GLHF – pt 3: Kindness

GLHF is a series that looks to better understand the dynamics of sportsmanship in video games, today we are taking a look at how manners are being taught and propagated among players, and the presence of kindness in competition.  If you like this article please feel free to check out the rest of the series: pt. 1: Sportsmanship in video games, pt. 2: Selfishness / Noncompetitive play,  pt. 4: Respect, pt. 5: Rage Quitpt 6: Toxicity, pt 7: Honorably Growing Culture, pt 8: Sadness & Defeat, pt 9: How to play for friendship, and pt 10: What we’ve learned.


GL (Good Luck)

I remember my first time seeing a chat box in an online game. There were so many different acronyms to learn and each went beyond internet chat and resembled culture.  There were phrases one said at the beginning of a match, at the end of a match, to taunt, to praise, but the one that made the greatest impact was the first one learned, “gl” or good luck.  In competition it has been a long standing tradition to wish your opponent luck, which can be used both as a genuine wish of good fortune in recognition of a shared love for the game you are playing, or as a backhanded comment to suggest that luck would be needed to best you.

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In terms of video games I was happy to see that this expression not only existed but was a regular part of the vernacular when communicating with one’s opponent.  Once I learned that it was good manners to say good luck I held it close to my heart to say so in every match no matter how heated I’ve been from the match before.  I say it in hopes of being a part of the community that makes competitive gameplay civil at the very least, and enjoyable at its best.

HF (Have Fun)

Although I went into gl as its own statement, since it can be seen as such in games like Clash Royale, rarely it is seen without its counterpart “hf” (have fun).  This seemingly inconsequential sentiment may actually be a more positive statement within the community than gl in the sense that it reminds your opponent of the reason they decided to play a game against you, to have fun.  In essence this is one of the hardest things to maintain in a competitive game, the sense of fun while winning, while losing, while learning and growing in skill, we should always be having fun, we should always be playing.


When the game becomes a grind, when it becomes work, players are prone to rage quitting, flaming, and being toxic.  Thus hf stands as a reminder to all players that we play both with and against each other to have an enjoyable gaming experience.  The beauty of a simple act like saying good luck have fun is that it helps to create and preserve an environment of play.

Encouragement GJ / NJ

As the match progresses we also see that players have the opportunity to encourage their teammates through chat and this can have a powerful effect on team collaboration.  While it is most common to hear players decrying their teammates for a missed skill shot, or for not paying attention, you’ll sometimes see a player give a nod to their teammates positive performance with a gj or nj (good job / nice job).  This subtle phrase helps teammates feel acknowledged for the progress they make, it stokes their pride and encourages them to continue playing and performing at the level they have proven themselves capable of.  Whereas the opposite, vicious criticism has a chilling effect on the player since they start to feel less and less capable.


I personally find it to be more powerful when the praise is shouted from the rooftops, where a good job would have sufficed I become a bard in chat, singing tales of my teammate’s greatness.  This often results in humility and appreciation from the receiving party and a sense of trust which allows us to rely on each other’s best performances.

I believe it to be important to remember the expressions to kindness and politness we have created in our community, since they seem to be a rare method of interaction, but can have such a profound impact on how we see competition, our opponents, and ourselves.


What do you think of kindness in competitive games? Do you say GLHF in your games?  Do you do so often, rarely, never? Do you encourage your teammates or do you criticize them?  Do you believe they have a positive impact in our community? Do you feel something behind saying them or do you simply do so as a matter of habit and “good manners”?  I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please respond to the thread for this article, or talk to me through my email or any of my social media:

Play Professor is the blog of ludologist and video game journalist Andrew Mantilla. You can check out more of his content on FacebookTwitterInstagramand Youtube.


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