Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why my gamerscore looks bad.

This article first appeared in my weekly Game Invader column for The New Indian Express.

Ok – this one's a rant against those of you who mock my puny XBOX live gamerscore. Don't laugh. You know who you are ;)

I admit, I myself often feel a bit, how do i put this, inadequate when I look at my rather modest points and achievements tally, when compared to the mighty achievements of those on my friends list. It isn't a happy feeling. It slowly, mockingly, goads me to play more XBOX games. It implores me to spend more time on Forza Motorsport 2. It pleads with me to explore every corner of GTA 4. It makes me want to complete every time trial in Braid. But even that isn't enough.

Because, you see, that is the sorry plight of the multi-platform gamer.

Thanks to my line of work, combined with personal inclinations, of course, I game on a wide variety of platforms. All the current gen (or is it still next-gen? I'm confused) consoles – XBOX 360, PS3 and Wii. The PC is also a regular – being so close to me throughout the day that games (namely, Peggle. Curses) is only a click away. Add to this a gaggle of handhelds – the PSP, DS, and my N-Gage compatible mobile phone that also plays Java games. And I haven't even begun on the emulated retro classics I dog from time to time.

While this no doubt makes it sound like I am a super-fortunate guy who spends every waking minute playing games on every conceivable platform, sadly it isn't true. I spend about the same amount of time (even less, I would hazard), as any mid-core gamer does. It's just that my time is divided across so many platforms. Leading, naturally, to a puny looking list of completed games on each individual one. Which is no doubt the cause of much merriment and amusement to my fellow gamers on XBOX live, or on N-Gage arena. But never mind them, I say.

So here I am, with gaming experience that is impressive in breadth but perhaps lacking in depth when compared to the guys who have played every single C and C game. Or every character in every instalment of Mortal Kombat. Or guys who have played Counter-Strike longer than some people have lived. Which means I get pwned more often than not when pitting my skills against them.

But I love this. And wouldn't have it any other way.

For me, the sheer wonder of discovering new gameplay ideas, characters and worlds is the draw. Sure, I enjoy the challenge of playing a testing, exciting game, but I'm not a completionist. When faced with an insurmountable difficulty spike in a game, I'll try once, twice, thrice. And then, I'll probably switch my attention to something else. In the past couple of years, the only games I've actually really finished are Bioshock, Halo 3, God of War (PSP) and Mass Effect. But I've played more than half the major releases on every platform in the same period.

Do I regret it? Actually, a bit. It would have been nice to have finished more games. But the truth is, given the kind of time on my hands, I'm glad I get to play and experience the joy of so many different kinds of games across platforms – which gives me a great bird's eye of where the industry is heading creatively.

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