Thursday, November 11, 2010

Girls don't suck at consoles; *I* suck at consoles.

So, my husband and I play games together.  It's a good way to be a gamer.  At any given time, we'll each have a "me" game (or two, sometimes a handheld as well as a PC / console title) and a running "us" game that we play together.

Our most recent "us" game was Syberia, which I'd played before but never to the end, and we've started on Syberia II.  (And I'll be writing about the character arc of Kate Walker soon, after I see where it finishes.)  But in-between, the gods of GameFly sent us Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and as I am unable to resist an Indiana-Jones-style adventure, it went from "his" game to "our" game right quick.  And by "our" game, I mean, "he played it, and I made fun of everything and also occasionally spotted snipers for him."

See, here's the thing.  Most modern offline games (particularly in the genres we enjoy) are not multiplayer in any sense (and if they do have a multiplayer mode, it's online and large).  So a dedicated gaming team finds creative ways to share the play.  With the God of War titles, our co-op strategy has me roaming through corridors killin' stuff and pullin' levers to see what happens, and has him doing boss fights and timed events.  Why do we land on this particular division of labor?

(This is not why we land on this division of labor.)

My major failing as a console gamer is that I was not, in fact, a console-using gamer until late 2008.  I'm a PC gamer.  My parents couldn't and then wouldn't buy me an NES when I was a kid, so I didn't even beat Super Mario Brothers until I was 13 and bought a used one from a friend for $25 worth of my babysitting money.  But we had a computer in the house since 1985, and from mazes to math games to Tetris, I was hooked.  I methodically played through the adventure games of the 1990s and loved them, then started downloading text adventures through AOL and seeing what that had all been about.

So, the good news is that after the first year of us having a PS3 in the house, I managed to get the hang of both walking AND running using analog sticks.  Later came jumping, when the two of us methodically played our way through the entire Metal Gear Solid series, with him on the controller and me providing the Mystery Science Theater 3000-style commentary.  In MGS2, he repeatedly kept (unintentionally) throwing Raiden into a chasm, and smartass me took the controller and cleared the jump on my first try.  Sure, we were robbed of the joy of throwing Raiden into a chasm, but I had just had my first successful PlayStation controller experience.

And then somehow, later, we ended up playing God of War (all of them).  So how did my husband end up responsible for all the QuickTime events?

Well.  Here's our living room TV:

Nice TV.  Husband was going through the special features of Uncharted at the time.  But wait -- what's that right above the TV?

This is the open-book monument to my shame.  Because in my head, the square is on top, and the circle is god-knows-where, and by the time I've figured it out, the event is over, the boss has eaten me, and I have to start all over again with that damn sea serpent.

So.  We each play to our strengths!  I can solve puzzles, I can mash buttons, he can tolerate endless dialogue, and he... knows which button x is.

I swear, I'll get there someday.


Or maybe I'll just be using WASD to get through my next game.  Yeah, that sounds like a better plan.

And finally: between the time I started this post and finally remembered to take the SD card out of my camera and finish it, a pair of Gamasutra articles have come to my attention.  Playing games with your significant other and its part two are an interesting look at partners' gaming.  And I also enjoyed this post at Spectacle Rock, from earlier this year, lamenting the lack of good couples' co-op titles.


  1. You are most definitely not the only one who forgets which button is which! Especially with the strange PS button name strategy... and least with A B C I can think "a is before b, hence to the left" but the shapes always threw me.

  2. I think, looking at the doodle again, that I instinctively want X to be the button on the right. Although I always hit the right button when I'm navigating through the PS3 menus, but I think that's because I just know where my thumb should be, and I'm not actively thinking about OH GOD I NEED THAT ROUND ONE the way I do during a timed game event.

  3. With that one picture, I suddenly understand why consoles have camps with adherents and detractors. I am, myself, in the Nintendo camp. And computer games. I can WASD like crazy. Never played much PSWhatever.

  4. I realized that perhaps my gaming had once and for all gotten the better of me when I realized every morning, when I got to the office and sat at my work computer, my left hand rested on WASD and my right hand on the mouse...

  5. Ok, I just cackled at my desk and clapped my hands over that one.

  6. has anyone liked a comment of yours here yet? because i just did. mwahaha.

    (a separate post forthcoming)

  7. uncharted 2 > uncharted 1 by a staggering amount, which is not at all a strike against the first game. if you haven't played it yet, then do so (and for some reason i feel like i've had this conversation with you before).

    but as far as the timing events go, i find that i'm much better with the console than with the keyboard, which totally baffles me. the keyboard is almost all i use for games, and the console is only a recent development for me.

    if it helps any, the triangle kind of looks like an up arrow. kind of.

  8. Uncharted 2 is on its way from GameFly; we had a delay in getting the first game out so the second one doesn't look like it'll arrive before / during the weekend, but we should have it on Monday. I should probably write about both games when we finish them... a week or two.

    I don't know the last PC game I played with a timing event similar to the sort I've been finding in recent PS3 titles. Then again mostly I've been playing New Vegas since it came out. ;)

  9. i went through the force unleashed on the pc recently (part of a steam pack i got, if i recall correctly) and i think what threw me off was not being able to tell the difference between mashing a button and pressing it once (my own lack of perception, not the game's clarity). on the console, it feels easier. eh, well, it was fun anyway.

    and seriously, uncharted 2--it's still the only ps3 game to make me jump out of my seat and shout "OH SHIIT" on more than one occasion. there's a couple of extended sequences in it that are simply awesome (and you'll know when you get to them).

    without getting too spoilerish, though, i will say that i found the ending sequences anticlimactic.