Jedi Knight

12 June, 2003 at 11:55 am (gameplay)

Lightsaber styleeWhen my coach tried to get me to hit a baseball, I could never make contact. When my older brother tried to teach me to skateboard, I wasn’t goofyfoot, I was just plain goofy. But while some semblance of coordination has happened to me over time — except being able to dance… always excepting being able to dance — I have always been and have resolutely continued to be an absolute waffle when it comes to video games.

When I learned to drive, it was terrible. I was incredulous at the amount of actions one was required to perform simultaneously. You have to push on the clutch, step on the brake, downshift, put on your directional signal, turn the steering wheel AND not hit any pedestrians or other drivers? Yeah, right… good bloody luck. I gave up on ever being able to drive a standard transmission right there. But my brother required a standard in order to feel like he was in control. But then again, he was a drummer, and accustomed to using both hands and both feet in independent tandem. And then again again, he was the household videogame king.

We could sit for hours in the family room (read: basement) watching him tackle level after level of THE LEGEND OF ZELDA. He’d suffer through the sort of repetitious requirements that allowed the “unlocking” of special characters, and his siblings would sprawl on the floor or the natty green couch and stare at the screen. But whenever I tried to play the games on my own, I’d give up. I couldn’t manage all of the little buttons — and we’re talking Nintendo, here, where there was only an A-button, and B-button, and a joypad. As videogame systems have progressed from 16-bit to 32-bit to 64 and beyond, the controllers have increased in size and complexity, and watching me try to maneuvre in TONY HAWK 3 is just laughable. My fingers could never find nor remember which button exacted which command. It was as if I was trying to grind my avatar’s face and chest into a smooth, planar surface.

But last night I spent two hours playing JEDI KNIGHT II on my Mac. Sure, after two hours, I still haven’t reached the second checkpoint and I seriously doubt that I’m even near completing the first level (or mission or whatever), but by god, I’m still alive and I’m having fun. I am controlling my panicky reactions when I walk around a corner and find myself in a room full of storm troopers. I’m firing with my left hand and targeting with my right, and yet somehow still moving and maneuvring as well. It’s complex cognition and anti-intuitive, and yet I seem to be doing okay so far.

Who knew?


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