Testy Group Dynamics in Online Play

Evil Smurf

Admin of Catoholics Anonymous
Nov 11, 2011
in working as a team some people even become a troll, while amusing for a minute, it sucks for team work


Imaginary Friend
Apr 19, 2010
In my own experience with things like this, the more "serious" players also tend to be more "defensive" when discussion comes up. Because our style of play is so much a reflection of who we are, some people will take any criticism of "how" as an attack at "who."

That makes it incredibly important to separate when you're talking about the players from when you're talking about the game. In fact, most problems come from different perceptions of that distinction.

When there's tension in a group, it's often because some of the more "serious" players place The Game at a higher priority than The Players. That manifests as frustration when a less-experienced player's mistakes "ruin" a session of gaming. Those inexperienced players are an obstacle, standing in the way of enjoying the Game.

On the other side, your less-serious players value the group more highly than the activity. Often that makes the activity itself an obstacle to enjoying the Group.

Addressing a problem is usually done by the Group-oriented rather than the Game-oriented, simply because of the nature of each. So basically, you're not setting out to fix a problem as much as you're finding out whether the problem wants to be fixed. So, some things for those Group-oriented folks among us to try:

1. A change of activity. Maybe a new game. Maybe a new way of engaging an old one. The #1 change that will clean up a lot of problems is to find experiences that are more cooperative than they are competitive. PvP content is the worst offender here, but difficult PvE content can be just as bad -- any environment that puts a lot of weight on each mistake is going to frustrate the Serious Players.

Outcome A: Group is receptive to it, and you mix things up a bit to find a good balance.
Outcome B: Group is not receptive to it, and you decide from there what to do.

2. A complete change of activity. Try "hanging out" with your serious friends while they play, while you play a different game at the same time. Talking here about teamspeak, etc. Separate activities, shared space. By removing the activity from the equation, you're just enjoying the company.

Outcome A: Group is receptive, and your interactions are mostly non-game conversation.
Outcome B: You discover that most of the conversation is "business," and non-game conversation is unwelcome or simply not happening.

3. Directly address the issue. Risky move, usually a last effort. Here's where you have a conversation about the issue directly. You're expressing how you feel about the current state, what you'd like to see, and how you can get there. And there are important things to remember at this stage:

- Focus on "I" statements. Don't accuse, blame, or target. You can only speak for yourself, so do that.
- Realize that while you have probably been mulling this over for days or weeks, and you have your whole case clearly thought out, they may well not. Sometimes, they'll feel completely blindsided. Give them time to think about their response, out of fairness.
- Listen to yourself. If you're tending to get angry, you may have already decided you'll be looking elsewhere -- avoid the temptation to use this exchange for parting shots (or burning bridges)

4. If nothing seems to work, it's time to move on. It's not a value judgment on either side, it's just a recognition that people move in different directions sometimes. Keep the door open on your way out, but be prepared for the 'other side' to react differently.

(EDIT: I've just recently gone through a "falling out" with a long-time group of friends over just such a thing. Some of these are things I wish I'd tried sooner.)


Guild Warrior
Apr 11, 2020

my TF2 spray. It's even more effective at getting people to play medic than just shouting down the microphone.

Behaviour modification through being funny!

Mark J Kline

New member
May 7, 2010
Very interesting. Do you mind giving a little more specifics about what happened with your group? You don't have to respond if you don't want to of course.


New member
Jul 1, 2009
This happens to my SC2 group often, my normal 2v2 partner gets so frustrated when we play in our less regular 4v4 teams. Anyone who's played knows that the more people play, the more cheap, nasty tactics you'll get, when all 4 gang up on 1 player early on. You try to do the same thing, which works for a while until you get beaten by truly better players, and you feel useless!

But yeah, unfortunately my friends *wants* to be a leader but he has no leadership skills apart from shouting. We've been butting heads most times we meet in person with our friends because he wants to dominate the group and when I question him he goes mental at me


New member
Jun 20, 2012
If it comes down to it, play with them as two different groups. Play more casual games or lower difficulty settings when you are playing with the less devout players. I don't know what game(s) you play, but non-ranked matches in some games may even let the 'good' players keep their high stats etc.

I've dealt with similar situations, and had multiple solutions over time depending on what game we were interested in, tell us how it goes if you want more feedback.


New member
Apr 17, 2011
If you suck, recognize that fact and find a group that is playing for fun, not achievements or competitively. This is easy in co-op by playing on the easiest difficulty. If this is a multiplayer FPS, try to get some tips or, if all else fails, always stay near your team or squadmates. If nothing else you can absorb fire for them.