This is not a review. You’ve played Catan and you love it. If you haven’t, you will. If you don’t there is something broken with the gamer inside of you and it needs to be fixed. Let me suggest an age old cure: Play Catan.

I spent Memorial Day settling Catan. A great time, to be sure. Fun was had, Catan was settled, achievements unlocked and a whole lot of settlements were built. What was not fun, however, was finding out that Microsoft’s xBox Live skill based matchmaking service is actually a portal to a goddamned other dimension; one whose petulant inhabitants do things that resemble settling Catan but interpret any reciprocal action as some sort of lurid farce and act on what seems to be merely impulse when entering any sort of communicative contract.

I expect infantile commentary in Gears. I just put a chainsaw through your crotch, call me a f4g and respawn. That makes sense. It can actually be quite enjoyable as at once you have a free license to respond in any manner you deem necessary and discover new and interesting ways to pronounce/emit/modify any manner of explicatives in an effort to question your opponent’s sexuality, virginity, parental living situation or general inability to reload the fucking gun.

But Catan?

There has to be some sort of bastion, right? Wouldn’t Catan be a perfect fit? A safe haven? I mean, seriously: One’s ability to rocket jump from the other side of the arena and snipe your head from space can’t be made an analogue to rolling a seven, right?

One guy actually called me, and I quote, a “fucking dumbass newb cheaper” because I got the longest road. I rolled a seven at one point and allusions were made to my opponent’s apparently intimate relationship with my mother.

Yeah, there is a mute option – which I eventually used – but I still wonder: Was it wrong for me to think that a strategy board game should be any less infested with gamer etiquette than, say, an FPS?

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17 years ago

would I expect such vulgar behavior in Catan? Not really. Would I expect it in any and all games on Xbox Live? Absolutely. Sadly, Catan can’t be a sacred ground, not if the game was advertised enough on Marketplace or in the blogs of hipster gamers. I really believe it depends on what platform a game is released on, instead of the type of game itself. If it were released on Steam with multiplayer I’m sure the results would be identical.

The only time I’ve ever seen genuine, polite behavior among mutliplayer gamers is in the Beta of Uru Live: Myst Online. The forums were filled with 30-50 year olds playing the game, saying “thank you for the help”, and typing with perfect grammar. I spoke to someone in game for about 20 minutes just to get to know them. I wonder, now that the game is out of beta, if that’s still the case.


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