Know Your Role
We all have great ideas, and part of working together is making suggestions. However, at the end of the day there can be only one leader. There’s a fine line between offering timely advice and mutiny; it’s hard to know which side of the line one is on. When in doubt, hush up. Nobody’s in harm’s way in a tangible way in a computer simulation — let the leader make a mistake and learn from it.
If the leader says to hold in place — and you know you’re exposed and the whole team will probably get killed in the next forty seconds, hold any way. The guy in charge will know what was wrong in less than a minute, and learn from it.
Don’t Be a Jerk
Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, FM 22-100, Military Leadership, listed a sense of humor as one of the 23 traits of character. If memory serves, it was number sixteen down the list, between Candor and Competence. So we all got shot up or shot down — big deal. Berating other players sucks the life out of everyone; likewise, we can see the score and know you did a great job so there’s no need to rub the noses of those with a lower (or, in my case, a zero) score in it.
We’re press to talk, remember? “Oh, man, I rock!” and “Wow, you really stink at this!” are best said off microphone. Keep a sense of humor about honest players playing honestly. I’ve made closer friendships from missions that went all wrong than ones that went perfectly, that’s for sure.
No profanity as a rule, be helpful, and keep the peanut gallery comments where they belong: off the air. In short, don’t be a jerk.
The WRIT Rule
Gotta love acronyms! WRIT is simple: Wait: (is it) Relevant, Important, or Time Sensitive?
Wait: self explanatory. Don’t just automatically key the microphone the second a thought comes to your head. This is the hardest thing for me! Half a second’s pause if it’s not a contact with the enemy to formulate what you’re going to say, so that you can move to the next part,
Relevant: Is what you’re going to say matter? Let’s say I placed some satchel charges and some M136 rounds in the back of a HumVee in an ArmA session before moving back to the squad after death number 32 (that would be twenty minutes into Evolution Saturday). Since we’re going to be blowing up a tower, it’s relevant. If the squad leader is calling for a sniper, saying you’re carrying an M16A2 with iron sights isn’t relevant.
Important: “I am out of anti-armor rounds” is important to the squad leader, while “I am carrying a pistol as well as my rifle” isn’t. “I’m en route from the base to your location,” is important; “I drive like crap” isn’t; they call any vehicle I drive in ArmA the “Dramamine Express” for a reason. Hearing me say the obvious is needless chatter that doesn’t inform anyone of anything useful, and may prevent someone from calling out a contact with the enemy.
Time Sensitive: Do you need to know this now? Let’s say I put those satchel charges in the HumVee at the start of an assault on the town. It’ll be a good twenty minutes before we’ll need them, and it’ll be forgotten in five minutes by everyone but me. It’s not time sensitive when I loaded them, but as we get closer to the tower, it becomes important. Enemy contacts are time sensitive; you can’t wait to tell about it!
Chat Bars Are Your Friend
Anything that doesn’t pass the WRIT rule should go in the chat bar. Think of it as the “general information” channel of information. “LOL, I’m the guy going into combat driving a big white bus” is perfect chat bar fodder, but clogs up TeamSpeak and can be a nuisance.