I have wanted to write on this topic for awhile now as it is something that continues to perturb some players and has been a source of frustration that can precipitate tilt or rivalry within Hex. The community has changed quite a bit from where we were in May 2013. We went from a group of highly motivated players, that had the disposable income to back a probabilistic kickstarter, to one that is getting new players by the day. The new players joining us exist on a continuum from free-to-play to hardcore TCG/PVP types. Once the game got out of ninja beta and HexEnt promoted it more openly, we began to see a large influx of free-to-play players in the game, though, their share of the player growth has dwindled a bit due to the 100k tournament series. Players from other competitive TCGs, both defunct and active, are coming to Hex to compete for a share of that $100,000 prize. Our formerly small, tightly-knit community is expanding. Many of the norms that we have started are either going to persevere or wither as we attempt to reinforce old ones and invent new ones. For this post, I am going to talk about one of those norms and its subjective meaning to different groups of people and how, perhaps, we need to reclaim the ubiquitous “gg”. That is, the customary sign off at the end of the match for good game.
As I went through my primary school education, one consistent behavior in my extra-curricular sporting ventures, was the end of game high-five and recitation of “good game” to each and every player from the opposing team. This did not matter if you disliked the behavior of one player, thought that a player did not deserve to be congratulated for their performance, or thought the entire team was filled with poor sports. Naturally, some players who would buck the norm and try to be clever, but their behavior ultimately did not change the ritual besides leaving a bad impression of that individual. Likewise, when I engaged in co-curricular activities, such as competitive debate in high school and college, after each intense 2-hour match where ideas and arguments were on the line, you still walked over and shook the hands of the opposing teams. Debate arguments are often extensions of the competitors and can represent very personal ideas offered under intense scrutiny and attack. Despite this, the norm is to congratulate the other team, tell them “good job” or “good debate” and wait to find out if victory was yours or theirs. Our decks represent our efforts at creation in the game, whether in draft, sealed, or constructed, and are often extensions of our ideas, thoughts, and dreams. When they fail it can feel like a personal failing. Naturally, the card pool and confines of the format limits our creative space, but it is still our creation (even if we are just doing minor tweaks to a known meta-deck). A “gg” at the end of a match provides some validation that our or our oppnent’s creation was in some way worthy of respect.
The history of the “gg” in gaming has evolved over time. In some subcultures, it is the default exchange at the end of the match regardless of whether the game was truly good or terrible for one or both teams. The departure phrase is customary in games like Starcraft where “gg” in the Korean scene is assumed behavior and to deviate and not to say it builds a bad reputation for the offending players. In League of Legends, a game known for its problematic playerbase, you still get a flood of “gg”s at the end of that are often peppered with some “bg” or the occasional “vgg” or “vbg” for “very” good or bad game.
In our competitive arena of choice, we have developed some rules that are likely holdovers from arenas like Magic online. Instead of both players saying it simultaneously when the game is certainly over, it is up for the losing player to end the match as they often have last priority and they can either just end the game or offer the “gg”. From conversations I have participated in, if the winner offers the “gg”, it is thought to be rude and players see it as as a line of disrespect. This infraction is even worse if there are still options left for the losing player and the “gg” is either premature or the winning player is just assuming the match is over (even when it is). This haughty “gg” interpretation is an interesting issue as it requires some level of inference from the loser of the match to impute intentions of the winner. Ultimately, I think projecting ill-will onto your opponent, even if they are the type to offer the conceited “gg”, is a mistake. A couple situations where this may arise:
- Not everyone has “grown up” within our community and may not understand, adopt, or even accept the norms of who gets to initiate the “gg” within the match. Most other games, perhaps due to their real time nature, give both victor and vanquish the responsibility to initiate the parting exchange.
- Those who win do wish to say good game when a game was actually a tough match, showed cleverness by either party, or the winner just wants to express goodwill to the other player.
- The winning player often has to prematurely say good game if they want to express the sentiment. They do not get the last priority or concede option, so saying it early allows them to express their gratitude to the opposing player.
- Sometimes the good game is early and uncalled for. I have done this by mistake when I didn’t see an option open and wanted to wish the other player well. If your opponent makes a mistake, it does not profit you to assume ill intent.
- Even if the player wants to rub the victory into the loser’s face, treating it as such only means that they have won on a second dimension; they have gotten into your head. Even if you know the other player to be rude or conceited, allowing their inappropriate “gg” allows them to get what they wanted out of the exchange in addition to the material victory.
In all of these cases, treating the “gg” as anything but benign contributes to your own dissatisfaction and either betrays the intentions of the opposing player or gives them what they want in hopes of making your day worse. Take a “gg” as what it is meant to be: a courteous way to conclude a match. If I offer you a “gg” in game as a winner or a loser, my intention, like most other players, is genuine. Assuming otherwise does a disservice to us both. However, due to the norms of the community, I tend to only offer “gg” when losing to avoid miscommunication and fear of violating some taboo. I think I may begin to deviate from this norm and offer the “gg” in good times as well as bad and risk the misinterpretation for the sake of facilitating further relationships.