At age 8, I was a gamer chick.
Those were the days of Mario Bros., Paperboy and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! The last show in the TGIF lineup hours past, I jabbed at the controller until midnight struck, sweat trickling from my pint-sized brow as I dueled with Bowser. I gamed by daylight, too, my dad sometimes joining me for a Sunday afternoon session. I’m still pissed he beat Zelda and I never could.
The lure of gaming slipped away as Friday nights became chances to meet boys and climb social circles instead of the levels in Marble Madness. When I hit my 20s, I was repelled by the men I dated who seemed attached to the controller. Assassin’s Creed? Seriously?
Oh, but what an idle, jetlag-fuelled week will do to a person.
After our trip home, Brendan and I both had little to do by way of work until the end of the first week of January. We did the beach and the pool and caught up with friends, but, you know, there was still all those other hours. Then Brendan turned to me on one of our post-vacation staycation days and asked me a pointed question.
“Do you want to play Angry Birds?”
He might as well have asked me to shoot heroin. Because for the next two hours, I wouldn’t leave his Mac screen, my pupils huge and shiny as I aimed those funny-shaped birds at rocks and stones and ice and balloons. Oh the squealing, squawking madness! This wasn’t Mario and Luigi. It was another kind of awesome. The pure delight when that fat bomber bird flattened into an egg after striking a chuckling pig — it was so brilliant.
All those hours spent on Angry Birds began unearthing some behaviors I’d never really acknowledged. Sure, it brought out my natural competitiveness and drive to do well. But there were other secret truths.
1. I give up easily
Somewhere underneath all the gusto required to move abroad and launch a freelance writing career lies this scary fact. When I hit the hard boards — the really, really hard ones we eventually had to consult YouTube cheats to solve –, I would whine in frustration. It was all taking too long; I felt stupid I’d already spent 20 minutes on a level Brendan had beaten in two. As a testament to his character, he forced me to keep trying, goading me with, “You just want to give up?” His encouragement inevitably edged me forward until that last little piggy went “poof.”
2. I need to try my way first, even if it’s wrong
On some Birds levels, I’d employ curiosity over strategy, flicking the flock into areas just to see how they damaged certain objects. A lot of times, I could tell I was taking a stupid shot, but I still had to take it. This is interesting to me because I always figured I did things my way because I thought they were right. Not completely true. It’s my innate need to apply my own creative process.
3. I like destroying things
Playing Angry Birds brought out some masculine energy in me. It wasn’t just the competitiveness. It’s that little boy-like desire to completely wreck a thing, to ram a toy bulldozer into a little girl’s Lego castle. I am not the most orderly person, but I like things to have their place and I like things (including myself) to look put together, pretty. The increasingly elaborate constructions in the game attracted my aesthetic appreciation, for sure. But I’d quickly succumb to the urge to bomb the crap out of them.
Did or do you play video or online games? Why?
Image by Kid’s Birthday Parties