My Neighbour Errol- Video Games
Do you like to play video games? Yes? Awesome. Then you could be good friends with Errol. But do you like to FINISH those video games in a timely manner?…If the answer is also yes, you probably want to take a moment before letting him near your console.
Take, for instance, the game “Amnesia”. For those of you who have never played, all you need to really know is that it is one of the scariest/stressful survival horrors you will play in which you wake up with no memory of who you are in a creepy house that has some spectacularly terrifying monsters that you never get a full look at because you are given zero weapons to fight with and much of the game is spent desperately searching for a cupboard to hide in (warning: the video below does control some strong language…much of it from me…).
When I played the game with Dan, he tended to focus on getting to the next plot point of the game. When I played with Errol, he focused on all of the exciting new things he could mess with.
He picked up a rock. Where could he throw the rock? Could he throw it through the window? Why not? If he threw it from another angle could he get it through the hole in the wall? Could he combine it with this book? Could he throw the book? Yes? Where could he throw the book? Could he pick up the chair? Could he stack it on another chair? Could he climb the stack? Could he throw things at the stack? What was on that table? Could he pick it up? Is that a Bunsen burner? Could he put things on the Bunsen burner? Why not? Maybe if he banged the object on the Bunsen burner enough it would work. Why was it now spinning in an infinite loop? Could he jump on that fireplace?
…After forty minutes, we still hadn’t left the front room. And there was more Errol wanted to try.
Mind you, this is only for certain games. Adventure or strategy games? Errol will get scarily focused on completing them and winning.
Terraria is even worse. Put Errol in Terraria and he will lose hours simply to mining out the center of the earth. And now he’s training his daughter to do the same. No good can come of this.
But give him any sort of freedom to explore, and he is every game designer’s worst nightmare. He will get distracted and test the limits of its physics engine to the point where the poor game will start glitching in confusion. Even the smallest of objects will hold his attention for much longer than the game designer intended.
Now, I actually don’t mind this so much. Despite my nervous, panicky ways, I am an incredibly patient and easy going person (see my entire friendship with Errol for reference). Besides which, it makes for some pretty fun times and I highly enjoy Errol’s reactions to virtual environments.
For others though, especially others who are very much driven to finish a game, watching Errol’s forays into the game world makes them twitch in frustration. My poor friend Dan could barely watch Errol’s attempts to play Journey, which is full of pretty distractions AND friends to make, without losing it.
The most recent example that prompted this blog post is Tomb Raider, which Errol saw sitting on my coffee table and thought would be fun to play. Our friend James was around so we all sat down to raid some tombs.
The game booted up. There was poor Lara Croft: shipwrecked, hanging upside down from some cocoon sack in a cave, panicked out of her mind. After squealing in delight making poor, scared Lara swing around in her prison Errol finally managed to free her. Then it was time to move on with the game. The following happened in about fifteen minutes of gameplay.
Errol: I should see if I can pick anything up!
Me: I don’t think you can…it would show icons or something…
Errol: I wonder if you can pick up this box!
Jamez: You can’t pick up the box.
Errol: Oh look, there’s a body hanging there! I want to search it! Why won’t it let me search it?
Me: I don’t think you can search it.
Errol: I wonder if I can search it if I looked at it from this angle.
Jamez: Maybe we should go on? Like the game is telling us to?
Errol: It says to press a button to see my goals? OH MAN LOOK! IT’S LIKE A BAT VIEW! BAT VIIIEEEWWW!
Me: Hey, cool! And look, there’s a puzzle up ahead you can use it with!
Errol: I have to go back!
Errol: To see if I can use bat view in other places!
Me: It’s the first level, and there was nothing to interact with back—
Errol: BAT VIEEWW! Oh, I wonder if I can bat view this waterfall! BAT VIEW!
Jamez: Maybe we should solve the puzzle.
Errol: OH I CAN JUMP! Look how I can jump!
Me: That’s great, although she jumps well for someone with a stab wound…
Errol: YABOOOOO! Look at me go! (jumps all around for five minutes) I want to jump on that floating box! (tries, misses because the game clearly isn’t designed for that)
Me: Well, that’s a shame—
Errol: I’m going to try again. (tries again, very clearly fails again)
Me: Maybe we should solve the puzzle here.
Errol: I WANT TO JUMP ON THAT BOX!
At least eventually we got to kill a deer (words that I would never say in the real world).
So if Errol suggests playing a game, you can definitely expect to have a fun time. Just…don’t expect to finish it…ever…