Tears of Rage, Tears of Grief
Brett Todd on The Firing Line:
Why sheer wretchedness is a good thing in gaming
I broke down and cried this week. After suffering for a good forty hours through Mistmare and Valhalla Chronicles, I erupted in a teary, my-dog-was-just-hit-by-a-car-and-the-bastard-didnít-even-bother-to-stop explosion of anger and grief. You see, games like these sort of make death seem like cotton candy. Especially when experienced back to back, while the sun is shining and the rest of the world is blissfully going about making love, picking flowers, and watching television shows about lawyers and doctors making love and picking flowers.
But Iím paid to suffer this crap, and even though Iím not paid particularly well, I canít complain too much. Even if my job sometimes makes me feel that special kind of nausea only felt when your penis is trundled through one of those old-fashioned washtub thingies they used to use on The Waltons. Okay, Iím guessing on that last one, but if it made you squirm, you have some idea of what it was like for me to wade through the quarter-million words that make up Mistmare and the countless ten-minute fights in Valhalla Chronicles.
And Iím probably more upset with myself for what I was thinking while these games had me stretched on the rack of their sheer awfulness. You see, all I could think of while my spinal column was popping was how great it would be to be playing a game. A better game, mind you, but a game nonetheless. I went directly from five weekdays of torture at the hands of developers Arxel Tribe and Paradox Entertainment to a weekend where I replayed Thief Gold almost to its completion.
How sick is that? The only consolation is that Iíve got a lot of company in my mental illness. Everyone reading this column is in the same leaky boat, considering that weíve all played many horrible, stinky bombs and still salivated for more. Has anyone left shooters because of the jack-in-the-box Nazis in Mortyr? Walked away from real-time strategy forever due to the or the way those stupid cavemen grunted in Empire Earth? Dumped roleplaying because Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor was packed with corridors that connected to other corridors like some digitzed version of an M.C. Escher print? Chucked sports games because the wide receivers in Madden 2000 could guide the ball into their hands with telekinetic powers?