Chaotic Thoughts: The FUNdamentals of Video Games

Pretend someone started a new sport. To score points you have to bang your head against a wall. Sure, they may give you a helmet to dull the pain, but at the end of the day you are still beating your head against a wall. It’s not fun, but all your friends have jumped on board, so you’re game, but you can’t figure it out, and at the end you’re the idiot with a throbbing head.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is an allegory for playing video games that take themselves too seriously.

When was the last time you had fun in a video game? Chances are it wasn’t when you were playing Halo 3 or Modern Warfare 2. If it is, think really hard—how many times did you yell at the TV? Rage quit? Swore at someone? If your answer is more than once to any of these questions, why did you just lie to me? You clearly didn’t have fun; you had almost-fun.

Competitive video gaming has gotten way out of hand. Sign into a game of Modern Warfare 2, and you’re going to die from a grenade launcher or stabbed in the back by a lightweight knifer. You might not get mad the first time, but you’re going be frustrated by the third or fourth time. If this happens to you, stop and quit as soon as you can. You’re not having fun. You’ve been conditioned to think this is fun.

Some people have a naturally higher competitive edge than others. This article isn’t for you, then. Ignore this and go back to your almost-fun video games. But it’s important to note that I love competing against my friends, but I don’t like being frustrated. If I lose, I want it to be because I did something stupid, not because the game is stupid.

That might be a little harsh. But let’s face facts, folks. Getting your ear drums broken from the screams of a ten year old is not fun. Getting stabbed in the back or being shot by someone who knows how to exploit a map glitch also isn’t fun. Getting called a “bitch” because you had a bad game isn’t fun.

Read on after the break.

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Chaotic Thoughts: Death to the Mini-Gamefidels!

Sometimes my mind wanders. In the deepest, most twisted recesses of my mind, my thoughts can only be described as chaotic. These are those thoughts.

I’ve recently started playing Mass Effect 2, and without getting too far into the game (review will be up next Friday, folks), there is one glaring problem that I’ve encountered. This mistake, which is such a poor design choice that I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about it, is the appearance of the dreaded, superfluous mini game.

I have a long standing hatred of mini games. I’ve played some of the best mini games and some of the worst, but at the end of the day, all mini games make me feel empty inside, almost as if I worked at the DMV. And here’s the thing: most people think that mini games, like the DMV, are a necessary evil. How would society function without the mortar of DMV holding everything together (read: sarcasm)? But we have advanced beyond that, people. You can renew your driver’s license online or through the mail, and never have to wait in line for those smiling government workers.

Look at all the happy people

In much the same way, game design has grown since the days of Pong and Pac Man. Mini games now represent a way to artificially extend the length of the game, and that’s all. They are unnecessary and should be done away with. Most mini games are tedious and poorly integrated into the actual content anyways, and let’s be clear right now: mini games are no substitution for either storytelling or game play. If you find yourself spending more time in a mini game than playing the actual game, eject the game immediately, call the CDC, and keep yourself quarantined until the men in hazmat suits arrive.

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Chaotic Thoughts: This is your plumber; this is your plumber on drugs.

Sometimes my mind wanders. In the deepest, most twisted recesses of my mind, my thoughts can only be described as chaotic. These are those thoughts.

Have you ever wondered if Mario hurts his head every time he breaks a block with his head? What does he have against blocks anyways? Maybe he enjoys bashing his head against bricks. If that’s the case, why hasn’t he been institutionalized? Or maybe he has and has just escaped and that’s why he’s always in such a hurry?

If you think about it, we never get any back story in any of the Mario games. The whole premise is that Mario is trying to “save” the “princess” but if you think about it, maybe she isn’t a princess after all. Or maybe she is, but she isn’t captured by Bowser but rather under protection.

Here’s what I’m thinking: Mario and Peach were in love, but they were forbidden to wed by Peach’s brutal king father (who never appears in the game because he is a tyrant) who views Mario’s inferior station in life as a plumber as detrimental to the family name. So Mario in his agony goes insane and starts beating his head against walls, ceilings, etc in order to escape the pain, numbing his senses with every head blow.

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