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Everything I've learned about trash-talking in games, I learned from my best friend Troy. You see Troy is a guy who not only specializes in starting trash talk, he's also excellent at shutting it down. He possesses a rare gift — be it through text or chat — to command the secondary battlefield of words.
How did he come to possess such a unique talent? Well, it's easy to understand once you know who Troy is and what he does for a living. While I sit in a cubicle alternating between vacantly staring and pushing pixels around for polite office folk, Troy spends his days yelling at men twice his size who are carrying large metal rods and working with dangerous power tools.
Troy is one of the higher-ups at a steel-working company in my city. It's an environment full of trash talk between burly men who call themselves “rodbusters.” Ninety percent of the new hires Troy takes on last barely a week on the job before they give up, often due to sheer physical exhaustion.
It is in this work environment that Troy honed his skills. And I am here to pass his wisdom on to you, so that when you sit down in the evening to enjoy some recreation and someone starts talkin' some shit, you'll be ready for it. Be advised: This article deals with mature themes and strong language. The tips within are given in good faith. They are intended solely for personal defense, not for the purposes of instigation or malice.
1) The "you're a noob, but you're also insane" defense
Playing a game for the first time is a struggle in its own right. Playing competitively online with people who have expectations of your performance is terrifying.
So, you just goofed, and someone calls you a noob. They start ragging on you. What do you do? Better yet, what would Troy do? It's actually simpler than you might think: act crazy. Don't make excuses. Don't apologize. Fuck that guy. You're awesome. You don't need to take that shit.
Troy's response: I DON'T WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND! STOP TRYING TO BE MY FRIEND!
The friendship accusation has an inexplicable power over people. It's as if implying a desire for friendship whenever a guy engages in shit talking creates a paradox in the idiot's mind. It's a stop-statement which throws people sideways, giving you immediate control over the conversation.
If it's voice chat, don't give the guy a chance to speak. Cut him off every time he tries to speak by yelling at him with some variation of the above. Watch and smile as the dude deflates and falls into a repetitive stupor of one lame insult.
In between, turn it back on the guy by apologizing. Tell him it's your first day. Then immediately call the guy out as a douche to his team. Any time he tries to burn you, embrace it. You're crazy. People can't deal with crazy.
2) The "yeah, I'm gay, so what?" defense
It generally takes less than 60 seconds before your shit talker calls your sexuality into question. How do I know this? I’ve actually done tests with a stopwatch across multiple games. I've even been in matches where "fags!" was the first thing the opposing team said to us before the round started.
Most people respond by trying to flip it back on the person throwing out the insults, but Troy doesn't believe this works. What does he do instead? He embraces it.
Troy's response: Redacted. (Sorry, I can't actually type out the specifics of Troy's plan of attack. Suffice it to say, he embraces this assumed homosexuality and takes it to uncomfortable levels, often resulting in the antagonist going dead silent. As a leaping off point, try offering sexual favors.)
You see, it's hard to make fun of someone who can't be insulted. Be comfortable in your sexuality no matter what. Being gay isn't a negative quality, and it's only an insult to a person who's either insecure or homophobic.
3) The strategic reprisal defense
This is something we do quite often. Trash talk is a part time job that takes up valuable mental resources. In some games, it can be detrimental to your victory if you waste your energy hurling invectives without proper timing.
If your opponents are calling you out, only engage with minimal and basic retorts that keep them talking and agitated. Conserve your wit and remain unaffected. You want to make them angry enough that they start making mistakes. Once they do, it's time to pounce.
This is one of Troy's favorite stratagems. We've won many a match because of his quick and incisive comebacks. After he gains his leverage, he never lets the trash talk die down, masterfully stirring the pot to keep the enemy preoccupied.
Troy's quick responses (use based on context):
- QQ more noob (Change out "QQ" for "cry" in voice chat)
- You fucking suck
- Nice fail
- Quit now
- BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (The "B" is important here; make sure to either type it or enunciate it)
- You’re terrible (A perennial classic)
- "Blank" bomber
"Bomber" is pretty much a magic word. Put it on the end of anything, and it really opens up your phrasing for multi-insult combos that, when taken out of context, aren't even really that offensive. Things like "fail bomber," "douche bomber," and "noob bomber" are just fun to say. To be perfectly frank, I don’t even know what they mean, but they sure do aggravate the opposing player. A well-timed "bomber" can turn the tide of a match.
4) The "holier than thou" defense
Even Troy can't win every round of trash talk, so when all else fails, don't engage. It's simple: Just don’t respond. Don’t say anything. Turn your mic off. Ignore the text chat. Whatever…you’re here to have fun. They’ll keep prodding to get a response from you, and you won't give them the satisfaction. They’ll feel lame when the match is over, and you've never said a word.
I think that’s enough for now. Trash talk is a reality. We can converse about how awesome multiplayer games are and how lucky we are to play with friends, but we’re not always grouped with our buds. Sooner or later we're bound to walk into a verbal shit-storm. And when that happens, just remember Troy and how fucking crazy he is.