This month's musing all began with a statement I made to Anthony almost exactly a month ago: "I suck at games." Now, I didn't make this revelation just recently. I've always kind of known my place and dealt with it in silence. But I had a particularly bad day that day; when I couldn't get past a boss in 'Splosion Man, I went to Overlord thinking I could soothe my bruised ego, but I had left myself in a tough spot there as well. Going from one game to the next and not being able to accomplish anything got me pretty down on myself. I even started to question my status as a gamer.
After assuring me that I was not as bad as I thought I was, he then turned my plight into the musing, knowing full well that others must endure the same struggles. Through all of the submissions that have been written, I have been reassured that I'm not the only one out there. Many of you love games, but you can't play some of them "right" or at all. In a culture that places so much emphasis on winning and being the best, it's a big thing to step up in front of everyone and proclaim your mediocrity, and I applaud everyone who participated.
Now, after mulling over how to do so for the past month, it is my turn to spill my thoughts on the matter, and tell my own story of suckitude.
I have been playing videogames nearly my whole life, but I'm so bad at pretty much every one. How can someone be so horrible at the one thing their life has always revolved around? The best theory that I could come up with is that I am genetically inclined to suck at everything, videogames notwithstanding.
Needless to say, it can be hard out there for a gamer like me. I love videogames just as much as anyone else, perhaps even more, but that doesn't matter to a lot of people. Even with all the pro-suck awareness that has prevailed throughout the month of August, I still see a lot of comments along the lines of, "Well, if you hate such-and-such game, you must suck at it," being used as thinly veiled insults. Statements along these lines couldn't be further from the truth. I may be bad at nearly every game I play, but that does not mean I don't enjoy playing them.
I mentioned earlier that myself and rhythm games don't mix, but Pop'n Music may be the exception. I was very recently introduced to this rhythm game series after finding a Pop'n Music Adventure machine at my local Gameworks. I've since become hooked and have gone back to play it several times. But I'm completely horrible at it, even for someone new to the premise. I can't process a 9 button game, so I have to stick with 5; that mode, I can kinda deal with, "kinda" being the operative word. I know I won't be able to improve much because I will likely never have easy access to to the game, so I just have to deal with my mediocrity.
Being bad at a rhythm game is one of the worst feelings I've experienced, since most of them punish you by breaking up the song. Pop'n Music does this, and I almost get disheartened when I don't get to hear the complete version of the songs I like. On top of that, there are regulars who I've watched play before I get my turn, who are absolutely brilliant at the game. They never miss a note, and knowing that I will probably never reach that level of proficiency is almost enough to make me leave and never come back. But I don't. Once I sit down in front of that machine and start going, I'm having such a good time playing that I completely forget about skill. Sure, I have to play on the easiest mode to get my quarter's worth, but the smile that the game puts on my face tells a completely different story.
Going back to my Sonic 2 story, I have to say that don't think I would have loved the game as much as I did had I just beat it all in one sitting. I played the same two levels over and over again in single player mode, and with the exception of two player game breaks, those two levels were the only game there was to me for a long time. I had an unofficial guide, so I was well aware that there were things to do and see beyond the Chemical Plant Zone. But it never really bothered me that I never seemed to be able to reach the end. I was happy in my mediocrity. The levels beyond what I had seen didn't make me sad. They only mystified me, to the point where it filled me with childlike wonder when I finally got to them as an adult. It was a grand feeling to finally do it, and it would have never happened if I were a better gamer.
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