Video Game Literacy

Video Game Literacy

This video “Basic Game Literacy - Why It’s Hard to Learn How to Play” is making the rounds and I think it’s pretty good and interesting. For me it still includes a few Huh? moments.

I agree with the basic premise - many people (and often it’s a generational thing) don’t get video games (at all) and sometimes it’s hard to talk about things.

What confuses me most is the distinction about starting/finishing a game. Also using a certain kind of controller or being able to play a certain kind of genre of game.

I’m really not 100% sure what they’re trying to say here. I’m someone who’s been playing video games for more than 2/3s of my life, but I only ever finished a handful of games. What does “finish” even mean? All Levels in Super Mario Bros. - ok. What about Fighting Games? Do I have to finish Single Player Mode or does 100h of fighting human opponents count as well? What about Tetris? Must it be A type and B type on hardest difficulty? I’m confused.

Next, the controller. There’s this famous story that I’ve told a few times. At the start of The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (on the Xbox 360) there’s a room full of rats near the start. Thet’s where I repeatedly died and at some point stopped playing the game. I’ve played lots of RPGs and MMORPGs (which I maybe unjustly all just take as equal now) - but apparently I simply can’t play this type of game on this type of controller. Give me mouse and keyboard or a SNES/GB DPad and it will work.

Also, can you lose a literacy in a genre? I’ve played many hours of Sim City, Sim City 2000, Theme Park and many others in this genre. But I don’t like any of the newer titles. Too many types of resources, too many things, too much 3d. Yeah, call me old and boring, but these games somehow are much better to me when they are isometric 2d and not full 3d.

And yeah, they said a lot of those things, but in a slightly convoluted way I guess, because I’m not really sure what their point is besides “Well, it’s complicated, right?”. With their examples I am now 100% not sure where I would put myself. On the one hand the completion part, the “can I use this?” part, the “unfamiliar genre” part.

Maybe it’s a bad comparison, but I’ve never ever seen anyone analyze types of sports in such a way (on the meta-level, or in terms of “literacy”). I’d say it’s more like: “Do you know football?” - “Yes.” - “Do you know the rules?” - “I couldn’t be a referee, but yeah.” - “Have you ever played it?” - “Technically yes, but the coach always sends me to the bench after 60 minutes” - “So you haven’t completed it?”. I guess you know what I mean. It’s always just “Have you ever played [x]” and that’s usually where the conversation ends and this is why I found this part so strange.

I am in no way or have I ever been a pro gamer. I’ve played shooters in the ESL (I think that counts good enough as a hobby league) and I’ve raided at the edge of progression in WoW (yes, nothing special) and whenever Blizzard talks about numbers of players doing a certain thing in WoW, that was usually only 10% of players in the “top” bracket (if your metric is progression). But wait, do I have “completed” WoW? I don’t know, I haven’t participated in PvP for many, many years. Yes, it’s complicated.

TLDR: Watch the video and maybe you’re better at figuring out if according to this video you have a basic literacy on video games. I think I do, but there are certain genres where I only briefly had a look and then already decided to stay away. Also I am easily distracted and have more than once just watched a video or read a summary to see the end (in an hour) instead of finishing the game (in 5-20 hours).

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