Periscope Depth

I love committing sins and my friends sell crack

Last week, Leonard asked what form of art or culture I deliberately resist for whatever reason. Thinking about it, I had a hard time coming up with a lot of answers – except perhaps Japanese animation. But I could go on at length about games.

I’m a gamer, but not a serious one. I get together an average of once a month to shoot dice, currently GMing a Mutants and Masterminds campaign. Sometimes I play more often, sometimes I wait longer stretches. But I game as a way to socialize and have fun with friends. I have a really hard time rolling dice with anyone I don’t already call a friend, or at least a good acquaintance.

I play video games, but I’m at least one generation behind the latest consoles. I never pay more than $25 for a video game if I can help it, meaning I usually wait until critical feedback and word of mouth have slashed a new release’s price by 50% before buying. I have a thin, eclectic collection. I never play for more than 2 hours at a time.

My tastes run pretty wide, but there are three types of games I’ve resisted getting into for years and very likely won’t: massively multiplayer online rpgs (MMORPGS), live-action roleplaying (LARP) or online first-person shooters (like HALO, Counterstrike, Team Fortress, etc).

I originally intended to give each of those a paragraph explaining why, but they all boil down to the same root cause: they all sound really cool except for the people I’d have to deal with.

From a cooperative standpoint – guild play, “roleplay” servers – I hate the immersion break that comes from watching comrades bitch about “nerfing pallys for the n00bs.” Or from standing on a damp lawn with a foam sword, listening to a pasty guy with a Systems Engineer beard rally the troops. I game for escape, not for status or an adrenaline rush. For me, immersion is critical.

From a competitive viewpoint – PvP, FPS, etc – I know that I cannot devote the same time or money to the game that the Dew-addled twitchers playing it do. These players make up the majority; as such, I will always be behind the curve. That’s not fun for me. I don’t relish spending $15 a month to consistently lose.

Here’s the funny part: take that online gaming experience and remove all the other people, and you get a game like Morrowind or Half-Life. And I love those games. So once you eliminate the crucial variable I warm up like butter.

Oddly, several good friends of mine, whom I also game with, play one or more of those games listed above. They clearly enjoy themselves, so it’s not like they’re weird or unnatural. It’s just not for me.