As luck would have it, I no longer have to make a trip to the bus station or frequent cockfights to interact with social degenerates.
Thanks to the miracle of Xbox Live, I can have an assortment of wretched personalities beamed right into my living room. Here’s how it works: Whenever the Zillionaire Platoon is short a man, the Xbox Live “matchmaking” service selects an available player from its network to fill out our team. Of course, these members are carefully screened for red flags, like normalcy or general competence, before joining our squad.
The remaining dregs of society will produce our new teammate, usually in the form of one of the characters below:
The Screamer: Are you capable of screaming into your headset, uninterrupted, for an entire ten-minute match? If not, are you willing to at least attempt it? Sadly, this actually happens. Frequently. Of course, if The Screamer’s fingernails were being removed with pliers during game play I would be a little more understanding. But that’s not the case. The unfortunate reality of the situation is that our nation’s mental hospitals are woefully under-populated.
The Racist: What’s the best way to unwind after placing a burning cross in someone’s lawn? Apparently it’s signing onto Xbox Live. Generally, this player assumes every member of the opposing team is of whatever race he happens to hate the most, and he directs his epithets accordingly. As for being a teammate of this individual, we are pretty much left to spend the entire game cringing.
Tourette’s Syndrome: Why bother using the headset for discussing strategy when you can just bark orders and yell random profanity and insults at your teammates? Seriously, I’m asking. That’s what the headset is made for, right? As my teammates can attest, I have a severe case of this affliction… let’s just move on.
Malibu’s Most Wanted: This suburban white kid loves to quote explicit rap lyrics in coordination with each kill. Also, he turns his baseball hat cockeyed and dons a garish chain during game play. (All right, technically I don’t know if that last part is true, but I assume it is.)
The De-Leveler: What’s it called when you’re afraid of success? I’m pretty sure there’s an actual word for it. Whatever it is, the De-Leveler suffers from this condition big time. Inspired by Johnny Knoxville’s character in the movie The Ringer, the De-Leveler aspires to artificially lower his rank so that he’ll be able to dominate inferior competition. Of course, to achieve a dramatic drop in his skill ranking, the De-Leveler needs to sabotage a few games in grandiose fashion. Unfortunately, we usually don’t realize we have a De-Leveler in our midst until he’s aiming a rocket launcher directly at us.
The Tough Guy: Nothing reeks of masculinity more than challenging someone to a fight via an Internet connection. Needless to say, it’s easy to dole out undeliverable threats of vicious ass-kickings to your opponents when you are protected by online anonymity and distanced by thousands of miles. True to his name, The Tough Guy passes out these threats like Halloween candy. The rest of us are left to hope that just once, one of these proposed confrontations actually come to fruition.
The Instant Quitter: Of the entire list, this individual is probably our favorite teammate. Sure, he quits the game instantly, leaving us desperately shorthanded and outgunned. Compared to the alternatives though, we are actually relieved when we wind up only with desertion from our new teammate.