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Oh crap sorry! Extra Credits! Along with Heathcliff, I dedicate this story to the following people, in no particular order:

Ada Lovelace

Kurt Vonnegut

Bill Gates

Steve Jobs

Grace Hopper

Ray Kurzweil

Gabe Newell

Barack Obama

Michelle Obama

The Fam

Monday, January 23, 2012

Issue : Games : Sports as Insanity

Hey. I'm John. Not your typical Default Tester, I know, but I figured it was time to use this voice mama done gave me.

My birthday was a few days ago. After doing a whole mid-life crisis deal leading up to the date, I took the afternoon of the anniversary of my birth off and went straight to the nearest brand name gaming shop. It was time to dive back in.

You see, about two years ago I sold my Xbox 360 and the handful of games I had to go with it. It wasn't entirely by choice. My bank account read negative, and living without video games for a bit in exchange for black ink on my ATM receipts seemed like a fair trade to me. If I remember correctly, I got about $120 for the 360, two controllers and somewhere around four games. This covered the negative $80 and gave me a few bucks for groceries until the next pay day. In case you haven't guessed it by now, I'm not very good with money.

Back to the present day, and I just got a nice large check from one of my employers that's burning a hole in my pocket. Lately, my friends have been talking about their franchises on NCAA Football and Madden and it's done nothing but made me jealous. Not being particularly strong in willpower, I knew I would give in. All that was left was deciding which console I decided that a PS3 made more sense than another Xbox for three reasons:

Reason, the first: Blu-Ray Player. I don't think I've ever even seen a blu-ray, but that's besides the point. Having a blu-ray player makes you feel like royalty. HAVE YOU SEEN HOW BLACK THE BLACK IS?

Reason, the second: It's not an Xbox. This one is stupid, and I know it, but I'd rather not spend $200+ to get something that I sold for $100 two years ago. Also, my Xbox was not without issue. I got the red ring of death a few times (as in, wouldn't go away without sending the thing away for repair) before finally getting a cooling fan that attached to the back of the Xbox and sounded like a jumbo jet taking off in my living room every time I turned the thing on. Because of the jumbo jet, watching DVDs or Netflix on the thing was like a stress test on whatever speakers I had hooked to my TV (and the patience of my neighbors). PS3 probably has the same issues, but I haven't had them myself so there's no negative emotions tied to it.

Reason, the third (and final): The Show. I remember every year waiting for MLB2K to come out, being mildly satisfied with it after playing it, then seeing every review say "It can't compete with The Show." I'm quite literally salivating to play this game, so much so that I've been absorbing every preview I can get my hands on from around the interwebs and even went back to read the reviews of the last two iterations of it. We're two months away from me pretending that I have some nasty cold so that I can avoid friends and family and work and play an entire season (or twelve) with the Padres in a week.

So I bought a PlayStation3. One of my good friends, who has just recently come out of his cave where he's been doing nothing but playing Skyrim and occasionally drinking beer (and eating hot dogs), responded to this purchase by telling me to take it back because he hates his PS3 and loves his Xbox. If I did that now, I'd probably have a mental breakdown once The Show came out. I'm seeing this one through.

Anyway, I bought one game with the system because I tend to digest one game (obsessively) at a time. I'll play that game and nothing else for a month, or several months, until I tire of it. Luckily, that's usually around the time that the next decent sports game is coming out. It's a vicious, and lovely, cycle. The funny thought that I had this morning is that these games, specifically the football ones (I bought NCAA Football), are inherently boring and also promote insanity. Let me explain....

You will often hear stupid people say "The definition of 'insanity' is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Have you ever seen such a clear definition of anything before? No, because it doesn't exist. This "definition" is actually an Albert Einstein quote. The actual definition of insanity is "The state of being seriously mentally ill." But, I digress because what I actually want to deal with here is the Einstein quote. Sports games, more so than any other games (it would appear), consist of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The latter part is not due to stupidity either, it's because the games are coded in a way where doing the same thing over and over again yields different results. Call the same ISO run up the middle against the same defense that's running the same defensive scheme and you stand a much better chance of getting different results than you stand of getting the same result. What's different? I guess the answer is that they've factored in the human element, and how inconsistent most of us are, which is as perplexing and insulting as anything else (albeit true). We are not robots. Give us the same task to do twice and we'll probably fuck it up at least once.

At least with other sports games I can convince myself that human error is not the reason for the differences. In baseball, for instance, it is nearly impossible to throw a ball the same way twice just as it is nearly impossible for a ball (even if it's the same pitch) to come off of the bat (even if it's traveling the same speed) the same way that it did before. So, sure, program in a little variety. It's the spice of life, after all. With football, however, the big difference is the blocking/blockers. This makes me angrier at inanimate objects (not even objects, just collections of code on a screen that I'm staring at) than should be allowed. I spent a good chunk of this weekend screaming at my TV "HOLD YOUR FUCKING BLOCKS!" to the virtual Stanford offensive line that was blocking for my superstar freshman RB (an overweight 5'7" white kid that has speed for days and happens to share my name). If there was an option in the game for me to shiv a backup lineman after a game so that the starters knew that I wasn't fucking around, I'd do it. Even if it meant some sort of time-out where I couldn't play the game for a few days/weeks. I was, and still am, pissed.

I have to deal with enough human error in my day to day life. Hell, my entire existence seems like one man's twisted experiment to see just how much human error can be done before the rest of the world decides to burn me at the stake like I'm a witch. The fact that my video games, the thing that serves as my escape from the real world, now factor in the same type of stupid/lazy people that were made by God (the programmer's programmer) into this virtual world means that I'll never be able to escape it. All I can do, knowing that I'm an addict, is keeping running that ISO play and hope that the O-linemen hear me and get inspired to hold their blocks for once.

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