Be Thankful, Gamer
I know. The title blew your mind. Umar Khan is writing about something he is thankful for rather than venting an apocalyptic hate filled rant? This is impossible, you may think to yourself. But it’s true. While my editorials are usually about me demeaning a genre or writing farewell letters, I am thankful for many things. And while I am in great appreciation for the greater things in life outside of gaming like friends and family and just the general ability to live, I am still thankful for the lesser things in life found in games.
I am thankful for games that give me a limited aerial arsenal and decide its time for an aerial fight. “Wait, what did he say?!” Calm down, reader! Give me a chance to explain myself. In games that focus too much on ground combat, I find it refreshing to be put into an aerial battle where my arsenal is limited to a single slashing attack. While these fights are repetitious in nature they also make every hit you land as important as the first swing. A force of timing and precision infuse you where the rest of the game left you with the mindless monotony of button mashing. One cannot deny the sheer satisfaction they feel when that overgrown robotic fly careens into the ground, left in a smoldering heap. Was it obnoxious? It sure was but you know when you have that get together with friends and talk about the game you’re all going to say, “Wasn’t the air battle a pain in the ass?” You’ll forge friends in common camaraderie and that is something you should be thankful for.
I am thankful for underwater levels because nothing gets my heart pumping more in a game than knowing there is the potential to suffocate or that hair rising terror that there could be a giant squid monster lurking in the murky depths. The sensation of dread that creeps upon me knowing that there is something dwelling around me in the darkness and one of my few hopes of survival around the crushing pressures of the blue abyss is my limited air supply is invigorating. I feel an unrelenting wave of anxiety as I progress through a game and I begin to notice the foreshadowing scenery getting a bit more coastal because I know, at some point, I will be submerged and I will end up crying myself to sleep like a little bitch that night.
I am thankful for villains who aren’t pure evil but just have differing views that they believe are correct and bode no true ill intent. In some sense you could find yourself relating to their predicament. If I learned one thing from Loghain in Dragon Age it’s that sometimes you have to be a D-bag to get through the day. Sure, the responsibility and knowledge of what you did will weigh heavily upon your shoulders but in order to be a titan sometimes you have to bear the curse of Atlas first. And while I found myself at odds with Loghain, had the tables been turned, had I witnessed the world from his perspective, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to find myself being loyal to this patriot.
I am thankful for in-game prostitutes. They are a great way to gauge your true moral values in life. As a teenager playing Grand Theft Auto, sleeping with a prostitute and immediately killing her for a refund was economical and humorous all at once. As I grew older and prostitutes found themselves leaking into other games, (haha, I said “leaking”) I began to take a more virtuous approach towards these emotionally distraught individuals. Should they keep to themselves as my hero rolled on by, I could see the pity in their eyes, the defeat drawn upon their faces as they simply tried to survive with the education they managed to soak in during their times in high school and the deprivation of their living situation, be it an addiction to drugs or a baby at home they wish to save from this lifestyle. However, should she open her disease-ridden, puss marked mouth and say “Hey, daddy? Want some tenda luvin care?” I kick into crusader mode and begin to purge the barrio from these swindling sluts! Some may say, what a hypocrite! I say, “Fuck you!”
I am thankful for player collision and the ability to grab your partner. Nothing increases the enjoyment of a game like having a cohort. And nothing increases that bliss like being able to nab your partner and toss them into a canyon between platforms. I remember spending more time fighting with my brother in the New Super Mario Brothers Wii than actually trying to complete the level. Constantly jumping in different directions to slam into each other and fall to our deaths, tossing one another into bob-ombs, and bubbling up to lose the level are some of the most amusing cooperative game play elements I have ever encountered. Let us not forget of the grand self-sabotage in the coop mode of Little Big Planet. If you remember, you could grab your partner’s arm and drag them. Nothing in comparison could be funnier than watching a friend run to gain force for a jump and chasing after them. Right before they took their leap of faith, I would nab their arm quickly and tug in the opposite direction, At this point all I had to do was let go, depleting their momentum but leaving them cascading in the air and falling short of the platform. I am so thankful for the ability to interact with your partner in a game. So very thankful for all the laughs and tears shed while with playing with friends.
So, dear reader, there are things out there to be thankful for in games, if you really think about it. They bring memorable times with friends, an opportunity to share a story with your brothers in arms, and a chance to display your true character traits. Right now, some of you are probably in your room, isolated from your family because you have relatives coming over for Thanksgiving and wish to not be bothered. You want to hold your Xbox close to you and whisper sweet nothings into its air vents but remember, keeping your gaming experience to yourself is lonely. Stories are best shared than kept in your head. Get out there, make some friends, drink with your family, have a good time because life is meaningless without people you care about, even if you feel they don’t care about you. It’s only one day any way. Enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.