Recently I introduced my girlfriend – a self-proclaimed video game newbie – to the glorious existence that is being a gamer. It was an illuminating experience. Initially, it was my lady chum who I thought would learn the most as she discovered the wonders of shoot ‘em ups, battle royals and survival games for the very first time, but in actual fact, it was I who had my mind opened.
As I discovered through my partner’s fresh perspective, video games are full of weird, contradictory and darn right baffling rules which you just have to accept and get over if you’re going to enjoy gaming. Don’t believe me? Then I’ll provide the evidence.
Everyone has an invisible armoury on their back
While playing through a selection of action adventure third person video games, my girlfriend asked, “where the heck is this guy sticking all this stuff?” as Eivor picked up a multitude of recently discarded weapons, the mutilated bodies of their recently murdered owners littering the digital landscape. “where the heck is this guy sticking all this stuff? Where’s it going? Has he got some sort of butt storage?”
Obviously I had the answer: “To his inventory,” I confidently responded. “Right,” she mused, “but where is that? How is he holding all of those swords, axes, pieces of armour? I thought this game was meant to be realistic?” I mumbled, “It is I… I mean look, it’s Anglo-Saxon England, look at the detailing on that shack…” “Oh yeah,” was her snarky response, “I bet Vikings wondered around with an invisible armoury on their back. Absolutely, very authentic.” Whilst the scathing sarcasm was unwarranted, the point was well made.
I guess one of the things you just have to accept about video games, even the most “realistic” ones, is that inventory systems are entirely nonsensical.
This one I got a lot of grief for. When I started to put this article together I asked my girlfriend, “Which video game was it that had the weird breast physics?” Her response? “All of them.”
Now that might be an exaggeration, but not by much. Now, obviously some developers are more prone to this than others, but this came up in loads of the games that we played together. My girlfriend was concerned for the developers in question, “Do they genuinely think boobs are filled with water? Or that they waft in the breeze?” she asked. Based on the evidence provided by Dead or Alive, Smelter, Street Fighter, Ninja Gaiden and Dragon’s Crown Pro, it would certainly seem so.
One thing you just have to accept about video games: breast physics are modelled on water balloons.
Invisible walls and unbreakable crates
This issue isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be but that doesn’t stop it cropping up from time to time and being plain silly when it does so. One notable and recent example of this was during our time with the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, a game that has more invisible walls in it than you can shake a stick at – if you could see them to do the stick shaking in the first place that is.
Why can you walk down one alley, but not the other? Why will these crates break, but not the stack over there? Why can’t I walk up that hill? Why is Aerith insisting I come look at her garden? As a gamer you get used to the limitations that a video places on your exploration and the wafer thin explanations that accompany them. As a newcomer it’s simply baffling.
One thing you just have to accept about video games: even a super SOLDIER is no match for a particularly nasty stack of crates or very slight incline.
Death by orgasm
Once your eyes are open to this, the evidence is everywhere. What is the groaning gurning growl of a knocked-out Street Fighter, if not an orgasm? I must admit, I’d never considered this before, but my partner wouldn’t stop tittering during a level of Earth Defense Force. It was the exaggerated ‘ooohing’ and ‘aaahhing’ that accompanied everything single action taken by a Wing Diver that provoked this response.
If my partner’s reaction was limited to giggling initially, then the climatic Wing Diver’s death throes provoked full on belly laughs. Who knew being trapped in a giant spider’s web could be so enjoyable?
One thing you just have to accept about videogames: a petit mort is aptly named.
Days Gone is filled with zombies, and it’s not just the cannibalistic swarms of brain munchers I’m talking about, it’s the rest of the non-player characters too. Whilst exploring a post-apocalyptic settlement, my monologue-loving protagonist, Deacon, came across an impromptu gig. A musician was sat strumming away at a guitar and a group of survivors were dancing and grooving to the sombre ditty.
“Why are they all staring at you?” my partner asked. She was right; every single NPC was just staring at me. Staring constantly whilst furiously jigging on the spot. Not a blink, not a wink, just a glassy-eyed, glazed-over, fifty-yard stare. My believability in the game was undermined from that point onwards.
One thing you just have to accept about videogames: NPCs do weird stuff, almost all the time.
This is an issue that came up time and time again, usually whilst playing a game that made a claim of authenticity or realism, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was again one of the biggest offenders. Picture the scene: you’re heading off on a quest with an NPC, the pair of you sat cosily on the back of a giant wolf as they regale you with everything you need to know about the upcoming challenge. Then something unexpected happens in the open world. Maybe a group of knights chance upon you and attack? Perhaps you get a bit lost and inadvertently fall of a cliff? Perhaps you are assaulted by a pack of not-as-big wolves?
Either way, once the danger is removed, your NPC will start from the beginning of their chunk of script, tediously reminding you of the current political situation in Snotinghamscire, as if nothing had even happened. The pair of you had just plunged off the side of a mountain, probably broken every bone on the impact, and this person is happy to natter on like they’re not sat on the back of a wolf with a free diving lunatic.
One thing you just have to accept about videogames: NPC companions are completely unflappable.
Rolling is quicker than walking
I don’t know about you, but knocking out a forward combat roll is kind of tricky. Maybe you’re an accomplished gymnast or ninja master and rolling around the place comes as naturally to you as lying on the sofa and complaining about an aching ligament comes naturally to everyone else. I certainly fall into the latter camp. Getting into a forward roll – never mind standing up from one – requires much gurning, complaining and creaking of joints, yet in video games the forward roll is king.
You can dodge a hail of bullets by rolling, you can avoid deadly traps by rolling, you can even travel faster by furiously rolling hundreds of times in succession. Be it as an Air Raider in EDF or Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn, my virtual avatars have literally traversed hundreds of miles of rough terrain by doing nothing more than a roley poley. I’d never even considered my penchant for rolling over walking until my girlfriend pointed out how odd my predilection was. “It’s just quicker to roll,” I tried to explain.
I guess that’s one thing you just have to accept about videogames: rolling is quicker than walking.
There’s our seven weird rules, but there’s probably way more than just seven. Do you have any more video game rules you would add to the list?