I am not a good console gamer. Sure, I play board games and card games and I have a wonderful time, but, put a controller in my hands and it’s all over. I’ve tried, really, because there’s nothing worse than being a geek who’s an inept gamer. I hear about the latest and greatest game that sounds amazing and is set in a universe I love, but when it comes out I know there’s no chance I’ll be able to enjoy it because I’ll be too busy getting fragged. That’s why I’m a Backseat Gamer.
You can only be a Backseat Gamer if someone in your home actually knows the difference between an assault rifle and a sniper rifle and is able to simultaneously fire said weapon, call for reinforcements and run backwards to the only cover within fifty clicks. In my home, this is my husband but I am certain it will soon be my kids, too. Lest you think I’m just gushing over what a good gamer he is, let me clarify that I am insanely jealous and frustrated that he’s better at it than me.
I’ve tried to play with him, but it’s the same sad story every time. Once that split screen pops up, he runs off to kill insert-bad-guy-here and I stand there trying to switch views to something other than my feet because I’ve hit the wrong button and I don’t know how to undo what I’ve done. It’s at about that time that I get fragged by something I can’t see, and now my view is many feet, alien and otherwise, running past my helmet.
Despite my bitterness about my lack of skills, I have come to terms with this by becoming a Backseat Gamer. Instead of holding a controller in my hands, I enjoy watching the action and giving my two cents about what we should do next. The best games have involved stories rife with moral dilemmas, and depending on how your character behaves he can be a good guy or a bad guy. If, for example, you shoot everything that moves including the nun cowering in the corner, your endgame is going to be very different than if you’d thrown yourself in front of her like a human shield.
We have a lot of fun debating what to do next, and both sit rapt through the cut scenes as the story develops and we see the consequences of our actions. I’ve been a Backseat Gamer through Mass Effect, Red Dead Redemption and Assassin’s Creed and am counting the days until the Mass Effect 3 release next year when Commander Shepard returns. That’s still a ways off, though, so for the last few months I have been looking forward to Skyrim, a tale of dragons and sorcery and all things fantasy.
Skyrim not only looked beautiful but it held the promise of dragons so how could it not be fantastic? I’ll tell you how. This has to be the slowest moving game I’ve ever witnessed. I know, I know, you’re all screaming at me because this is the “it” game of the moment, but it’s boring. It’s so boring, I’ve given up on the whole thing. I did come running into the living room to see him slay a dragon, but that lasted about twenty seconds and then it was back to walking around and, um, walking around. There’s a lot of walking in Skyrim.
There’s also a lot of shopping. I better never hear anyone laugh about how much time women spend tricking out their avatars when guys are waxing poetic about the cool fur boots and feathered helm that they just purchased for their lizardman. Really, they ought to be investing in a good pair of sneakers because in this game, as I mentioned, there is a lot of walking around doing absolutely nothing. Except walking. Yawn.
My husband thinks this game is the best thing since sliced bread, but I just don’t get it. Last night, he used his powers of necromancy to create an Undead Zombie Wolf. It didn’t look like a zombie but glowed kinda blue like something out of Tron. It’s not exciting and it’s definitely not for me. So, I’m resigned to just checking in when he’s about to slay a dragon and then he’s on his own to wander through yet another field, the feathers on his helmet blowing ever so softly in the warm breeze. He can wake me when Commander Shepard returns.