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Monday 22nd January, 2018

Bizarre Thought for the Week, w/c 7th April 2008
Tony Dobson

Hi all,
I've reached a new low in terms of being a guy, and I fear there's no going back. I've reached the "Dad" level of gaming.

To explain further let me explain that a few weeks ago my friend Douglas invited me over for a night of gaming on his PS3. Now to me guys seem to fall into different genres when it comes to favourite games. These are:

Sports: See a sports game, buy it, fire it up, play it. Know the rules of the sport, learn the controls and you're away. Simple. Obviously I fall into this category.
Driving: See a driving game, buy it, fire it up, play it. Know the jist of the game, learn the controls and you're away. Fairly simple. Lots of my friends are in this category.
Shoot-em-ups: See a fighting/war game, buy it, fire it up. Know the overall objective of the game, and then get into the game. This is the category my brother-in-law falls into, along with Douglas.

Now I didn't say that shoot-em-ups are simple. Why not? Because when Douglas showed me a demo of a game called Devil May Cry 4 to show what a PS3 is capable of (admittedly impressive) I spent five minutes walking about, fighting a few other characters and then asking, "So, what's the point of this game exactly?"

Here I should probably admit what you've already guessed. I'm not a shoot-em-up fan, and no, it's nothing to do with the supply teacher at school who confiscated my copy of Computer and Video Games magazine and brandished it as an example of the violent and sexist nature of most games (interestingly the most outlandish games I ever liked were Out Run and Chase HQ, unless you rightly count Horace and the Spiders as a horror classic).

No, it's simply that I'm married with a two year-old, and so spare time is short, so I'd choose to play sports games given the choice. The last shoot-em-up I played on a semi-consistent basis was probably Commando, back when I was about twelve and you switched your one fire button to autofire and ran round in circles scattering everything with bullets.

I didn't improve later on in the evening either. Playing the full version of Resistance: Fall of Man Douglas and I decided on a one-versus-one matchup to get used to the controls. It started well enough. With Douglas's character in my sights I started shooting, hitting my target before Douglas moved. At that point I retreated to a corner. Small problem - I didn't have the first clue how to turn around, and so I continued to face a corner until Douglas found me and I heard gunfire, before seeing the soon-to-be-familiar sight of my side of the screen turning pink, then red with virtual blood.

Onto my second life and I opted to run for a while to get used to the controls. Taking a look at the map I figured out where I was, and where Douglas was. Off I ran to find him. Eventually I spotted him as he ran into an open space. All I had to do was reach a corner and turn around. He would be a sitting duck. Of course I got to the corner and forgot how to turn around. Pink, red, dead. How did Douglas know where I was? "I saw me on your half of the screen." Great.

Another pummeling with bullets later and we decided to try an actual mission. Very impressive, but as if one opponent wasn't bad enough a screen full of them was worse. Let me mention this about the development of shoot-em-ups. Commando had an overhead shot of everything, none of this twenty-first century first-person perspective. You could figure out where sounds were coming from, not the bang-bang-bang from everywhere that you left you feeling surrounded. I quickly found out that the L2 button allowed you to safely crouch behind somewhere safe. Honestly, this game was turning me into a nervous wreck. Douglas's most frequent question was, "Where are you?" Probably crouched behind a wall in all likelihood.

And as if that wasn't bad enough I completed a night's humiliation on FIFA 08 by losing to Douglas when I was playing as Brazil. That might have been okay if Douglas had been Argentina or Italy, or perhaps a club side like Barcelona. But no, he was Bray Wanderers from the league of Ireland!

Now when it was me as Brazil with the computer as Bray Wanderers it was comfortable enough for me, so I guess Douglas is a FIFA addict (as his profile would seem to indicate from games played). I can handle that, it's better than my brother-in-law (FIFA cheat who won't share handy control tips with opponents), but it's tempered by the fact I'd set the level to amateur. It's the lowest level on FIFA 08. I should probably have a setting lower than that - Dad. It's just the ultimate insult.

And you know what's really sad? In spite of having a gaming equivalent of Shefki Kuqi's football ability it's one of the most enjoyable evenings I've had recently, and if I was asked to go round to see Douglas again tonight for a few hours gaming I'd be round in a shot. I'd almost certainly be shockingly bad at every game, but it wouldn't spoil the enjoyment.

Have a good week!

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