Let’s be honest, I’m not a huge gamer. The only video game I ever played as a kid was Super Mario Brothers. We had a Nintendo console when I was in primary school, and just that one game to play on it. I was one of those players who was mocked for thrashing the remote around pointlessly as if I thought it worked like a Wiimote! I choose to interpret that information as that I was a genius player who was far more advanced than the technology at the time. Heh.
My next exposure to video games came when I was about 12, and living in Vancouver. Our neighbours had older teenage boys who played what I think must have been Myst. I remember watching them play and thinking it was the most incredible game I’d ever seen. It seemed way longer, much more complex and absorbing than the little console game I was used to. I was intrigued, but didn’t try it. I don’t think I ever had an opportunity to.
I didn’t come across any other games myself for years and years. I noted that in year 12 Andrew played Final Fantasy 2 for 150 hours during his final exam period alone. I also noticed that various Sutekhers referred to WoW, which I had never heard of before uni, as crack for gamers. The same people warned Andrew to never EVER try it, and told horror stories about people losing their jobs and relationships to their WoW addiction.
Then, Alan and Ingrid started playing WoW. We lost them for a few months! It changed the whole dynamic of our household. It was so quiet (other than the skype conversations between guild members) and weeks would pass with very little interaction between us and Alan and Ing. It made me sad! (I should mention that since then, most of our housemates play very much less often and it’s not a case of antisocial house anymore. So, yay!)
Then Andrew started to play in a guild which only played on one day per week for 4 hours. They did it that way so that all of their characters would be at similar levels so that they wouldn’t be pressured to (or able to!) play too much alone without getting ahead of everyone else. It was a great idea! But, it was hard to stick to the time limit, with some people starting late, and having to do pre-questing outside of the planned hours. It still often went over time. This caused a few rows between me an Andrew when in cut into our plans.
Then Nathan and Jodi started playing together… Then me.
I suppose it was a bit of a case of, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I tried it one night, sure I’d find it boring and be unable to figure out how to do it properly. But, I very quickly discovered, that it really is like crack. The more I write about this, the more it feels as though I’m recounting how I got mixed up in hard drugs!
Here’s what I mean. I am probably the world’s most impatient, restless person with the shortest attention span of anyone I know. I find watching movies very difficult because of this, and get antsy about a half hour into most card/board games. I struggle to read for more than about half an hour at a time. I feel most comfortable when I’m up and actively doing something, like cooking or cleaning. So, on that first try of WoW, I expected to last about half an hour, thinking I’d very quickly get bored or frustrated. But, the first time I thought about the fact that time might, you know… be passing, and looked for a clock, I thought that about an hour had passed.
Six had! This immersion seems to be a common occurrence with me and WoW, and nothing has EVER had that effect on me before. It’s so engrossing. I forget about everything while I’m playing, so it’s a fantastic way to have a solid break when I need it. It also blows my mind how huge and complex the WoW world is. It’s incredible to me that you can play for years and still discover new things, improve and complete new quests.
It also gives me a real sense of achievement, to figure out the best way of doing things (ie- tactics and using new skills, locating quest items/characters etc). To me, playing makes me feel similar to completing harder and harder sudokus or crosswords that build on each other. Even just that I could figure out how to play at all made me pretty chuffed, considering my lack of experience compared to everyone else!
I have now levelled my character to 34 out of 80 possible levels, and still play from time to time. But, I have always insisted on playing alone. That’s very linked to my reasons for enjoying WoW. My enjoyment comes from figuring it out on my own to get that feeling of satisfaction and progress. I know that a lot of other players love the interactive, team work aspect of guilds, but there are several reasons that that aspect is not for me.
I cannot commit to maintaining my character at a similar level as the other guild members. Even once a week is too often for me. I fear feeling obligated to do something that’s meant to be fun and relaxing when I’m busy, tired or stressed. Un-fun to the max! For that same reason, I have always had commitment issues about things like ongoing role playing games or even long board games or Poker. Also, I’m way behind everyone else in WoW, and don’t want to rush to catch up.
But, enough about WoW.
When Alan and Ingrid got a DDR machine, it was so awesome! We all played together and progressed together. It’s really my type of thing, being more active. It’s actually a real work out, especially at higher levels! I like that you can play competitively or in exercise mode on your own. The music is pretty amusing as well.
We also got a Wii last year. I think it’s way more fun than the old style of console. It suits me in the activeness of it, and in the shortness of the games. It’s pretty amazing the way the motion sensors can pick up movement in all directions and speed. Also the Miis are pretty hilarious. Mine looks like a very serious librarian.
I’ve really loved Wii Sports, especially boxing (which made my wussy arms so sore the next day!), bowling, group play tennis, in which I found it difficult to avoid causing random accidental back hands. I haven’t tried Wii Fit yet, but I’m interested.
I also really love Smooth Moves. It’s sense of humour is so wacky and surprising. I think it’s cool how it makes you think on your feet and interpret the hints quickly. The way it gets faster and faster, giving you less and less time to complete each mini game gets me excited and really annoyed when I get out!
The most recent game to have taken over our house is Left 4 Dead, which Tom has already talked about, and I’m sure Andrew will talk much more about in his post. It has swallowed Andrew and Alan, and loads of other people as far as I can tell. I have not picked it up myself, but I have had a go. It’s pretty awesome, even just to watch. The graphics are so realistic to start with, there are so many surprises and the emphasis on team work is so strong. It’s a rush to play, even as a complete beginner. I think I’ll play it some more in single player to get better at it before I try playing with a team. The only trouble is that there seems to be a bit of a mean social aspect attached to it, where the (normally nice) players all yell insults at each other when mistakes are made. I don’t get why everyone behaves that way when they’re playing, and I don’t like it. To the regular players: I’d love any explanations you have as to why this culture exists in L4D.
So there you go! That’s the entirety of my life’s video gaming experience in post form.