I was going to call this “(I’m) Not a Gamer”, but I’m pretty sure most of you know that by now. The truth is, of the vast amount of media I consume daily, video games make the smallest part. But, they also make a part of the media I consume daily, unlike comic books or novels. I grew up with a game console, my friends got me an NES for my birthday in grade five, along with a crapton of classic games. I should really look into getting that repaired. Hooked up to a TV, maybe. But, still, on the totem pole of media I consume on a regular basis, video games are forever the lowest. I read a lot of stuff about gamers, by gamers, about games, about video game series and developers. Most of my guy friends would likely self-identify as gamers–this includes Chad, Dan, Dave, Chris. I don’t, but I still play games daily.
I’m, at heart, a casual gamer. Now, I know that’s equivalent to calling yourself one of several applicable racial slurs in the gaming community, but it’s true. I’ve never moved beyond platformers and see no real need to. I like my 2D and 3D platformers, along with my visual novels and puzzle games. The first game I ever reached the end credits on was Super Mario Galaxy, and even then, I bought my own Wii and copy of it to play. That’s the kind of thing I’m good at. I had copies of Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow when they came out, but the furthest I ever got was around Saffron City, just after beating Giovanni for the first time. I think that’s the first time, anyway. I spent my childhood getting my ass handed to me in GoldenEye, Super Smash Bros. and any multiplayer title at the sleepover.
There are many barriers between me and video games. For the first, most obvious one, even basic RPGs and JRPGs require skills I don’t have and dedication I don’t want to have. Those kind of games require lots and lots of time and effort to even work your way up to a skill level where the game says you’re allowed to beat things. I always got bored of the grindfest Pokémon became after you’d got all your mons up to a level where the previous gym was easy but the next gym was impossible. I didn’t see the point in working, hours at a time, just to accomplish a task that would only take 45 minutes tops and would reward me with nothing but the ability to do it all again.
This is the same problem I have with Final Fantasy (any of them, including XI and IV) and Earthbound. I know these games are supposed to be singular works of art that make other grown men reconsider their lives or their positions in the universe or whatever. All they are to me, from Earthbound to FFXIII are grindfests. You spend hours at a time doing the same thing, over and over again. I recently asked a big FF fan friend of mine if waiting six hours for a 2D platformer to get good was a long time. Then I remembered Yahtzee Croshaw saying that it was bollocks to say that FFXIII gets good about 20 hours in. That was my slap in the head for asking a guy who played the entire first disc of FFIX for fun.
What of shooters? My aim sucks. I didn’t grow up with the idea of mouse shows where head looks, press forward to walk where head is pointing thing. I grew up with the idea that I could look forward, walk diagonally, change where my head was pointing midstride and keep going the same direction. You know, walking. This is why I sucked at GoldenEye, gave up on Portal a level or two in and got laughed at any time I tried to play Halo in high school. I’m just no freaking good at it. The same goes for any game with those walking mechanics. I can’t get into it.
Wide-open sandbox style gameplay? The moment cops pulled me over for driving a tank in GTA: Vice City, I think I got off the train. Sure, it’d be great to go in and seriously wreck some stuff, but not only do I need a code to find a tank, I get chased by cops. Too realistic. The furthest I’ve ever got in even an entirely linear, sandbox-esque game was the sixth ranked assassin boss in No More Heroes. And even then, after spending more than an hour fighting the same one-legged, missile launching boss, I got tired of it. Yeah, it was tough. It was tougher than me. Congrats, No More Heroes, you ceased to be fun.
And sure, I’d love to get into Just Cause 2, but that plays into the other thing (thankfully) keeping me separate from modern gaming. I own a Wii, and that’s it. I’ve always stuck with Nintendo when it comes to games because, frankly, their games are just fun. There’s no work involved, just fun. I own Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, I’ve played both, I apologize for nothing. A lot of people scoff at Nintendo for choosing a different mode of gameplay over HD graphics, but I’ve noticed that both Microsoft and Sony have put out motion controls for their systems, but Nintendo hasn’t even addressed HD once. Can we measure how important something is to a console by which sold more consoles, rather than which looks better? And by which idea was plagiarized by the competition years after the fact to cash in on the new market of gamers?
So after all this ranting, again, I’m just no good at video games. I don’t want a hardcore gaming experience. I don’t want the satisfaction of having murdered the entire world, or to have to read through 50 hours of gameplay to reach some fantastic ending. I’m a casual gamer, and I’m willing to talk to hardcore gamers, but every time I try to listen to their opinion, I get told that I’m the plague that’s destroying gaming. I think that video games have more potential to affect their audience than theater or modern art. But maybe that would involve being nice to people who only play video games daily for a little bit, rather than all day, every day. And maybe it would involve some self-reflection in the entire hardcore gamer community as to what you really want.
Unlike other articles of mine, I’m going to take some time out here at the bottom to say, clearly and with great emphasis, that this is only my opinion. In no way is this opinion researched, informed or intended to be accurate. I do not pretend to be an authority on gaming or any related topics–only an observer with a unique point-of-view when it comes to video games online. Thank you for listening.