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Gamers are a competitive bunch, and as the FPS genre continues to dominate the market, more games are keeping track of player stats. For whatever reasons, the one stat that seems to matter to gamers most is the kill to death ratio.
While the K/D ratio can display gamers’ awesomeness, it has become the sole fixation of the FPS community. To put it simply, winning doesn’t matter anymore.
There was a time when playing an objective-based gametype in an FPS meant that teams would strive to capture the flag, plant the bomb, take the territory, or complete whatever task was necessary to win.
I’ve noticed that more often than not, when in a lobby waiting for an objective-based game to start, someone would say something along the lines of, “I’m just going for kills.” At the end of a game, you’ll usually hear someone say “Aww I went negative,“ regardless of whether their team won the match or not.
As someone who frequently plays objective-based games, this is frustrating to hear. If the player is on my team that means we have one less player who is going to help complete the objective. If the player is on the opposing team, then they’re down one player. Sure, getting kills does help the team by disrupting the opponents, but with more games having near-instant respawns, deaths don’t have much of an effect.
It seems that somewhere along the way the mentality shifted from playing to win, to playing to not die. Winning has taken the backseat to having great stats. Why should gamers try to grab the flag, when they can have what really matters, a good K/D?
The K/D's spot at the top of Halo Waypoint's stat tracker
Communities such as Machinima and MLG give some players exposure by showcasing their gameplay and commentaries. Machinima Respawn’s YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, so it’s fair to say they have some kind of influence on the community.
In many of these videos, players are camping in corners and ending games with high K/D ratios. While it’s great that gamers can show off their skills, more and more players are trying emulate what they see on YouTube. We’ve all had that one teammate who was too busy trying to quick-scope to defend the flag.
While the K/D isn’t really enough of an indicator of a player’s skill, it does have its place in deathmatch-related gametypes. If your idea of having fun in a shooter is mowing people down, regardless of the gametype, then more power to you. For the rest of us who want something a bit more team-oriented, we’re going to have to wait till the K/D craze goes away.