February 18, 2008
Is Gaming Really to Blame? The Videogame FPS vs. The Real Life FPS
Gaming has recently been attacked yet again in the media following another terrible America school shooting. Mainly, games are being lauded as training tools for the perpetrators of these crimes, so I thought I would take my FPS skills into the paintball arena to see if games really have conditioned me to deal with shooting people and dealing with the consequences, and thus prove if they are to blame for society’s ills.
After watching FPS Doug on Pure Pwnage, who had a hard time comprehending the difference between gaming and reality, I was all set to go and test the respawn times and lag in real life.
From the beginning to the end of proceedings, it was a dangerous affair with what can only be described as a menagerie of vicious characters who would continue to shoot you when you were trying to get off the map.
Firstly, getting your friends altogether and organized is much more difficult in real life than in games, especially games with a decent party system such as Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3. Our group took a whole hour to finally get together.
Moreover, getting to the indoor arena took a solid fifteen minutes, which is a massive difference to the quick loading games we experience on our consoles.
So far, I was not impressed, and this mood did not improve when I discovered that it would cost me £31 of my own money for the pleasure, and a minuscule amount of ammo that I would normally use in the first five minutes of any FPS.
The worst was yet to come, as we were all handed Killzone-esque masks, a big boiler suit, and was forced to stuff my poor coat into a locker and wear some incredibly muddy shoes. How anyone could fight in this attire, I do not know.
When I play FPS, I just wear whatever I want and sit down in front of my glorious TV; I don’t have to dress up. However, I’m reliably informed that some fanboys and cosplayers wish to dress up in the attire associated with their favourite games when they play them, which I can assure you is not my bag.
Then, just as I thought we would be going to lay the smackdown in the arena, the “Marshall” took us into a bizarre little classroom to teach us how it all works. The controls are actually pretty good in real life actually, a lot of the stuff such as jumping and getting into cover are done automatically, and there’s only a trigger when firing a gun, and now pesky grenades to worry about.
However, reloading is completely flawed, you had to actually open each canister and open the cartridge to fill it up. When I discovered this, I was suitably outraged, but carried on in the name of good journalism regardless. This “Marshall” business was not what I was expecting though, if a game tried to bark orders at me during a multiplayer showdown, I would just ignore it and dish out my own brand of justice.
Going on to talk about the respawning system, I did inquire about this to the aforementioned “Marshall”, and was informed that there are no respawns, at least not in his religion. Moreover, there was not a lot of lag during the games, but we were only playing with 10 players, and we were all interfacing over real-life connections.
Also, the rumble and force feedback seemed to be much more pronounced in real life, and you could actually tell where you have been shot, which proved to be a vocal point of discussion. “That one in the head hurt” said one person, “I’m sore after that one” proclaimed another. Is this really a good thing? Surely us gamers enjoy games because they don’t kill us.
Furthermore, there were yet more differences between FPS and real life. Did you realize that you don’t get a HUD when playing paintballing? You have no indication of ammo, no on-screen reticules, and your helmet gets incredibly dirty and fogged up.
However, the difference in graphics and definition was so pronounced that it proved gaming has a long way to go to match their real-life equivalents. I’ve heard that real-life runs even better than the 1080p 24 Frames Per Second pinnacle of technology, and the screen size is simply incredible, offering a maddeningly expansive panoramic format.
The sound was also pretty good as well, going beyond that 7.1 barrier and achieving full 3D sound. All this contributed to the amazing atmosphere, which was much more involving, scarier, and fun than that of Team Fortress 2, for example.
So what did my hundreds of hours of gaming teach me about fighting in the real world? According to the media, I should have been a fully-trained one man army, having powers akin to that of Rambo.
In actuality, I was scared, tired, bruised, and actually terrible at shooting my enemies. I was so bad that other people had to humour me after my pitiful performance. I used up all my ammo over the course of one round, I couldn’t hold the gun right, I couldn’t take cover properly, and I was shot. Jack Thompson would probably be better at paintball than me.
The media has lied to me once more, and I am quite disappointed actually, and I guess we have to look in different places for something to blame.