I grew up on video games. My brother is six years older than I am, so by the time I was born he was playing video games and I was watching him. When I was in elementary school he got a second controller for his Xbox and taught me to play Halo with him. Although a seedless watermelon would’ve made a better co-op partner than me, my brother and I always had a great time playing together. He was a patient teacher who found my terrible aim intensely amusing and I was a clumsy, starry-eyed child playing her first shooter. Over the years we’ve improved as gamers, but our relative skill levels have stayed the same. Basically, my brother is a good gamer and I am not.
The other day I fired up the notoriously difficult Dark Souls 2 for the first time in months. I’d put it down because I’d gotten stuck on my first practice mini-boss and I was getting tired of dying. I had hoped that with a level-head, free of frustration I’d be able to tackle the boss, advance in the game, and reinstate my worth as a gamer. Then as soon as the game loaded I launched myself off a cliff into deadly waters. All I’d done was test out the controls.
That’s just one example of my failures as a gamer. The real proof is in the stats. I finished Transistor in ten hours when the average completion time was six. It took me sixteen hours to complete the main campaign in South Park: The Stick of Truth when it took most people eleven, and even a short indie game named Fingerbones took me fifty minutes to finish when it was meant to be done in fifteen.
There are several traits about my playstyle that don’t lend themselves well to efficient gaming. First off I am a very impatient person, and that usually means looking for shortcuts that are liable to get me killed. I have the bad habit of wasting time looking for ways to cut corners, and it hardly ever works out in my favor. Also I am not a very perceptive person when it comes to my environment, which is a character flaw in real life that transfers to games. My abysmal sense of direction gets me lost in large, open environments, and my lack of awareness leads to me missing important items as I play. For example, I play a hide-and-seek type game called Dead Realm, and whenever I’m the seeker I can never find a single player. Then we have what is arguably my biggest flaw as a gamer.
I am a terrible shot. I can’t aim worth a dime, and I don’t know why. Maybe my reflexes aren’t sharp enough, maybe my hands are unsteady, or maybe I’m too easily startled. Whatever the reason, I can’t shoot, which puts me at a great disadvantage while playing most games. My shooting style basically consists of me sprinting past enemies with my gun out while screaming “I’m being shot at!” and it isn’t pretty.
So yeah, I’m not a very gifted gamer, and I really can’t see that changing anytime soon. I just don’t have any natural talent for it. What I do have going for me is a lot of love for videogames. I remember the first game I ever played without my brother, a game that I played just for me. It was Soul Calibur 2, and I played as Cassandra and button mashed my way through every fight. I was six years old and no one would have ever said I was a skilled player, but I adored the game and cheered my little head off every time Cassandra landed a kick on her opponent. Thirteen years later and Cassandra is still my fighter of choice. You won’t see me in any tournaments, but if I were going to stop loving a game just because I never got good at it I’d hate every game I’ve played.
And that’s the thing, as bad as I am at videogames, I love playing them. I might have to play games on easy mode, but I could never give up on gaming altogether. I keep playing games because I have fun playing them even after the fiftieth time I’ve died. Some people might turn their nose up at me, but at least my friends still let me join in on their games. And really, I’m not a good co-op partner. I played Left for Dead 2 and accidentally shot a teammate more times than I could count. On Halloween, my friends and I played Eternal Darkness and when the controller was passed to me, I was killed by a weak enemy. I’d forgotten to save, and my friend had to take the controller back and redo a whole level’s worth of progress. Later my boyfriend watched as I used his PC to turn Just Cause 3 into Face-Planting Simulator. I swear I had a more flattering point to make somewhere around here.
Oh right, why I still play even though I’m terrible. Games are, at their core, not just meant to be played but also meant to be enjoyed. I might suck at games, but boy do I enjoy them. As long as I am enjoying a game, it shouldn’t matter how badly I play it. When I shot my teammate, she told me it was no big deal. My boyfriend actually enjoyed watching me drive into flower beds to frolic, and he supported my decision to jump off of cliffs like a flying squirrel instead of following the main storyline. Yeah, I’m bad at most of the games I play, and yeah I’ll probably never be a “good” gamer, but I really don’t mind. I might not have the skills, but there is something I do have.
I have fun. And that’s what really matters.
Rebecca is the daughter of two Mexican immigrants who lovingly support her nerdier hobbies. She is a cosplayer, con-goer, anime lover and lifelong writer who’s had several short pieces of fiction and poetry published under her very long name. She has also recently finished writing her first novel, a young adult adventure book with LGBT characters. She is a new college student and is currently majoring in biomedical engineering.