So many men (and women, but especially men) my age seem to really be into video games. They have several different game systems and play all different kinds of games. Although I was huge into video games as a kid, somewhere along the line, I really lost the drive. Looking back on my early adulthood, I think what really turned me off to video games was first person shooters. There was no doubt that I loved Wolfenstein 3D, but I never got into Doom or Halo or Duke Nukem. Most of the time, I felt like I was wandering around lost in semi-darkness, not able to figure out where I was or what I was supposed to do. It left me feeling frustrated on two levels – frustration with both the game and frustration with myself for not liking what was clearly a very guy-oriented activity. Even games like Left 4 Dead, which should appeal to the zombie lover in me only mildly tempted me, although that was probably due more to the fact that my computer was nowhere near souped up enough to run the damn thing.
Over the years, I’ve found a few games that suit me ok. I’m a big fan of the Lego games – Lego Star Wars and Lego Batman in particular. Although Lego Harry Potter left me a little bit cold, what I like about those games is that they’re very puzzle oriented and also cooperative rather than competitive. Also, if you get stuck, you may “die” but you come right back to life and in the same spot. They don’t take you back to the beginning so you can replay all the frustrating crap all over again.
This point was brought to the forefront of my brain last night when I was playing Super Mario Galaxy with Anna. She was stuck on Bubble Breeze Galaxy. You have to get in a bubble and “blow” yourself around, picking up star parts all the while avoiding mines that will explode your bubble and land you in a poisonous swamp. It took forever for us to assemble the star, only to find out that there was more to it than that. We kept running into mines and had to start from scratch. Every. Single. Time. After about the 10th attempt, my blood pressure was at a dangerous level and what was supposed to be fun was just aggravating. Why do people voluntarily subject themselves to this? This morning, after giving it a break, Anna and I did eventually solve the level, only to be faced with another level that was equally frustrating.
You see, playing a level 5 million times trying to pass it just is not fun for me. That’s why I’m this close to taking Angry Birds off my phone. At first, I was into Angry Birds. It was kind of a fun distraction while I was waiting to see the doctor or for Anna to get to the car after school plus EVERYBODY was playing Angry Birds so I figured I better try it. It didn’t take me long to see that it was going to be yet another one of those games that you spend days trying to pass a level and when you finally do, it has less to do with skill and problem solving than it does dumb luck – thanks in large part to Angry Birds‘ very selective physics. Now that you can play Angry Birds everywhere but in those little video booths at porn stores (although maybe you can – who knows?), the fact that I have only solved 20 levels of the original game is a bit embarrassing. But I just have to come to terms with it because I can’t remember the last time I played the damn game.
To me, those kinds of games are like doing those jigsaw puzzles that are two sided with mirror image pictures and have 50 extra pieces. Lord, why in the world would I want to deliberately take years off my life? For that reason I’ll never be, as one of the 6th grade teachers in my elementary school called one of my classmates, a vidiot.