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A profile of a death machine named “The Hammer”

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I know a gamer that me and my friends call "The Hammer."

The Hammer received this name because of his blunt-force approach toward gaming. He cares only for violence and death. He has no time for story, characters, graphics, level design, sound, checkpoints, or upgrades. He just wants to shoot people…as many people as possible.

This focused bloodlust causes him to ignore everything else. “Where am I supposed to go?” he’ll ask, and I'll have to point out the large arrow in the distance or the bright red dot on the map. He never reloads in Modern Warfare because he doesn’t notice the text in the middle of the screen telling him to do so. You know…the text that’s so intrusive that you'll reload just to get rid of it? He can’t even see it. Every cut-scene prompts the sound of frantic button tapping as he tries to get back to the shooting.

Did you ever switch on the cheats in GoldenEye that allow you to take a sniper rifle into a level that shouldn't have one and then wait for soldiers to rush around a corner, picking them off again and again? That would be The Hammer's perfect game: pure, simple, repetitive carnage with no pesky missions or movement to interrupt the death.

 

The Hammer would be an ideal Kinect player. Despite using a gamepad with no motion detection, he leans left and right in an effort to avoid enemy fire. If a game features driving, he swings the controller when steering around corners. He generally stands to play games — as if this provides an advantage over sitting — and ends up banging his elbows on doors he was two feet away from when he started playing.

I've never seen a more intense look of disgust than the time I explained I was playing Splinter Cell, a stealth game which requires "patience" and the avoidance of killing. I may as well have said I was wearing ladies underwear — which I was.

People were outraged over Modern Warfare 2’s No Russian level. The Hammer didn’t even notice the problem. The second those doors lifted open and he saw people, he started gunning them down before the terrorists even took aim. Only once he’d finished the level and I questioned him about it did he realize he’d been gunning down civilians. See meat. Shoot meat.

To him, the one other acceptable function in a game, beside shooting, is quick saves. I introduced the concept to him, and I soon regretted it.

When I started playing Doom 3, his head would regularly angle in the door. He smelled killing and wanted a piece. Once, unfortunately, I had to leave him alone with the Xbox, knowing he'd soon start up a playthrough. "Just use this save slot here," I told him. "Leave that one alone. That's mine."

I returned home to find that he had seemingly saved his own game, mere minutes after starting, over mine. Then I noticed he had also used the save slot I told him to. I'll pick up where he left off, I thought. That'll show him.

I sat as the game loaded, and a second later, I was dead. What the fuck? I loaded it again. This time I saw the briefest flash of gameplay before I died. It took a few restarts before it dawned on me what had happened. The Hammer had encountered trouble. A demonic beast had been bearing down on him when his energy was low, and for some inexplicable reason, he decided that that particular moment was a good time to save. Every time the game loaded the monster would be right on top of him, rendering the save file useless, so he used mine. I tried to escape this fate many times, waiting poised as the game loaded for that millisecond of play. Over and over I tried to avoid the beast's deathblow to no avail.

Nowadays, The Hammer is a man without an Xbox — a soldier without a cause. He visited me recently. Entering the living room, he noticed my PlayStation 3 was on.

“What you playing?” he asked.

Killzone 3. “

"That’ll do for me."

He played for the entire visit, forgoing politeness and etiquette and societal norms. Once again, he ignored all else, focusing only on killing.


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