Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hit Reset

Hi there! Like Daniel, I was introduced to gaming with Mario and Duck Hunt at a friend’s house. Unlike Daniel – and, likely, most people reading this – I failed entirely to grasp Mario’s reasonably simple controls: I held the controller in my hand and behaved in a way that I hoped Mario would emulate, eschewing buttons in favor of full body performance art. When I wanted Mario to run, I’d jog in place; when I wanted him to jump, I’d jump. I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the basic conceit assumed by Mario (and nearly every game to follow), which is to say, I couldn’t translate athletic feats into appropriate combinations of buttons. I’m glad we weren’t playing Tekken. It would’ve been ugly. My tastes have evolved since then, while my skills, sadly, have remained more or less unchanged. I am a kind of remarkable canary in the gaming mines – I am sent in to new games to discover new and exciting methods by which a character can be murdered. Zelda 64 was the first game that really drove home my inability to perform basic virtual functions: using a joystick to “walk” in a straight line became an integral part of gaming, and I could not muster enough coordination to do anything but weave and bob like a drunken tourist in search of his hostel. Lava was a hazard, as were cliffs, and enemies requiring “speed” or “accuracy” or “doing anything while running” became impossible obstacles. So now, I appreciate the quality of many new games – Left 4 Dead is stunningly addictive, and everything I’ve seen of Mass Effect has impressed me – but I really only play games consistently if they require a minimum of digital dexterity. The Civilization series holds a special place in my heart, as do traditional Japanese RPGs. Portal was incredible, but watching me play it was like being trapped in a theatre showing a snuff film on a loop. Anyway, I’ll be writing my take on being bad at good games, which I hope will serve as both warning and entertainment to gamers with hardcore tastes and casual skills. Want to know where you’ll die – repeatedly – in the newest Metal Gear? Want to find out when friendly fire isn’t so friendly? Ever wondered why a rocket launcher isn’t considered a “melee” weapon? I’m your man! So let’s hit reset and try again!

1 comment:

  1. you guys are all massive nerds (compliment). I'll be checking back here now and again.


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