Many of the readers and staff members of Lusipurr.com have spent countless hours in the Valve game Team Fortress 2. They may, at times, claim that it is because they enjoy the class-based system of shooting. They may claim that strategy and competition brings the site together. They are lying. The reason that Lusipurr.com plays Team Fortress 2 is because it is the world’s premiere military-themed hat simulator. Ladies and gentlemen who play Team Fortress 2 spend their time perfecting their skills in this game so that they are able to achieve their ultimate goal: finding the greatest hats in existence. The question remains: what makes a good hat? What is it about the hat that is such an appealing aspect of Team Fortress 2?
It is quite obvious that hats are appealing. This much is evident from the amount of money that players of Team Fortress 2 spend in Valve’s online store, buying these pixellated packets of bits to throw onto their fictional online personas. The aesthetic value of the hat, it would seem, outweighs even the functional value of purchasable items, such as new guns and melee weapons!
In a recent interview with site founder Lusipurr, I asked what it was about Team Fortress 2’s hats that were so appealing to him. He replied, “HATS!” I asked for clarification, and again received an enthusiastic, “HATS!!” Clearly, the second exclamation point is meant to represent the enthusiasm with which the hat fanatic reacts to the idea of a new hat.
Hats have no functional value whatsoever in the Team Fortress 2 video game, with a few exceptions. They are a purely aesthetic feature, items that can be found through the random drop system in the game or crafted using other items found through the game’s random drop system. They can also be purchased from Valve’s Mann Co. Store. There are, however, five hats that have functionality when paired with certain equipment items. These hats are The Familiar Fez, Ol’ Snaggletooth, The Attendant, The Milkman, and The Grenadier’s Softcap. They belong to equipment sets for the Spy, Sniper, Pyro, Scout, and Soldier classes, respectively. However, the purpose behind these sets is only to encourage the use of hats.
None of these words address the first paragraph’s most important question. Why are hats so appealing? Aesthetics have been important in the past in other games. The Team Fortress 2 community in particular has a long history of enthrallment with aesthetic design. Many community-made items exist within the game. So many exist, in fact, that Valve held an item design contest from May 24, 2010 until June 28th of the same year. There were an overwhelming number of submissions for item designs, and the winners were turned into official Team Fortress 2 items with various functions. Perhaps some players simply want to be able to look at a hat and say, “I designed that.” Others merely get enjoyment from the fact that the hat allows for a degree of customization for their characters, which is unavailable in most class-based first person shooter games. Still others attempt to build a market economy for hats in Team Fortress 2. They quantify hat value in Scrap Metal, buy and sell hats through the Trading feature, and sometimes even sell hats on eBay. It excites such players that their items, which have no intrinsic value and do not even physically exist, can be worth something in their own eyes and in the eyes of their peers.
But why else are hats an important part of Team Fortress 2? Because they look wonderful! Surely, some of these hats were designed by the great Michelangelo, Van Gogh, or even Thomas Edison! There is no other explanation for their artistic genius!
There are, of course, exceptions. These are the Hatless hats, scourge of the Team Fortress 2 world. These hats are not worth the metal that the player uses to craft them! They are not merely bad hats, they are an absence of hat! These are items that, when placed on a class that normally wears a hat, removes that class’s hat! You are left with an embarrassingly bald Engineer, the Scout’s awful hairdo, a Soldier who has no right to be on the battlefield, or a Sniper who has nothing to hold to his heart to show his victim that he has remorse! When questioned on the subject, Lusipurr said of Hatless hats, “NOT HATS!” When asked if he believed that Hatless hats had any redeeming qualities, the answer was an emphatic, “NO!”
So, what is a good hat? A good hat in Team Fortress 2 is a hat that people enjoy. It is a hat that players of Team Fortress 2 will feel proud to have their characters wear. When asked what hat that he thought was the best hat, Lusipurr responded, “PYRO”. When asked which of the Pyro hats was the best, Lusipurr repeated his former statement. But, Luspurr.com readers and Team Fortress 2 players, what is your favorite hat? Your least favorite? What of your friends? If they have something to say, bring them here!