Adventures of a Non-Gamer: Assassin’s Creed
by Shawnie Kelly (@DearShawnie)
I could never put my finger on it exactly, that thing that separates gamers from non-gamers. Well, besides the fairly regular “How do I reload?” themed panic attacks and other disasters of similar nature. There has always been a definite distinction between the two groups, an underlying current if you will, and I have finally figured it out.
Gamers seem to have this innate knowledge of what to do. Let me explain. If I were to go undercover at some super-secret gamer club meeting — assuming those exist? — and weaseled my way into a circle of intense gamers, I would never pass the test. I would maybe blend in for about thirty seconds before the alarm would sound throughout their underground bunker and bouncers would throw me out. In my imagination, these bouncers are really just super sweet gamer girls that politely ask me to leave the premises, but you’re free to imagine whatever you’d like. How did they sniff me out? It’s quite simple. No matter how good I’m getting at learning XYBA controller combos (which is not good at all), I will never be that person that just instinctively knows what to do when they start playing a game.
This was never more obvious than when I played Assassin’s Creed: Revelations for the first time the other day. I was playing with an established gamer, which isn’t as scary as it used to be; I’ve found that most people just want you to be as into it as they are and don’t mind explaining some things. But this person had only played the game a couple of times before, so I was thinking we might possibly be on more equal ground coming into it. Not so much. He somehow already knew the objective of the game, where to go, and how to get done everything that needed to be done. How is this possible? Is there some kind of class I wasn’t invited to that lays the groundwork for general success in every video game, or is it just something that you’re born with? How does it feel to just know what comes next, and does this apply to other areas of your life, like predicting weather patterns? So many questions, so little time.
Assassin’s Creed was fun, but I was confused on the premise/mission. I tend to always want a clear goal in front of me. In general, the conversation went a little something like this:
Me: So, what am I doing here?
Gamer: What do you mean? Just do what the game tells you to.
Me: How do I know what the game is telling me?
This goes on for about thirty more minutes or so, but I ask the question in different forms until the other person either starts crying and/or starts threatening me. Non-gamers want all of the details up front: why are we here, what are we doing, what do all of these buttons do, who are these people, what sort of technology allows you to transport yourself into your assassin ancestor’s thoughts, who invented the technology, did they make a lot of money off of it, are there multiple investors in the ancestor project or is it just one person, where do babies come from? Sorry. As you can see, this approach gets out of hand quickly. But I’m pretty sure this is what I do. Gamers are “one step at a time people” while non-gamers (in my case, at least) are more big-picture, “what is the meaning of life and why are we all here” people.
Besides the unpleasant revelations about my non-gamer self, I had a good time playing Assassin’s Creed. The open-world concept still blows my mind a little bit, but not like it used to. In other words, I am able to restrain myself from climbing trees and stealing random things from people. There was a white ghost version of myself that sort of led the way and acted out everything I needed to do. I named him Gus. Gus was there for the first few minutes of the game, then he disappeared. This meant I was either so far off my original course that I lost Gus, or that Gus was so fed up with my incompetence that he left me for greener pastures. Either way, when Gus was gone, I was lost. I became angry at Gus for leaving me. Do you enjoy giving non-gamers abandonment issues, Gus? My therapist wants you present at our next session.
The setting was beautiful and snowy, which made me think of Christmas. I wanted to tell my character to calm down and have a cup of hot cocoa, but he was pretty intent on slashing that sword all around and killing lots of people — which is totally understandable considering he is an assassin. I think there should be a cozy little pub tucked away in the town somewhere just to give all of these murderers a chance to catch their breath and regroup for a minute. My favorite part was getting dragged behind this runaway carriage and having to swerve from hitting different cliffs and rock piles. This portion of the game reminded me of Snowboard Kids… only the best N64 memory of my entire life! Some might suggest that I stick to Snowboard Kids and leave this crazy gaming adventure behind me, but I’m not a quitter. Gus is a quitter!
Okay, I’m over Gus. Promise.
Happy gaming, you gamers!
Photo Credit: Candy-Janney