I've done my fair share of random dabbling, and can't say I'm any kind of experienced gamer by any means...but I thought this article was pretty funny.
And kinda accurate if you've ever tried to initiate a non-gamer into the fold
Big bang theory: the problem with video games
December 28, 2009 - 10:11AM
Despite huge sales and rapid evolution, many non-players still struggle to grasp the point of video games.
Try as they might, video games still don't seem to really register in the mainstream "old media". Newspapers and television still largely report on the gaming world as though it is something mildly amusing that happens overseas. Statistics about how many billions the industry is worth or how many billion players there are worldwide tend to be recited with an air of amused disbelief. It's almost as if video games exist only in the imagination of a few friendless dreamers.
It's not just wilful ignorance on the part of rusty old media. It's hard to make games interesting in print or on TV, especially to non-players. Compared with other popular art forms, there aren't many "personalities" in games; no George Clooneys to interview or Britneys to pap. What's more, when addressing a casual audience, it's incredibly hard to describe what a game actually consists of. Most people don't speak the lingo. Everyone understands terms such as rom-com or thriller, but mention first-person shooters or MMORPGs and you might as well be speaking Gaelic. And when it comes to explaining even rudimentary game mechanics - well, that's like trying to recount an abstract dream you once experienced.
End result: for all the talk of just how many trillion units Modern Warfare 2 has shifted, games strike about half the population as utterly inaccessible. This is a peculiar situation for a mass-market industry.
It's partly an image thing. The lack of mainstream coverage means an exasperating number of non-gamers persist in the assumption that all video games consist of either laser beams and bleeping noises or unrelenting graphic violence. But it's also because, to the layman, many games are still off-puttingly complex. This can be frustrating for seasoned gamers, who just want to spread the love. Take Grand Theft Auto IV. It's amazing; one of the most impressive satirical works of the 21st century (I'm not exaggerating). If you're a gamer, you'll naturally want others to share the experience. So you try to introduce the game to your flatmate, your girlfriend, your boyfriend. But they're wary and intimidated. From their perspective, even the joypad is daunting. To you it's as warm and familiar as a third hand. To them it's the control panel for an alien helicopter.
But you persevere, press the pad into their unenthusiastic hands and offer to talk them through a few minutes of play. And almost immediately you have to bite your tongue to avoid screaming. They run into walls or hit pause by mistake. They swing the camera around until they can see nothing but their own feet, then forward-roll under a truck. They try to put the controller down, complaining that they're "no good at this". You force them to have another go but within minutes you're behaving like a bad backseat driver.
"You're in crouch mode," you sigh, as their character waddles comically up the street. "Take it out of crouch mode." Instead, they throw a grenade at their own feet, killing themselves and several bystanders. They moan that it's too hard. You force them to try again.
Their character respawns. They run against a nearby door and jab at the buttons. "You can't open that door," you offer helpfully. "Why not?" they ask. "I opened another one a minute ago." "That one's just scenery," you sigh. "How do you know?" they say, jabbing all the buttons again. "It just is. Stop it." "Maybe it'll open in a moment," they suggest, jabbing. "It won't."
But they stay there, running against the door. And then, apparently just to annoy you, they start spinning the camera round and round and in and out, going "wheeee!" as they do so. And then they blow themselves up with another grenade, say they can't see the appeal, drop the controller and leave you sitting there alone, impotent and furious.
Veteran players have years of experience. We're schooled in the way games work. It's as if we have learned a new man-made language, like Esperanto. And games are the equivalent of Esperanto-language movies - except they're better than movies. They're engrossing and exciting, playful and challenging, constantly evolving, constantly surprising. They're interactive and, thanks to the rise of modern multiplayer, infinitely more social than television. But because they're in Esperanto, it's hard for non-speakers to appreciate them.
If you don't play games, you're not just missing out, you're ignoring the most rapidly evolving creative medium in history.
Big bang theory: the problem with video games