“Any advice for someone who’s struggling to beat Dark Souls 3’s Nameless King?” “Git gud”.
“Is it actually possible to complete ‘Stormy Ascent’ on Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy?” “Yes. just git gud”.
“How on Earth do you complete The Witness without guides?”. “Look closely at your surroundings for environmental clues, consider what you’ve learned so far and… only joking, you need to git gud”.
An all too common feature of video game forums nowadays, especially when the title in question has a rather steep learning curve (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Dark Souls, Overwatch etc.) ‘git gud’ is easily one of the most unhelpful, asinine comments a gamer can receive.
No one’s ever profited from this meaningless piece of non-advice, primarily because the people who say it aren’t actually trying to help their fellow gamer; essentially, they’re just boasting. They’re saying “You’ve failed how many times to complete x task!? I completed it on my first attempt so it can’t be that difficult. Unless, wait. Maybe I’m actually an incredibly talented gamer/human being destined to use my unique gifts to make the world a better place. Huh. Well, in that case, there’s really no constructive advice I can give you; I’m simply on another, higher level. I guess you’ll just have to ‘git gud’”.
That’s how I read it, anyway.
Annoying as this kind of braggadocio is, however, not least because whoever coined the term clearly thought misspelling the words ‘get’ and ‘good’ somehow made it simultaneously less obnoxious and cooler-sounding, it would be easier to ignore if it didn’t represent a far more insidious aspect of the wider gaming community; the elitist and judgemental mindset of some of its members.
Naturally, the ‘git gud’ culture is a particular problem in the world of cooperative online games, where selfish players – those for whom the team’s success plays second fiddle to their own – use open voice channels to lambaste their companions whenever they feel they’ve been let down in some way; perhaps because another player missed a seemingly straightforward shot or used their character’s special move too early. Although let’s face it, it doesn’t take much provocation to elicit a ‘git gud’.
The problem is, of course, that real-time verbal communication is often as crucial to success in team-oriented games as an individual payer’s skill. Discussing squad composition can make or break a round of escort in Overwatch, for example, while achieving victory in Rainbow Six Siege often relies on a team’s ability to relay tactical information on the fly. Thus, in both instances, simply muting party chat isn’t really an option.
As far as shared world MMOs such as Destiny or World of Warcraft are concerned, meanwhile, being able to talk to other players whilst exploring these incredible virtual worlds is a fundamental part of the experience, and one of the main reason why these titles are so popular and rewarding in the first place. But the satisfaction of completing a strike in Destiny 2 or slowly trekking through a punishing dungeon in the latest WoW expansion is severely diminished if a member of your party persists in criticizing your gaming credentials the entire time you’re playing.
In the ‘git gudder’s’ defense, it can be frustrating to find yourself on the losing side in a ranked match if, unlike the rest of your team, you yourself have played an absolute blinder. However, aside from the fact that still doesn’t give one player the right to make another feel bad about his or her abilities, rather than relying on a game’s in-built matchmaking services, more talented individuals always have the option of creating their own squad of similarly skilled and committed individuals if they’re keen to minimize the risk of defeat.
The only thing they’re achieving with their incessant online barrage is ruining the experience for other players, both those that are on the receiving end of such criticism and everyone else who just wants to spend a couple of relaxing hours playing their favorite video games after work or school. Worse, they may discourage some players from sticking with a particular title because, as much as they love it, they feel it’s not worth putting up with all the vitriol, especially when there’re are countless other high-quality games out there competing for their attention.
Now, obviously, it’s easier to avoid an unsolicited ‘git gud’ in single player games. Generally, unless they seek out applicable forums and ask questions there, the only criticism players of Nioh, Dark Souls, and the like have to deal with is their own. But that misses the point.
Contrary to what a small minority of players would have us believe, and, at the risk of sounding slightly sanctimonious, gaming isn’t just for the experts. Beginners, those of us who don’t have sufficient free time to master a particular title’s mechanics, players with a mental or physical disability, the young, the old, and anyone else who simply lacks the requisite hand-eye coordination to breeze through a difficult game have every right to play whichever video game they choose.
I’ve struggled with numerous bosses, quests, puzzles, and sundry other gaming challenges over the past twenty odd years I’ve been playing, many of which other players would scoff at. For example, it took me a dozen or more attempts to defeat the Abyss Watchers in Dark Souls 3 and a good few months to complete Klei Entertainment’s turn-based stealth gem Invisible, Inc.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed both games immensely, relishing the challenge and reveling in the euphoria I felt whenever I defeated a tricky boss or extricated my team from a difficult situation. It didn’t matter that my skills paled in comparison to others, and I know from looking at various forums and messages boards in the past, the same is true for many others.
Which brings me on to another, related issue I have with this snobbish mindset; the idea that, not only should players like myself leave these titles to the ‘professionals’, but we’re not even qualified to discuss them; that without a basic level of practical skill, an individual’s opinions on the story, characters, aesthetic, themes, and tone is completely worthless. Which, to me, is the equivalent of dismissing an English literature student’s analysis of Great Expectations because he or she doesn’t have a PhD in Dickens or rejecting the average cinema-goer’s thoughts on a Ken Loach film out of hand because they’ve seen fewer than 5000 films.
It’s a fundamentally flawed argument that fails to appreciate the importance of discussion in art and how, when people with disparate backgrounds, outlooks, and contrasting opinions come together to share their ideas, it helps layman and experts alike see things from a different perspective and gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. I mean, I’ve never beaten Final Fantasy XII’s Yiazmat or defeated every single one of Bloodborne’s optional bosses, but I like to think my thoughts on these games are, fundamentally, just as worthwhile as those of the players that have.
Still, to quote every Premier League footballer who’s ever given a post-match interview, at its most basic level, ‘git gud’ is just another weapon in the internet troll’s arsenal. A way for those that use the expression to mask their own insecurities by finding fault with other players; shifting the blame in order to preserve their self-image.
Thankfully, the ‘git gud’ brigade isn’t representative of the majority of gamers. It can just seem that way sometimes because trolls always shout loudest and besides, the negative aspects of modern life get far more attention than the positive – this article’s a testament to that.
In reality, chances are that with any game you care to mention, even if the number of genuinely supportive players who’re only too pleased to offer whatever guidance or assistance they can is still relatively slim, most gaming communities are at least happy to let their fellow players experience and enjoy their favorite titles in whatever way they see fit.
So as aggravating, unnecessary, and disheartening as the expression is, we should always try to remember that ‘git gud’ is the obnoxious calling-card of the few, not the many, and try as individuals to make our gaming communities as supportive as possible to combat those that do use it.