*interlude* – Man vs Machine

As a nice little interlude, I thought I’d throw in an article I wrote for the wonderful wayoftherodent.com which is particularly relevant I feel. We have now reached the end of our “old” journey and it’s new content from now on in. Don’t get too excited, it’s a new carpet.

Until then, hope you enjoy…

Man vs Machine

“Games ain’t as good as they used to be in the old days…dribble dribble”. Find a room of 30 somethings that like a bit o’ gaming and that’s what you’ll no doubt hear all day long and hands up, I’m one of the buggers usually leading the charge. You can literally wade through articles and blogs full of nostalgic and wistful praise for the classic arcade games but if you were forced to put your finger on exactly *why* games were better it gets a little quieter. A few theories have been suggested; the excitement of emerging technology, the bedroom coder and plain old nostalgia glasses are all decent reasons, but whilst playing a game or two of Phoenix on MAME this afternoon a new and significant reason suddenly struck me.

You see, Phoenix is a fucker of a game – extremely punishing and demanding for what looks like a simple galaxian style shooter; the shield sometimes simply lets bullets through, the enemies float around like bastard butterflies dodging your attempts to shoot them down with ease and you get shot from extreme close range all the time with little chance of escape. As you stare at the GAME OVER screen for the hundredth time you are literally seething – fucking game, next time you’re going to get it something rotten.

And that’s exactly what is missing in today’s gaming world.

Back then it was YOU vs the GAME. You walked into the arcade feeling like a wandering cowboy who has just rolled into town as the fourth sheriff that week, there to clean up the town of scum and get the girl (ok, maybe getting the girl was a step too far with that metaphor but you get the idea). Each and every machine was out there to get you and you were there to dish out the spankings. Some days a machine would make you look a fool; they’d take your money and then spit you out mere seconds later. Some wouldn’t even have instructions on the cabinet, as soon as you start the game you’re in the middle of it – you don’t know how to play? Tough shit – BANG dead. Those were the days of men, the ultimate challenge hence the ultimate reward.

Compare that to games now. Now games don’t even ask you to read the manual, I don’t even know why they bother printing the bloody things as the first half and hour or so is usually a tutorial of some sort. Games these days love to hold your hand as you play, it’s not YOU vs the GAME anymore – it’s YOU AND the GAME, off on a wonderful adventure. That’s a load of old shit, I don’t want to feel like a member of the Goonies being helped along by that older ginger bird, I want to be a bloody cowboy! Even Nintendo, who still have a little gay place in my heart, started off with games like Donkey Kong, a game that I still can’t play past the second level today (King of Kong? More like King of Mong). Now Nintendo games almost literally stroke your hair as you play – “there there, we’ll all be alright. Look! There’s a pony!” ……FUCK OFF! I want to be the gritty hero, not star in an episode of Cities of Gold.

I Don’t want any help dammit!

The equivalent in modern time is of course online gaming, but that simply isn’t good enough for me. I don’t want to hate other people playing the same game, I don’t want to tone skills within the game, I want to BEAT the game. With online gaming you aren’t beating the game at all, the game is using you – can’t you see? Games of today are turning us against OURSELVES! All of the robot paranoia of the sixties is coming true in front of your very eyes and you do NOTHING. Don’t come running to me when a robot turns up and shags your wife that’s all I’m saying.

No, what we need are more games that hate us, we don’t need adventures we need rivalries. When I die in a game I want to be devastated, I want it to be the equivalent of having my trousers pulled down in front of Kelly le Brock on a day that I was wearing my worst pants – I want it to HURT. For me that is the reason to keep playing a game, not to see what level comes next but because I shitting hate it and want to teach it a damn good lesson. I really hope that feeling comes back in the modern era, but for now I’ll settle with battling with the oldies – are you up for it or shall I give the Care Bears a call so they can help you through that tricky cloud level?

6 thoughts on “*interlude* – Man vs Machine

  1. Wonderful piece. I agree wholeheartedly. New games are like crosswords that give you the answers. There’s a subset of people who enjoy being vexed and tested, but the majority hate it. And aiming at the majority is the way to make money.

  2. Know how to tell if a game’s any good? If you cuss it out *after* beating it. “I told you you pile of fuck, who in the shit do you think you are you miserable cuntass?! Who in the motherFUCK is your daddy?!!”

  3. Last Ninja on the C64 anyone? The bits where you had to make pixel perfect jumps to get across some innocent looking pond ……from an isometric viewpoint. Cuntass indeed!

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