Monday, March 09, 2009

Wii Wars

I have a love-hate relationship with computer games / games consoles which roughly translates as 20% love and 80% hate.

I’m not sure why I should feel so ambivalent about them as in every other respect I am a tech-head and dedicated gadget nerd.

And it’s not like I never play computer games.

I have a version of Unreal Tournament 2003 on my PC which I quite happily fire up for a quick session most weekends. Only for 20 minutes mind you. A quick fix and I’m done. The best thing about this particular game is that it allows me to rename all the “bots”. This means I am able to shoot, hack, blow up and disintegrate anyone who has annoyed me during the previous week.

At any one time I can gorily fight my way through an army that comprises work colleagues, Russell Brand, assorted d-list celebrities and the ex-president of the USA.

It’s very cathartic and allows me to maintain my Buddha-like equilibrium for the rest of the week.

But most other games irritate me. Games consoles irritate me.

I see them advertised on TV – Wii, Xbox, PlayStation – and I can feel my face start to twitch like Clint Eastwood in City Heat. When I see the fake advert families bouncing around on their plush leather sofas screeching with joy as they wave their Wii consoles around like they’re tossing off the invisible man I just want to get my plasma rifle from Unreal Tournament and blast them all into little heaps of marrowbone and jelly.

This attitude, I admit, makes life difficult for my eldest boy who is a PlayStation addict. He has rationed access to the console anyway – too much makes him hysterical – but even short bursts of it turn me into Mr Hyde.

Why do these games annoy me so much?

I think a lot of it stems from countless Saturday nights at my best mate Dave’s house – back in the days before I was married (i.e. when I was a sad and lonely git)...

Dave was a true tech-head. The kind of guy who upgraded his computer every month (by hand). The kind of guy who bought every single games console the moment it came out – and as a consequence couldn’t get within 7ft of his TV because of the swamp of joy pads and tangled console cables that were a death trap for any creature unable to fly over them.

Now, when Dave generously allowed me to have a go on these games myself it was, I admit, highly addictive. I can see where my boy is coming from. But most of the time the evening was spent watching Dave play the games. Playing the kinds of games where you have to explore a fathomless computer generated world that has no cyber end. Playing the same bit over and over and over again until it was done properly.

There is nothing more tiresome, more mundane, more teeth shatteringly infuriating than watching someone else play a computer game.

The fact you’re watching it means you are unwittingly involved. Ooh. I wonder what’s in that room? I wonder what that device does? Would a 3 combi double-punch kick move work at this juncture? But you are unable to do a damned thing about it. You can’t make any decisions or moves yourself. Just watch someone else play the game possibly better, possibly worse than you.

It’s like being a disembodied spirit. Or Arnold Judas Rimmer from Red Dwarf. Or Gordon Brown when Tony Blair was still in power.

It winds me up just thinking about it. Gah!

Maybe the answer is just to grab the spare joy pad without permission and pitch in with my plasma rifle? Get involved? Give myself over to the addiction? Surrender to the dark side?

*Sigh*

But I can’t help feeling it would just be far more enjoyable to stamp on the bloody thing until it’s dead dead dead...

21 comments:

EmmaK said...

I am hoping my kids never become addicts by never giving them a PlayStation. The Wii is fairly harmless, keeps the kids occupied for an hour in winter playing tennis while parents go upstairs for a fumble and lie down.

Deirdre said...

buddha equilibrium?...oh my... I could use me some of that........
and I (under protest)had my first go at wi last week at my sons...have never liked computer games....its all too fast and fake and furious for me (much like the film trailers I saw at the cinema last week..) and I just dont GET it..Y'know I dont want to be like D'fens but this 21st century world is getting me down....

Steve said...

Emma: "...keeps the kids occupied for an hour in winter playing tennis while parents go upstairs for a fumble and lie down"...

OK. I'm sold.

Deirdre, I do know what you mean. Getting the eldest boy to play outside (or rather to want to play outside) is an uphill struggle. If it ain't got a plug or a battery compartment it's hard to get him engaged. Thankfully the little one is totally amazed by all the "outsideness" and now pushes us out into the garden at every available opportunity.

The Sagittarian said...

I am either shopping in the wrong places or blind, but I can't seem to find anything remotely (geddit) worthwhile in playstation agmes for girls! I got conned into buying a pink playstation for mine 2 wee trolls but, likeme, they can't get the hang on Grand Turismo whatsit (bought by the father)...the only game they like is Lego Star Wars!

Steve said...

Being a Lego fan I can't rate Lego Star Wars highly enough and it is the only game that could possibly see me ever giving the PlayStation a stay of execution. You're right though; there's very little in the way of girl oriented computer games. Maybe The Sims (which I also rate)?

Suburbia said...

Temper, temper!!!

I can't bear the noise of the wii. All the boring little games have boring little tunes which get in your head and DON'T GO AWAY! You find yourself humming them during the day Aaaahhgghh!

Steve said...

Ah - Wii music! Worse than the Crazy Frog.

I think I'm being very reasonable when I say that the Wii must die.

missbehaving said...

They're the root of all evil;)
Games don't interest me at all, I
have never played one, back in the day I never really got the hang of Pac-Man either.
My lads have the DS-Lites and they would cut out their own kidneys with a melon scoop in exchange for a few more minutes.
That said, their addiction is no different from my net-surfing or elder daughters' constant texting, we're all just caught up in something else and missing the moment.
I would turn this damn thing off right now if I didn't have pressing things to read ;)

Annie said...

Like all things,good "in moderation" though you probably need to surgically remove the joypad from your lad's thumbs on occasions!

I'm not intested in these games myself but I can see the benefits, ie developing good hand/eye coordination and generally making the mind tick. As long as they don't replace outdoor recreation .....

Steve said...

Miss Behaving, sorry to be playing a small part in your online addictions! You're right though - we all have obessions and addictions though I do hope I don't force mine on other people or allow them to distract me from real life too much - just enough to make it bearable... he he he! ;-)

Annie, I'm sure there a lots of other ways of improving hand-eye coordination - darts, applying make-up, cooking, boxing, playing tiddly-winks... all viable alternatives. I can't think why the Wii has caught on.

French Fancy said...

Have you ever played Monkey Island? I had true game love and obsession with that series. I've got a fairly addictive personality and could sit for hours and hours just absorbed in it. Watching someone else play it however would be very frustrating.

Boo to your old mate, Dave

Pearl said...

I was once quite addicted to Tetris, eventually hallucinating the correct shapes into the city skyline...
Pearl

Steve said...

French Fancy (I have a secret yearning to call you Frenchie - as in Grease) I've heard of Monkey Island though don't recall much about it. I think my mate, Dave, had a copy and it's possible I may have blocked it out from my memory...!

Pearl... whoa! Now that's addiction. I look forward to the day when I halucinate a pulse rifle into being next time the shit hits the fan at work... OK punks... who's first?

Sweet Cheeks said...

Hi Wonderful Steve!

I admit it. We have an Xbox, Xbox360 and a Wii.

We all play different games. However, Mr. Cheeks and I played all of the Legos games together...which is the best marriage counseling available. It took true co-operation to complete these games...I'm not kidding. We work much better as a team ever since then.

p.s.
What the hell is snooker?
:)

Steve said...

Hi Sweet Cheeks - the Lego games do seem to be universally popular which is cool.

As for snooker - he he! I did wonder whether you'd know what it was. It's like pool or billiards. Two men thrusting big sticks at little coloured balls. Men like doing that for some reason. ;-)

Reluctant Blogger said...

Yes, I share your feelings about them really. I am not anti them as such they just bore me. I had a phase over Christmas where I got hooked on some mindless Facebook game (Staries) and played it for about a week several times a day. But then I tired of it and have never felt the need to go near it since.

We have a Nintendo DS (no playstations or wiis or whatevers) in our house - the boys saved and bought it with their own money because I would not do so - and they have phases of playing with it and I agree it is useful for periods when they are trapped with nothing to do.

But I make my children bored so that they do things ie so they go outside or so they read. They are allowed one hour of gawping per day (ie laptop/TV or DS and they generally choose an hour on the laptop) and watching counts as their time, so they have to go to a separate room if they do not want to have it counted as their time if the TV is on, or the DS is on. It works - they do stuff the rest of the time. They'd gawp at the laptop all day probably given half the chance (just like I do!!!!).

Trouble is that if I have non-computer time I don't go outside and do things, I fall asleep!

Steve said...

Wow! Even watching counts as their time? You're even tougher than me and I thought I was a real Victorian dad! I might tell Ben this so that next time he complains he realizes how lucky he is!

I used to play a city building game called Pharaoh quite a lot when I first got my PC about ten years ago but it was very time consuming. I'd love to get into it again but like you have neither the time nor the energy!

Reluctant Blogger said...

haha well it sounds good doesn't it but I am so dozey that I don't notice half the time. I have phases of monitoring it and then other times when I am just relieved that they are all quiet and not bothering me.

But yeah threaten Ben that you'll send him to stay with me. Tell him that I chop off little boys' fingers if they play too long on a DS.

Brother Tobias said...

I like to play the odd game, although they need to be easy to pick up, or I can't be bothered. But I've yet to see much real world application for games console skills. I suppose sooner or later some 12 year old is going to land an airliner after the crew have all passed out, thanks to hours spent on a flight simulation. When we first began to get PCs at work they left the games on, on the grounds that they rapidly improved mouse skills; I thought this pretty far-sighted.

justme said...

Oh I get wonderfully obsessed by all sorts of games! I love my wii! Have you tried Lego Batman? Is good!

Steve said...

Gina, I shall pass on your comments next time he blows up about having to turn the damned thing off. Expect my next blog to have been composed from deep within the dungeons of social services... ;-)

Brother T, what would worry me more is some 12 year old taking over the controls of an ailing Boeing 747 and attempting to perform a strafing run over Berlin like something out of Medal Of Honour...!

Justme: we're very much a Lego household so Lego Batman (DS) was acquired at Christmas... unfortunately my youngest has a yen for putting small object surreptitiously in the kitchen bin and we suspect Lego Batman has gone the way of the empty juice cartons...