Why I’m Awful at Games

The simple answer is: Call of Duty.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Infinity Ward/Activision)

I love video games, but I also have a confession to make. I’m obsessed with Call of Duty. In college, my roommate got an Xbox 360 for Christmas with Modern Warfare 2. We were all hooked on multiplayer in a big way. What’s not to love about it? It felt like the pace was made for me. There is no way to describe the gratification of getting incrementally better through each gaming session. There’s also the long-game of challenges and Prestige Mastering with accomplishments that are completely useless, yet unbelievably fun to pursue. (Another confession: I have been playing the game for 8 years and have never reached prestige master.) When we all went our separate ways after school, one of my first big purchases was my very own Xbox – actually, I shared it with my boyfriend, but it felt like it was all mine. I’ve played almost every Call of Duty since, and am still enjoying it to this day.

So, what’s the problem, then? The obsessive grind of Call of Duty has made it impossible for me to experience any other game with even a trace of success. I was listening to the XoneBros Podcast (who have a great online community for those looking to meet and play with some great people on Xbox One) and they mentioned a figure that I was somewhat sad to be a part of. I couldn’t find a reference for the number anywhere online, but they said that about 90% of Call of Duty players only play Call of Duty. The Bros did not make the comment disparagingly, being of a positive mindset, but it’s still disheartening to know how isolating this game is within the gaming community as a whole. The number is staggering (and, perhaps, a bit exaggerated), but it’s not hard to see why this is the case for many CoD fans, myself included.

First off, putting aside the time commitment this game demands, it is expensive. I have a hard time dropping $60 on a game, even when I know how many hours of enjoyment I will get out of it. Every year, however, this is the one game I’m guaranteed to get because it is a staple. On top of that, in the past, I’ve spent the extra $50 for the season pass, just out of curiosity at what kinds of maps will be next. Add to that the money some people spend on supply drops, and you might as well get a second game out of this investment instead. I’m happy to say that I resisted the urge to get the season pass this time around. I did buy the first map pack, but I think I’m done spending money on this game. When you consider the amount of revenue they get from micro-transactions for inconsequential and easily produced cosmetics (something I’ve never seen the point in buying), I think Activision will be just fine without my pulling out my wallet for yet another 4 maps. I believe in the past I acted out of fear that I would get bored of the base multiplayer maps, but now I know that when I’m bored by a game, that’s probably a good time to stop playing it and try another game.

So, yeah, the game is fun, but it’s also a grind. Like I said, I’ve never gotten to Prestige Master, but I still try every year. With my skill level (which is enthusiastically average), it’s nearly impossible to get through 10 prestiges within the year before the next title comes out. That is, unless you put in a lot of hours. That, I believe, is the main reason I’ve made this revelation to walk away when I’ve had enough. It’s tough to do when you really think this will be the year that it will happen, but, ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Honestly, outside of multiplayer, this game has very little to keep me interested. I’ve at least started every campaign before giving into boredom and seeking the thrill of going online. Advanced Warfare is the only campaign I managed to finish, but that might be because I love Kevin Spacey and wanted to see his story play out. The skills acquired in the campaign don’t really translate to multiplayer. It’s a completely different beast that challenges you to get better and progress at least as quickly as everyone else online. The problem is you spend all this time trying to be the best at CoD, but it doesn’t help you in any game but CoD.

 

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Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (Epic Games/Microsoft)

I got the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Xbox One bundle last November and, because I also bought Black Ops 3 that same day, it’s been on the back-burner ever since. Lately, though, I’ve gotten really into TrueAchievements leaderboards and I’m happy to say it has motivated me to branch out and try more games (my Gamerscore can use some help). The results have been a little upsetting. One thing about CoD that most everyone can agree on is that it is not a strategy game, especially if you play like I do. It’s all about quick movement and reflexes. I learned quickly that this method does not work in the cover-system movement of a game like Gears. Having had a decent experience with other fast-paced 3rd person shooters (namely Saints Row 3 and 4), I thought I would take to this much easier. I gave up before I even got the first achievement. It’s not my proudest moment, but I’m sure I’ll give it another shot once I summon a little patience (something that is not required in any CoD game).

On the plus side, I have really dug into the first Borderlands game and I’m excited to play the next installment when it comes out. As free games go, this one is worth waiting for the 360 interface to boot up. It’s all the joys of leveling up in an RPG without getting too hung up on mythology. I don’t know the difference between an Orc or a Maege (or if those are even things), but I know how to pull the right trigger to eliminate bad guys and aliens. There’s also a lot of craziness in the world that is super fun. I can’t wait to see it in HD. I’ve also been playing Guitar Hero Live, but rhythm games have always been great in my book and learning the new controller has created a new level of challenges.

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Super Mario Bros. 2 (Nintendo)

Growing up, we had a bunch of different systems in the house – starting with NES, through the first PlayStation. I used to play and love all types of games. I was never any good at platformers (again, patience), but I would spend so much time trying to get as far in Super Mario Bros. 2 as I could before I was told to turn it off – maybe I would have beat it if they had saves back then, probably not. I want to channel those experiences and try to mix it up a little more in my current catalog. It’s going to be hard to relearn the basics, but I’m up for the challenge. I probably won’t ever stop playing Call of Duty, but I’m determined to not obsess so much. Also, if the next CoD is in space, I would much rather start playing Halo.

Any ideas for what I should play as a re-novice gamer?

Add me on Xbox: EaglEyes05

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