As if I needed another reason to love Chad Concelmo, he made a great post on Destructoid this week that really spoke to me. Just by reading the headline, the seeds for this column were sewn in my head and had begun to sprout through the cracks in my skull. His article was about weird little things that he does when playing videogames. I have a laundry list of odd things I’ve always done while playing games too, but I never thought someone else had the same little fidgety twitches. As homage to the amazing Mr. Concelmo and OCD-nerds everywhere, I penned this list.
Gamers are a peculiar bunch. It’s no wonder that the same kind of person who can sit and stare at a screen for hours at a time day-in, day-out would have some little twitches or affectations that some would see as odd. Much like the first time you use your friend’s computer and find his porn stash, I want to use this article to show you all that we do it too. That’s why this week’s 10 Things That Aren’t Bananas is about Gaming tics.
10. Saving game progress, please don’t remove the memory card
We all scoff at this warning seen in pretty much every post-cartridge, pre-hard drive period game, but it’s there for a reason. The warning is there to make you want to do it! As ridiculous as the message seems at first, when the game tells you “DON’T TOUCH THIS,” you, of course, will immediately think about it. “Maybe just a little. I’ll put it right back. Who’s gonna know?”
If you’ve ever worked around heavy machinery, you know what a warning for a retard looks like. A big ol’ sticker emblazoned on the cardboard bailer or meat cutter will say, “Don’t put your goddamn hand in here, idiot.” And it says that because at one point somebody did. Every game tester’s life is made even worse than the hell it already is because they have to yank the card out at every save point so they can write a 13 page report that essentially boils down to “It still fucks up.”
Just leave it alone!
9. That button you can’t touch
This one may just be me, but it’s sort of related to the last entry in the list.
Controllers today have so many buttons on them that do so many things. We’ve come a long way from a single joystick with one round, red button. Games like Super Street Fighter 4 or Yakuza 3 have complex button combinations that can trigger crazy combos and attacks. But, sometimes there’s that ONE button. Like a special attack button or one that throws a grenade. It can waste a whole clip of ammo or deplete a special meter in a second. Half of your brain tells you to save it. You’re gonna need that special for a boss. But there’s one tiny button with all that power. You just wanna hit it. “No. I have to hit X. I’ll hit Square when I need i-WHOOPS!” Then you need to fill that bar up all over again just for it to be wasted on another ‘slip.’
8. Clacking analog sticks to the loading screen tune
*click*-*clack* *cluk*-*clack* *clok*
“What are you doing?”
“I… what? Nothing.”
7. Saying SEEEEGAAAA with the boot screen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fr6ZxH2ySm0&feature=related [embed, please]
Ever since I got my Genesis, I’d love to join in with that 16-bit chorus of “Seeegaaaa.” Plenty of classic game companies have had great boot screens that made an impact on all of us but with it’s simplistic composition of just the company’s logo over a white or black screen and the catchy little chime, Sega’s was a milestone in branding genius. When I leave the house in my Sega shirt the first thing people say to me is that little jingle. Usually followed by “Whatever happened to those guys?”
If you’ve ever stood over someone’s shoulder and watched them play Zelda with no knowledge of the game you’d probably think, “Who is that poor little green tights-clad man and why does he have such a problem with his equilibrium?” When a game has long distances to cover, holding forward can get quite boring after a while. Admiring the scenery is nice but when you aren’t slicing and dicing dragons your hands need to be doing something, and when the game gives you the function to combat roll like you’re John McClane it’s hard not to tumble across the great planes of Fantasy-Rule-Drago-Earth Land like you’re Sonic the Goddamn Hedgehog. Which brings me to my next entry…
5. Revving Sonic’s spin dash up a billion times
No matter how many times you jam on the B button for that spin dash, he doesn’t move any faster. That scratchy drill sound is etched into my brain forever after cumulative hours of charging that little, furry blue ball up until he bores a hole to China. It always bugged me that on the cartoon he could turn into a saw blade or spin in mid-air but in the game he just propelled forward a little faster.
4. Reloading after firing one shot
3. Wandering around during in-game cutscenes
If a game doesn’t tether you to the plot with fixed cameras in cutscenes, your mind is gonna wander. Who really expects you to listen to a scientist prattle on about his teleporter device when you have a crowbar and like everything in his office is breakable? Then something explodes or someone asks ‘Do you understand?’ and you’re totally lost. And there’s no way you’re going to sit through that again.
2. Jumping off the highest point in an open world game
This one isn’t really a tick, per se, but it’s something we all do. When a game gives you complete free reign over an entire city, things can get kinda boring. You’ve done all the missions, blown up hundreds of cars and killed more pedestrians that you can count. What’s there left to do? Well you have a helicopter and the Empire State Building IS pretty tall. I wonder if you can get a motorcycle up there.
Sadly, this entry probably only applies to us old farts who grew up in the 8-16-32 bit eras of gaming. In our day, before games had the history and experience to properly know how to challenge us in new and inventive ways, the easiest road to creating a goal was filling the level with random objects. Level designers would arbitrarily toss coins and rings all over a level and it was your job to pick up blank out of blank of them. Sometimes they would award you points or health like Sonic’s rings, but in other games like Bubsy, it was just bad level design. After being indentured with ‘shiny object = GRAB IT’ from years of games, it’s hard to shake that habit. When I see a spinning ring in a new video game I start burping and choking like Alex in A Clockwork Orange when he heard Beethoven. I just have to grab it so the game can tell me I’m a good little monkey. I’ll never forgive Yu Suzuki for putting those little figures in Shenmue.
Let’s see one… two… thr-DONE! That’s it for this week, Sega homies. Leave me some love in the comments and let me know some ways gaming has trained you to think. Also check out the forum thread and let me know what top 10 lists you’d like to see in the future. Also credit to my buddy Tom for the memory card pic. Thanks, bro.