As I was doing some work around the house this morning my thoughts invariably went to the world of video games (as they usually do). I began to anxiously anticipate the arrival of Heavy Rain, the release of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and ultimately rested on the fact that I will spend most of my gaming time today working at Demon’s Souls since the aforementioned games have yet to be part of my collection.
As I thought about all three games I began to think where they fit within the scheme that is my life. Some have choices that have no clear right or wrong answer and some don’t really require much in the way of decision making beyond the question “Do I use the door or make a hole in the wall?”. Some require careful thought and understanding and some require you to run in guns blazing leaving a lifeless wake behind you everywhere you go. As I thought about each of these I was struck with various aspects of my life that fit within these very same descriptions.
Demon’s Souls and Team Sports
Back in college I played Rugby. I had the luxury of seeing it from two distinct viewpoints in my time there. When I started we had no coach and little understanding of tactics. We just ran fast, hit hard, kept getting up, and had fun after the game. We didn’t win many games but we sure won the socials. Eventually we grew to dislike our losing record and asked an old alumni of ours to help us out and be our coach. BTW: That really was my coach.
He taught us the nuances of the game, the skills, the tactics. He taught us how to read a pitch, a team, and the weather. The man taught us how to appreciate the game on a whole new level. It was the first time a coach had really taught me to understand a game on every possible level and what we were doing. Last time I checked Black Rose was undefeated in their last regular season and lost in the finals.
When I first purchased Demon’s Souls I had no cable and no internet. I picked it up as I was moving into a new house (literally on the way). I had read all the hype and thought “Okay, it’s brutal, you die a lot, but how bad could it be?” Bad. Very. Very. Bad. It was like a baby taking it’s first steps:
- Walk a few feet.
- Okay bad guy there. Remember that.
- Walk a few feet.
- Kill bad guy.
- Walk a few more feet.
- Okay bad guy there. Remember that.
- Repeat process.
- Weapon breaks.
- Wtf…now what?
Then the cable company came by and gave me my wonderful internet and a whole new video gaming experience opened up to me. This game took me through the same journey as with Rugby. I started blind, running fast and hitting hard. When I logged in I read messages, watched other players failures, watched other player’s successes. I learned how to play the game. It was learning to understand the game that helped me to be better at it.
Demon’s Souls is not a Devil May Cry style video game where you run in, clear a room, be stylish, pose, and move on. You have to be calculating, understanding, and take your time. You need to plan, you need to see your next steps, think about your next action. Learn what the level is doing, where the bumps are, and exploit them. Learning how to play the game and learning how to play the game properly make all difference in the world.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Friendships
To be honest I am probably not the person you want in your squad, on your team, or in the same map as you. I am not the tactical player (which is why Demon’s Souls took so much getting used to). I am the guy who grabs the vehicle that makes the biggest boom and lays waste to a city. I am, for lack of a better word, out-of-control.
This is relatively indicative of my close friendships. Take last weekend. I walked into a friends house and put a hammer into his wall. We were removing the wall so it was acceptable. We then proceeded to do our best “Kool-Aid Man” impressions for the next twenty minutes before realizing that we were covered in drywall and that probably wasn’t the best thing for us.
A member of my wedding party used to take great pleasure in the fact that he owned a cattle prod and enjoyed using it on all of us. He took aim at me point blank with a potato cannon filled with wet paper towels. He put a live blue crab on me while I slept in my bed one morning.
Other friends and I would take turns punching one another in a game that was lovingly referred to as “the punching game” (creative I know). We had to institute a rule in our college house that banned fireworks from being used inside. This included using them outside and “accidentally” having them explode inside.
Walking into the house was an exercise in reaction time and potential property damage thanks to the “Sack Game.” We would hide in the hopes that we could give someone a surprise tackle.
We turned the inside of our house into a.) slip n’ slide b.) bocce ball court c.) paint ball range d.) 18 hole pitch and putt golf course including the “up the stairs bank off the window and roll down the hallway hole 13”. We didn’t get our security deposit back. In fact we owed more money.
Bad Company takes me back into my college mentality of “hell with it, go through the wall.” I’m not a sniper. I like to use explosive devices and lots of them. I lob grenades. I unload clip after clip after clip to kill one guy when it would be easier to stop and aim. Thats how I game. It may not be the best way, smartest way, most normal way, but it’s entirely a reflection of my closest friendships and how we interact with one another.
Heavy Rain and Romance
In every romantic relationship there are questions and problems that come up that have no clear and defined answer. In every romantic relationship there are moments that are as fuzzy as a kiwi and uncertain and unstable as Gary Busey. Often times there is no right answer and if there is you don’t know what it was until a long while later.
Heavy Rain for the PS3 seems to have a lot of these moments. Moments where the right answer isn’t clear and if it ever becomes clear it will be so long after the fact that you won’t be able to do anything about it.
It’s not a game full of action, excitement, and stabbing. It’s just a game full of life, enjoyment, subtlety, finesse and a little bit of boobage.
It’s this aspect of of Heavy Rain that makes it most like a romantic relationship. It’s not going to be for everyone just like every relationship is not for everyone. It’s not a run and gun style video game. It’s going to make you react fast and deal with the consequences. Some gamers are going to love it, some are going to find it to be just okay, and others are going to hate it. Personally I can not wait for this game to get here. I’ve played the demo many times over and each time it makes me want the full release more and more.