Videogames are great, right? We all know that. To the average player they bring fun, stimulation and cameraderie, demanding only the occasional sleepless night and mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome in payment for the big fat greasy dollops of joy they impart into the world.
However in this slightly delayed (Okay, two weeks delayed, you harpies.) eighth chapter of A Guide To Recognizing Your Gamers, I have chosen to discuss a curious little gamer-type I have come across a great many times over the years, who looks upon the pastime with all shades of reluctance and horror.
Rather than enjoying the fun like the rest of us do, he or she sees games as a double-edged sword upon which one side far sharper than the other. Instead of dashing home from school or work to get a few hours play in or spending Friday afternoon planning the weekend's social gaming calendar, their predisposition causes them to shy away from the games they know they should love, and makes the gaming experience one of naught but pain, suffering, and humiliation.
Want to find out why? Hit the jump.
#12 - The Defeatist Gamer
We are born ill-equipped for this world. It would be safe to say that at the beginning of life we are utterly useless. Our lack of hair, clothes, teeth, motor-skills, and anything in the slightest way resembling a professional level of bowel control makes us all noobs at the start, empty of inventory, low of EXP, and primed for an epic fail at the hands of life's Intangirs.
However long we play, through however many generations and however many games and systems, we will never be all-round masters of our chosen discipline. The noob stage will forever periodically reset itself within our gaming lives with each new challenge, albeit in diminishing strength each time. It is the way of life, and as a sub-division of life, it is the way of videogames. We may be almost as successful as a chocolate teapot and twice as messy the first time we try something new, in fact we almost certainly will be, but each little victory along the path to mastery makes the adventure of learning so much sweeter. And that's the way it should be.
It's not that they haven't got the skills you understand. They're the sort of person who knows everything they need to know and has every ability they'll ever need. But they just keep getting these defective games... They really can't understand how their friends can be happily playing that crap after so many months, and even claiming success when it's clear right at the very beginning that progress is impossible.
Deluded fools. They must be lying to massage their own egos.
To watch the defeatist gamer play is to witness a tragic human drama played out in accelerated form. The entirety of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' Five Stages Of Grief will be occur in front of you, as the defeatist moves through denial ("No worries, I'm pro, I'll nail this. There's got to be at least one game in the world that isn't broken, right?"), anger ("I've got the crappy third-party controller again!"), bargaining ("I'll just put it on easy mode for a few minutes to get a proper feel for it"), depression ("Oh god, it's happening again. This game just does not want me to win. What's the point?") and acceptance ("Oh well, what was I supposed to expect? Videogames just aren't fair. Stupid things").
Not making progress in GTA? Hit a ramp at full speed and jump off your bike at the apex of your arc to see how many buildings you bounce off before you get amorous with the pavement. Leon having an off day? No worries. Just punish the guy's ineptitude by seeing what new ways the Ganados have thought up this week for creatively rearranging his anatomy. The defeatist gamer doesn't see this however. All they see is the leering visage of the "Continue?" screen, their ears filled to brimming with the sarcastic venom dripping from its question.
If allowed to maintain its cruel stranglehold on the defeatist's perception of videogames, this outlook can have serious long-term effects on their gaming career, even cutting it short in extreme cases. Often the defeatist gamer will segue into a one-game gamer, perhaps finding that one title that for some reason brings with it instant success, and fooling themselves into believing that it is the one well-made game on the market and thus the only one worth bothering with.
Initially everything, but only once. As defeatist status cements itself though, less and less new games will be tempting as fear of the inevitable becomes crippling.
How To Deal With Them
Be patient. Be very patient indeed. While helping a defeatist gamer to overcome their hang-ups can take as long as the wait for a Valve game and can try the patience of a monk on valium, when successful it is a very worthy thing to do. You might have to tape their hands to the controller and tie them to the chair in front of the TV in order to force them to face their fear. You might have to ration food off to them every time they press the Start button as part of some Pavlovian conditioning. You might have to fill your house with the sounds of whalesong and the smell of incense for several weeks to create a calming gaming atmosphere. But if you can pull the job off, you may well save someone from a future without gaming, and that has to be worth the effort, right?
Chapter 1 - Back-Seat Gamers and Closet Gamers
Chapter 2 - Chav Gamers
Chapter 3 - Fluffy Gamers and PC Snobs
Chapter 4 - Technical Gamers and Japanophiles
Chapter 5 - Aggressive Gamers and Ghosts
Chapter 6 - The One Game Gamer
Chapter 7 - The Collecting Gamer