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pedrovay2003 avatar 3:46 PM on 08.03.2012  (server time)
How do you know you're "good" at video games?

Good. F******. Luck.

I was chatting with my friend Mark over Skype not too long ago, and he was just about to finish Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Since he's in New Jersey and I'm in Utah, I had been kind of "watching" him play the game through a combination of screen sharing and hearing his cries of terror, and after quite a few sessions like this, he was at the end of the game, at last. It was a bittersweet feeling, because while I'm glad he was finishing the experience, it meant we'd have to find another game to play together, and the memories of this one would be just that.

Now, I don't know how many of you have played Amnesia (and for those who haven't, it's amazing, but I digress), but it's not exactly an easy game. It's not going to make you pull your hair out like Super Meat Boy (also amazing) or anything like that, but it's not a walk through the park, either. The really awesome thing about this is that Mark actually HATES horror games, but this one intrigued him to the point that he not only played all the way through it, but he even played through Justine, the free expansion pack where you're not allowed to save your game -- Justine literally shuts the program down if you die, and you're kicked back to your OS's desktop, which is amazingly cool.

So it was kind of shocking to me when Mark claimed he's horrible at playing video games.

I was more than a little taken aback by that statement, since Mark has been playing games for almost as long as I have (his first game was Sonic The Hedgehog 2, I believe). Hell, this guy worked his way up to getting Aeris in Final Fantasy VII to level 99 before the end of the first disc. We did a two-player run through Halo 3 on Legendary difficulty. He's kind of hardcore.

When I asked what he meant by his statement, his response was fairly straightforward: He said that even though he always gets through a game, he dies a lot, and has to redo a bunch of areas or tasks before he gets it right. Since he has to spend so much time doing the same thing over and over, he considers himself "bad" at games, even though he immensely enjoys the experiences and doesn't let dying in the game dissuade him from finishing.

To be honest, I can sort of see where he's coming from, but I think my definition of being "bad" at something is a little different. Personally, I think you're only bad at something if you're constantly quitting without finishing. Of course, there will always be exceptions to that way of thinking, but if you keep trying to complete something, and you eventually DO, then you're by no means bad at whatever it is, as far as I'm concerned. Video games are a perfect example of this: There are so many different genres, games and companies out there that you'll never have the same experience with two different games. If you can be so versatile that you can just pick up a random game and play through it, then there's no way you're "bad." I'm absolutely terrible at real-time strategy games like Starcraft, but I don't consider myself to be a "bad" gamer, just not so good at that genre. A ton of people on Destructoid voiced how much of a hard time they had playing Mega Man 9, while I was able to pretty much walk through it, but I'm sure they're not "bad." And have people even HEARD of the Souls series? If you DON'T die when you're playing one of those games, there's something wrong with you.

I think another huge aspect of judging yourself when it comes to gaming is simply a matter of self-confidence, and the shining example of this is that huge Street Fighter tournament that happens every year. I think this video sums up pretty well the reason I've never even attempted to enter one of these tournaments. I don't even know how to do what Daigo Umehara is doing as Ken here... Counter after counter after counter or something? No clue. See, I'm okay at fighting games. I've been playing Street Fighter on and off across a bunch of different platforms for years, but I'm by no means tournament material. I play fighters very casually, and that's just fine with me. I'd say I'm decent, but these people are in a league of their own. This is where you get into different levels of "good" or "bad," so now there's an entire hierarchy we could get into. Hell, hardcore fighting game players even rank the playable characters into different tiers, and for the life of me, I can't figure out who decides which characters are glorified more over others, and for what reasons. Tiers bring me to tears.

So, what do you guys think? When do you consider yourselves or others to be "good" or "bad" at playing video games, and what made you come to that conclusion?

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