Saturday, March 8, 2008

Games: Having fun VS mastering the program

I'm the kind of guy who won't sit down and play Wii Tennis. I can't sit in a patch of tall grass and EV train my Pokémon. It just doesn't work for me. To me, it seems like these methods of playing just sap all the fun out of a title, stripping it down to a mechanical act aimed at getting the high score.

I don't understand how some people can do it. Running around, only fighting the enemies that will increase you stats in the perfect way... This isn't how Pokémon was meant to be played! I'm fully aware of how EV training works, and I know how great it can be for a person's team. But it just isn't fun for me. I train my Pokémon the good old fashioned way: By running into random Pokémon and trainers and battling them with whichever teammate I please. Sure, my team is weaker because of this, and I'm sure to be laughed out of professional competitions for it, but it works for me.

If everyone EV trained, battles would come down to sheer luck. It would all fall upon whether someone got a critical hit, or if this attack missed, or if Quick Claw made a Pokémon strike first. Strategy's a factor, I know. But with each Pokémon on the field being a well-groomed killing machine, it just seems like it's more of a competition of who gets the first strike than anything else.

And where's the fun in the in-game battles? If your Pokémon are all perfectly EV trained, each fight is but a minor inconvenience, merely slowing you down slightly. Isn't the whole fun of challenging the Elite Four not knowing whether or not you'll come out alive? It's not as if it's just some landmark you must pass, it's a challenge you must overcome.

I don't need to be the master of a game to have fun with it. I suck majorly at bowling. Seriously, I'm probably the worst player in the league. But I have fun because I get out there, toss my ball, and have a good time. When I get a strike, it's great. When I get a gutter ball, oh well. If I were to strike with every single ball, it wouldn't be fun anymore. The fun is not being perfect, but simply doing your best. Sure, I'm likely to never win a trophy, and I'll never beat anyone else on my team, but hey, I have fun.

I know, people tend to have more fun when they win. Nobody likes being a loser. But being a winner every time isn't fun either. If you know you're going to win, what's the point? If you're a perfectly tuned, invincible adversary, every game is but another step. Losing is great, because not always coming out on top is what makes winning so satisfying.

A margin for error is the key to enjoyment for me. If I simply sit down and flick my wrist in Wii Tennis, I win, but I don't have fun. I need to get up on my feet and toss myself around the room, flailing my arms. That's the fun for me. I'm likely to miss several shots, but that's what makes the stunning comebacks so great. I run around and battle any Pokémon with any Pokémon, regardless of how it will affect my EV distribution. I lose once in a while, sure. But the wins mean so much more because of it.

I play games for fun. How about you? Do you master every aspect of the game, or do you just sit back and enjoy the ride? I'd like to hear your stories, so please respond in the comment section, or in this forum thread.

The Duck Has Spoken.

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