Are we better gamers?

Pro Gamer shirt
Pro Gamer shirt

If you play MMO’s you will hear a lot of people talk about the experience of being old school. Take for instance a game like World of Warcraft, there are many players who feel if you did not play when the game was brand new you just don’t have the knowledge and experience to be one of the elite. Some go as far as to say that if you did not play an even older game, Everquest for example, then you don’t understand what it is like to play a really hardcore MMO. Since I played both I can understand that going through things in Everquest such as losing experience when you die, losing all your stuff because you could not retrieve your body and never getting to see that endgame boss because another guild was just better than you is something you most likely won’t experience in World of Wacraft.

It got me thinking about gaming in general. For those of us who grew up playing Atari 2600, Commodore 64 and the NES many of the games for those systems offered a very harsh learning curve. Take the first Ninja Gaiden, it was one of those games that could seriously raise your blood pressure. You had to perfectly time your jumps while slashing enemies that would re-spawn if you fell backwards. If you died you would start far away from where you were and you only had a limited amount of continues. Many of the games today you can continue almost exactly where you died and you can continue as many times as you like.

However, the case can be made that there were simpler patterns to games of the past and once you learned them they were just as easy. In Everquest many of the early enemies were defeated in the exact same way so once you knew the pattern it was not too hard to defeat. Today the AI offered can be tweeked to offer more of a challenge and even randomness to the encounters you face. In the end the question is are we only talking about learning a pattern that only takes time to master or are games today actually harder because there are more things to learn overall.

It could be said that if you learned jumping and moving on the fly in Super Mario Bros you could then apply that to Ninja Gaiden. If you were good at one vertical side-scrolling shooter then you could beat them all. Can the same be applied to an adventure game? If you were good at Resident Evil then would you naturally be good at Silent Hill?

Overall our experiences with games in the past be it twenty years ago or one year ago will affect how we play the next game. If your hand eye coordination is high then that alone will give you an advantage on the next new game. I can say from experience that learning to play Quake 2 with the hook and using only the rail gun made me a better player in Counter Strike so it is obvious that the more games you play the better you will become.

An x-factor could be age. If you were ten years old when playing NES games and are now in your thirties then going back and playing them might be a bit more difficult. This could be for many reasons from lowered hand eye coordination to a change in interest to that type of game. Today most gamers would not want to sit in a single room waiting to kill one monster that may not spawn and if it does may not drop the reward you want, that was how it was in Everquest. If that happened in World of Warcraft there would be a revolt. We all have changed over time and in addition new types of games have come on the scene. Women gamers and people over the age of fifty playing games are at an all time high and games have to adapt to the changing demographics.

My verdict is that because of the wide array of games available in the late eighties and early nineties that to be a true well rounded gamer took much more time and skill. There may have been your standard hack and slash games, but there were also many unique and challenging games especially on early computer systems. If you were one to try out every game you could get your hand on you quickly found out how hard some of these games really were and if you were able to beat them you were a much better gamer.

Want to test this out yourself? Load up a game like Battletoads. If there is one game that can test the frustration level of a gamer it is Battletoads. Next try and find a new game that matches that level. Honestly if you can beat Battletoads without flipping out and kicking your dog then you are pretty pro.

State of the Lan Party II

LAN Party 2
LAN Party 2

In case you missed it you can read part 1 here

Originally posted on Direct2Dell Blog.

Thousands of led lights flashing and blinking illuminate the otherwise dark room at the LAN party. At first glance you might think everyone is playing on a uniformed system, but with a simple question; what kind of rig do you have, you will find out how special and unique LAN goers systems are.

Originally you were only cool if you had a self build custom computer. Still today many who build their own system will swear by it and turn their nose up at anyone with what they call a stock system. When Alienware came on the scene this all changed. It can be debated which one prefers, but once Alienware systems started showing up at LAN parties it became clear that you did not have to be a computer building whiz kid to have a sweet rig.

When I was introduced to Alienware I had already built a system with the help of my friends. I was proud of my system and it was pretty awesome. I have to be honest that when I saw the original hydraulic case in purple my jaw dropped. Here was a system just as powerful as mind in a custom color that looked like it was built by its owner. I later came to realize this was because Alienware employees did indeed hand build their own systems.

To be fair, there were those who compared prices and specs in an attempt to validate their own systems, but for the majority it was accepted as a LAN worthy rig. This may seem silly to those on the outside, but to the LAN member our PCs are as important to us as a powerful engine is to a mechanic.

A lot of time and effort was put into system building. Often one would spend days just building it and then do all sorts of tweaks and fixes to it to get it just right for game day. While it was a badge of honor when you did build your own system it was not for everyone. I never bothered anyone about having a store bought rig considering my first LAN system was store bought. This did not stop others who believed you had to build a gaming system and nothing else was good enough.

Today we have systems that can run most of the games we want to play. Many people still build, but with high performance options at reasonable prices like, Alienware this allows gamers of all ages and economic statuses to own a powerful system. Back in the late nineties this was still not the case. The 3D video card market was just taking off and newer games required quite the system resources.

The downside was that to keep up with the newer games and products you had to upgrade pretty frequently, but to the hardcore LAN and gamer this was all part of the process. Alienware allowed those who could not build or did not have time to troubleshoot the opportunity to have a system that had the power to play their games and the ability to upgrade whenever it was necessary. It was no wonder as time went on that you saw more and more Alienware rigs at LAN parties.

Many who built their own systems also owned an Alienware because of its unique look and upgradability. In the end some will always swear by their own hand built rig, but custom company systems have earned their place among gamers and LAN attendees alike.

In part three of the series we will explore how games and game play have affected the LAN party.

You can read part 3 here and part 4 here