Adventures of a Non-Gamer
by Shawnie Kelly (@DearShawnie)
Two weeks ago I woke up feeling happy and fulfilled, which my brain interprets 100% of the time as the signal to jump into something stressful and ridiculous. Enter video games.
I am not a video game nerd by any stretch of the imagination. I am a book nerd. I am a word nerd. (Thesaurus party anyone?) But, no, not a gaming nerd. Nintendo 64 circa 1998 is the extent of my experience and I played only one game… GoldenEye 007. I was ten years old and my three brothers and I would play for literally hours on end. Four player was vital in helping establish those healthy family dynamics like first-borns always getting to be first player, last-borns crying when their players are killed (he was five), and middle children fighting over who gets to be the bad guy. I lost this battle often as bad guys are usually “guys” — a minor flaw in my otherwise rock solid argument.
My limited resume didn’t stop me from moving forward with the plan: joining the modern day world of gaming.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect to pick it up and be fully immersed into this seemingly complex culture immediately. All the different consoles and different games and different gadgets are enough to make this book nerd cry like a scared, confused baby. Or a five year old playing GoldenEye. So, I decided to enlist the people who I knew would be down for some quality educational video game sessions. Turns out those brothers are good for something after all — specifically little brothers Peter and Jordan. I texted them separately and hoped they wouldn’t have time to discuss amongst themselves what a terrible idea this truly was. For some reason, they both agreed.
Okay, video games are different now. I expected this of course, but really not to the extent that it’s true. Every game has approximately six and a half hours worth of background information to familiarize yourself with. (Slight exaggeration). I wasn’t allowed to skip the narrative scenes as this is apparently the cardinal sin. I like how you’re supposed to absorb the information without actually getting bogged down in the details. The brothers didn’t like it when I asked specific plot questions like: “Wait, why is the princess wandering around alone in a dark forest? Does she want to die?” or “Wait, wait, this is 5,000 years later? Is that large of a time lapse necessary to the story’s progression?”
Did you know that “sshhhhh” is the most annoying sound a human is capable of making?
Another interesting discovery — you play video games in complete darkness? People, this is all
kinds of unnecessary! I mean I totally get why you do it, the ambiance factor and whatnot. But,
that controller is the Millennium Falcon motherboard and I am a mere mortal… in complete
darkness. I made a mental note to speak with the manufacturer of all things controller and ask
why their logical ordering sequence is “Y, X, A, B.” Those letters are out of order, you guys.
Jordan suggested easing me into the situation rather than throwing me to the wolves, so they started with Fable III because — and I quote — it was “pretty.” I told myself not to be insulted that this was their sole criteria for choosing my game. I played for a little while, but soon wanted to get in on some action. I meandered over to Peter’s collection and randomly chose Splinter Cell: Conviction. I liked the name and hello, anything endorsed by Tom Clancy gets this book nerd’s automatic stamp of approval.
First of all, I know that I’m directionally challenged in real life, but if this game were reality…I would be what we refer to as a “barely functioning human.” One joystick is for movement, the other is a camera — this caused some probs.
“HIT B! HIT B!!” This is Peter’s favorite thing to yell in the midst of an attack from every direction.
“You mean C?!” I squealed.
“There is no C!!” They screamed in unison.
“Stop yelling at me!”
Boys are so scary. I cried a little, but it’s okay. I asked for this. I wanted this. Tough love, right?
I thought my lack of skill was maybe just a girl thing. But, girls do many things that go against our nature, like parallel parking and believing men when they say they’re listening, No, this wasn’t a girl problem. This was a me problem. After several absolute massacres on my virtual mind, body, and soul, I started to get the hang of moving my guy around. This was a total confidence booster.
Then it happened. My first kill. I heard the Hallelujah Chorus which, now that I’m thinking about it, might seem out of place. But it totally worked in the situation. Trust this. I’m now on level three and have been at the same checkpoint approximately 12 times, but I’m loving it. Moving on to other games is the eventual plan. For now though, this is about all my fragile mental gaming state can handle.
My next hurdle is learning some lingo. I personally believe that this would be best accomplished by throwing on one of those cute little head sets and connecting with those monster children that say really horrific things. I don’t know what “pwning noobs” means, but I have every intention of finding out. Jordo and Pete, however, are not down with this plan.
“Do you love mom?” Jordan asked.
“Yes, very much. She’s lovely.” I replied.
“Then don’t ever put on one of those headsets.”
We’ll see. Wish me luck.
Photo Credit Caleb Paullus