Why I Hate Being Carried
Do you play “Diablo 3”? Oh man, you should play “Diablo 3.” It is the purest action/reward cycle you can get on console or PC, and the loot—which is The Point—ranges from badass to goddamned hilarious. Blizzard just kicked off season five last month, and starting up a fresh character that can participate in the event’s achievement checklist for fun and prizes (portrait frames, purely cosmetic pets, actually useful gear that you’ll be able to use after the season ends, etc.) makes the game feel shiny and new all over again. They’re a great addition to the game on PC, and hopefully the console folks will be able to get in on the fun soon.
Playing by yourself is pretty damned fun, but the only thing better than “Diablo 3” is multiplayer “Diablo 3.” That’s when things go to 11. It’s not just you running around surrounded by a wreath of constantly firing lightning bolts while you punch goat men in the face so hard that they explode. Now you’re doing that while your buddy causes chakrams to constantly zoom across the map and spectral bats assault enemies that barely get to spawn before they die.
“Diablo 3” with friends is AWESOME.
But, like anything involving other humans, there is social tension to be had, even if it’s just me having it. I got left in the dust by my leveling buddy—a guy I knew in high school as one of those Venn diagram “we have the same friends” friends—and now whenever we are both using our main season characters I am completely useless. We started Season 5 at exactly the same time, running all the early dungeons and bosses together, but that synergy lasted less than two days. Now?
I’m stuck in the backpack. I’m strapped into the baby Bjorn. I’m getting carried.
And I hate getting carried.
I can tell myself that I contribute something: I bring witty quips like “lol” and “XD” as commentary. Sometimes I die in really amusing ways, and having another person in group doubles the chance of very rare items dropping. Sometimes I’ll even take a break from avoiding every enemy on the screen to put a little health regen bubble on us. Not that my buddy needs it. He kills everything so quickly that he doesn’t even take damage, but it still feels like I’m pitching in. Dude had off work the first week of the new character season, so he’s had way more free time than I have to put into total “Diablo” domination. I’m pretty sure he was using a guide, too.
Even with all those justifications, I still hate getting carried. And it’s not just “Diablo.” I’ve had the same anxieties in “League of Legends,” in “World of Warcraft”—really any multiplayer game. It’s embarrassing. I want to be a cool, kickass hero, too! I want to be one of the Power Rangers! I don’t want to be Bulk or Skull, the comic relief that turns into a complete liability if they blunder into combat.
There’s always a voice in the back of my mind wondering if the guys I’m playing with are helping me out because I’m a girl. With dudes I know—even if I’ve never had reason to think they were sexist, and they still haven’t said anything to that would make me think they were—I can’t help but wonder if they think I’m at some natural disadvantage for video games just by being a woman, and they need to help me catch up. I’ve gotten so used to people being shitty to women playing games that I even project it onto the ones I call my friends.
With ones I’ve never met in person, it’s even worse. I can still remember when “World of Warcraft” first introduced flying mounts, and they were crazy expensive. I have the attention span of a fruit fly when it comes to grinding gold for stuff like that, so I was way behind from where my guild was. They still wanted me to be able to run dungeons with them, though, and that was going to be a pain in the ass if I wasn’t able to fly places. The solution one guy came up with was to just give me this huge amount of gold so I could get my flyer. It was great. It was what I needed. I immediate distrusted his motivations. Was he trying to buy feminine attention? Was this going to come back to bite me? Did he the I owe him now? Or was it exactly what he said: The guild wanted to be able to run instances with me, and my lack of flying mount was putting a damper on that, so he forked over the gold to make it happen?
I don’t know. I’ll never feel certain about the motives of people who willingly carry me in games. When it’s randoms or people I don’t have much history with, I’m doubly suspicious. I can never be sure if they’re nice guys or Nice Guys™. It comes with being a woman on the Internet. It’s not you, teammates. It’s me.
If nothing else, I’m pretty confident that my “Diablo” leveling buddy is helping me out for the sheer joy of carrying. I’ve only briefly tasted such a feeling, but it was delicious. I was pulling his fairly new second character through a dungeon where enemies were killing him in one hit, but I was wrecking shop. I effectively solo’d the dungeon made for two people and got to at least partially return the favor he’d done for me earlier in the week. That felt pretty damned good.
Maybe someday I’ll come to a truce with my feelings about getting carried. Maybe I’ll learn to trust and just enjoy getting the XP and loot that would otherwise be out of my reach. But I’m probably going to still throw a couple of punches at the boss monster’s face while I’m there, no matter how ineffective they are. My corpse and I have our pride, after all.