I would be the worst lawyer / doctor / general / deity ever.
That’s the conclusion I reach whenever I play simulation games. You know — games where you pretend you’re in a certain role and manage the lives of others. In these games you can save lives as a doctor, micromanage a family, run a diner… you can even rule over entire planets if you want (although let’s face it — some people aren’t fit enough to run Planet Smoothie).
While you may be able to play these games, I can’t. That’s because I always choke. I get so involved with the characters that I don’t want to let them down. For me it transcends the fictional context. I have to protect these people. I have to win. If I don’t I’ve failed them, and I’ve also failed as a human being.
So naturally, when everything’s on the line my gaming skills are like, “You know, I have this sudden urge to gamble. Let’s go to Vegas. Right now.“
Take the Phoenix Wright series for example. In those games you play as a defense lawyer. It’s a good thing my client came to Willard & Soundwave, a firm full of mail-order lawyers and the only practicing action figure in the state. I mean it’s bad enough that I suck at these games, but a game where I have to stop my client from going to jail? That’s impossible (especially if you already paid for the hit).
In Phoenix Wright you have to examine testimony closely. That’s how you find contradictions. But at Willard and Soundwave, we pride ourselves on missing facts that are big enough to crash into buses. Look, the only reason I’m missing these facts is because I’m nervous. I’m trying to convince the judge that this guy didn’t kill anybody, but the prosecution keeps countering my arguments and all the while my client keeps asking me who’s going to feed his twenty sisters. It’s unbearable. I’m just praying that something takes out the entire courtroom at this rate. Let’s just hope Iron Man sees the candles I light for him.
Games like SimCity and Spore aren’t much better. In those you have to direct little civilizations so they can survive and prosper. Yeah, because I was so good at handling one person’s life. Do you know the kind of responsibility we’re dealing with here? Think about it. How would you feel if you suddenly became a deity, and your actions determined if a species lived or died? That’s some heavy stuff, and when you get involved in these games like I do you’ll see why a lot of us wouldn’t be able to handle the responsibility (especially if you trained in godhood at DeVry).
Even if my goal was to kill everyone else and conquer the entire world, I’d still do badly. That’s why I can’t even play turn-based strategy games. Sure, you’re focusing on managing resources and building an army, but in the end it’s still a game where your decisions carve the fate of a nation.
It really doesn’t help when the game has a black “fog of war” effect that won’t let you see areas of the map you haven’t explored. Then my strategy usually defaults to “let’s stay in this valley and hope the war blows over.” Once again I can’t bear to risk my units. War Rule #29 — don’t risk your troops until you can make your army of Hulk Hogans.
Heck, I even have trouble raising virtual pets, and there’s no reason why I should. Unlike being a lawyer or a general, I have real-world experience with pets. I’ve owned several cats and dogs and I’ve taken care of them without too much trouble. But give me a virtual pet and suddenly I’m Vile McScumlord, Pet Destroyer. Virtual pets don’t chill by the window all day you know — they demand constant attention. You have to feed them, clean up their poop, and play with them. (One time I had to help mine move his couch.)
When you screw up, they go out of their way to make you feel like the worst piece of horse crap in the entire world. I remember back when virtual pets were banned from schools because everyone was fiddling with them in class. When I had a virtual puppy, I had to leave this thing alone for seven hours and when I came back, oh, it was horrible. The puppy’s whining, he’s hungry, and he’s surrounded by his own poop. I felt like a monster. Then Van Helsing would stab me. He never was very good with alcohol.
It’s kind of ironic really. I play violent video games where I can kill scores of people, but in a game where I have to protect my own I can’t follow through. Both games are fictional, but I’m only comfortable when I’ve got the big sword or the heavy rifle. A scalpel? Forget it. I can’t help you. I don’t want to risk disappointment.
Hmmm. Maybe I desensitized myself to the wrong kind of game.
(By the way, if you’re interested, I’m holding a sale — 10% off on all hits up to a hundred yards.)