Fortunately, I seem to be coming along nicely (thank you very much), but certain aspects of my identity are also coming into focus that are starting to cause dreadful anxiety and constant self-doubt. No, I’m not referring to my marks or getting a job or wondering why the heck I’m writing this article instead of the essay due tomorrow. No, it’s something far less relevant, but it stings just the same.
After 24 years, I’m starting to accept the fact that, despite my fervent love of the medium, I really suck at video games.
It’s not something any man wants to admit, particularly one from a generation raised on Donkey Kong and Super Mario, but it’s true. I’ve denied it so long that I’ve become laughable. How many times have I been reduced to just running around in GoldenEye trying not to get shot because killing me meant breaking a tie between two much better players?
“It’s Oddjob’s shortness!” I would declare.
Surely there was no way I sucked so much that I had lost all my lives within the space of two minutes. There was also no way I could have lost against my friend’s Klobb when I was packing a Cougar Magnum!
My stupid controller must have been off.
“Halo is impossible to learn!” I would say after being beaten down a mere second after re-spawning for about the ninth time.
“The game is so unbalanced against new players.”
I still have no idea what it’s like to actually drive a vehicle or fire a weapon in that game.
Looking back at all the games I loved, I realize I suck at every one of them. I can’t manage my healing and defense in World of Warcraft. I still don’t know how to use smash attacks in Smash Bros. and don’t ask me how you get out of a corner in Mario Kart.
I’ve used excuse after excuse to explain my terrible skill in these games and they never made me feel any better. But yet I kept making them, because as a young male I refused to believe that I could possibly be bad at video games.
Should I blame society for making me this way? By putting pressure on my gender to be good at video games, did they force me to lie to myself all these years? Is that why I’ve been stuck in the Water Temple in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the last five years? Nope, that’s just another excuse.
The fact is I love video games. I truly do. But I suck at them, plain and simple.
And you know what? That’s OK. It’s good to understand a little bit more about my identity as a person. It doesn’t matter that I can’t seem to stay on the level in Super Mario 3D Land, a game so easy my girlfriend’s 10-year-old cousin is further along in it than I am.
The more you understand your appreciation of the arts, the more you get to know yourself.
A few months ago I looked up a list I made eight years ago of my favourite movies. I found so much joy in crossing off the ones I no longer care about and replacing them with new favourites. And the ones I kept on that list I was able to watch again with a newfound appreciation.
It’s the same now with video games since I’ve come to accept my absolute zero skill in the medium. I’m enjoying them more. My skills have even increased. Not by much, mind you. I’ve been stuck in the same part of Dark Souls for about a month and a half. But it doesn’t matter. I’m having more fun than I ever had when I was trying to be good at video games.
It’s part of growing up. You realize you have a few things you’re great at, a few you suck at and a million things you haven’t tried yet.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been lost in a castle in Skyrim for the last few hours. Anyone have a walkthrough?