Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mercenary Team Deathmatch: How Call of Duty Relates to Life

I realized last night while playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (online) that my life can be expressed in the experience of Mercenary Team Deathmatch.

For those who are repulsed by video games, or who just don't understand them and who have no grasp on the particulars of Mercenary Team Deathmatch, it's simple: I'm on a team. Me and my team shoot the guys (or girls) on the other team.

It sounds boring, but if you like amusement park games where you target shoot or anything similar to that premise, you'd love online deathmatch. It's challenging. You run around trying to be stealthy and outsmart other humans who are much more inventive than a mere AI.

Not only that, the guns are accurate representations of actual guns in the real world. And since I enjoy gun stuff, I find that part of it compelling also.

Oh sure, sometimes I feel quite stupid that I've just spent an hour or two running around a fictional universe shooting fake people. But it's become a compulsion and as we all know, there is no refusal from within the grasp of compulsion.

A couple weeks ago I got arrogant and downloaded the new map pack from the Playstation Network. It costs $15 and it gives you access to several new locations for the slaughter-fest (spell check didn't like slaughterfest. I agree, it should not be allowed to enter the lexicon as a compound word. Too offensive).

I didn't think before I downloaded it that the only people who'd be downloading it are the real junkies. Addicts. These are the players who have devoted days—not hours—to the game. There are 70 levels a player can progress through and then, just to make it interesting, the game developers introduced what's known as Prestige leveling. That means that once you get to 70, you can start all over and progress from level 1 to level 70.

I know. It's a sickness.

There are special insignias next to your player name to identify what level you are, and there are even more special insignias to indicate how you're an insane moron who's Prestiged fifty thousand times. Because, to be gluttonous about it, you can do it more than once. Generally these players are unstoppable. And I hate them.

So I'm only on my first time. Level 67 or something. But I still suck. And here's the thing: a lot of your success depends on how well you know the maps, or the layout of the environment the game is in. Because if you're very familiar with it, you know what the other team will be doing. Surprise is a powerful weapon.

And this is how it's just like my life.

Quite often as I'm shooting someone (in the game—I feel I should specify that so as not to be mistaken for a serial murderer), I'll run out of bullets before they're dead and I have to reload. During that time, the opponent kills me. OR, another player from my team will step in and finish off my opponent, which gives me only an ASSIST in my stats menu. So when the game finishes and the stats are onscreen, inevitably I have a very low number of kills, and seven thousand assists.

See how it's like my real life?

I'm always just a step behind, or, while the real good crap's happening, I'm caught reloading. Or, before I can draw a bead and pull the trigger, my opponent has lightning reflexes and I'm dead.

So I respawn and lo and behold, the game puts me near the guy who just killed me, and he kills me again. And again. And before I can get anywhere or do anything, I've been killed ten times in a row without inflicting any damage on a single foe.

It's frustrating. I can never quite improve because the moment I start to get better, some bigger fish swims up, devours me, and spits out my bones. There's ALWAYS a bigger fish. I can never get comfortable. The moment I do, a swarm of evil soldiers or militia-men runs around the corner and slaughters me and I flounder helpless like a My Buddy doll wielding a useless Lego gun or some such nonsense.

And this is just like my life. Exactly like my life, in fact. No, but it's a fantastic metaphor, and it illustrates nicely the way I'm always a step behind. Some of us are mediocre at everything. I'm mediocre at everything because I lack the capacity to focus with laser-like precision because I'M ONLY HUMAN.


But it's good. Because, as I was thinking this morning, do I seriously think those whom I perceive to be on top don't sweat bullets every time they make a career decision? Especially people in a fly-by-night industry like publishing, music, television, or film?

I was thinking about Garth Brooks, for some odd reason, choosing from the billions of demos that were most likely made just for him. Back in the day he was IT. I bet the choice gave him ulcers. I bet he worried that he wasn't picking the hits. I bet it's hard to tell which song will rock number one for fifty weeks, and I know because I hear some of the demos that run through Nashville and I think, dang, that's good.

And you know, no matter how high you get on the ladder, you always feel like you're struggling like hell to make it, and if you don't, you're either a moron or you're blind and I don't understand you. Life's a battle. A war zone. Mercenary Team Deathmatch.

So I hope you have a good team. I hope I have a good team. I know one thing, I need larger magazines and a steadier hand. And maybe a new controller. I think this one's broke. Heh heh. Excuses excuses.


Related Posts:

How Dragon Age: Origins Interferes with Real Life

Infamous and Flying in Video Games

No comments: