Hello. My name is Raymond, and I am a bad gamer.
What makes a bad gamer? Some or all of these characteristics:
Slow reflexes: By the time I squeeze the trigger in a multiplayer Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare match, the killcam is already playing my death back in embarrassing slow-motion.
A lack of spatial awareness: “This game is broken,” I think as I unknowingly trying to run through a wall, fence, or tank.
Freezing under stress: “Oh no, someone’s coming. Maybe I should go prone. No, run away. No, shoot. No mayb — okay, respawn then.”
Panicking under stress and button mashing: “This’ll show him: the lesser-known shoot, grenade, flashbang, jump, crouch, reload, change weapon, melee, pause combo.”
Slow to learn and recognize patterns: “He may have killed me twenty times in a row now, but soon my knife will best his sniper rifle.”
In short, I suck. You’re good and I’m not. Which means my gaming experience is different than yours.
When you played Dirt, you might have thought, “Wow, that’s some nice detail on the grass and trees,” as you effortlessly whizzed around a bend. It is nice detail; I’ve seen it up close, when I’ve launched my car off the road and into it. The grass looks realistic when it fills most of your TV screen as you try to reverse from the tree you’ve folded yourself around.
Did you enjoy the ending of Grand Theft Auto 4? Good, I’m glad. I wouldn’t know what it’s like since I’ve still not completed it. You may have reveled in your achievement as you smugly moved onto the next game, but I’ve experienced Liberty City in ways you never have. On that final level alone, I’ve fallen off of a roof, fallen through a roof, crashed the bike, sunk the bike, missed the ramp and fallen into the sea, and sunk the helicopter. In a truly inspired moment, I also launched a rocket into a car then tried to casually saunter by it seconds later. Funnily enough, it blew up and killed me. Try floating dejectedly in a river after failing once again to board a helicopter, and all the game can offer as solace is an illuminated pigeon to kill. Welcome to my world.
BioShock? More like Die o’ Shock. The heavy footsteps that signal an imminent Big Daddy or a whisper in a nearby room are enough to make me unload my shotgun and exhaust my plasmids in a trigger-happy frenzy. So tense is the experience that a moving shadow made me frantically fire into a corner because I was convinced I was being flanked. I then discovered that the shadow was caused by some fish, happily swimming their way around Rapture.
I’ve always been a bad gamer, but for years it was my dirty secret. My ineptitude was hidden behind closed doors, in the dark recess of my bedroom. Sure, there would be hints at my lack of skill, like the fact that I had only completed 15% of the games I owned, but no one knew the real truth. The wi-fi capabilities of the Xbox 360 changed that. I foolishly exposed myself to public humiliation and started playing online multiplayer games. The digital oaf stepped into the spotlight.
The co-op mode of Rainbow Six: Vegas was my peak — the jewel in my bad gamer's crown. You know how it’s easy to get buttons mixed up? Like when you try to look under a door, but hit the grenade button instead? Next, you bounce an explosive off of the door, and it lands it between you and your teammate and kills you both. That’s annoying, but understandable. It’s less acceptable when you do it six times in one session, causing your partner to create his own swear words.
Then, when you try very hard not to blow yourself up, you become a little uneasy on the thumbstick. Aiming a little high changes the prompt from ‘look under door’ to ‘open door.’ Imagine your teammate is already irate with you (as if you’d repeatedly blown him up). He covers at a door, and you move to join him and have a stealthy look at what’s in the next room. All of a sudden, the door is open, and what’s on the other side is a gang of terrorists armed to the teeth. And now you’re both staring at the respawn screen, and the only audible noise is a sigh of frustration echoing down a headset.
I’ve suffered indignity in the versus mode of Left 4 Dead. I was so excited to be one of the special infected that I paid no heed to strategy and went straight after the survivors. Whether I was a Boomer or a Smoker, I gave no thought to map layout or strategy, and I went on a straight-line attack like so many badly-designed A.I. enemies. Death and a lengthy wait to respawn came quickly, but soon I’d do the same thing again.
When it was my turn as a survivor, I’d be pinned or vomited on before my clip was empty. After one particularly bad game, another player left me a voice message saying that I was “The worst Left 4 Dead player he’d ever seen.” He was probably right, but I responded angrily with the most barbed comment I could muster: “Your mum.” Take that, I thought. He quickly replied to say that he couldn’t understand what I had said and then mocked me for that too! Double insult. The life of a bad gamer is a humbling one.
So tonight, as you perhaps complete another game (on Hard, no doubt), spare a thought for me, the eternal noob, doing my best not to die during a tutorial.