Wednesday, 13 October 2010

6 Types of Gamer

Note: This article was written with York University in mind, meaning it makes a few references to Societies and places that might not make as much sense otherwise. Also, the badass artwork was drawn by a dude called Drinks; who has a DeviantArt account. Check him out and stuff.

Playing video games as a hobby is big. Bigger than you'd expect.Enthusiasts span so many social scenes and preferences, you can never be sure if the person you're chatting to is one of those 'Gamers' you hear so much about. But never fear! I'll share with you some of my never-before-seen research on some of the many species of Gamer in existence, and where to find them in York. Happy Hunting!

"Retro Gamer" (Nostalgia Oldschoolus)
Clinging on to the remnants of Gaming's past, Retro Gamers eschew the modern releases for the nostalgic games of their youth. Depending on how old the Retro Gamer is, what qualifies as old-school enough varies. As a rule of thumb, if you play it on a cartridge, you're in the right era.
Appearance: The Retro Gamer proudly displays graphic tees displaying their gaming heritage. Alas, no one considers a t-shirt that says "Two Girls, 1-Up" to be tasteful. Ever.
Games of Choice: The classics of yesteryear (Mischief Makers [N64], Snatcher [MSX], Super Metroid [SNES])
Indie Games that embrace retro elements (Cave Story [PC/WII], La Mulana [PC/WII], Braid [360/PS3/PC])
Where Found: Trawling Gamestation and the Market for rare Second-Hand gems. But since game stores are stocking games from old platforms less and less these days, Retro Gamers are most likely resort to eBay instead.
Do Say: "I still own a Super Nintendo."
Don't Say: "Music in Videogames is just beeps and bloops."

"The Competitive" (Metagameus Antiscrub)
These guys don't just play games for fun, they play to win. The best scores, the best Kill:Death ratio and of course the best computer are all accolades to be reached - and then rubbed in the faces of those beneath them. Not bad people, just rather over-enthusiastic (and often 'sore winners').
Appearance: The Competitive tends to put comfort over fashion in their standard attire. If it's black or baggy, they own it.
Games of Choice: First Person Shooters (Team Fortress 2 [PC], Halo Reach [360], Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 [360/PS3/PC])
Fighting (Super Street Fighter 4 [360/PS3], King of Fighters XII [360/PS3], Blazblue: Continuum Shift [360/PS3])
Where Found: Competitives are more prevailant online than in real life, but we have our own group of them as Frag Soc.
Do Say: "What's your Gamerscore on Xbox Live?"
Don't Say: "Dude, it's just a game..."

Japanophile Gamer (Pokii Kawaiius)
Overlapping with the other popular nerdy interest in watching Anime and reading Manga, the Japanese Gamer has a heavy interest in all things from the land of the Rising Sun. But sometimes they can take it to an extreme and be a bit incomprehensible to others. But don't fear! I'm sure they have the best intentions... most of the time.
Appearance: Females wear bright colours to attact mates. Males may lean towards the overly tight or overly elaborate. Large gatherings of Japanese Gamers result costmes reflecting widely worshipped figures in their society, including "Naruto", "Link", and "Solid Snake".
Games of Choice: Japanese RPGs (Final Fantasy IX [PS1], Persona 4 [PS2], Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep [PSP])
Where Found: If York had an Arcade, they'd be there. Otherwise found in Oriental restaurants. Weekly gatherings at the Anime & Manga Society.
Do Say: "Goku could totally destroy Superman in a fight."
Don't Say: "Superman could totally destroy Goku in a fight."

Casual Gamer (Socialite Neophyte)
Will only play games from time to time, maybe even keeping the hobby a semi-secret. But when it comes to their game of choice, a whole different side is revealed; one that played Plants Vs. Zombies for 15 hours straight one weekend... Male variant is actually somewhat less prevalent these days, and favours the latest FIFA or Call of Duty release to Wii Sports and Super Smash Bros.
Appearance: Masters of blending in, they look just like everyone else.
Games of Choice: Multiplayer/Party Games (Mario Kart Wii [WII], Rock Band 3 [To Be Released, PS3/360/WII])
Sports (FIFA 2011 [MULTI], NBA Jam [MULTI], Pro Evo 2011 [MULTI])
Where Found: Find any large group of people, and there'll be a Casual Gamer hid among them somewhere. Can be found playing a DS or PSP while on the bus or train, secretly hoping someone will ask them what game they're playing.
Do Say: "Let's have a few drinks at my place and play Wii Sports."
Don't Say: "You wouldn't be interested in this game; it's kind of obscure."

High Fantasy Gamer (Tolkinus Eladrin)
The Proto-Gamer; this species has been around before video games even existed. Often enjoying the escapism of fantasy settings as opposed to competitive elements or an inherent sexy/gore factor. They tend to keep to themselves a lot, but are friendly enough.
Appearance: Trenchcoats. Big-brimmed hats. If it's imposing and dramatic, it'll be favoured. They'd wear full-plate armour to lectures, if they could get away with it.
Games of Choice: Western RPGs (Fallout New Vegas [360], Mass Effect 2 [360/PS3], Dragon Age: Origins [360/PS3])
Traditional and Paper Games (Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Scrabble)
Where Found: Fairly shy towards those outside their Species, most are found in hobby shops (such as the Travelling Man), while a few select individuals may be found in open fields, hitting eachother with foam weapons. Approach these with light caution, lest you be mistaken for an Orc and (harmlessly) clubbed into submission. Can be found as part of the SciFi & Fantasy Society, natch.
Do Say: "Is that a d20 in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"
Don't Say: "Sci-Fi and Fantasy are pretty much the same thing, right?"

"The Neckbeard" (Repulsus Trollia)
A thankfully minor Species, the The Neckbeard takes their Gaming hobby to the point of elitism.
Appearance: Poor amount of attention paid to appearance (and possibly hygeine); identifiable by a scraggly beard going beyond the chin and starting to take over the neck. Consequently, there are extremely few female Neckbeards. It is unknown if this is the cause or the result of Neckbeard behaviour.
Games of Choice: Varies, but The Neckbeard will be guaranteed to say a harsh thing or two about the games you enjoy.
Where Found: Incredibly rare to find in the wild; will barely ever stray from their cave. However, they are incredibly prevailant on the Internet. Will either be extremely hostile or extremely skittish if approached.
Do Say: ~Data Unknown~
Don't Say: Most discussion will incite sudden rage or fear in a Neckbeard.

And here's the article in Published form. It's abridged somewhat:

Monday, 4 October 2010

A Height I Cannot Reach

I'll be frank - I cannot play First Person Shooters to save my life. Never have. Way back when, in the days where I went to a friend's house after school every day to play on his N64; our sessions of Perfect Dark consisted of him using me as target practice, and me just running around blindly into walls.

Nine years later, and that's not improved any. Aside from a short stint playing Team Fortress 2, my gaming diet has been pretty much FPS free. But the other day things came to a head when my housemate brought forth a game. A game that I thought I had no right playing.

Halo Reach.

Having literally no experience of the Halo series other than the words of its fanbase (which consists mostly of racial and sexual epithets, or so I'm told), I had no real idea of what to expect. We sat down and started the Campaign Co-Op mode. On Easy. If I'm to have the game bend me over backwards, I'd prefer it do so a bit gently, at least to start with.

I was honestly and pleasantly surprised. Being the fourth game in the series, I could feel the refinement the game offered, the kind of straightforwardness you get from developers having made the same gameplay experience over and over. That didn't stop me from struggling to aim properly, though. Compared to my gaming partner, who coolly landed all the headshots and snagged the best weapons, I got by with haphazard sprays of gunfire and hiding whenever the larger monsters with the laser swords (or worse, laser war axes) entered the fray.
What probably impressed me the most was how every so often there would be a change in gameplay to prevent things from getting too stale. This is a gameplay tactic that's the bread and butter of some game genres (What would a Zelda game be without the new items you gain, and the shifts in puzzles that go with them?), but one that I don't think appears in Shooters too often. What else could you do in a Shooter other than, well... shoot? Or hide behind cover? Turns out I can ride in silly sci-fi vehicles, man the gattling guns in a helicopter, and my favourite - pilot a combat spaceship and discharge lasers and missiles in all directions. I adored the space segments, and was a little disappointed when it only lasted 15 minutes. I was even more crestfallen when I eventually found out that this gameplay style wasn't available in online multiplayer.

On the other hand, a lot of things about the workings of the game didn't gel well with me; the story the Campaign follows being the main point. With Halo Reach being a prequel to the first game, the plot is sets in motion (and what it leads up to) meant very little to me. I can feel the character design actively trying to shy away from the "gruff, bald, space marine" stereotype the genre and setting is often lumped with, but making the player character female seemed like a weak way to solve the issue, especially when they followed it up by giving the occasional close up of her rubber-clad buttocks every few cutscenes. Otherwise, everyone felt somewhat distant and unlikeable. The segregation between what can happen in a cutscene and what can happen in-game is also really jarring. In one scene, a character is flung from space to a planet's surface and survivives. You'd be lucky to survive a drop of 20ft when playing.
The other thing that pushed me away from the game was more or less just how bad I was at it. The Campaign (at least on Co-Op Mode) is very forgiving when it comes to player death. You will respawn next to your team mate (who is consequently an exact clone of you. The plot and the other characters make no reference to this, which I find incredibly amusing); and should you both bite the dust, the game resumes at the last checkpoint reached without fanfare or penalty. This was great in that it actually let me finish the Campaign, but the cycle of Combat, Damage, Death, Repeat started wearing away on my patience around three quarters of the way into the game; once your foes realise that all their forces are being wiped out by just two people, and bring out the big guns.

All in all, the level of polish the game has, both in graphics and gameplay are incredibly impressive - and show off just how skilled of developers Bungie are, but even after exposing myself to The Way of the FPS for hours straight, I still have my inhibitions to the genre. I've not been won over just yet. But there is one notion that Halo Reach has impressed on me -

More games need to have their weakest enemies explode into confetti when defeated in one hit. I cannot think of a single game that this feature would not improve.