Have Game?

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[Scroll to the bottom if the references are, um, alien]

It was three in the afternoon, and I was embroiled in an interstellar conflict of epic magnitude. No, really. Mengsk had ordered me to protect the Zerg from the Protoss expeditionary force so he could let them loose against the confederacy. (Why, of all the nerve!) Raynor had his doubts about Mengsk’s intentions, and I’d seen the whole opera go down six years ago- so I knew how things were going to turn out. So here I was, locking down dragoons upfront with my ghosts and bringing the marines wraiths in to finish the job while sneaking my cabal of siege tanks into the Protoss economy. Resources were limited, it was as much a crystal hunt as it was a Protoss purge- when the Mengsk machinations were abruptly interrupted by a cackling knock at my door.

The astute reader will have realized that I was deeply embroiled in a wargame of sorts, albeit a wargame with succinctly alien phraseology. Being interrupted in the middle of a Starcraft session is quite like having a member of the audience at a fencing bout walk up to you and land a swift kick at the back of your knees; sending you careening headfirst into the opponent’s pointy rapier. I paused the game and cleared my head, ensuring that I’d muttered everything apropos before I opened the door. My unwelcome guest was a grinning lad, dark and stocky with expectant eyes that shone fiercely in the glare of the afternoon sun.

“Have Game?”, he asked.

“What?”

“Have new game? Oh, you’re playing right now? What game is this? Boo, this looks worse than Age [of Empires].”

(By which point he had unpaused the game and attempted to move a marine around with grace equaling that of an ape peeling a pineapple with its legs. The four second lapse of gratuitous micromanagement caused my attack to fail, and the Protoss charged back towards my base. So much for Mengsk’s plan.)

“Um, could you be a bit more specific?”, I asked.

“Give me some game. I’m bored.”

I glanced at the shelf. Sure enough, nestled amongst books on astronomy, complex analysis and Calvin and Hobbes were a beat up Deus Ex jewel case, a gleaming Dark Crusade box, some Jedi Knight title, Baldurs Gate 2, and a NOLF2 cover. And the, uh, unofficial-but-so-old-Blizzard-won’t-mind copy of Starcraft I was playing with. I reluctantly brought them down, shuddering with odd prescience of what was to follow.

“Are these original games?” he exclaimed, his face a mixture of outlandish incredulity and awe.

“Um, yes. A rare breed around here, I’m told.”

“Wow! You paid for them? You’re crazy!”

I decided against opening my trap.

deusex

“Which one’s good?” The silent treatment was having no effect on him. “This looks good. I’ll take this. And this. I’ll give ‘em back by the day after, okay?” He picked up the Deus Ex case and Baldurs Gate box. I like to think he chose by box appeal- both had pretty logos on them.

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It was time to intervene. “Deus Ex might not be your thing-” I began.

“Is it a shooting game?”

“Well, kinda- you see-”

“I like CS [Counterstrike]. Don’t worry.”

“It’s not like-”

“What kind of game is this?” (Gesturing towards BG2)

“Um, it’s an RPG. The back-story is quite intricate, you play as the child of Baal, the lord of-”

“You mean like the Age [of Empires] game you’re playing now?”

“No, no, that’s an _RTS._”

“But the characters are so small!” He was looking, evidently, at the screenshots on the back of the cover and comparing them with the session in progress.

(He’d forgotten to pause it. The Protoss had taken out my siege tanks, my strike force was decimated, Zealots were making merry all around my structures, and the Zerg decided to get in on the action, sending a few Ultralisks to the party. My heart sunk as I realized the last savegame was from ninety minutes earlier.)

“An R-T-S is Real Time Strategy. An R-P-G is a Role Playing Ga-”

I stopped myself as I realized the words were lost on him. He was on his way out. He uttered a customary thanks and resumed the silly grin as he walked away.

I next saw this egregious youth a week later. It had been a busy week, but I had managed to take Mengsk’s plans to fruition, realizing (too late, as per canon) as I first had six years ago, that Arcturus Mengsk was a sly megalomaniac. He popped in with my discs under his arm, apparently not in the best of spirits.

“I wanted to put them on the LAN, but there’s no point. These are completely useless!”

Righteous indignation began its slow ascent, from what I discerned to be my liver.

“You can’t even shoot anyone in Deusex!”

The conjoining was not in the least funny. The Righteous I. made its way to my larynx and I opened my mouth to utter something to the effect of banding him a retard. (I censored myself just in time- shooting everyone in sight is, after all, the only way someone brought up on a diet of Counterstrike and Quake 3 can play any game remotely involving a gun and a HUD.)

“And how do you train new soldiers in Baldurs Gate?”

This was enough weirdness for one day. “It’s an RPG! You can’t train characters anymore than you can in Real Life” I managed.

“I don’t get it” He complained- “You can train pikemen in Age, yeah?”

I shook my head ruefully.

“And what on earth does Deusex mean, anyway?”

This time I had an answer. “Well, Deus Ex Machina is a plot device,” I began, ” it means ‘God from the machine’. The game is aptly named; you’ll have to play it to-”

I realized too late that his question was intended to be rhetorical. He shook his head in disinterest and walked out. No grin this time. I shrugged and got started on the Zerg campaign. At least the Overmind had some nice things to say about me, the new cerebrate.

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If you don’t play computer games, I apologize for the gaming pop-culture references- they aren’t that crucial. Besides, a more expository rant transcript would be missing the point entirely.

What was this about?

Computer gaming as seen by gormless people with the attention span of a baby seal, itchy trigger fingers and a compunction to shoot anything that moves in-game. A marked ignorance of (and disrespect for) canon, plot and structure, and an overruling penchant for shiny graphics their vertex-shaderless Intel graphics controllers have no chance of reproducing. (Sums up the predominant gaming scene here in India at the moment.)

Total disregard for the companies that make these games, and the assumption that piracy is the norm.

A collective idea of gaming so contrived it’s a blunder on too many levels to explain here.

The assumption that every game is a variant of Doom/ AoE/ PoP. And that Half-Life is single player Counterstrike. That’s just wrong.


Old comments from the w0rdpress days

Traums said:
6 April, 2008 at 6:43 am

“Half-Life is single player Counterstrike. That’s just wrong.”

LOL_rAmen to that..

Looks like you beat me to the retrogaming post.
Should have dropped in the Thief series somewhere.
A more detailed and educative entry shall appear.