When is teabagging okay in first-person shooters?

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How should we behave in multiplayer games? Is teabagging ever okay in competitive shooters? That's the question we put to the PC Gamer staff in a midweek edition of the PC Gamer Q&A, where we ask the global PC Gamer editorial team for their thoughts on a particular subject. 

As you might expect, this one provoked some divided responses, from some not caring at all to others wondering if we should rename it to a 'friendly fart', which sounds pretty good. 

Jarred Walton: I don't care

I gotta be honest: out of all the potentially offensive things that happen with multiplayer, teabagging has never really bothered me. Language, written or vocal, is far more concerning to me than watching an animated character crouch and stand up repeatedly. Yes, it's stupid. No, I don't care. Of course, I never really played multiplayer Halo, which brings me to my final thought: teabagging is at its best with poorly animated models clipping through each other. 

James Davenport: It's never okay, but hey, let's rename it

I can't endorse teabagging. It's never okay. I mean, it would be fine if it didn't take on such an awful, evocative name. Rigid Halo characters crouching on a dead player isn't gross on its own, but calling it teabagging transforms a cheeky act into a horrible mind theater starring Master Chief dipping his implicit nuts into the mouth of a corpse while the dead player looks on, unwilling. I'd prefer a world in which we don't do it or just reclaim the act and give it a new name. Can't let the frat boys determine the gaming lexicon. Maybe a butt kiss? A friendly fart? Eh. We can strive to keep it grotesque and humiliating. Or maybe developers should all add dance commands to their games. There's nothing wrong with stomping a lifeless form with the Electric Slide.  

Wes Fenlon: I agree, let's rename it

I'm with James that something like a "butt kiss" would steer teabagging away from its existing connotations and the frat boy lexicon. But is the behavior okay, period? This is something I grapple with when I think about competitive games and sports. Literally rubbing in your victory after you get a kill is definitely not sportsmanlike behavior. On the other hand, there's a reason trash talk and teabagging have stayed around for so long, other than the fact that a lot of people are assholes: they can be effective.

You can rile up your opponent, get under their skin, make them sloppy. I can definitely think of times I've been really pissed in a competitive game and let trash talk get to me. It didn't make me play better. Teabagging never made me as mad, but it's a pretty simple, silly way to make an opponent go on tilt. Fair play.

Tyler Wilde: 'Use [testicles] for good, I say'

I thought teabagging was a decent goof back in 2007 or so, and I helped shoot a parody video about it sometime around then. But now it is creepy to me, especially online, where you have no idea who you're playing with. Imagine explaining to someone who doesn't know gaming idiosyncrasies, 'Yeah, I mimed the act of dipping my balls on someone's face without consent today, a hilarious gag we do online.' I know anyone I said that to would view me in an unchangeable and extremely unflattering new way. 

Also, the idea behind the dance move is that the recipient should enjoy it, but we have to go and stigmatize everything, don't we? Make testicles a weapon for humiliation. Nah, use them for good, I say. And when you're my age, also be aware of the symptoms of testicular cancer, as 33 is the average age of diagnosis. Check your testicles for lumps now and then and only put them in people's faces, or pretend to, if they want them there. Just a couple of the rules I live by.

Austin Wood: Just kill 'em back instead

I'd love to say it's only OK when killing a sword user in Destiny 2's Crucible, but even then I can't endorse teabagging either simply because it's a waste of effort. If someone's camping or cheating or using an infuriating weapon, there's no better way to get revenge than just killing 'em back. Nothing sends a message like a good old-fashioned headshot. Dropping a bag afterward is just gonna undermine that message. 

In fact, there's something to be said for not tea-bagging someone, or more specifically, standing over their body just long enough that they start to wonder if you are going to drop the bag. Imagine the fear. Are they gonna bag me? Wait, they're not? What, am I not even worth teabagging? It'll haunt them for years. 

This is known as Schrödinger's Bag, and its power should not be underestimated. 

Samuel Roberts: Two wrongs can, on occasion, make a right

I didn't play much Halo online, but I saw a lot of teabagging around the time Call of Duty 4 blew up. I can't say people doing it really bothers me, though it does at least inform me that the people I'm playing against are probably bastards (which, since I'm playing online against actual human beings, was kind of a given anyway). 

I'll have to refer to the rule of 'two wrongs make a right', here—I think it's probably acceptable only in a case where someone else has done it to you first. I don't give tons of thought to the act itself, because everyone has their trousers on. 

Andy Chalk: It's fine, compared to other forms of online interaction

Teabagging is fine. It's stupid, and few things are more satisfying than watching some smug dumbass get blown away in mid-squat because he was more focused on dunkin' the nuts than paying attention to what's going on around him. But it's silly and harmless, especially compared to other forms of interaction in online games. I mean, there's a reason Bungie made it so damn hard to talk to other people in Destiny 2, right?

Let us also bear in mind that we're talking about games where the goal is literally to murder one another. Your thread is cut short—someone has taken away all you've got, and all you're ever going to have. In that context, is a little bit of the ol' sackface really so bad?