270: The 12-Year-Old English Kid Who Carried Us to Victory

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A very interesting and inspiring story. It's a very moving thing in it's own way. While it may be said that it is 'just a game' it's still a game that makes an attempt at simulating a real and dangerous adult world, and in it we see here a child, someone who should not have any real knowledge of combat scenarios, who takes the reigns of leadership.

Pip actually reminds me a lot of Miles Teg ( for those of you who haven't read Dune I have some homework for you) in that despite his age and appearance, seems to have that gift of decision. It wouldn't have mattered as much if his orders were not necessarily the right ones, but the fact that he could say "You go here and do this. You go there and kill that"

I don't really know where I was going with all that, but it was a great story to hear, and it's great hear about really good people who shine through the seemingly endless ocean of shit that is online gaming.

Doesnt take a twelve year old to do this. Whenever I played Project Reality for BF2, I always commanded a squad and we always won. I gave short simple orders constantly and had the squad communicate with eachother and teamwork. Whilst I kept a tactical overview of the situations presented and had them act accordingly. Victory was often, Victory was sweet.

Moral of this comment ; Do as I say or you'll eat fething dust. :P

Huzzah, Pip m'boy!

Good article! I've never really had this happen to me on a more solo-based game, but I love playing team based games just because it's so satisfying when things work out, and it's a lot of fun.

In Alien Swarm, I'm basically always the medic with a healing pack, and the medic gun, and I find myself assigning people jobs, like one watches the back constantly, and another one has the job of protecting me. I normally don't take control because I'm kind of shy, but it got us through the whole hard campaign without failing the mission once. :P

Moments like this are really why I play online games, for moments when a team really rallies together like a true military force.

I've had experiences like this in games, mostly in Team Fortress 2. I personally have found that I'm apparently a strong leader in games with co-op. Out of my friends or even random online players in Alien Swarm, I always take control of the squad as leader, usually making the game successful.

I met someone like pip once in a match of Insurgency on steam, and since then I've always joined when he was online, because he simply was a good leader.

I think I may have actually met this person... can't be sure though, especially since the game used neither Xbox Live or Windows Live.

I was playing Modular Combat on Team Deathmatch mode on the dm_datacore map, playing as Resistance (Super Tank and Runner hybrid build). We have less numbers than the Apature and Combine teams; they were both taking turns curb stomping us while they weren't busy shooting at each other.

Then this random squeaker pipes up over voice; "Oh that fucking does it".

We had a rather weak collection of PvM styled builds (excluding myself - my builds are exclusively PvP/DM), and yet he took charge and ordered us all around; placing turrets here, a mag mine there, deploying our various minions around the perimeter. He tightly organized us, since... well, we were losing anyway, right? He turned that around. That smallish hall became lethal to enter. Anyone that dared to were ripped to pieces. Nothing could come close; cloakers were slain by the magmine and laser mines, tanks couldn't withstand the concentrated firepower more than a few seconds, teleporters were invariably forced to flee if not instantly murdered.

That squeaker turned the whole match around. We didn't win, naturally, but he managed to rally a loose group of soloists into a close-to-crack squad of defenders.

The remainder of the round was dominated by calls of "footsteps left/right", "c-ball left/right!!", "tank left/right!", "X - need heald", "cloaker lurking left/right", "grenade left/right/on the magmine/turrets!", "assault left/right/both!!!", "go out left/right - flank them!", "turret/minion down left/right!", "fire/ice/MIRV grenade out left/right!"... etc.

It was the most manic and fun match I have ever played. I like to think I played an important role; as I had heavy tank and speed, he used me to scout around and to fetch important items (like the ar2 alt fire ammo, RPG, AR2 rifles... I didn't mind as it was fun for me to sprint around at break neck speed while almost constantly under fire from the other teams and carrying extremely important items for my team).

Great general of the British Isles or not, prepubescent boys should not be playing a Mature game.

My old clan had a few of these. Eventually the group self-destructed due to greed and general dickery, but I keep in touch with a few kids around 14-15 that proved themselves mature and sensible. One of them was the best Gears player I ever met, you couldn't touch the guy and he never fired a shot, all melee. Really something.

Great read. Moments like those are rare, and help show that age doesn't matter nearly as much online.

There is no question that I've had similar experiences in online FPS games. Of course, in death matches, teamwork like this is normally irrelevant. But in Counter Strike: Source, an old favourite of mine, becoming a squad leader or microphone strategist is a role that I often aspire to.

Yes, you have to be a good communicator. You have to know about the strats that may win you the game. You have to be good at figuring out how your team will respond in a pub server, who will follow, if any, on your first round, and who will not. You have to build trust over time, work the emotions of your comrades by being right with your strategics time and time again. And of course, you need to be good at the game itself. If your score is low, no one will listen, even if your strats are straight out of the mouth of a tourney pro talking into the microphone for you.

The natural selection of leaders in such a lawless realm is a real point of interest for social scientists. I think that the article's right in implying that, ironically enough, if we were to lose games, we would lose a really great example of what a place without rules would be like, and how people would make their way through it in one piece. Leaders are not born in a place like this. There are no dynasties in a public server. You don't go in rich and well-resourced, ready with an empire half-made. You have to start then and there and work like a maniac to win. (Of course, you do have some advantages being rich in the real world while playing games - like the microphone itself, a big widescreen monitor to see enemies at your sides, and the like. But these are not necessarily social advantages to becoming a leader for that game and consequential ones.)

The article is right that it is incredibly rewarding to find victory because of strong leadership. Not least if you are said leader. Take it from me: there is nothing like, upon a victory both personal and team-based, listening to someone else you've never met say into the microphone: "it's been an honour to fight with you today, [and your name]." Yes, it's a fake world; there are no real consequences, but there has been a great success in game design when it comes to emulating the best of warfare - that is, the brotherhood of the team against the odds. I hope that one day, this fake experience of wartime friendship will be all we need to have, in the face of a lasting peace.

Wow this thread made my night. Good on you Pip. =)

I have never ever, EVER played an online game with a kid who wasnt being annoying. Well, there was this one kid who did the decent thing in telling his friend to shut up because he was embarrassing himself.

A leader is a crucial when it comes to any kinda of co-op experience, be it team deathmatch or Left 4 Dead or Monday Night Combat, or whatever. In any versus situation, I find a team with a leader, even a mildly capable one, is considerably better than one without. Having people act for the victory of the team as opposed for their own ends will invariable make the team better.

I've played this role often and the hardest (well, actually the second hardest) part is to assert the position. Far too often the ego gets involved, and being too harsh or brash about it will just nput the teammates off. But once one learns how to, for lack of better word, manipulate people into following a leader, the better off it is.

I say second hardest because the ACTUAL hardest is to be able to realize when you SHOULDN'T be the leader. There can't be more than one. If there are two people vying for the position you have to know when you need to fight for it and when you need to fall in line and follow. This is a combination of factors, including your own skill compared to the other leader's skill as well as his willingness to follow you and the rest of our team's willingness to follow either of you.

Still, when it all clicks, when the Pips of the world assert their positions and the rest of us fall in line, it's a pleasure to play. Personally, I much prefer over being the leader myself...

I hope this kid gets MAG.

Then uses his experience to become an actual general.

you might actually be disappointed if you met this chap in real life

umm i'm glad you had a good time and that not all gamers are dicks but...do you think you may be gushing a little too much?

The amusing thing is with the suggestion of an autobalance, a team that changes it's streak to win, the fact that he knew where all the snipers were, and the fact that a bunch of people change teams the minute they see the winds of change rustle through, it's a clearer and more dismal picture then you present.

chuckwendig:

The Cheezy One:
i wish i could rally people around me
must have been a good group of people. if you try to lead on MW or MW2 most of the time, you sound pretentious and whiny:
"I have a plan. Everyone follow me"
they could be the best leader ever, but if theyre not, youve just sworn yourself to someone bad. which is embarressing and painful

ahhh, i did lord of the flies for GCSE. if anything, this sounds like a reversal. from the shattering of the conch (everone losing), it reforms (Pip turning up) and order reigns (win). or possibly, Pip is the captain at the end, the man that everyone obeys, not because hes powerful (the savages could have easily killed him, even as young as they were), but because he represents order, which is what the boys craved

sorry, rambled a bit there, wont make sense to anyone who hasnt read the book

That's exactly it, yes. It begins with me thinking that the multiplayer experience is like Lord of the Flies: brutality and boulders. But the reality is far less cynical, showing a world where Piggy is not only *not* crushed by his peers, but actually manages to be a leader instead of merely a whiny sidekick.

-- Chuck

It's a nice thought, but sadly if you contextualise it, it doesn't work as well. Across a videogame all real physical attributes are levelled out, piggy may well have led his team to victory on MW2, but when it comes down trying to appeal to a group, especially of children (you can bet those that followed you weren't kids) popularity is more important then ability to lead.

The picture darkens still when you think about all those times the small english kid will inevitably get shouted down for being too young, and whilst he may end up leading the gang to safety on this occaision, the four times before, he probably ended up with his brains all over a rock.

Hehe, I think I would have named him Ender Wiggin, based on the way you describe him...

This reminded me of my strategy for multi-player games. It has nothing to do with winning or losing, but getting enjoyable, well-behaved teammates. In most FPS games, people fall into this culture of insults and trolling, and twelve-year olds are the most susceptible to it.

The solution, I have found, is act as an example; to present yourself as polite, respectful and kind-hearted. In the Halo 3 lobby, I have been known to say in my smooth, public radio voice "Good evening everybody. Before we start, I'd just like to say that it's an honor and a privileged to be playing with you all tonight. Here's to a fun game, and may the best team win" and that sort of thing. The reactions that I have received have, for the most part, been really endearing. Once I remember sneaking into the enemy base, and hearing them talk about "That nice Scorpio guy. I really like him."

Sometimes in tf2, teamwork happends. Albeit team is in the name, a lot of the time people don't care about how their team is. Often when teamwork happens, it's just send some demos over there and everyone else rush the point.

The simple truth is that video games are one of the few places where leadership like that is actually possible. Sure, we might stereotype the kid with the squeaky voice, but ultimately, deep down, we know that he's just as likely to be good at the game as not. In real life we know objectively that no kid has the experience or knowledge to lead, he just hasn't lived long enough. But in a game that has only existed for a year or so, just about anyone can be good.

It's the same phenomenon that leads adults to ask their neighbor's kid to fix a $2000 computer.

chuckwendig:

Nikolaz72:
Good Story, very inspirational, but. IS everything in it true though? It sounds pretty far out that almost everyone on a team of Modern Warfare would follow a guy nomatter how inspiring he is. Chances are a great part probably has music in their ears or some others reason not to being able to listen on top of not wanting to in the first place?

If it is true though. Good on you, this is probably a once in a lifetime thing.

Entirely true, and never seen *at this level* again.

And, to be clear, it didn't happen over the course of a single match. Played for hours, and only by the end did people really "fall in line" (or, at least, appear to).

Thing is, though, I have had other games where someone very clearly takes a leadership role, and when they do? The team generally gets at least partly on board. Most games like that exist in a vacuum: nobody is asserting control. Nobody has anything approaching a plan. When somebody steps into that void -- and this is probably true of life, too -- people tend to listen and at least make an effort.

Glad you liked the article!

-- Chuck

Awesome story man. :)

Off the topics of FPS games any thing where strategy and teamwork are involved, you will find people who either refuse to co operate, or people who are idiots. when they mix in one person its really bad. If anyone you have ever played WoW and played in Arathi Basin you should know what im talking about when 14 out of 15 people scramble to cap and leave the most important point in the map, your teams home point. Whether its Stables or Farm, no one stays and then you get stuck in the graveyard.
I've tried to give people good strategy pregame and even as Battleground leader no one will listen. the 2-3 people who might listen leave if they don't see action in 15 seconds. then the other team swoops in and kills your teams chance of winning.

chuckwendig:

Entirely true, and never seen *at this level* again.
-- Chuck

Did you manage to catch this kid's gamertag?

Chuck, every week I read the article with the most interesting title (amongst most of the others). And it always ends up being yours. Your articles are always very excitingly paced and overall fun to read, they may not have the same weight of content as other articles of the week but they are very wonderful between the other Escapist articles, thank you for all the hard work you do for us.

Personally I find that 'rising above' to elect yourself leader is usually a waste of time.

I played alot of FPS games and always got fustrated when people wouldn't play as a team, or in games like BF1942 would go straight for a planes. If someone took them before they go there they would WAIT for it to respawn and then take it - not get into the game without it, just sit there waiting for their beloved aircraft to respawn.

In FPS games it really comes down to an attitude of 'I can do better on my own' and its true that in those games one person on a team can and often do take out the entire other team - so having team mates simply means having a distraction that you can use to your advantage and prolong your own existance a little longer.

Also you have some people who feel like they can lead but really don't know much at all.

Even games like WoW where you're pretty much forced to group (ie, one person can't do it all) trying to lead a group (when its not a guild event) usually ends in tears as someone won't listen (because they think they are better / know the instance / can't be arsed) and the whole thing boils down to choas.

I'm happy that somewhere on the internet someone is trying to play as a team and win as a team, but from my experiance its easier to not even bother because most of the time you'll be talking to yourself.

Damnit, you've spoiled Lord of The Flies for me, I'm reading that book right now! :(

And THAT is why England owns.

...Or not. Kids are annoying over Xbox Live, however i usually just ignore it or mute.

Ankhwatcher:
In Team Fortress we have a simple way of selecting our leaders.
Any medic with a mic is a leader.

It's that simple, medic's have little direct ability so they need to be able to order people around.
Being able to come to terms with the idea that you're not the one shooting people is pretty much the maturity test.

Of course leadership in Team Fortress is a rather simple affair, everyone already knows the goal, but the teamwork enters into it in the form of trying to synchronise the efforts of the team.

Oh how I wish that was more true.
I often end up playing medic since I realise the team needs at least one but I also realise that nobody else is willing.
This sometimes works, but with average pubbers everyone still does their own thing. (It is extremely frustrating trying to heal a pub soldier, they just jump away).

I've played many games, Bad Company 2, Team Fortress 2, Killing Floor, Left 4 Dead and more where I have thought (at the time) "If we had someone to direct us" we could actually do something.

And then, ther have been times in team fortress 2 where it has happened.
The most recent involved 4 players with mics, myself included. I played medic,as is my custom and the other mic users were a heavy, engineer/spy and solder.
In this game, with the 4 of us directing the other 8 players, we managed to steamroll the opposition who had no organisation. One team-mate who got auto-balanced to the other team actually said that the reason our team was doing so well was for that very reason.
A team of decent players who are well organised by a few good players can defeat a team of great players who are disorganised.

I hope that kid ends up reading this at some point.

chuckwendig:

hudsonzero:
this is just a guess so don't take this to badly, but I'm guessing you never read great expatiations?

ot
I doubt this was true, all the servers are separated by continent I think.... at least that would explain that the few times I do go on all I get are French and German players

I've not read Great Expectations, but I am familiar with "Pip" as a character in that -- but I wasn't sure if the South Park "Pip" was a reference to that, or that it was just a reference to the English slang, "pip" (or "pip-pip").

Also, I figured Lord of the Flies was enough of a literary reference for now. :)

As for international servers? I dunno. I get on with a lot of Germans, French players, and so forth -- possible that the servers being sequestered is a more recent phenomenon, since this was back during the first Modern Warfare that the subject matter took place.

-- Chuck

'pip' isn't any english slang i've heard of and 'pip-pip' is old hat to the point of extinction

pip is a shortening for philip in the same way chuck is for charles (tho in the states it's often apparently a name in itself).

also culturally speaking i think brits have a tendency to be a little more 'matter of fact' which may have helped, also there's something about the english accent (well the one you're most likely referring to at least) that commands respect or fear. there's a reason brits play the badguys a lot in films

Its a game, an artifical world where an individual or group of people can just chill out, and kill some virtual dudes.
I respect the ideas stated in this, but I cant really see just how much this applies to a real situation and I find it hard to take this seriously when the game is, in a way shown as entirely real and all important.

Although overall I found it pretty interesting.

I wish more of my online matches had a Pip! It makes so much difference when there is an actual leader instead of everyone doing their own thing and running headlong at a sniper standing 3 miles away, marathon or no marathon, commando or not.

For all i love Bad Company 2, it is a bit sad that there is only chat between squadmembers.

Sadly, I've never had an experience like this online. Good article.

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