Wednesday, July 27, 2016

In praise of gaming

4 years ago, a friend introduced me to the very alien world of computer gaming. Back then, I never counted myself as one of their target audiences. A "proper" girl doesn't game right?

Well, proper girls shouldn't be doing a lot of thing and that's why they have cats.

Which by the way, are furry movable furniture.

(Kidding, I love cats.)

In any case, I have had the fortune to experience first person shooting games like Battlefield and L4D2, to story-line pakour cinematics like Asassins' creed and Tomb Raider, and also multiplayer strategy games such as Dota2 and League of Legends.

Well no doubt they are really fun, I mean like hours-fly-by kind of fun. Which admittedly is longer than any movie.

There is a lot of resistance against gaming, especially women who almost see it as bad as their partners watching porn. I believe that it is lack of understanding that is proliferating this "judgy" attitude.

And no, I don't self-identify as a gamer girl because my reflexes, like my math, is tosh.

So here are 5 reasons why I am in praise of games.

1. Singapore is expensive and boring

It seems like an odd first point, but it lines up. Bear with me and you'll see why.

Singapore is a playground for the rich, extremely rich. We can't afford yachts and MBS-esque lives. But we can afford $12 of 4 hour game time to have a good time with friends. It is almost cheaper than a weekend movie ticket with twice the length of fun.

Popcorn not included. But most places allow food anyway.

Prices are inclusive of GST and service charge. You are welcomed.

2. You learn complex strategies à la the Art of War

Some games like DOTA and League of Legends require complex strategy. You have to decide from the moment have to pick a character with unique abilities, to the actual gameplay, to teamwork synergies. I call it complex chess.

Ultimately the aim of the game is to capture the opponent's team's "flag". Much like chess's aim is to capture the king.

So chess pieces are all inanimate but follow the same strategy. Characters have to work together with their abilities, they need to learn when to give someone the bounty so that their team wins over all, or when to wait for their turn to strike. Teams have to coordinate to focus down an enemy, and/or protect their damage-dealer so they don't give their own bounty away.

And the amazing thing is such decisions are also made in mere split seconds with multiple things happening at once.

So tell me how is this not amazing in and of itself?

3. It tells you what kind of person you are.

So previously, I thought that I was an aggressive decision maker because I'm very proactive. However, playing games (including Civ5) made me reconsider my assumptions.

I'm passive and defensive as hell. From my experience, some players go big and go home, others like me prefer to have all the information before proceeding. From these games, I am starting to realise how my passiveness can sometimes wreck results.

It is also true that you tell a person's true colours when you put them in hot water.

When the game is seemingly hopeless or when the odds are stacked against you, the feeling is eeriely real even though it's just a game. Do you stick through and find an opening? Do you blame others for what may be your mistake? Do you listen to 2nd opinions? Are you defensive?

4. You actually learn stuff

So Ezio and the Assassin's creed series just basically taught me the civil history in an extremely real replica of the cities they depict. It was so real, that when in Florence, I actually really didn't need a map because I've walked those streets in-game before.

Also, you learn about stuff like guns, how they fire, how recoil can affect your aim etc. It's not 100% the real thing, and no I don't feel the urge to go shoot people in case you're wondering. It's useless information, but at least I'm prepared for a zombie apocalypse, are you?

5. Some games, are basically sports.

Unlike doping, e-sports face no such issue. Unless you count red-bull as a drug. Before you scoff at the notion that computer games can be "sports", may I remind you that soccer started out as kids kicking a tin can around in some alley as well.

And like every community, there are crazy ass people who mouth off, as there are silent supporters who watch every game of their favourite (*ahem Puppey ahem*).

It is also not some small obscure community. The last prize pool of Dota2 The International was ~USD6 million, way more than the Wimbledon and mostly pooled through the community. The combined players of World of Warcraft in a city is too large to fit an Olympic stadium.

Like all things, if done in moderation, poses benefits. Phobias are irrational, so is the lack of will to try to understand. Addictions are detrimental, so find out what games do to our brains. Like with all addictions, often the medium (games, drugs, porn) are just stand-ins for something more fundamental.

So go try them out....good luck have fun people!

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