I was playing Halo ODST on co-op again last night, having run out of co-op games after Kameo wouldn’t let me play more than a little bit until I’d finished the solo campaign. I didn’t want to play the solo campaign, I wanted to play co-op and pulling out ODST again was a great suggestion. It’s the first co-op game I ever played and it wasn’t until last night that I realized just how awful I was at it. I recall dying about fifteen times on each mission and only getting the occasional shot in that actually hit something and not necessarily something that was alive and more often than not it turned out to be my co-op partner.
Like most things, gaming is the most fun when the level of skill required matches the skill level you have. Too easy and it’s boring, too difficult and it’s frustrating.I love co-op as much as I do because playing with an experienced gamer makes it fun all the time. Even when I was dying once a minute, I never felt like hitting my head against a wall. The in-game challenges and obstacles were taken care of for me, all I had to do was focus on how to use the controller and learning how to shoot the right things. Although last night was quite a bit easier and a lot faster, I wouldn’t see the same jump in skill in the solo campaign. The fact that I had improved meant that my partner could speed up his game that much more, making it seem like a very different game.
Six months ago, I felt a bit like a burden whenever we played together. I got frustrated and stressed not just because I was failing, but also because I felt like I was wasting someone else’s time and causing them huge amounts of frustration.Gaming hasn’t just made life more fun and interesting, it’s also boosted my self-confidence. I don’t apologize for having issues like needing to stop when joints dislocate or having crappy slow reflexes and poor spatial orientation anymore. This isn’t like when I was at school and some team had to take me even though everybody knew I was just going to be a liability. Unless it was in a pool, I didn’t get picked for the right reasons, sometimes I didn’t get picked at all and mostly I was picked for all the wrong reasons, or so I thought. I did quite a bit of “oh wow, how did you do that?” last night, but instead of the usual passive admiration, I actually made him stop and show me and then tried it myself to see if I could do it too.
It’s so easy to over think things. I have grown so accustomed to either having to confine myself to watching or be the centre of not always welcome attention. Neither is pleasant. I don’t enjoy being stared at and I don’t want to be an inspiration. I just want to do what everybody else is doing and even though I may have some handicaps and a very different style, I don’t want that to be the most important thing about me. Gaming is like everything else. At the start, it’s a very steep learning curve and I’m still very much at the start. Without help, I would be lost and it would have remained inaccessible, something to watch happen somewhere distant from where I was. But I’m never struggling, uhm, playing by myself and somewhere along the line, it stopped being about being able to play just like everybody else and started being about having fun. I like it much better this way.