Hey everyone, guess who's writing again? I've been busy with my studies for quite a while, and on top of that my personal life got massively shaken up a couple of months ago. Luckily, everything is back in order, leaving me with time to write a piece that I had planned to do for some time. And considering all the recent comments that the community needs to step up its game again, what better time than this to finally do it? This blog deals with a more personal side of my (gaming) life.
This is a story about me, about my life and about my experiences with video games. It is also, as so many are, a story about a girl. This girl is in a strange way special to me, but not in the way you might think. Now stay a while and listen, for I will tell you all about the girl with the Triforce bag.
Does anyone know what the absolute best way to play video games is? How can you have the most fun playing video games? Actually, let's go through some of my own experiences and see if we can find out.
A controller is in my hand. In twelve seconds' time I will put it down because I'll have beaten the game. Ten seconds now. It is 2011, and I have just defeated the final boss of Xenoblade. It took me over a hundred hours to get this far and I had an absolute blast. This is a great game and at the very least one of the best RPGs ever made. And yet, something is missing...
It is August 15th 2012, and I am at home alone. One hour ago, I achieved 100% completion on The Binding of Isaac. It's a really (really) addicting game, in which I happily invested all the time and effort I could spare. And yet, something is missing...
It is July 11th 2008. I am playing as Luigi in Super Smash Bros. Brawl because he has a killer air-game. Four years from now I will still be playing as him and loving it. I can already beat several level 9 cpu's without too much effort. I like to think that I'm pretty good at this game. And yet, something is missing...
It is October 16th 2011. Me and my friend have just finished the last co-op room in Portal 2. This is more like it.
Hopefully you can already see where I'm going with this. But just to really bring it home, let me show you what I think the best way to play games is:
But on the off chance that you don't have personal Black Cat and X-23 cosplayers, this will do:
So, while I am madly in love with a great many singleplayer video games, nothing in the world will ever beat the joy of on-the-couch multiplayer. If that's not available online multiplayer works too, at least as long as you can opt to just play with your friends. Whether it be a versus mode in Smash Bros., co-op in Portal 2 or a mixture of both such as in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, it's all great. If you have ever experienced it, I'm sure you know what I mean. The only thing you need are friends to play with you.
And that's exactly the problem.
I've mentioned this before in my 10 things blog some time ago, but I feel the need to go a bit more in-depth. When I was still in high school, I had several friends who played video games. We'd share experiences, hold get-togethers, all the good stuff. I still remember fondly one special multiplayer session where just me and the girl I liked spent all afternoon playing Smash Bros., during which I secretly let her win on several occasions, much to her amusement.
After high school though, over three years ago now, we all went our separate ways. Myself, I moved to a new place about 100 miles away to attend university. And while 100 miles may not sound like much, it is literally half the country over here, so it feels huge to us. As a result of this, combined with everyone having a busy schedule these days, I don't really know the guys from high school anymore. I only managed to keep in touch with my best high school friend, and he is now the only gaming friend I have. I do still know the girl I mentioned above, but our schedules prevent us from getting together all that often and she's not that big of a gamer either way. I am giving her Portal 2 for her birthday next week though; hopefully something will come of that.
When in doubt, Portal 2.
Off course none of this means that I'm a lonely person (none of you should be worried), just that I'm a lonely gamer. I've made lots of great new friends at my new place, guys and gals I wouldn't trade for the world. None of them, unfortunately, have any real experience with gaming, or particular interest in it. They accept the fact that I'm a gamer and they will listen to me when I tell them what I've been playing in my spare time, but that's about the extent of it. I have yet to seriously ask them to play with me, because I'm not quite sure how they'd respond, but I'm thinking of buying New Super Mario Bros. Wii if they would be up for it. Right now they are the people I hang out with the most, talking about all sorts of crazy stuff. Little of that crazy stuff involves video games though.
As it stands, my experiences with multiplayer games are lacking as well. I love to play co-op with my gaming friend: we've played Magicka, Lara Croft, Portal 2 and recently Orcs Must Die 2, and we had a blast during all of them. But here too the lack of gaming friends rears its ugly head. I personally love the Trine series...but he doesn't. This means that even though those games are supposed to have a pretty fun co-op mode, I won't be able to experience that. Similarly, he will never get me to play any RTS with him, because I can't manage to play an RTS for more than 5 minutes without getting bored for the life of me. Still, there are a lot of games we can play together, and this is closest I can get to the experience I want: it's pretty damn close. Nevertheless, none of these online experiences can ever match the chaotic joy of a 4-man Smash Bros. match or similar games. This has become painfully obvious to me after watching several Let's Plays of a bunch of guys playing multiplayer games together; a series of every (console) Mario Party being the highlight. They laughed together, cursed together (because hey, it's still Mario Party, if you're not swearing you're not playing it properly), and in the end had tons of fun together. As I was watching it, the same feeling would keep creeping up on me: "Man, I wish I could be a part of that..."
I would absolutely love to have more multiplayer sessions, but that just doesn't seem possible right now. I want to laugh at my friends when I beat them in a fighting game, I want to think of clever ways to get that out-of-reach Star Coin without someone dying, I want to give them Luigi's weird-ass Final Smash right in the face, I want them to tear me a new one at any shooter ever, and I even want to get a Blue Shell up the rear end when I'm just about to cross the finish line. I want all of that and more.
Alas, that was not meant to be.
But perhaps...perhaps I know what the problem is. Perhaps I know why I don't have enough gaming friends.
Maybe I'm simply lacking the confidence to declare my gamerness to the world. Maybe I'm simply not as courageous as the girl with the Triforce bag...
Technically it's the crest of the royal family of Hyrule, but eh, same difference.
I "met" this girl about a year ago. She was walking around town, apparently heading for the book store. She had dyed red hair, gothic-style clothing (but not too overdone) and, off course, a bag with the famous Zelda emblem printed on it. Now, I say I "met" her because I don't actually know anything about her. I don't know who she is, where she lives or what her major is. In fact, I have never even spoken to her, nor do I even know her name, so I'm going to have to disappoint all of you that were hoping for me to reveal a secret crush. Really I didn't so much meet her as see her walking down the street. Still though, seeing the Triforce on her bag struck me. "Wait, did I just see that?! Because it be pretty awesome if I did!" After that I didn't think too much of it, though. "After all", I thought, "it's a pretty cool looking symbol, so perhaps she doesn't even know what it's from." My doubts where quelled about two weeks later. I saw her again, a little closer up this time, and I noticed that besides the bag, she was wearing another special item. On her jacket she had a picture of the 1-up Mushroom from every Mario game ever. This could not be a mistake. You don't just wear that without knowing what it's from.
I reached a conclusion then and there: This girl is a gamer, and she's proud of it.
But at the same time I reached another, less happy, conclusion: I am nowhere near as confident as she is.
The Triforce of Courage was never granted to me, it seems.
In a way this also relates to a question Dale North asked just last month: "Do you wear video game t-shirts?"
He answered his own question right away: "I suppose that's a silly question. Of course you do. I do. We all do."
I have never worn any video game related clothing, and I'm not entirely sure why. I'm always tempted to buy one, but then I back down at the last second. I don't even give a single fuck about fashion whatsoever. I can barely tell the difference between any of my jeans, wear nothing but old shirts, and my only accessory is my digital watch which I never take off and is apparently so horribly out of fashion that nobody even sells the damn things anymore. Besides, it's not even like there aren't any cool t-shirts available.
I like this one, simple and to the point, but instantly recognizable.
I think what it ultimately boils down to is that I'm not confident enough to wear video game t-shirts, despite the fact that I would really like to. I just don't think that I'd feel comfortable wearing one, which I admit is pretty damn stupid. As much as we like to deny it, gamers still tend to get looked down upon, and I don't think I have the heart to test my luck in a crowded city. I'd feel weird shouting to the world that I'm a massive geek, even though I'm perfectly comfortable doing it here. Hell, I even assured my friends (gaming and otherwise) that "I have reclaimed the word 'geek'; it's now a compliment". However, when it comes to everyone outside my circle of friends, those bold claims tend to leave me...
But I am a gamer, and everyone who wants to hang around with me is going to have to accept that fact one way or the other. And yet I hardly ever tell it to anyone I meet for the first time. For fear of ruining my first impression, of them judging me? Perhaps so. In the end, I may be just a bit ashamed of how important games are to me. The fact that I prefer Nintendo games to all others also really doesn't help matters. Imagine this scenario:
"Oh, so you're a gamer are you? What are you playing now?"
"...Kirby's Epic Yarn"
"I'm sorry, what was that?"
"...I'm playing Kirby's Epic Yarn right now...but it's actually really good, honest!"
Pictured: Your first impression going out the window
On the other hand, maybe being more confident in myself as a gamer is exactly what I need! At 21, I'm too old to be ashamed of what I do...aren't I? I've got my life on track, I've got my priorities straight, my studies are going well, and I just so happen to really enjoy video games. There's nothing wrong with that, is there?
In his blog, Dale also talked about some stranger coming up to him to talk about his Prototype 2 t-shirt. Personally, I would love something like that! Maybe if I had worn a Zelda-themed t-shirt I would've had the perfect opportunity to compliment the girl with her sweet bag. Who knows, maybe I would have gained a gaming friend from something as simple as that. In fact, maybe the city is full of potential gaming friends but I just never really bothered to look. Just walking around town when all of a sudden a fellow gamer compliments you on your "kickin' rad" t-shirt would be pretty damn awesome if you ask me.
Ultimately, I think I need to learn to be more open about what is and will be for a long time to come an important aspect of my life. Gaming has changed my life and made me who I am, and I owe it to myself to make the most of it. Playing Smash Bros. against CPU's is no fun at all compared to the real thing, and letting more people know that that's what I want is the simplest solution I can think of. Off course this doesn't stop at wearing a new t-shirt, I need a boost of confidence all around, but it can be a nice place to start. Another step would be to simply ask my non-gaming friends to play a game with me. They can't hate Mario that much, can they? Hopefully this will pay off in the end.
And as it is written in ancient gaming law, I get to be Mario, they get to be Toads.
All in all, I think I've gained some new insights over the past year. My experiences with my co-op buddy, the Let's Plays I've been watching and, most importantly, the girl with the Triforce bag have all helped me to realize that I'm not as confident being a gamer as I would like to be and, moreover, that this is something that I should work on. It can only go up from here because, let's be honest, having most of your playtime in Smash Bros in singleplayer mode is at least a little sad.
I would also like to ask you, fellow 'toiders, what you think of my plight. Does anyone else recognize being the only gamer in a group of friends? What do you do in such a situation? How does one boost his gaming confidence; where does one find his Triforce of Courage? What tips can you give me for my next course of action? In short, what Wisdom can be found here on the Dtoid Cblogs, and where do you find the Power to live your life fully as a gamer?
Either way, I only have one thing left to say to round this off:
I don't know where or who you are, Triforce bag girl, but I just want you to know that your bag is friggin' sweet!
...and, thank you.