I’ve started playing first person shooters, Call of Duty on the PS Vita to be more exact. While the debate of how good or bad video games are for you is a perennial debate, we still don’t know that much despite it being a multi-billion dollar industry and the fact that countless hours are poured into it. I’ve always enjoyed games but I gave them up long ago to focus on other things like reading. Then the internet came along and my attention span suffered all the more.
I bought a PS Vita at the beginning of last year. While my iPhone is great for most casual games, I thought a portable game with physical controls would be a great reintroduction to gaming (my work was related to games at the time as well). I missed the boat entirely on FPS games. My staples were mainly platform games like Mario Bros., fighting and racing games of all sorts.
After playing some Marvel VS Capcom, I pretty much let my PS Vita gather dust. However, I recently came across some articles citing that FPS games benefited eye sight (amblyopia) and after some more digging found some encouraging research about other benefits.
Since I already had a console gathering dust with a handful of titles, I figured that I would give Call of Duty a shot since it was basically the first “real” FPS to be playable on a handheld gaming console.
Coming back to gaming after a long hiatus and as an “adult” who was never that hardcore is humbling to say the least. I had no idea what I was doing with the controls, constantly get killed and have trouble aiming and shooting. Honestly, I have no idea how good gaming is for me but I do know that I haven’t felt an adrenaline rush like this in a while. It was worth it even if it ends up being a complete waste of time.
I’ve played lots of fighter games and even have the Marvel VS Capcom one for the Vita, which I played a lot. Although I’m not particularly good at it, cranking out the combos and what not feels a bit random. I’m not really invested into it. It feels more like a test of how fast I can twiddle the controller. Personally, I think the Vita’s controls are abhorrent to say the least and this just makes it worse.
With Call of Duty, what seemed so fresh to me was the amount of tension, adrenaline and even rage I felt as I played this game. I don’t know if it’s the 3D element of navigating your way through these maps while trying to figure out which target you shoot or the fact that you get bloodied up by the enemy if you don’t hit your targets but something about FPS games gets me emotionally invested. I was really felt mellowed out and matured from getting older but this just jerked me back into a primal state. The typical gamer stereotype doesn’t exactly fit the profile of an alpha male but that rush certainly was something I enjoyed even when I was throwing up my hands in disgust as I failed one of the easiest missions, again.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the gym and lifting weights certainly gives you a physical rush and requires mental intensity (if done right) but the time constraints and survival elements (kill or be killed) of the FPS game is really something you can’t get from modern life.
At night when I closed my eyes before sleep I could feel the world spinning like it was rotating in 3D and when I go outside I’m a lot more sensitive to moving things. I really think that console games deserve another big revival. They’re certainly better than the crappy freemium games that are all the rage on smartphones and honestly there are limits to game play on a touch screen only. I think Ouya is just the first of many startups to come that will crack open the typically closed gaming console. Even without it the recently announced Play Station 4 is more of a PC than any of its predecessors. However, I think it’ll still be a long while before our main PCs can serve as gaming machines that rival dedicated consoles (unless you’re the kind that builds your own custom gaming PC).
So it remains to be seen whether I’ll become a better driver, more coordinated, see better, make decisions faster, or handle pressure but I’m already having fun and the rush is just amazing.