Margaret Robertson tells it like it is

An anonymoose sent me this link (via the Beeb). It's former EDGE editor Margaret Robertson on why she plays games. She starts the piece very controversially saying that games are rubbish! Oooh1 I'm outraged but then she ends it by saying this about Guitar Hero:

"But somehow, even though I can't do it, my brain can.
And so I get to watch, astonished and really rather proud, as my hand taps out the right sequence.
If I'm playing Guitar Hero on the expert setting, I know as a matter of certainty that I can't keep up with the sequence of notes streaming by.

Not least because my eyes go completely out of focus within about a minute. And yet, somehow, my brain and my hand have done a deal, and notes are streaming out of the screen and my score is through the roof.

Check me out - I'm amazing. And that's not arrogance. I don't take any credit for it. I can't."

And I think she is saying something here that I haven't really seen expressed so succinctly anywhere else. AND SHE IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT READERS. Although for me it isn't why I play computer games I am often amazed at how the brain goes into automatic. With games like Devil May Cry and Super Smash Brothers you watch the screen and you're pulling off some amazing moves and combos but if you try to think about what you are doing you mess up and the on screen avatar seems to go into retard mode compared to the dazzling brilliance from before. It's the same with Final Fantasy, Pokemon and Resident Evil Games that require a lot of menu checking. Even a simple task like equipping an item can make your brain hurt when you start to think about the buttons you are pressing (select, X, down, down, right, X, down, X, Triangle Triangle Triangle) but when you are in automatic your hands just seem to react to your thoughts without actually thinking about what you are physically doing.
Don't believe me? Try explaining to someone how you do a smash attack on Super Smash Brothers or Taki's overhead jump move on Soulblade or any of the weapon cheats on GTA. It's either really hard or you just can't remember the buttons without having a controller there. Even then you have to look down at the pad to register the names of the buttons that your brain knows by position. I even had an idea for some LAZY GAME ART where you have a video playing of, I dunno, someone busting Dead Rising, on the right and a video of the players hands and controllers playing next to it. It looks weird. It just looks like the hands are randomly fitting all over the pad. Look at your mates hands next time they are playing a game. It doesn't appear that their hand movements and button presses are relating to the on screen movements but we all know they are.

It is also for this reason that I rarely use the touchscreen if possible. Especially for Resident Evil DS and Pokemon Diamond. I can navigate menus, use items, check the pokedex and attack far faster using the buttons over the touch screen. Maybe it's just habit or how I grew up playing games but it's also why I'm not too happy with some of the Wii games especially Wii Play and Wii Sports. There's just not that level of precision without me re-training my brain but maybe I'm just lazy and happy to stick with what I know.

Anywho, Kudos to Margaret and the BBC for doing some real games journalism instead of crappy new journalism pish or whining about sexism in Wing Commander (the game not the film with Freddy Prinz Jr.)



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