9 November 2008





Part 9: Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess

The modern gaming PC is an amazing piece of hardware. With much more raw power than any console, capable of far superior graphics and glorious surround sound, equipped with near-infinite versatility of control and able to access data with lightning speed from massive hard drives, the PC is the greatest games machine in the world. Or at least, it would be if it wasn’t for YOU.

Hard as it might be for some TPCG viewers to imagine, I have friends. From time to time I even enjoy playing games with them – many’s the happy post-pub hour I’ve whiled away playing winner-stays-on Power Stone (still the finest fighting game ever made, all these years later) or Wii Sports bowling and golf. (Indeed, increasingly the latter two are in-pub entertainment, with many boozers now having Wiis set up underneath their giant tellies.) But by and large, when I’m with my friends, games are something we do to occupy our hands while we talk and joke and catch up on news and discuss which of us is the fattest, which party leader we’d have torn apart by ravenous dogs first and which celebrities we would and wouldn’t have sex with. Y’know – all the normal human stuff.

The idea of playing games with complete strangers, on the other hand, is entirely mystifying to us. What would be the point? Playing someone else at pool is just a chore you go through in order to get on the table so you can play your mates, and if the pub was populated almost exclusively by obnoxious American teenagers you’d probably go and drink somewhere else. So it always makes my numerous hearts sink when PC gamers write outraged letters to magazines and websites whining that the review of Dark Kingdoms Of Morglesnax: Vacuity Solstice 3 – The Excoriations Of Gwardfrongh “didn’t focus enough on the online aspects”.

Quite apart from being an idiotic complaint to level at a review, which by definition tends to be written before the game is released and before there’s an online audience, such moaning betrays a gaping void in the soul that stretches far beyond the bounds of mere PC gaming. Now, I’m sure there are some of you out there who only play online games with people you know, and religiously arrange to all be connected at 8.30pm every Tuesday or whatever, and have a jolly old time chopping each other’s heads off with axes and laughing about it. Good for you. But the vast majority of online gaming (and here I’m NOT talking about MMOs - which are just chatrooms for the lonely with extra interactivity - but about sports games, or virtual-paintball-type pseudo-sports like Quake Arena and Counter Strike) comprises people playing with unknown opponents they’ll never meet again, and that’s just about one of the most futile and tragic wastes of time that anyone could ever undertake in their all-too-short span on Earth.

What have you achieved by beating “L33tHaXX0r_774” from Dusseldorf at Sponglenonce VII – The Noncening? For all you know he’s a 9-year-old epileptic with one arm and learning difficulties, and the only person on the face of the planet who’ll ever notice or care about your victory is you. As our society fragments more and more every day, allowing ever-greater crimes to be committed in our name, isolating yourself from real people in order to interact with fleeting virtual figments of the imagination isn’t only sad, it’s criminally irresponsible. At least if you’re pitting yourself against professionally-coded AI you’re fighting people your own size.

“Stuart Campbell” drank beer once and has even touched a lady. He refers to both occasions often while writing for our sister magazines Retro Gamer and GamesTM.

HATE PART 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10


Comments? WoS Forum