Videogames are really stupid. I love them, and part of why I love them is because of how stupid they are, so that’s really not a criticism. But they’re really stupid. Here’s a list, in no particular order, of some of my favourite ways that videogames are silly.
Press Start. You know when a game boots up there’s a title screen? It usually just shows the name of the game and some key art behind the text “Press Start” doesn’t it? But you usually don’t have to actually press the start button at all – any button does the same thing. Why tell me to press start and then allow the same result for all those disobedient buggers that are pressing X instead?! Strangely, this is equally as annoying when no button other than start works – why bind it to a single stupid button?!
Food restores health. Picture the scene: you’ve just been shotgunned in the face. As you stagger backwards, the splash damage from a rocket propelled grenade engulfs you in a ball of flame. You’re almost dead. Like 95% dead. You must be covered in third degree burns and gaping wounds. Never mind, eat a bit of pineapple out of a bin and you’ll be right as rain.
Toilets. Lots of games have toilets in them. There’s even a glorious chronicle of them on tumblr. And yet, you never need to use them. In fact, in the few games that do allow you to “use” the toilet, that only ever means flushing. You’d think with all the food those space marines need to eat to heal up their shotgun wounds, they’d need a poo at some point during a 12 hour campaign.
Nitrous Oxide is harvested. How many racing games have some sort of Nitrous or Boost mechanic? How many of those games refill your oxygen-rich fuel mix for you when you sling your vehicle around a bend sideways? How does driving recklessly at unreasonable speeds gather fuel? If it’s this easy, why do I pay £50 to top my Vauxhall Vectra every couple of weeks when I could just mount the footpath, clip an old lady’s walking frame out from under her and enjoy the sweet, sweet smell of free fuel?
Tapping X. Why is it that every time our in-game hero has to do something that might be physically demanding – push open a heavy door, break a lock off something, lift up something heavy – we have to frantically tap the X button to make it happen? In what acid-fuelled existence is physical labour achieved with one finger and a fast, repetitive motion?
Lifts. Lifts, or elevators if you’re of an American persuasion, are in loads of games that they don’t really need to be in. Why is it that the people in these universes can build interstellar spaceships that travel faster than the speed of light and yet they still need a lift that wouldn’t be out of place in your local shopping centre. Even when they build entire floating cities, they need dodgy old mechanically operated elevators. While we’re on the subject, how come there’s so many lifts in the middle of ancient ruins and deserted jungles that are made from bits of old plank and vines? Ladders are surely easier to make from a bit of tree than some sort of counter-weighted contraption?
Barrels and crates. Red barrels, as everyone knows, are extremely hazardous. It only takes one shot from a pistol to set them on fire and two or three shots will make them blow up immediately and violently. So why are they essentially used as a building material for most masterminds with villainous intent? Also, why are some crates made out of crepe paper that disintegrates as soon as you touch it and some are completely impervious to any destructive force known to mankind?
Killing people makes you better at things. Do you need to learn a new magic spell or be able to jump higher or shoot straighter? Well, why not just go out on a little murder spree until you’re mysteriously better at everything? You might even be lucky enough to absorb some peculiar glowing orbs as your victims’ lives ebb from their stiffening bodies.
Double Jump. Can’t quite make it onto a ledge? Just tuck your knees in a bit and you’ll get a second burst of height! Someone should tell the high jump athletes about this trick, they’re obviously not paying attention.
Money buys you happiness. How many games make you collect shiny or valuable things in order to progress, gain extra health or generally improve your life? My Granddad used to say “Money can’t buy you happiness, but at least you can be miserable in comfort.” But videogame characters are never miserable when they’ve got money. Mario even buys extra lives with his coins. That’s just greedy.