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"I hate you, men" my girlfriend said to me while I was helping her to unlock some of her Achievements on Challenge Mode in Batman: Arkham Asylum. "You have a natural talent for videogames that girls don't."
The fact that we are both videogame enthusiast is one of the main reasons we ended up living together. Batman Arkham Asylum was one of those games we both enjoyed the same; but apparently, its winning combination between action and exploration oriented gameplay, resulted in a different kind of experience for the two of us.
I ended up mastering the gameplay and finished every available stage in Challenge mode. I just didn't know how to unlock the rest of the challenges.
"You have to solve all the Riddler's Challenges" my girlfriend said, who not only beat the game before I did, but also managed to find every hidden collectible before I even tried; it was the first time she knew more about a game than I did, and she was so ready to rub it right onto my face.
It seems that she was way more moved by the exploration oriented gameplay in Arkham Asylum, than the action elements that caught up my attention; she found herself engaged in the task of looking for every collectible in the game, and she actually acted offended when I asked her if she used a guide to find them.
Even tough it's not such a hassle to find them, I kept leaving this chore for later.
"Want me to help you looking for them?" — She asked me.
Can you recognize that tone when a woman is asking you something, and anyway you put it, there's only one reasonable answer?
I had to bite my tongue a little bit before I accepted, even tough my Gamerscore has some Achievements someone else have unlocked, those were the result of an accident, not something I willingly asked someone to do for me.
Fortunately, I recognized that tone and managed to say "yes" promptly; successfully avoiding that awkward silence followed by that forced "yes" that barely comes through my teeth, and ends up offending her in a way we guys don't even grasp to understand — it's like defusing a bomb!
Admiral Ackbar is right, you know there's only an answer.
I sat down beside her and watched her hunting those collectibles throughout all Arkham Asylum; then is when the fun really started.
"Why I can't open this door?" She asked me while she was trying to use the Cryptographic Sequencer on the security panel in the far side of a secured room. "I don't know. I never could. Are you sure you can open it like this?"
After a brief discussion, the reason became clear.
"You didn't upgrade the Sequencer?!” She asked me when she was checking through my upgrades. "No… (There’s that awkward silence) I focused myself on the combat upgrades."
Fortunately, finding the collectibles in the game raised more experience points for my score, which she used to upgrade my Cryptographic Sequencer and eventually managed to open those doors I left locked during my playthrough; unfortunately, that wasn't the only inconvenient.
A great thing about the hidden collectibles in Batman Arkham Asylum is that you can check the map, and see a Riddler's icon floating around the area where one of them is hidden — mostly in plain sight.
While this feature helps you out by pointing the direction you must look for, it doesn't hold your hand in any parenting way, you still have some guessing to do before you realize what you are supposed to do, where you are supposed to watch, or what something like "there are two dents on the wall" means.
But, this is not a default feature; you have to find a Riddler's map first. And what happens if your helpful partner realizes that you didn't get some of those maps in the first place?
Let me tell you, it wasn't pretty for any of us to learn that there was a lot more trouble that we initially thought.
I clearly remember patiently walking during my playthrough, trying to enjoy most of the game scenery, but looking at all the mess I left behind, it much seems like I just ran past every room without even looking twice at anything that seemed suspicious.
Now I know what was I supposed to do with this!
What seemed like a couple of hour’s task, ended up as three full gaming sessions.
She even forgot where to find some of these collectibles and got stuck a few times before she gave up, handed me the controller, and realized — trough a new perspective — that she was doing it all wrong, in one of those cases of gamer-blindness.
It was actually so much fun to see this kind of scenario inverted, since she was the person taking me away from Street Fighter IV after almost an hour of struggling, and yelling, and cursing while trying to defeat Seth, the game's final rival, for the first time.
After finding another missing map, that uncovered another set of forgotten collectibles, she told me that "she could continue while I was away, if I wanted to."
But this time I spoke right from my senses and deny her offer; I told her that "at least I wanted to be there when she found them." I just didn't want to come back home and learn that she went trough all the trouble by herself.
Eventually, she found all the collectibles, and now I am two Achievements away from a 1000 score in this game. "You're welcome" she said, "now you have to help me out with my Challenge Mode Achievements."
Before this experience, I would have never let anyone unlock an Achievement for me, and I couldn’t understand why my girlfriend kept asking for my testosterone skills whenever an Achievement was too hard for her.
I used to think that I you didn’t unlock an achievement for yourself, you clearly don’t deserve it. But I changed my mind this time around, she was willing to help me out with the Riddler’s Challenges, because she enjoyed doing it the first time; and I am actually having a blast now that I have a reason to come back to Challenge Mode for her Achievements.
I guess many guys would be embarrassed to admit that their girlfriends unlocked something for them; for me, I am happy to say that I loved sharing my game with my significant other; that my score is now the result of a healthy cooperation, in a game that's not supposed to be played cooperatively, in a medium people still consider an entertainment only for the lonely person.