Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why people like videogames.

When I was seven years old, I was a pro at Mario Tennis.

Unbeknown to me at the time, the pattern in Mario Tennis was the first algorithm I ever memorized. If I returned the serve to the right, the pattern would be left, right, left, right, up left, top right, and repeat if necessary. The slice did not deviate this pattern, but simply slowed it down, and a volley only introduced variances with net play. This was how it was impossible for me to lose at this game. I'm pretty sure there were 14 or so characters. Winning the tournament with a character normally took an hour or so. After winning the tournament, a star would appear next to your character's name, signifying accomplishment and allowing for "stronger" play (it really just made the ball move quicker, not deviating the algorithm). At eight years old, I had a star on every character. Here's an illustration I just made.

This was how videogames used to be made. Algorithms can only exist in ideal conditions. Videogames were once a means of entertainment that somebody could "figure out." This is why the two top scorers in Donkey Kong are so far away from everyone else and some can beat Super Mario Bros. in six minutes. Upon familiarizing with recognizable and unchangeable instances, it all becomes predictable. Videogames are just more enjoyable than Calculus or, fucking, linguistics. Obviously there is no pattern for loving a woman or baking eggs or battling depression or winning slots or raising a family or raking leaves or waking up with a sense of purpose. This is why videogames exist.

But it's different now.

Like life, there is no way to "figure out" Halo 3. Game designers figured out that there is much more accessible joy in boundless exploration. Someone can be the best Halo 3 player just as there can be a best best basketball player. Except there is no best anymore. This is why games are ultimately worse than they were before but more people can enjoy them. This isn't to say that Bioshock is less enjoyable than Super Mario Bros., but that it can be no matter what. That's why I think Rock Band is the only perfect videogame ever made. Then again, I am probably one of a very few number of people who can see the pattern in Rock Band. Game developers are implementing unpredictability, music, sexual desires, a sense of power, chance, and even love. That should either make you smile or freak you the fuck out.

P.S. Speaking of Swengel's Her0es, I can't believe that we're still first.

I was supposed to be famous.

I luv u. Goo night.

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