• Monday, December 22, 2014

Freedom in the air

TRIGGER

THE LEARNING CURVE

By Shaer Reaz

I have been missing for a while now. My column space has been gathering dust and the spiders have taken over, spinning their webs of malice while assuming I would never return. The spiders probably thought I'm scared of them. Well, I am. And I can't even express my horror at the possibility (however remote) that a spider may be able to think. But I called my mom and the spiders have been evicted (read: relocated; my mom makes a great landlady who feeds me and washes my clothes), thankfully.
Aaand I'm back, to talk about how easy it is for a gamer to learn new things and overcome fears; venturing forth into the unknown and sticking it to our foes, no matter how formidable they are.
The year 2013 has been good to me. I got a job, wrote a few lines, watched a few movies and saw things on the internet I shouldn't have been seeing. I met precisely twelve new people, one of whom let me buy her a doughnut and some cake, and I learned to do so many new things it's absolutely brilliant. Get your mind out of the gutter please, it was just a doughnut and some cake.
Have been learning things, having conquered my fear of two wheels recently. As most gamers will know, or at least I hope they know, real life is not a sequence of well-timed button presses that will ensure everything goes smoothly.  No, it's actually much more difficult than riding a bicycle in GTA (because I really haven't played any other game that lets you travel using the most hipster form of transport there is). There's balance involved, and balancing an overweight, disproportionate body on two skinny wheels was always going to be a bad idea.
Except it took me, like five minutes. Not bragging here, but it was like finishing an entire quest in Elder Scrolls: Morrowind without dying a horrific death at least once. A minute of sitting on the cycle and posing as a few pretty girls walked past, a couple more trying to understand why anyone would skewer motorised transport for the physically laborious nonsense of pedalling, and then I was off, balancing myself (somehow) and praying I don't break my fragile, well rested bones.
Afterwards it got me thinking about how gamers have the brilliant ability to adapt to anything, very easily, and within a very short period of time. Show them a few rudimentary controls, give them five minutes to get used to all of it, and they will be off, learning and picking up new things as they go along. It comes with learning to adapt to control setups in different games, adapting to the gameplay changes with each sequel, and doing whatever it takes to be good at the game.
Where this training falls short, however, is improving the social skills and face to face interactions with other NPCs (Non Playable Characters). There are too many variables, too many ways a situation can pan out, too high a risk of embarrassment (as if the “I Kick Behind at Starcraft” wasn't the worst form of social suicide). There's no way to predict the outcome of a strategically classic “yawn and reach around” move on the girl next to you, especially if you've never been around a girl for more than five minutes, and doubly so because you happen to look like a startled mouse-bear who crawled out of the cave that is his room, only to discover the civilised world outside.
This is highly sexist of me, because all throughout, I have assumed gamers are almost always hairy chested men living a life of desolation in front of brightly lit LCD screens. Now that would be very true, but just to give you venerable proof, I will conduct an experiment.
Since I am a master at what I do and I am obviously superior in every sense to other gamers, I will bestow some of my awesomeness on a female pupil. I will attempt to teach her the ways of The Gamer, and when she fails, my theory that gamers-learn-fast-but-not-if-they-are-women will be proven beyond a shadow of doubt.
Watch the pages of your favourite rag, SHOUT, to read all about how women are failures and are useless other than at chasing away spiders.
Men gamers, Master Race!
Praise Lord Gaben.

For hate mail, fan fiction inspired by this column, love letters, marriage proposals and the occasional flaming bag of spam, find me at shaer.reaz@gmail.com

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, February 06, 2014

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