By buzz_clik 23 Comments
There's obviously been a lot of hot talk about Salty Bet recently, both on Giant Bomb and elsewhere, and from Jeff's enthusiastic pitch on a recent Bombcast I knew I had to check the site out. I'm not going to explain in detail here what goes on over at Salty Bet – you either know what it is, or you don't and can just pop in there to check it for yourself. Suffice to say I've never had so much fun or lost so much time watching what boils down to an elaborate and sporadically broken attract mode. I haven't written a blog post in a good while; that I'm doing so now may be an indication of how much of a stir Salty Bet's particular brand of nonsense has created in my waking thoughts.
At first, it seemed I could barely pick a winner. I'd lay down Salty Bucks on characters I recognised, their opposition seeming to be crudely drawn monstrosities a third the size, only to see my champions obliterated in a flurry of limbs and insane effects. But after my initial flailing and failing as a fledgling bettor, I slowly started to see repeat characters or telltale indicators pop up. I was slowly building up a mental database of who was stronger, what each character's traits were and who they could beat. Sure, I'd lose when I made a foolhardy bet on a match where I knew neither combatant (I've since learned that I really don't have to bet on damn everything). But I would always just put that down to the learning process I was going through.
Another part of the learning process is recognising that Twitch chat is pretty much useless as part of the learning process. I quickly realised that it was full of conflicting (dis)information, and that the only real way to win any sort of money is to ignore it and use it for comedy purposes only. And even that is strained through a Olympic-standard barrage of everyone saying the same meme every three seconds. Darude's Sandstorm, anyone?
So, after rapidly coming to the conclusion that the formula for any reasonable success is to be patient enough to learn what's what and to never trust the chat, I found I could build up a bit of money (and promptly lose it, rebuild, rinse, repeat). But I'd still see people getting absolutely irate about the obviously lopsided bouts that were occurring. The chat would be flooded with ALL CAPS INCREDULITY, bellowing that they'd been hoodwinked out of their virtual savings.
Now, if you went for a day at the races and had zero idea about the form of any of the horses, just chucking money on a hopeless nag because you liked its name, could you be angry if it ran dead last? Who's at fault that due diligence wasn't done? I simply couldn't understand why these people were so angry – didn't they realise it just meant they hadn't sussed the rules out yet? And that's when I saw that, as much fun as the game of betting and winning can be, there's something way more compelling at play. To me, the dollar amount is merely an indicator of how well I'm doing in Salty Bet's metagame: knowing the expansive roster of fighters.
I get a lot more pleasure out of knowing I bet right rather than knowing I bet big. Mastery of the game isn't about having the most money so much as it's being able to correctly predict the winner of every fight. I'm certainly not at that stage yet, and I still make my fair share of dumb calls with the occasional impatient rush of blood that loses me a bunch of money. Hell, as I'm typing this I've just lost $10K on a member of the 71113 stable, a group of characters I previously thought nigh infallible. But I'm still enjoying the process, even if the constantly expanding cast of fighters means I'll never truly "beat" the game.
Further to my personal epiphany of what Salty Bet's metagame is, last night it dawned on me that it's a masocore metagame to boot. Titles such as I Wanna Be The Guy (a game that Salty Bet shares a similar fuck-your-copyright aesthetic with) have you learn through repetition, dying and retrying maybe hundreds of times before you memorise and successfully avoid all the unfairly concealed pitfalls. Being destroyed and picking your wiser self up is the only way you'll beat that kind of game, and the same is true of the nature of Salty Bet.
Of course, the site's other draw is that it's just fun to watch a doofy menagerie of mismatched opponents jerking around a screen to a schizophrenic soundtrack. Yup, I've just convinced myself that I need to check in on what's going over at Salty Bet. Time to bid farewell to another few hours (and probably more than a couple of ill-invested Salty Bucks).