I Can’t Blame Anyone For Playing To Win — Even When It Comes To Campers

They hide in the shadows, in the corners. They’re waiting with a high power weapon out, waiting for you. The plan is to gun you down before you have a chance to react. I’m talking about the most hated player in a game, next to a cheater: the camper.

Campers play multiplayer games, typically shooters, by staying in one spot and waiting for enemies to come to them. Ideally, campers want to find a place where nobody can come up behind them, or in locations that are well-fortified. These things make killing opponents easier.

Today I watched the video above by YouTube user 402THUNDER402, showcasing the handiwork of a vicious Call of Duty: Black Ops II camper. Personally, I find it difficult to watch this guy’s elaborate set up and not be downright amazed that he can pull it off. He sets up all sorts of turrets, claymores and a shield up in a small room that nobody can go through. He dies once in the entire match, despite other player’s constant attempts to try to gun him down.

If I was playing, I’d see it differently I’m sure. I’d rationally be able to tell that he has a good set up that stops me from being able to kill him, but the admiration wouldn’t come until after the rage subsided.

Even so, I wouldn’t be mad at the player. I don’t blame anyone for using what is in their power to win, within reason (i.e. something like cheating wouldn’t be OK — though admittedly, there is a glitch at work in the video above.)

We play games to win, right? Winning is the entire point. I may not use the same tactics as a camper, but I aim for the same thing. As long as that’s true, and as long as the player follows the rules of the game, then I don’t feel I’m justified in getting angry at how they’re playing.

And it’s not that player’s fault that a developer created levels that lend themselves to camping, or that players refuse to stop going through the area after they know that a camper is there, or that the game is not balanced to stop heavy camping from happening. Sometimes, camping happens even because players just aren’t good enough to stop it.

Is it in the spirit of the game to stay in one place waiting for other players?

The issue, arguably, is sportsmanship. Is it in the spirit of the game to stay in one place waiting for other players? Some would say no. Personally, I think that’s hogwash and camping is an acceptable thing to do — I just wouldn’t find it interesting myself. I’m more of a run and gun type player. That type of playstyle keeps things interesting for me, but it’s a self-imposed rule.

Thankfully games have gotten better over the years about map layout and, overall, I’ve experienced fewer campers than I have before. It’s not completely unavoidable though. Name a game, we can probably find a spot on the map where people like to camp.

Halo 4’s Abandon map, for instance, has a cylindrical structure in the centre that people like to hang out in. There are multiple ways to get into the building, but with a good team-setup, it’s sometimes difficult to penetrate.

Every game will have places like that — high traffic areas that are easy to defend. These tend to be small, claustrophobic spaces, lifts and elevators, power weapon locations, or objectives. If it’s a capture-the-point/flag type deal, camping is a necessary tactic to win.

Camping is unavoidable, basically, though the degree to which it happens varies depending on map layout and game balance. So not only have I gotten used to it, I’m of that whole ‘don’t hate the player, hate the game’ mentality. It keeps things in perspective.

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