I play support in pretty much every game that has a support class. In MMOs I’m the cleric or paladin, bravely protecting my teammates from harm, or sorting them out after or during a tough fight.
In shooters I’m the field medic, begrudgingly crawling to downed teammates and getting them back in the game. In turn-based games I’m the one flinging out stat boosters and AoE healing.
I’m also the prime target. The one that needs to be taken out first. The easy pickings. Assigned to assassins and overzealous front-liners, I’m the most important – despite dealing barely any damage.
What’s so addictive about playing support? It’s getting a sincere thanks from a teammate after clutching their health bar and dragging it back up, kicking and screaming. It’s spending half the game being incredibly good at running away. It’s weighing up who’s worth saving, and whom you have to let die. It’s being able to contribute in a meaningful way, and not in the typical way.
As someone whose mechanical point-and-shoot aiming isn’t the best, support lets me make a real impact on a game’s outcome. My prowess lies in knowing my teammates, rather than knowing the enemy. My game-sense is on point, and being the one who’s usually on the receiving end, I can sense when the enemy is about to launch a big attack. I can also sense when my teammates will need me for a decisive push.
But what’s the payoff? The frustration of not being able to shake that assassin, because you lack the firepower. The futile efforts to get your teammates to support you back – since, that’s not their job, right? It’s playing against not just the enemy team, but your own team – a team that never checks where you are, or whether you’re even alive or not, but expects you to heal them anyway.
“GG, bad heals.”
Seen far too often. Despite their abysmal K/D, and lack of understanding of what an objective is, they died that one time – so it’s the support’s fault. Never mind that said support was helping the team push on the other side of the map, and had no time to get to a flanker. GG, bad heals.
Support is a scapegoat. It’s difficult to gauge the tank’s impact, unless they’re playing very poorly. Although they might be out of position, if they’re absorbing damage, they’re doing their job. But if their health bar isn’t going up, or if someone dies too many times, it’s not their fault – it’s the support’s. The support should have been there. They shouldn’t have died in the first place; they should have been revived once they did. An easy target for the enemy team. An easy target for blame.
Despite that, I can’t tear myself away. For the moments when a relieved tank spams a thanks emote in the chat after a tough fight. For the moment when a revived DPS player goes on to wipe the enemy team and win the game. Providing just the right stat boost to get my team through a tough choke. Although not all of these are even noticed, I know they happened, and I know I did a good job.