The highest-quality artwork ever featured on this blog...hey, I'm busy
I don't play Starcraft; why I do not will soon become apparent. However, I have been thoroughly trained in SC terminology by my brother, for the soul purpose of being put on the receiving end of narratives like this:
"Okay, so we go random and it ends up being a ZvZ, so it's a race to see who can get mutas first. Of course you need to make some lings until you can get mutas. For some reason he didn't send an Overlord, so I was able to build two ECs and crush his nat before his mutas could pop out. It was close, and both of us were doing very economic builds, but at some point his macro started to slip so it was GG."
I have to periodically remind myself that this is actually English, and I have a degree on my wall that attests that I understand it.
I don't hate Starcraft; in fact, I find the strategic intricacies of it quite interesting-- particularly those involving the Zerg, since there are a lot of Zerg strategies that are incredibly awesome in theory and are probably ever only seen in actual play once in ever 99.99999998 matches. I can imagine being that rare Zerg player who dominated his opponent with an army consisting primarily of Queens and a few unassuming hydralisks, and that would be a good feeling I think.
Most of my interest in the game is in theory though; I lost interest in actually playing it about halfway through the Terran campaign in original SC. The obvious reason for my lack of interest is that I'm BAD at it, but that's not entirely fair; like a lot of people, I'm primarily bad at things that I don't have any interest in being good at.
Yet, I can't write off SC as simply a representative of a genre I don't like; a lot of my favorite games are strategic in nature. My pet sub-genre, dungeon-crawlers, requires a lot of the same skills as classic strategy games since so much of the gameplay revolves around resource management. So if I like strategy in general, the strategic nuances of the game itself, as well as the story, art direction, and general FEEL of the game, then what's the problem?
I realized yesterday, when listening to the chronicle of my brother's latest victory, that my problem is with the sacrificial nature of unit management within the game; if you aren't losing a lot of units in Starcraft, chances are you're doing something wrong--either the match is such a cakewalk that it's pointless, or you're letting your enemy have his way with the map without sending out any opposition. You make armies of units, and should you lose an entire army while trying to achieve a minor objective, C'est la vie; if you achieved the objective, it was probably worth it.
This is an alien concept to me; I make units in games for the sake of seeing them not only survive, but THRIVE. In SRPGs I will happily babysit a nigh-useless unit for the grand majority of the game in the hopes of MAYBE crafting them into a good high-level unit someday; the fact that it is "inefficient" is irrelevant. The thought of an SC match is exhausting to me, since I know that I would be struggling the entire time to keep all of my units alive, failing, and having to keep pumping out new units to replace their fallen brethren. It's all, literally, too mercenary.
The nagging question here is WHY SHOULD I CARE?
I know that units are not people. I know that zerglings and zealots and firebats are just little clusters of pixels on the screen, so the idea of them "dying" is laughable. I just find the idea of creating units and then allowing them to die distasteful on some deeper level that I can't explain or justify.
At the very significant risk of overgeneralizing, I find myself wondering how much of this distaste for war games actually runs deeper than simple personal preference. I don't like war games, shooters, or anything else that involves killing a lot of units over a short period of time, and I don't know many female gamers who do. Athiestium is one of the only gamers of the female persuasion that I know of who plays shooters with any sort of frequency.
It may seem out of left field, but my real point here is to show just how problematic the accusation of "sexism" is. Saying that I don't enjoy war games because I'm female and they go against the principles of nurturing and preserving life buried deep in my psyche, would be seen as at the very least diminutive coming from a male, and probably insulting, and yet at least in my case, I think there's a large element of truth to it. I don't see how it could be due to so-called 'socialization'; I always did a lot of things growing up that were unpopular for a girl to do. If I had wanted to play certain kinds of games, I would have played them regardless of what people said; the simple reason is that I just didn't want to play games of that nature.
Now that I'm aware of this, it's like having opened a Pandora's box. I think my lack of interest in GTA (and most open-world games, come to think of it) is because I don't get any naughty joy out of being able to do stuff that I would be arrested for in reality. I'm not morally offended by most of the content, I'm simply bored by it. To get a feel of my emotional response to GTA, imagine everyone you know going on endlessly about how great a game was, only for you to find out that it was an accounting simulator
. It really does strike me as that boring.
It would have seemed to me, not long ago, that saying that a large part of the problem with the games industry, and the relative paucity of content therein, is due to the fact that most of the designers are male, and thus are far more inclined to think of many things dying very fast as the pinnacle of design-- was a terribly, terribly sexist and overly simplistic thing to say. Is it?