How I feel about video games

How I (mostly) feel about video games

I grew up playing with Barbies and reading books, and didn’t really use a computer for anything other than basic word processing until around the turn of the century. On top of that, I have really bad hand-eye coordination, and not great depth perception, so simulated 3D environments just break my brain. In other words, video games are not something at which I’m primed for success. I’ve never made it past the first hole you have to jump over in the original Mario game. Ever.

Arb really enjoys video games, and over our years together, he’s tried to get me involved. I end up getting stuck in a door or falling off a cliff repeatedly or getting lost or just getting shot a lot and having no idea where I’m getting shot from. (On one memorable occasion, it was Arb shooting me in the back, running in a circle around me and keeping just ahead of me awkwardly spinning around trying to see what was happening.) And then I get mad and quit.

Now, I’m trying again. Two games piqued my interest enough that I finally installed Steam on my computer and bought games. In both games, you get to be an animal who wreaks destruction and havoc on stuff – right up my alley!

Goat Simulator is the latest in goat simulation technology, bringing next-gen goat simulation to YOU. You no longer have to fantasize about being a goat, your dreams have finally come true! WASD to write history.
Disclaimer:  Goat Simulator is a small, broken and stupid game. It was made in a couple of weeks so don’t expect a game in the size and scope of GTA with goats. In fact, you’re better off not expecting anything at all actually. To be completely honest, it would be best if you’d spend your $10 on a hula hoop, a pile of bricks, or maybe a real-life goat.

Then there’s Catlateral Damage.

Catlateral Damage is a first-person destructive cat simulator where you play as a cat on a rampage, knocking as much of your owner’s stuff onto the ground as possible. See the world from the perspective of a cat! Walk, look around, jump, crouch, and use your paws as little weapons. It’s a highly original, experimental concept that was born out of a game jam and is based on a real-life mischievous cat, Nippy!

Goat simulator is a third-person perspective game, and Catlateral Damage is first-person, so by playing them both I’m honing my skillz in both of the most common ways of playing. I didn’t pick them for pedagogical reasons, though: I picked them for the lulz.


Goat Simulator Gameplay Screenshot

Goat Simulator’s 3rd person view was easy enough for me to pick up, but then I had to learn the whole thing where you WASD with your left hand and steer with the mouse in your right.  I fell off things a lot at first, but it’s ok because as far as I can tell you can’t die (although by the time I was done my first session, my goat had a halo and creepy glowing eyes, but he was still going).  You get to headbutt things and sometimes they blow up.  People run away in terror but you chase them down and wreak goat mayhem!  Right up my alley.  I cackled with glee and Arb became alarmed.


Catlateral Damage gameplay screenshot

Catlateral Damage, a first-person game, is a lot harder for me.  After playing Goat Simulator, I had a basic grasp of WASD, but the change in perspective was really hard to adapt to.  The omnicient view you get in a 3rd person game makes it so much easier to navigate, and when all of a sudden your vision is limited to something approximating a real field of vision, my poor depth perception kicks in because I just can’t seem to nimbly parse the flat screen into a 3D world.

Jumping is especially hard.  Besides the 3D issue, another part of it is that the conventions of game physics don’t mesh well with reality.  In the real world, when you jump, once you’ve taken off you are just along for the ride until you land.  So I figured that I should get up some momentum going towards the thing I wanted to jump on, then press the space bar to jump, and let up on the W.  The result: a lot of this.


Apparently, in game land you just jump straight up, no horizontal component to your velocity unless you hold down W while you press the space bar.  I’m still having a heck of a time gauging my distances for when I should jump, but I’m getting better.  And it’s strangely addictive.

I don’t expect to become a L33t gamer any time soon, but if I keep pratising (which I most likely will) I may yet upgrade my skillz from abominable to dismal.