I Game, I Saw, I Conquered…

January 13, 2014 4:00 PM

SP causal vs hardcoreRecently there has been a growing swell in what one can reasonably call justifies the term ‘gamer’ being attributed to a person. With mobile phones bringing forefinger blister figures up in the past few years, an entire new genre of single swipe gaming has emerged, generating much in the way of revenue for the companies behind them and much irk and ire in the stomachs and minds of those self-appointed guardians of the moniker ‘gamers’.

The lines between what is and isn’t considered a gamer smacks of tired old lines dressed in new garb being shoved out beneath an unflattering spotlight for visceral inspection.  Gamer was a term often given to anyone capable of finding the secret warp pipes at the end of the first level of Super Mario Bros, or had a pc that ran off its own power supply and glowed in the corner of the room. It was a mark of passionate adoration to a person of a given hobby that was guaranteed to go into meltdown if anyone mentioned the ‘other side’.

console_gaming_pfftThe PC versus Console Wars have seen many casualties fall throughout the years, many causes started and propaganda spread. PC gamers hold hard to a mouse and keyboard confection being perfection for interaction within the action, the FPS crowd especially see espying a block of bumps and tracker-ball selling at the thick end of  a week’s wages to be the very bargain of Mammon itself, a button for every want and as smooth in movement as a seven year old’s moustache.

Console gamers, however, have always been given a device specifically tailored for the tinkering about the tiny worlds of twee specific to the console itself, affording the nigh-on perfect input available to traverse within confines filled with head stomping, platform leaping, old lady mugging and hookers.

Both are used to their own choice of input manipulation, so looking to pull off a headshot with an unfamiliar and uncomfortable format would naturally seem alien and therefore wrong to some. Equally, the strength of their conviction is felt and matched by the other, as both are only able to see the flaws in the less favoured device rather than consider the benefits that an open mind and a few hours practise could bring.

Casuals

The argument over which is superior is as redundant as a Welsh coal miner, as neither is prepared to give ground on what they see as the others misadventure in gaming immersion. Which platform you choose to play a game on is as big a mushroom cloud of reasoned debate as the choice of controller, the same protagonists squaring up for round two as they try to head butt the others knuckles into submission with a new set of arbitrary rules.

Graphic superiority was always a crown even the lowest end of PC could wear, the other side only having sixteen bits to throw at them in response.  There was an almost arrogant air to the amount of gubbins and boards needed to create an in game image comparable to the real-world PC gamers held, the minefield of compatible graphics- and sound-cards a flagellated badge of honour worn proudly each time they managed to lift a phone book sized advert masquerading as a PC magazine onto the news agents counter.

Once Sony got in on the act suddenly all the heat sinks and Sidewinders didn’t mean squat as we were seeing Wipeout and Tekken, Ridge Racer and Battle Arena Toshinden in high grade pixel addiction being touted for a modestly priced sum and with two-player fun.

Dreamcast-Console-SetThe second generation of PlayStation almost reigned supreme, but for the Dreamcast arriving earlier with a B.Y.O- Soul Calibur for launch. Once the world saw what Namco and Sega had achieved on a home console that ran off your standard front-room telly, walls were beginning to crumble, divisions were filled in, and goal posts were used as to martyr the PC gamer as their armoury was plundered and sold through a hole in the wall.

One generation hence, and the last preserve of superiority hope held by the PC gamer was torn so quickly from their hands that many fingers were lost in the incident. Online play and social team building exclusively played across the internet is the console industries biggest change in its demographics habits. Taking the home console online with a shit-ton of power in its boot has created whole universes of peoples, fulfilling the dream of many, and bought all who request an invite the luxury of mind blowing images and real-world immersion for a price more affordable and needing no more knowledge than where to plug it in and how to type ‘pwn’.

gameboy

To be a gamer is to game, and anything else is just changing the rules because you want to deliberately exclude those you don’t think live up to your own idea of what the term represents. I have never had a PC just to fill with add-ons for Warcraft, never got Santa dropping me a bundle of Japanese joy in the shape of a SNES or Mega Drive through the spout of the radiator downstairs. It was an Atari 2600 that melted its way into my heart and carpet, taking with it constant fix of the gaming world and copy of Pole Position I had been playing at the time (‘*Sniff!* Is that…burning rubber? ‘).  And because the insurance believe it took a trip down the stairs, the GameBoy my parents bought me with the money became my first proper ‘everyone has one of these and so do I’ console that made all those gaming magazines relevant, and me a part of the gaming world.

I learned the Legend with Link and shot an octopus with Mario; I picked Pokemon and cursed at Crazy Castle, and played Tetris to the point of seeing a skyline through the car window and imagining the shapes that would fill in the gaps between buildings.

Now I have a gaming collection as fulsome as it is broad, an entire wall dedicated to the many consoles and games of Sega –handheld and home – with wheel and other accessories and tatt.

Another has shelving swollen with Sony stuff, the various incarnations of its former releases proving a right pain in the ass to display right, but pleasing on the eye nonetheless.

The Nintendo corner stretches floor to ceiling, and is helped in part by the eighteen million Gameboy derivatives surrounding the plinth in the centre, whereupon sits the original Grey Brick of Yore, its days of tireless entertainment for no more reward than an occasional set of fresh batteries and maybe a blow on its contacts at an end, retirement for the hero of handhelds.

GameShelfBut just as I was quick to espouse the virtue of my recently purchased and pimped Sony Ericsson Xperia Play so too must I acknowledge with alacrity I am the master of my own downfall; my entire collection, a life’s worth of work in second-hand shops and salvage stores and people’s homes once the lights had gone out and I could hear snoring through the windows reduced to a one-click download onto something smaller than the joy to be found in a cataract on a child’s eye. The clapped out C64 and three bookcases of cassettes, the rubber key’d Spectrum and the strange looks it gets; the old grey NES and the Master System too, and here and you may find several Dreamcasts, too. The PlayStation one and its original square shape, the toilet seat add-on for the Jaguar of ill-fate; my MSX is benign and my Neo-Geo defunct, though with still brilliant games like sub-shooter In The Hunt.

So do the clothes make the man or is it the company he keeps?

And though Mulder often forswore how the truth was indeed out there much to Scully’s chagrin, I’m far and above such petty arguments as what is and what isn’t a gamer by today’s standards, the call of my man-cave and Mario’s introductory cries of his presence blocking out the sounds of sniping and squabbling and the wife moaning how I’m always ‘…playing those damn games!’ and never listen to her – at least, I think that’s what she said…

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