Quake 2. Capture the flag. Well, that's the idea. You're swinging across the map with a grappling gun in one hand and the enemy's flag on your back, trailed by a cloud of shotgun and energy blasts. The calculation of your trajectory and the timing of each grapple shot/release have become pure instinct. You're in the zone. You let go and spin, launching a grenade in a curving arc in your pursuers' path, then whip back around and fire another hook into the ceiling without missing a beat.
Impossibly, your grenade blast takes out two enemies. The capture point is only steps away when a third pursuer's railgun turns you into a pile of gibs. Your last sight: Me, your teammate, in a running animation with my face buried in the wall, where I have been for the last ten minutes.
Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear. We go through the planning phase, laying out coordinated door breaches, smoke grenades, and window smashes. Our strategy is precise and granular, down to the exact angle our AI followers should cover at every given position on the map we're about to clear.
The missions starts. You go through the plan, calling out codewords for each phase. I stand at my team's insertion point outside the museum. After three minutes I slowly turn around and put a silenced bullet in the skull of my three AI squad mates, then drop a grenade at my feet.
Battlefield 1942. Hey. Hey. Hey. I call for a pick up. Hey. You hit the brakes on your jeep and back up. I don't move. Hey. Hey. I need a ride. Hey. Hey. You honk the horn. I don't move. You whip the mouse up and down, then left and right, your character shaking his head. Hey. Hey. Hey. I still don't get in the jeep. You drive away. In the chat I type something equal parts racist and homophobic.
World of Warcraft. The group is waiting outside the entrance to the dungeon. Hold on, guys, I say. On my way. You open the map and find me at the auction house. Ten minutes later, I'm still there. Half an hour later, I finally move, to the mailbox, then log out.
Gears of War. Go on without me. Do what you must. I am here to rev the chainsaw on my gun. Nothing more, nothing less.
Team Fortress 2. I'm not in it for the hats. Those idlers are passionless amateurs. I'm here to make you wonder what the heck I'm doing every time you spawn and run past me. I'll know my job is done when you stop to hit me with a shovel or frying pan. I've got a meatspin.gif spray and every key is mapped to my taunt animation. Let's do this.
Bloodborne. Ready to go kill this spider boss? Great! You summon me. I'll wave, bow, and follow you through the gate. Then I'll stand still. The real Dark Souls ends here.
Splatoon. Look, I don't even have to be good at shooting people. All I have to do is hit the ground. That's it. Put some paint on the ground. It's the least someone can do. I look around slowly. Take a few cautious steps. Look at the ground. And stay still for minutes at a time, occasionally going back to the spawn point.
I have always been here and will be forever more. This is what I do. The service I offer is crucial, making the multiplayer games you enjoy far more memorable. All I ask in turn is that you don't confuse me with Bad Connection Player.
(This update was inspired by an offhand Bob Mackey comment about idlers in Splatoon, which made me think about Quake 2 because I am decrepit and out of touch. If today's article leads to a book deal or a movie adaptation, he is legally entitled to half my profits after they exceed one billion dollars.)
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