Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On being sociable and friendly competition

I'm a sociable guy although you may not know it from my living situation.  I live alone with a couple of fish and a cat.  The cat annoys me but so long as he doesn't deface my throw rugs too often he can stick around.  I have friends that I haven't talked to in over 10 years but I know if I saw them again it wouldn't seem like that long.

I chat with my neighbors regularly and at work I always have a smile and take the opportunity to engage in friendly conversation.  I'd almost call a few of my co-workers friends but the jury's still out on that.  I prefer to bestow the title on those whose relationship with me involves more than a mouse click.  I have more interaction with my co-workers than that but it's still a forced social environment.  Read my last post and you already know my tenure may be tenuous so there's not much point in getting too involved right now. 

and how does this relate to gaming?

Well here's the segue...(pronounced SEDGE WAY and I don't mean the scooter thing)

I love co-op gaming.  You can't have that without being sociable.  I don't care what kind of cold
self-serving introvert you think you are.  Without being able to at least tolerate others of your species you won't get very far in any co-op game. 

If you're REALLY sociable you might actually enjoy pure multi player gaming and actually have one of those fancy bluetooth headsets that let you yell at your teammates on the other side of the country (or the room in my case).

Of course with participation in any group activity (especially gaming) a spirit of friendly competition is bound to develop.  And so it is with me.

As you know I have a regular gaming night with friends and when we get together it's impossible not to recount our accomplishments since our last meeting.  It could be as simple as, "Dude, I beat your time on the Forest trail track."  or "I don't know how you got 1:32 in that hot pursuit race"

It's friendly competition and no blood is ever spilled over it.  It's part of the game and adds to the experience.  It's the effort to best each other that often uncovers aspects of a game that are otherwise hidden. 

I've never gotten angry because someone was better than me in a game.  Hey, I admit that I'm not the best gamer out there.  I do get angry when I uncover a flaw in game mechanics that cheats me of a fair chance however.  A lot of racing games do that.  I personally don't feel you can take full advantage of Shift 2 without a  steering wheel and pedal setup, for example. 

My friend can run rings around me with just a joystick while I can barely get around the track.  In that case I don't try to compete because the design just doesn't work for me and it will never be an even playing field.  I guess that's why I lean toward arcade racers like the new Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit or first person shooters like Call of Duty.  Even strategy games like Company of Heroes can foster competition but due to it's bizarre scoring we usually end up playing co-op instead of head to head.

Test Drive Unlimited was even worse because it couldn't decide if it was a simulation or an arcade racer and it was impossible for me to figure out the car control. I literally broke 2 joysticks over that game before I'd had enough. So other than money, houses and cars I owned in the game the head to head competition with my friends was fairly light.

More to the point of this post, I enjoy friendly competition and I think I know why.  Friendly competition makes you strive to be better while still being supportive. It's not about being better than someone else, it's about discovering more than you would have found on your own.

Now I have to get back to Lord of Ultima.  My buddy just built 10 more cities and it's driving me nuts!

I need to kill something....

Sorry FBI, CIA, NSA and all you other skulkers of the inter-tubes trolling for the next nut job with a fertilizer fetish....

No, I'm not talking about doing anyone in, well at least not anyone who isn't made of pixels.

You see, the new job's been a bit rough and my attitude toward it is getting steadily worse.  Don't get me wrong, My boss isn't a jerk, I get along with just about everybody but in the end it's a hopeless cause. 

It's a lot like playing a FPS that only the most hardened 13 year old gamer could master.  So much time, so much effort and in the end nothing more than an empty triumph at best.  More likely a fruitless waste of time and deep resentment over never seeing the endgame cutscene. 

I can take only so much lipstick on any given member of the porcine.  The longer I'm there the more garbage I uncover and to be honest I'm sick of it.  It's not a challenge it's an exercise in futility.  The road to hell is in no danger of going unattended as good intentions seem to fill the room like so much confetti at a Time's Square new year's celebration. 

Great ideas abound but the underlying issues remain entrenched and jealously guarded.  In this environment all I can do is wait to get fired and hope to find a better means to continue having a roof over my ample noggin.

So how does this relate to killing stuff?

Well, My refuge, however trite it may be, is to sit down and while away a few hours with Borderlands. I can immerse myself in the role of the overgrown steroid mutated badass I could never be in real life without gaining a criminal record and tiny private parts.  I make no representation as to the size of anyone's private parts BTW, I'm just being responsible about the possible effects of steroid abuse...Don't do 'em kiddies!

Anyway, there are times you just need a win over the bad guys to at least pretend that you can triumph over impossible odds. 

Do I sometimes see difficult encounters at work in the context of a game?  Yes I certainly do, in fact it makes it tolerable. 

I don't have any profound phrases about it.  It's just a good example of how gaming helps me tolerate what would otherwise be intolerable.  Some people like to run around the streets in flourescent spandex running pants.  Me, I just like to kill pixels and pretend they're just another one of the silicon and plastic annoyances I have to deal with in the "Real World".