By Vanessa Formato
I have a confession to make: Iím a lazy gamer. And before the snide comments about how all gamers are lazy start rolling in, I donít mean that in the Dorito-munching, ďGame FuelĒ-swilling, basement-dwelling way youíre thinking (read: stereotyping). I discovered the wide world of walkthroughs and never looked backóuntil now.
In my defense, the Internet makes lazy gaming excessively easy. In the early days of video games, you had to beg your parents to buy you the accompanying strategy guide if you wanted unlimited hints. Nowadays, Google can guide you to a Yahoo Answer for any puzzle solution, Youtube has a ďLetís PlayĒ detailing every in-game moment, and whole websites are dedicated the minutia of every campaign mission and side quest. Once you figure out that you never really need to struggle through a level if you donít want to, you might just stop wanting to.
Video games have this way of making me feel stupid. Iíll never claim to be good at video games, as much as I enjoy them, because Iím not. Iím better than I was when I started playing only a few years ago, but I still find myself experiencing more moments of crippling confusion than Iíd prefer. I consider myself a competent adult, but throw a controller in my hands and I revert back to being as capable at logical reasoning as most infants. When I first started playing games, I was drawn to them but often found them depressing for my lack of talent. Rage quitting was frequent.
Walkthroughs helped me muddle through and appreciate the things I liked without have to dwell on the things I didnít: you know, confronting the feelings of failure I got from being incapable of solving the same problems as my peers did when they played the same games in elementary school. Instead of being swept up in a tornado of my own frustration, I breezed through with the help of the Internet.
The thing is, I donít think this is the experience youíre meant to get out of most games. Games are supposed to challenge and frustrate. Theyíre not supposed to be an experience where you plow through to the end without breaking a sweat. I wanted games to be that, but you canít make anything something itís not. Not really, anyway.
Everything changed at about the time I started taking my DS to work with me. I use the MBTA to get to my part-time job, meaning Iím at the mercy of bus schedules. I sometimes have to arrive an hour early to avoid being late, and I end up hanging around in the break room between shifts instead of going home. Iíd been playing Golden Sun: The Lost Age at the time, and at first I thought Iíd made a mistake by daring to play so far from Internet access. It wasnít long before I found myself stuck, as usual, but with hours to spare and no quick fixes in sight, I had two choices: quit or think harder.
What Iíve discovered since gaming at work is that my brain isnít nearly as feeble as Iíd thought. Iíve been able to power through every conundrum thrown at me without help, something I would have told you Iím largely incapable of doing just a few months ago. Does progressing take longer than Iím used to? Yes. Do I get incredibly frustrated? Absolutely. But when you donít have easy access to all the answers, you start to be more creative, to think more critically, and thatís made gaming exponentially more rewarding for me.
Itís a bit weird, really, to get a sense of empowerment from solving puzzles in a video game, but thereís no better way to describe what Iíve ended up feeling. I wonít knock walkthroughs too much, because without them I might have spent too much time dwelling on my own perceived inadequacies to actually finish and enjoy a lot of my favorite games, but I will say Iíve taken a vow of sorts to stop using them as crutches. So far, in revisiting some games I leaned heavily on walkthroughs for, I havenít tired of the distinct thrill that bubbles up every time I suddenly just ďget it.Ē What seemed so insurmountable really isnít if youíre willing to be patient with yourself.
If youíre anything like me, using walkthroughs to avoid the discomfort of confusion might be causing you more problems than it solves. Gaming at work, in a walkthrough-less bubble, nudged me out out of my lazy gaming rut. I just canít argue with how much more fun Iím havingóand how much better I feel about myself. And the thing is, I didnít become capable overnight; Iíve always been capable, only I didnít believe I was. Realizing that, even when it comes to something as big-picture insignificant as video gaming, feels pretty good. Hey, you know, itís the little things in life.
How did you get through your hardest game?
'Gaming for N00bs'†is TNGG Boston's bi-weekly gaming column, written by Vanessa Formato.
About Vanessa†-- Vanessa Formato is a 23-year-old Clark University graduate, freelance journalist, vegan cupcake enthusiast and video game aficionado. She†blogsabout body image and†tweets†about puppies. So awesome, even John Stamos is impressed.
The author is solely responsible for the content.