Things Gamers Do That Only I Can Explain

Because images at the beginning of posts are better sometimes. —

For my inaugural post I shall pick up the gauntlet that was never thrown down and demonstrate that the “Things Gamers Do That We Can’t Explain” are in fact eminently explainable. You see there is nothing above, or below, my pay grade when it comes to that to which I apply my admittedly massive intellectual powers. Hence the forthcoming attempt to de-legitamize the un-legitimizable in an illegitimate use of my time.

This meme seems to be a year old at least, but at my last reckoning it had recieved 5.2 thousand likes and 3,784 shares on FB. In other words, let the crumbs of prior success fall now onto my plate.

Since no one asked, I will now over explain all the things. Full disclosure: I’m not now, nor ever was really, a proper gamer. Nevertheless, I bet some basic reasoning and video game experience in my formative years will be sufficient to get the job done.

I sincerely hope that by the time I am done I will have irrevocably sucked all the fun and humor out of this meme by taking it entirely too seriously. Let’s begin.

1. Lean forward after a defeat

Let us assume the gamer wishes to game successfully. In order to minimize unnecessary exertions the gamer is leaning back in plush cushions or an ever-stylish bean bag chair so that the eyes and handy digits can coordinate and do the gamer’s work. This gaming demands a high degree of focus. And so, once settled into a comfortable position, it would not do for a gamer to move about, shift, or otherwise thrust their bulk about the place lest concentration break and digits slip. And yet, holding even the most comfortable position takes on a strain of its own after enough time, as can be verified by meditating Buddhists and the bedridden alike. After defeat, a gamer’s focus is no longer required as the call for input has temporarily ceased and so then and only then is the appropriate time to move and exercise those muscles that are, to put it generously, ancillary to the gaming process. A particularly ambitious gamer may even stretch during this off time. In short, the gamer has been leaning back for some time now, and in defeat, a short window opens in which a change of position is both welcome and harmless. Lean forward, dear gamer. Lean forward.

In case you thought my analysis was restricted to console gaming. —

2. Exclaim as if in pain when our character takes large amounts of damage

The mark of a good game! Through the power of game, the character on screen becomes an extension of the gamer’s physical body. A light movement of the thumb, and lo, a half-wizard barbarian bio-mechanized super soldier wielding a swords mythological cuts masterfully through its enemies bodies like so much hot cheese. But there is feedback as wall. The gamer, feeling as the on screen avatar itself, also experiences psychosomatic pain whenever the avatar is digitally harmed. Let’s call this “immersion.”

Now, some consoles have attempted to heighten the immersion by including rumbling features in controllers that shake whenever the on-screen character experiences shock or duress. But this is lazy game design in my un-humble opinion. Until the days of true immersion in virtual or augmented reality, I am not interested in this rumbling controller half-assery. I’ll take immersion of the mind over quakey fists any day. Do you exclaim as if in pain when our character takes large amounts of damage? Perhaps according to your brain, you ARE in pain. Enjoy your experience.

A la Perry Bible Fellowship. —

3. Find which way to go then take the opposite path

I am delightfully guilty of this crime. This is a simple matter of exploration. If you know the right way to go, then you know which way will advance you to the next area of content. But a gamer also knows that sometimes, in advancing to the next area, the previous area is cut off and can never be returned to. And so, in order to explore the game in its entirety, once the certain “way to go” is discerned the gamer takes the opposite path as a matter of course. In fact, all of the opposite paths are taken.

Though not a game, the Windows 3D Maze Screensaver is a fine example of meticulous and systematic exploration.

4. Save magnum bullets

The only magnum I’m saving is a joke about beer that is so obvious that I don’t care to make it. I admit there may be a particular reference here that is lost on me, but in general, ammunition in a game is a limited resource. From a rationalist economic perspective, there is no need to expend even a single unit of a limited resource unless doing so provides some measure of utility or benefit. Successful gaming, after all, is in many ways about min-maxing, which is to say using the minimum amount of your resources, time, and abilities in order to achieve the objective with maximum efficiency. This theory may seem at odds with #3, which puts value on exploration, and indeed, there is more than one way to game. Nevertheless, the reason that one might “save magnum bullets” even though the magnum may be relatively useless compared to the other larger firearms that inhabit a hypothetical game, you still just never know when they will come in handy. In fact, I remember a rousing game of Silent Hill III some centuries ago in which friends and I, having depleted all of our ammo reserves, had to resort to the humble pistol to kill God. At least we didn’t have to bash its head in with a pipe.

“Heather Kicking God in the Face” —

5. Buy all skills but only use about three regularly

This one is rather obvious. In the min-maxing model, it will stand to reason that only the most efficient strategies will prevail. In a poorly deigned game the user will find that a select set of skills or inputs are by far more efficient than others at accomplishing certain objectives such as brutalizing hapless enemies. But of course currency is gained and there are other skills to try and explore. So for the sake of exploration and experimentation all skills that are possible to acquire will be acquired. But for the sake of efficiency, only the choicest will be used.

“Gaming is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results.” — Me

6. Hate any and all tutorials

Simply put, the best games are ones that teach you how to play through play itself. The last thing you want while gaming is hand-holding in the extreme, which manifests as a fairy or ally on a com system telling you to “push b to fire on the enemy.” Tutorials, to say nothing of manuals, may be necessary in some highly abstract or complex games, but for the most part gamers want to turn on a game and have an immediate immersive experience. A tutorial is anything but. Here is an excellent video that demonstrates what I mean by teaching you how to play through playing itself using the classic Super Mario Bros.

Bare with me, there is much to learn.

7. Never admit we died in a tutorial

Humans tend to want to avoid shame. Ironically, a tutorial should be the least shameful place to “die” as the premise of a tutorial is that you don’t yet know what you’re doing. Nevertheless, shame is always a risk where cruel humans lurk. But even if shame is avoided, the guilt, I imagine, never leaves.

8. Know when there’s a pixel of health left and use all the riskiest moves to win

First of all, many gamers are forced to know when there is only a pixel of health left because the game will start flashing red lights at you, or worse, beeping incessantly. But number 8 here offers a challenge: why use the riskiest moves to win when health is at its lowest? Some gamers may opt for a conservative strategy in a low-health situation, but there are a number of economic reasons that a gamer may take on a risky strategy in a scenario such as this.

ONE: Given that the chance for victory is low, a high risk/high reward strategy is employed in order to attempt to bring the game to a quick, victorious close before ones low health can be exploited.

TWO: Given that the chance for victory is low, the gamer says “Fuck it” and tries a fun risky strategy. In the event of success there is much jubilation and gloating. In the event of failure the gamer can absolve themselves from guilt by claiming that they weren’t really trying.

THREE: For the lulz.

I am not here to say that a conservative or risky strategy is right or wrong. I am only here to explain the unexplainable.

9. Get a 100 hit combo on a corpse

There are three great reasons to get a 100 hit combo on a corpse.

ONE: A corpse does not fight back so, like a punching bag, a corpse is a perfect dummy on which to practice one’s button combinations.

TWO: For the lulz.

THREE: The corpse may well be the corpse of one of your fallen gamer enemies. Of course in gaming, when we die, we often can view our avatar’s corpse lying on the ground with disembodied, omniscient eyes. The victor, knowing you are in this sorry state, may take the opportunity to shame and humiliate you by desecrating the avatar that is the virtual you. Lest you thought such nasty behavior is specific only to puerile gamers, I present to you a classic.

“So saying, he (Achilles) found a way to defile the fallen prince (Hector). He pierced the tendons of both feet behind from heel to ankle, and through them threaded ox-hide thongs, tying them to his chariot, leaving the corpse’s head to trail along the ground. — The Iliad

10. Mute everyone while online

Why not mute everyone while online? After all, then one can hurl insults and vitriol at one’s online enemies with no fear of audible reprisal. Either that or one is momentarily tired of hearing other people speak, and who can’t sympathize with that. Lastly, the music and sounds of the game may be particularly charming or important at a given moment, prompting the manual exclusion of competing sound and fury signifying nothing. Plus, even without voice, there is always text chat to be had, particularly on a PC.

11. Dislike the consoles we don’t own

Of all the unexplainable things, this one is perhaps most explainable. First, if one does not like, or at the very least does not think they will like a particular console, then why on earth would they go about owning it.


12. Turn subtitles on

Number 12 requires no response on my part. I leave it to you, dear reader, to fill in the blank. Your input is most valued

THANK YOU for joining me on this exploration of a meme. I hope I have demonstrated to you all just how much fun I can have dedicating my evening to completely useless tasks that have marginal, if any, benefit to greater society.

In conclusion I will now tag a bunch of gaming people I don’t know at all in a Hail Mary attempt to gain some views and follows, all the while claiming I am far too naive and innocent to be aware of any social norms on Medium that would otherwise preclude a decent man from doing so.

Elgato Gaming for being the first thing that came up.

Martin Belam for having an article on “No Man’s Sky,” which I am now interested in playing:

Ben Lindbergh for an article about disconnecting:

Mac Blauner becuase I thought you might appreciate my reference to The Iliad seeing as gaming made you a history major.

Wil Wheaton in case you are actually Wil Wheaton. I’ve recently got some friends who had never seen Star Trek to binge watch TNG. One of them said you were cute. I’m sure you’ve never heard that. May the force be with you. I’m sure you’ve never heard that either.

From NES Duck Hunt