Years and years ago a number of my friends used to get together, either in-person or online, and play Battlefield 2142 on our PCs. A first-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on team and squad tactics, it was a great way for all of us to relax after work and either commiserate with or commend each other’s performance as we shot at other people online. I think at the peak we had 7 people regularly hopping on, which made a full squad plus me as the map commander, giving orders and using special aerial support abilities as necessary. On maps with up to 64 players, having a dedicated and competent squad following orders made a huge difference.
One time a roommate and I were just playing around, trying to help our team take control of an important waterway in the middle east; the map scenario was dry and dusty, with plenty of man-made obstacles to hide behind dispersed in a huge map of flowing sand dunes and irrigation ducts. While we were both able pilots, the map also had a fair amount of anti-aircraft installations, and so we jumped in a tried-and-true hover tank to reach our destination. Unwieldy to drive and less powerful than its bulkier cousin, the hover tank nevertheless had fantastic maneuverability, once one got the hang of its sensitive controls. Fortunately, my roommate loved using them and so I knew we were in good hands.
Roughly halfway through the map we saw an enemy soldier making a break from one base to another. Not content to leave him be, my roommate opened up with the tank’s primary pulse cannon while the light machine gun I was manning roared to life. The enemy took cover within a maze of indestructible blockades, hoping to wait out our assault in a place the hover tank could not follow.
“Keep him busy,” I said to my roommate, who continued to launch plasma shots into the area. We knew they wouldn’t do any damage, but the cover fire did keep the enemy pinned down at least. From a quick glance at him, we didn’t think he had any anti-tank armaments, but we didn’t want to give him the chance to take aim in case he had.
I jumped out of the tank’s second gunner seat and sneaked my way around to the side of the concrete jungle in which he hid. With any luck he hadn’t seen my dismount and was happily paying attention to the tank which was foolishly shelling his position rather than moving to another map objective. I was in luck, he remained crouched down behind a small cargo crate, not far from where we first lost him.
“Oh this is gonna be good,” I smirked, and pulled out my knife. In BF2142 melee kills were rewarded with the victim’s dog tags, forever displayed on your account. I crept up behind the unobservant player until our character models were all but overlapping, and I took his dog tags. The enemy despawned and the server was informed that he had been knifed in the back.
My roommate and I had a good chuckle, until our screens went back to the main menu. “Lost connection to server,” the game said. Upon attempting to reconnect, a very different message awaited us:
YOUR IP HAS BEEN BANNED FROM THIS SERVER
Our chuckles turned into peals of laughter as we realized what had happened – the player we chased around wasn’t just any random internet user, he was the administrator of the very server on which we were playing. His ego was so bruised by us working together and humiliating him that he kicked us and banned our IP address from the server.
I’ve played many online games, both before and since, often with or against the players who managed the server, but in all that time I’d never had someone freak out over being killed to the point where I was banned from playing with them. Even to this day, more than ten years later, my ex-roommate and I still laugh about the time we “took that admin’s dog tags” and it really forms a great capstone on a game that, for all of its flaws, represented a great period of camaraderie and socialization with my friends.