow close behind, because this is what happens when you’re a healer in anything PvP and you have been spotted.

Genji immediately pipes up in team chat (for teams to coordinate without the other side knowing what we plan) with a very eager apology.

Genji: “MOM!”

Genji: “I’M SORRY I MESSED IT UP!”

Me: “IT’S OK SON, I DIED TOO.”

Our re-spawns occur pretty quickly, so my very eager robot ninja son escorts me back to the rest of the team before darting on ahead to do some damage. Not too long after, both our ultimates come up again. In our second attempt, Genji takes out their team, we win the first round! So round two comes up, the same player swaps from Genji to Reaper. I stick with Ana because so far, I have not been a disaster. My former robot ninja now turned angry man in an owl mask son pipes up with this to say about their hero swap.

Reaper: “LOOK MOM! I’M 13 AGAIN!”

Me: “SON, YOU ARE SO YOUNG AGAIN.”

This game goes a little quicker — taking the point happens quickly, and we camp it pretty securely after that. I nano boost them again when their ultimate comes up, causing Reaper to become a prima ballerina of death. At the end of the match, I get a card for my efforts, which is nice because sniping as a healer still feels weird to me. Suddenly in match chat (the equivalent of the main channel for all the players to talk to each other) my son decides to support me in front of everyone.

Reaper: “COMMEND THE MOM. COMMEND HER.”

I get 4 up votes, thank my son, then tell them to take care, take their vitamins and get plenty of rest. I do not know this person’s account name, and a quick glance at their career profile told me they were level 95 (more than twice my own). But I wanted to let it be known that this person had me in tears of laughter while I was trying to figure out how to snipe heal and put enemies to sleep with a dart gun. It was the best experience. Not only was it nice just to meet another person having fun for the hell of it, they made me feel more comfortable trying a character I had never touched. I hope this person has a great time whenever they play because bless them, that was amazing.

Written by Lyndsey Raney

Librarian by day and your local fairy squad mother by night on Final Fantasy XIV. I like healing even when I hate healing. I also like other video games, comic books, horror films, and dogs. Occasionally I bake with questionable results on looks but generally good marks for taste.

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