Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's In The Game

Here's another entry in the "I'm an old fogey" category: video games.

The reason I don't like modern video games and the way they are played is because I was around for the first ones. I was in my early teens when Pong and Asteroids and Space Invaders came along. My sister won a game console in a competition and we spent hours playing Table Tennis (singles and doubles) and Tank Battle on our black-and-white telly. It was new technology. It was exciting and fresh. And as we progressed through Pac-Man, Defender and Galaxian, we loved it. Even in the early 90s playing on a friend's NES ("Duck Hunt" with the bright orange pistol) and Sega ("Sonic The Hedgehog", "Road Rash"), to my own N64 with games like Mario 64, Polaris Snowcross and Madden NFL 99, it was still cool. I then owned a GameCube which I loved to play Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 on. But in the last couple of years I have started to really abhor the new video games. I shall now lay out my objections to them one by one.

  • Too real-looking. In the old days you knew you were playing a game because it didn't look real. These days you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a movie, especially since some of them have so much prologue before the actual game starts you could take a nap and still wake up in time to throw the first punch.(Yeah, Mortal Kombat, I'm talking to you!)
  • Back in the day you lost and that was it. Then they started giving you 'extra lives'. Nowadays (Mortal Kombat again), you can get knifed in the throat and eye socket and have your sternum crushed by a heavy boot and still get to wake up and fight again. The same thing occurs in Call Of Duty: Black Ops. You can get shot and be revived by a comrade. What's the deal with that?
  • Bizarre scenarios that make absolutely zero sense. In Call Of Duty:World At War there is a subsection called Nazi Zombies in which you and a buddy defend yourselves against undead Aryan stormtroopers who want to eat your brain. I'm sorry, I've read a lot about WW2, but that part I missed.
  • Too confusing. Too fast for my addled 45-year old brain to cope with. Watching a teenager play these games and seeing their reactions to the rabble-babble hubbub on the screen can make you go bonkers. You just sit there thinking "What happened there? Why did he get angry just then? What the hell is going on?"
  • Split screen makes it even worse. I have enough trouble following the action on just one screen, without there being two or more.
  • Xbox Live. The other day I was watching Jack playing some shoot'em up game online and hearing these braindead American teenagers mumbling random nonsense at what must have been 5 am their time. I just wish we'd had our mic plugged in at the time. I wanted to yell at them to get a life or a girlfriend or just go to bed.
  • Too much blood. In the above games when someone gets killed, shot, wounded or even lightly grazed, it seems to produce blood spatter of the kind that forensic investigators dream about finding. And the funny thing is, it never seems to stain the flooring, ever. It just disappears.
Another realisation hit me the other day which was that I am not much into playing video games with others. Watching Matt and Ewan and their buddies play games in multiplayer mode, yelling insults at each other the whole time and telling each other "No no NO NOOO!!! Don't go in there!!! Shoot him!!! In the head!!! NOOOOOO!!!" made me realise this. I have always enjoyed video games more when I am playing against the computer. Same goes for card games. Much more into solitaire than rummy or poker.

A lot of people think video games are bad because you are sitting indoors the whole time and not getting any exercise. Well, that argument used to hold water before Wii Sports, the Wii Fit and the Xbox Kinect. But I think the thing that I dislike most about video games is the "first-person shooter" games. I like strategy and puzzle type games such as BrainAge, Myst, Riven (showing my age here, but you get the idea). I like having to use my intelligence. If a game does not challenge my intellect in some way, I will soon get bored with it.

But truly the worst games are the ones that have appeared on Facebook such as Farm/Pet/FishVille, Car Town, Cafe World etc. You know the ones. The ones where you are forced into playing it every day otherwise your pet will starve, your farm will dry up, your car will fall to bits or your food will go rotten. You get suckered into upgrading your pet/car/restaurant/aquarium all the time to compete with other players, and if you don't have enough points to buy the latest upgrade, well, no matter, because all you have to do is give them your very real credit card number and you will be charged X number of very real pounds/dollars/yen/rupees/drachma to keep your virtual world in a pristine condition. What's wrong with this picture?

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