Gaming Together – Sorta

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

My wife and I picked up some video games today. What we got is an instructive look at our different gaming interests.

For her: Rainbow Six: Lockdown for the Xbox. She loves to shoot. She’s got great reaction speed and a thirst for gun violence. She also loves platformers,which I can’t stand.

For me: Trauma Center: Under the Knife for the Nintendo DS. I guess I like to slice and dice. The procedural nature better suits me, since my reflexes aren’t as fast. I’m also more interested in story; she likes it, but I demand it. I also enjoy tactical games like Advance Wars and Fire Emblem (though the latter doesn’t have a good story).

For both of us: a used copy of Hitman Contracts, which we’d both been meaning to play for over a year now. We both love to sneak around and assassinate with stealthy impunity. Our favorite games are the Splinter Cell franchise for Xbox.

I think the true test of a game is whether or not the liminality is enjoyable. Liminality is the very beginning of a phase, the limit before one crosses over to something new. I once read someone who theorized that liminality is the true benefit of video games, that an interesting game ramps the difficulty level slowly but steadily in a balanced fashion that makes learning and mastering the game’s particular skill sets enjoyable.

Everybody has different interests in what liminality works for a video game and what doesn’t. I’ve spent the past week playing Advance Wars DS’s War Room with one particular map – Grit by himself, Skills on, in the 3 CO map called Last Mission. I’ve yet to win and part of me believes it can’t be done (not with Grit, at least) without a partner CO. I’ve tried at least twenty different tactics, sometimes being in the middle of something and stopping that other thing to try out a new approach in Advance Wars. Some people would find this annoying and just give up – or at least bring in another CO for their side. I find this a thought puzzle worth unlocking, if possible. There’s something to be learned in the process…

And today, as we were heading home, I asked my wife if she was going to do Rainbow Six multiplayer right away. She said she had to learn the maps first, or else she wouldn’t be as effective for her team. She’s not a newbie gamer who just rushes in and fires; she wants to master the map and make full use of its layout when she plays. I find that admirable. She won’t enjoy the game unless she has knowledge and control, and she knows how to pursue that.

In contrast, I made my wife try out Trauma Center since she likes ER the TV show a great deal. She tried it but didn’t get into it, laughing at how she couldn’t figure out what to do. It just wasn’t her bag, just like multiplayer Rainbow Six is something I’ve never done and will probably never do. In contrast, I was into Trauma Center right away, even though I had to do an early polyps operation a dozen-plus times before I succeeded.

I’m going to have a good deal more time to myself for the next several months, as my wife’ll be doing multiplayer on Rainbow Six every night for at least an hour or two, playing Splinter Cell multiplayer for the occassional change in routine. It’ll mean more time for me writing on the laptop with fewer interruptions, each of us lost in our own little worlds and blissful for it.Sometimes she becomes the gaming widow, sometimes I became the gaming widower; that’s just how it is with us.

On a final note, we also each have a Nintendog cartridge, though only one DS. We love our dogs, but are beginning to tire of the daily routine – or at least, put it off more often than when we started. That said, every day I make sure to at least feed little Kago (a German Shepherd), Tsuji (a Sheltie), and Momoko (a Husky), and spend some quality play time with them. (Walks and frisbee practices are optional, though at least every other day.) There’s some liminality in the frisbee-tossing contests, but in this case, what keeps me coming back is how cute my bitches are and how dependent they are on me. There’s something about rubbing Momoko’s tummy as she’s rolling on the floor that just brings me joy…

Yup. Gotta love video games.