GIT GUD: A call to elevate your play

Taking encouragement as insult is a sure sign of being a loser

Another day, another slew of posts on the web crapping on gamers.

Ever notice how these all seem to come out at the same time? Someone should look into that

I’ve seen a couple articles along these lines, but we’re paying attention to the one from Rock Paper Shotgun. This opinion piece opens with the proclamation:

A really unpleasant gaming trend is getting louder and louder of late, where it’s considered of vital importance to observe when other people are “bad” at games. And of course insinuating that one is “good” at them at the same time.

Context? This screed is actually in response to a Polygon “review” of the new Doom. I’ll not link the video directly here (but this will get you the video, as well as some much deserved reactions). In this video, Polygon, a professional games review outlet, proceeds to do a shockingly poor job of navigating through the game on its easiest difficulty.

Doom is a first person shooter. Its difficulty rating is nothing like Dark Souls or Super Hexagon. Putting the game on its easiest difficulty places it at a level my grandma (who is not a gamer in any fashion) could sleepwalk through.

These cries of “GIT GUD” consist of two things:

Thing 1: Outrage

Outrage, simply because this outlet is so awful at games, which is literally their job. I heard a great comparison on Twitter the other day: If your job is reviewing cars, nobody expects you to set a record time on the GP… but everyone expects you to be able to drive!

Here’s the thing: I think this is a clickbait ploy. Polygon’s done a number of reviews, some of them more reliable than others, but this is the first one in which their staff is revealed to be so awful at… you know… playing games.

With that in mind, I think this whole thing has been carefully engineered by Polygon to get outrage clicks. As in, it’s been designed to elicit something like: “What the hell is everyone talking about? Let me see clicks video …. OMG these people suck! Better tell my friends! shares

With Polygon’s bad behavior a matter of public record, (and the game journalism sector hardly above clickbait in general), this isn’t an outlandish accusation.

Thing 2: Encouragement

Someone who’s primary hobby is gaming is familiar with what the main purpose of a game is: meeting arbitrary goals. Sometimes that goal is saving the princess, sometimes getting the high score, and sometimes preventing Mars from being taken over by the minions of hell.

Sometimes that goal is easier, sometimes its harder.

Dark Souls has a reputation as being very difficult, but also very rewarding. The game punishes mistakes with swift death - but the player learns the patterns, learns the right way to move in the right circumstance, and suddenly a boss which absolutely kicked your ass early on becomes trivial.

It’s hard to put into words how good it feels1 conquering a challenge like this! The harder the challenge, the more rewarding it feels once that challenge is overcome.

“Git gud m8” is often seen as a mocking reply to someone complaining about how hard part of a game is and looking for pointers2. As in “Pointers? Play the game and get better at it, there’s your pointer.” Flippant? Sure. But are we really elevating flip remarks to the level of “a narrow-minded view of humanity”, as John Walker did in his article?

I’d hate to have him read my blog.. he’d probably be scarred for life what for all my smartassery.

Gitting it rite (m8)

So let’s discard these screeds for what they are: whiny outrage bait for clicks and advertiser money.

Let’s examine this phrase under an abundance mindset:

  • Git Gud is an admonishment to excellence. It is, in essence, saying that once you start to master what you’re doing, you won’t have those problems you speak of anymore. (You can’t beat that boss? Git gud.)

  • Git Gud is an admonition against whining. Whining is just noise - it drags other people down and does nothing to boost yourself3. (What do you mean you’ve been working on this level for 8 hours and can’t get past it? Git gud.)

  • Git Gud is an admonition against settling for mediocrity. The phrase is called Git Gud, not Git OK. You keep going until you can describe yourself as good at what you do.

  • Git Gud should be the default state for all human endeavors. Everyone should strive for excellence in all matters. Up to and including games. Never settle for less.

This is a narrow-minded view? It sounds like a wide-open and uncompromising one to me.

Maybe John Walker needs to git gud4.

And the next time this phrase is directed at you, maybe you should too, rather than complaining about how mean the internet is or pontificating on how snarky comments about people pursuing excellence is somehow a poor reflection on the whole of humanity.


  1. This feeling actually has a name: “fiero”. [return]
  2. Relevant XKCD [return]
  3. Note that there is a difference between saying that a game sucks, and saying that a game sucks because of its difficulty. Difficulty can be added in a number of ways.. more enemies, tighter constraints.. but also bad design and controls. The latter is what’s known as being Nintendo hard [return]
  4. This usage of “git gud” is the less well known third type: an admonition to stop being dishonest. Here, “gud” refers less to skill and more to being a good person. [return]
 
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