If you get killed in Call Of Duty: Warzone and you’re not using push-to-talk, everyone nearby gets to briefly listen in to your mic. This has apparently been a thing in Call Of Duty games for years, but I’ve never noticed. I’ve never noticed it in Warzone, either, because I don’t have voice comms turned on. I have already been screamed at by far too many people on the internet.
I’ve been watching other people’s videos of the phenomenon, though, and they make me feel strange. There are so many fresh deaders who unwittingly broadcast their howls of rage, and it feels wrong to take pleasure in another person’s venom. I just can’t deny that it’s also very funny.
Here’s the best example I’ve found. It thrills me.
It’s very easy to imagine being that man’s murderer. I know the rush I’d get, reaching through my screen and delighting in causing someone else a bad time. It’s validating. It makes you feel significant.
I’m not convinced that’s healthy. It’s dopamine through domination, and an explicit green light to schadenfreude. I’m not opposed to the odd spot of schadenfreude, but I do think it’s worth being weary of in a competitive context.
This reminds me of TF2’s domination system, where killing someone repeatedly results in the whole server being told that you’re bullying someone. You wind up revelling in it. It becomes very tempting to keep targeting the same victim, even when they’re not the strategic choice. The system pushes you to chase the high that comes with getting under someone’s skin.
It’s the chasing that concerns me, rather than the poor person on the other end. I know one of the main reasons I grew up playing competitive games was because they gave me the opportunity to assert myself as superior, and I also know I haven’t entirely let go of that impulse. I know hearing the howls of someone I’d just beaten would endorse that attitude, just like how TF2’s domination system acted as catnip to a cocky teenager.
I don’t like the idea that other people might fall into the same trap I did. I don’t think this helps. Competition can do strange things to people. I should know.
With all that said, I get that it’s possible to engage with this in a way that’s harmless. It’s a funny and fascinating phenomenon, picking up on cursing you were never meant to hear. It’s one of those strange not-quite-social encounters you get through the quirks of the internet – and if you’re aware your mic is open, it’s also a chance to play.
If you’d rather not be the one cussing, go check out Ollie’s Call Of Duty Warzone tips.