Above: not really a gamer.
Playing videogames isn’t quite the same as it used to be, but maybe that’s a good thing. People that don’t game at all that happen to stumble across our hobby seem to mistake videogames for an actual sport, kiddie toy, the devil, or many, many other things. These are things I’ve heard over the years and my thoughts on them.
“Make sure it’s 2 player!”
“It’s-a me! A Basic Recolor of Mario!”
I grew up with a younger brother. I started gaming when I was 5 and he made every attempt possible to do what I did, so he started when he was 3. And he was good. No shitting. One of the most annoying aspects of living with siblings or having company over was taking turns with a game. Nobody really wants to take turns. Ever. We just want it all to ourselves.
It really has less to do with being selfish and more to do with just wanting to enjoy our hobby more. That and…well, okay maybe just a bit of selfishness. But goddamn, I don’t want to sit here and watch my brother just beat the goddamn game in front of me, I want to play, too! Anyway, you can see the conundrum. The solution within most games was to enable the 2 player mode.
The problem is 2 player mode works one of three ways. One, the first player plays until he loses a life, then the second player plays until he loses a life, and so on. Two, the first player plays until he loses a life OR finishes a stage, then back and forth. And finally, you play co-op. The first and third options, especially on older titles, was almost always a pain in the ass.
See, if you messed up, bam, his turn. Then of course, HE doesn’t mess up. Oh no, not at all. He just watched you get fucked by it, so now he avoids said obstacle and proceeds to go on and play FOREVER (probably). Then, after the game is THOROUGHLY and SOUNDLY beaten, your turn! Yeah, thanks, I think I’m done. So what’s so bad about co-op?
Well, in a modern game, nothing. It’s usually done well enough that it’s not too easy or too hard and you get to have a lot of fun with your friend, sibling, pet that you taught to play videogames, or whatever. But in a retro title, you have a lot of “glitches” to contend with. So maybe while playing Contra in a vertically scrolling stage, he “accidentally” leaves you behind and you get killed by the imaginary cliff that’s scrolling upward BECAUSE OF HIM.
Or perhaps he picked up that power up you needed. Or maybe he’s hogging all the power ups. OR MAYBE HE JUST NEEDS A “REAL LIFE PUNCH TO THE FACE” POWER UP AND YOU’RE JUST HOLDING OUT ON HIM. More fights have been started between friends on retro title co-op than anything else in the universe. True story. But the stupidest part to this is if the game is an RPG, which we had a lot of. “Make sure it’s 2 player!” Yeah, I’ll get right on that. I almost wonder if it was meant to be sarcastic.
Well right now, I think the audience is the real winner.
To a degree, this stems off the previous one. Sure, there are a lot of competitive multiplayer games out there, even retro ones. However, again, most of the time we were playing RPGs or co-op titles. So not only did it not make sense, it was effectively the start of a long series of chronic migraines. “Who’s winning?” “We’re playing together. Go make a quilt or something.” “Right, but-” “TOGETHER. TO. GETH. ER. Shoosh.”
Again, this might seem like a minor point, but this would happen EVEN IF WE WERE PLAYING A SINGLE PLAYER GAME. “Well, I just died because you caused me to have a seizure from asking the same stupid question again and again during a single player game, so I guess THEY won, Mom. Thanks.” And you know, I could understand if this was blurted out while we were playing a basketball title or whatever, but here’s the problem with that: it’s not a genuine question.
Look, when a local college football game or whatever is going on and you enter the room to ask who’s winning, you’re sure to get the score, if there was an awesome play or two that was just made, and everyone assumes you actually gave a shit about the answer. When someone enters the room and asks “who’s winning” while people are playing a videogame, you could respond with “PURPLE GRASS IS TASTY” and nobody would give a shit.
“Make sure you take turns with your brother!”
“Wha-NO!! Come on, five more minutes!”
Now, I know this seems similar to the first question, but hear me out. This was often spouted when we rented a game that my mother somehow and quite surprisingly figured out was definitively only single player. She knew that one or the other of us would just hog the console all day. So in a way, it makes sense why she would say something like this.
But here’s the problem. How? Deciding how to take turns with a sibling over a console, not only in who plays first but also for how long and varying factors, is insane. Is it an action game? Well, then just until I die. Oh, but what if it’s a really LONG action game that isn’t very hard? Okay, so let’s limit it to only an hour per. But what if I can’t find any savepoints or there’s no saving or password system or…FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU…
Naturally, I don’t have to worry about that shit today, but back then it was such a pain in the ass. I recall taking turns playing SimCity. On the same city. Cooperatively. Yeah, that was…interesting. Basically, after every few years in game time, we’d switch. It didn’t work HORRIBLY, but it didn’t work too well either. But by far the WORST time for this was when we rented an RPG.
By today’s standards, you can get as much or as little done as you want in an hour in an RPG. But back then? There was no guarantee an hour would level up your characters. Or ensure you get to the next town. Or dungeon. Or even the next savepoint. And of course, there were dick moves like saving, then moving on at the 50 minute point or whatever, claiming that surely, SURELY…there’s a savepoint around the corner…somewhere…probably.
Yes, this too led to some fights. Yeah…”some.”
“But isn’t it just another Grand Theft Auto, Zelda, Mario, etc.?”
“Man, Link really went emo in this one, huh?” “…I’m going to fucking kill you now.”
This is an argument that I heard back then, but especially more often today. No, Game X is not Game Y. Maybe Game X is LIKE Game Y, maybe even to the point of eerily so, but even if it’s made by the same studio, it’s not the same game. Sure, a lot of people give series like Madden some serious shit by doing little else than updating the roster and putting a $60 price tag on it, but that’s…probably…not entirely true.
I say “probably” because I don’t really play sports games, so I can’t really say one way or the other. But I would ASSUME they do more than just that with each revision. A lot of people gave, for example, The Godfather a lot of flak for being “like Grand Theft Auto.” Sure, yeah…it’s like Grand Theft Auto…if it took place in the 30s…and revolved around the immensely popular classic The Godfather…and involved taking down rival families…and had the innovative blackhand system…and had a decent cover mechanic…and had solid RPG elements…wait, how are they the same again?
Oh yeah, you can steal cars and you drive around and stuff. ZOMG SAME GAEM AKSHULLY. Just because a game is inspired by it doesn’t mean it isn’t its own thing. People have given Saints Row shit for being a lot like GTA to the point they state it in the goddamn commercial. Look, it isn’t. Saints Row is awesome and if you don’t check it out because “HURR IT’S JUST GTA,” you’re seriously missing out.
I could argue this all day with plenty of examples, but I’m sure we’ve all done the same and I’m equally sure you’re as exhausted as I am from it.
“Videogames corrupt the soul, mind, body, rabble, rabble, rabble…”
Let’s get this out of the way right now. I’m a christian. I don’t go to church every Sunday, I don’t wish more people would go to church, I don’t invite people to church, and I don’t press my values on other people. Some would say that means I’m just not religious and perhaps they’re correct, but I know what I believe, I’m not going to force you to believe it, and I don’t give a shit if you don’t believe it.
Live and let live is often the best practice when it comes to things like that. And that said, let me tell you, I get fucking pissed when I see some asshole evangelist trying to throw videogames under the bus. Most of this hate is spawned from ignorance, which could be corrected if, oh, I don’t know…they actually played some good fucking games and chilled out a bit.
Yeah, GTA3 involves killing people, stealing cars, evading and/or killing the cops, and plenty of other nasty shit. It’s also cathartic. I don’t play GTA3 and go “man, if only I could do this for real.” No, I play it and go “HURR I JUST RAN OVER A WHOLE LINE OF PEOPLE ON THE SIDEWALK.” I play it because it’s fun to play through the missions or even just fuck around in the game.
“But videogames make you fat!” So does fast food, watching TV for hours on end, not exercising, and thinking about good food. What? Oh, that last one? I swear it’s real…everytime I think about some super delicious food, I feel myself gain weight. “But videogames make you violent!” Yes and no. In younger kids, they can inspire false confidence, which will probably lead to arrogance and the belief that they can kick peoples’ asses because they pulled off that awesome perfect win in that new fighting game they just played.
For adults that really get into games, well…it’s like watching a movie. When you watch some super awesome martial arts flick, you walk out of the theater pumped up, like you HOPE somebody picks a fight with you so you can thoroughly spank them. And that feeling lasts for about…5 minutes. Maybe longer, but usually about 5 minutes.
You are not this man. Probably.
It’s an adrenaline rush. Often we’re not in a normal frame of mind while we play a game because it requires focus, dedication, reflexes, luck, skill, and plenty else to keep moving through the game. So if we ragequit something, we’ll be super pissed for a bit and yes, the game caused it. But we’ll get over it. The game itself doesn’t make us violent in that we act out violence we played in the game; it makes us violent because we’re mad about something and that could literally happen with anything, games or otherwise.
“Well, videogames turn your brain to mush!” I have a bachelors degree in programming, started programming on a 286 when I was 10 and couldn’t type properly yet, have always been gifted in various subjects like math, have multiple IT certifications, have lots of tech experience, and yet I drink almost every night and game regularly. That’s some pretty strong mush right there.
“Videogames…well, videogames are a waste of time!” Actually, everything’s a waste of time. It takes time to do anything, even decide what you’re going to do next. To cut the amount of time it takes to do something is to improve efficiency, but not necessarily effectiveness. To improve both, you have to become one with the task. So to become a fast reader, you need to first be good at reading, then be invested in what you read, and have good memory so you know what you just read and retain it.
And yet, I can do that or I can watch the movie about the book, which may have had some stuff lost in translation, but I can still say I experienced it and move on with my life. And I know, I know…you get SOOO much more out of the book. Yeah, and waste plenty of time doing so. OH SNAP. Furthermore, reading as a hobby rather than reading to learn seems like a waste of time to me.
Also, why learn what you won’t use? When I was in college, I was required to go to the following bullshit courses: environmental science, humanities, sociology, U.S. history, COMP101…yes, in a COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJOR. I mean, I guess COMP101 would make sense, but if that’s the case, what the hell are you doing wanting to be a programmer if you don’t know how to use Microsoft Word?!
That’d be like me saying I want to be a mechanic, but I don’t know how to put more oil in my car. In any case, there are plenty of ways to waste time, money, and whatever, but I’d rather spend it on videogames. Really, is that so wrong?
To all the gamers that read this: continue being awesome. Don’t be “that guy” that gets on the news for beating someone to death for stealing their virtual sword online or whatever. To all the non-gamers that read this: seriously, shut the fuck up. If you want to play, play. If you don’t, whatever. But don’t pretend to know anything at all about games if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.