Thursday, December 09, 2004

Speaking in the First Person

Last night, for the first time in my life I tried my hand at a first person shooter game. Some of you may know....I'm attrocious at video games. Ever since I saved up my money to buy an NES, I've been bad. Generally this ineptitude takes the form of flustered frantic button pressing, without pattern, sense or purpose. (Though, in the interest of full disclosure at one point in time I did calm my jangled game playing nerves enough to be okay at MegaMan 2). The frustration with video games has only worsened with the advent of controllers with toggles, buttons, switches and vibrating sensors. For someone who had trouble with TecmoBowl, having the opportunity to control whether Peyton Manning blinks three times or four times while dropping back to pass--while nifty, only makes my life harder.

But these concerns were nothing compared to the mind-fuck that is a first person shooter. Usually I can look down on my character with godlike detachment and enjoy their failing as somehow divorced from the manic hand motions I'm making. But in a first person failings are given a visual form. I played Halo2 last night. Or rather I held a controller and pushed a whole lotta buttons. I spent a lot of time firing a machine gun into the wall directly in front of me as I whirled like a dervish trying to find my opponent. I felt like I was watching some outake from The Doors. Colors rushed by and the floor and ceiling flew at me with a pace that made me queasy. Needless to say the finer points of the game (great guns, and fancy plasma whatnots) were lost on me. Mark tells me that the average age of a "gamer" is 28. Well I'm 25 and frankly it's like trying to mime about 11th century flemish architecture. I don't know what I'm doing, and I'm not doing it well.

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