I've never considered myself bad at playing games, but the opposite is hardly true, either.
What I'm starting to suspect is that I haven't given myself much of a shot. When you play a game once, especially most modern games, there isn't much time to grasp more than the basic learning curve. You might have some competency by the end, but the traditional difficulty level of most games is crafted to encourage you see the content of the worlds, not the nuance of the mechanics. More than anything, Spelunky has taught me the value in learning from repetition.
The proof is on this very website. When I started playing Spelunky, it was a joke. My first few hours on the couch with my Vita resulted in death after death after death. It wasn't pretty, and it was hardly what one would describe as fun. But a genuine landmark moment would come--say, making it to the caves--and suddenly the spark was there. Then, of course, hours of crushing disappointment. Run after run with no results. Seemingly no advancement, nothing to show for your time. These are mental calluses.
Yet our most recent adventures have resulted in back-to-back defeats of ye mighty Olmec and trips through Hell. I managed Hell and showed up at Yama's doorstep on my first encounter with Spelunky's secret world, and if it hadn't been for a lack of caution around a bunch of enemies I barely understood, I might have beaten him. But I'm within spitting distance of a monstrously challenging Spelunky achievement, and it comes from bashing my head (and fingers) against the same challenge over and over.
And you know what? I'm pretty good! Yeah! I'm comfortable admitting that. But there's no way to cheaply earn progress in a game like Spelunky. It comes through patience, practice, and a serious time investment. That's not something I'm usually dedicating to a single game, and I'm not sure how often I'll have an opportunity to do that with many others. But on some level, I better understand the joy some derive from playing games on extreme difficulty levels or mastering a fighting game character.
Hey, You Should Play This
And You Should Read These, Too
- "A Journey to the End of the World (or Minecraft)" by Simon Parkin
What I love about Simon Parkin's work at The New Yorker is how he locates interesting stories about subjects covered a million times over. In this case, Parkin spoke with a person trying to find out the theorized end point of Minecraft, where the procedurally generated algorithm falls apart. There's a humanizing nature to this piece, which makes some of the comments below the story ("These people should try stepping outside their front door ... an entire *real* world awaits.") a tad disappointing. That's not entirely true, though. I actually find it encouraging: even The New Yorker deals with jerks in the comments section.
"By one measure, Mac’s endeavor is motivated by the same spirit that propels any explorer toward the far reaches of the unknown. Today, we live in a world meticulously mapped by satellites and Google cars, making uncharted virtual lands some of the last places that can satisfy a yearning for the beyond, as well as locations where you are simply, as Mac puts it, “first.” “My viewers and I are the only people to ever see these places exactly as they are,” he said. “Once we walk past, we will never see them again.'"
It's not often we compliment people on what we like. More often, we complain about what we don't. Vlambeer is only two people: Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman. It's a company that punches above its weight both creatively and financially, which has lead to Vlambeer dealing with a shift in customer service. Ismail writes about how he constantly deals with players who pair their request with a threat of never buying another game or demanding a refund. He offers some advice on how to talk to a game developer when you're upset, and how to remember there are humans on both sides of this exchange.
"I’ve often said the same thing at developer conventions around the world, but there’s a difference between saying that to emphasize our thankfulness for and dependance upon people who love our games and literally implying we are not worth anything beyond the opinion of somebody on the internet who happened to play a game we made. We could literally decide to stop making games tomorrow and find a better paying and stable job—but we don’t, because we love making games and we care about the people who invested money and time in our work."
If You Click It, It Will Play
- Horse World Online probably won't get funded, but I'm glad it exists, you know?
- To the Death is a multi-genre action game from lots of industry vets, including Call of Duty.
- Patreon, a different kind of crowdfunding, has lots of different gaming-related folks to support.
Whoa, Here's Some Race the Sun Steam Codes
And There's a Few Broken Age Codes, Too
Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"
Maybe the chronic immaturity of video games has something to do with the short memory caused by technological obsolescence— Paolo Pedercini (@molleindustria) January 30, 2014
Have been playing a session of PROTEUS before bed the past few nights and its a preettyyy great way to unwind. Just makes me feel so relaxed— Andrew Kelly (@AndrewNK) January 29, 2014
Really hope that Iwata can turn things around for Nintendo. Despite their mistakes they still make the content I want to play the most.— Dean Dodrill (@NoogyTweet) January 29, 2014
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Sean Sands considers the idea of players being "irresponsible" when buying games on sale.
- Jeremy Parish criticizes the most recent Tomb Raider for putting visuals over mechanics
- Evan Tongotti asks someone who hated his Beyond: Two Souls review to review the game.
- Disasterpeace writes about his experiences with coding for music.
- Chris Sullentrop explores how the Assassin's Creed games are touching on the subject of race.
- Kris Graft talks about how he's able to find beauty in the ordinary.
- Andrew Groen doesn't believe ditching aliases would help eSports culture.
- PC Gamer has compiled a list of the best PC horror games.
- Area 5 has published a short story representing its hopes for its Outerlands documentary series.
- Cara Ellison has started writing about her time embedded with games developers.