Quest Updated: Wingardium Teamwork Over
I’m not the best person to play co-op with. I have a slightly irreverent sense of humour and a seemingly genetic love of teasing. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing co-op with a friend as it adds so many dimensions to the game experience. It’s just wiser if you put friendly fire off.
This is also part of why I love Lego Star Wars. It’s a game where, 9 times out of 10, the answer is simply to shoot. Everything. For money. It appeals to my sense of humour to watch the characters act in a dumb show, I like the mix between puzzles with clear solutions and wanton trial and error with hurled explosives. It’s a very imaginative world.
This holiday, my young cousin (9) had just got Lego Harry Potter for Wii. I have never been more excited about someone else’s birthday present. He didn’t know how to make co-op work but after a few minutes with the unholy Wiimote in hand, I figured out how to opt-in as the ginger with the most friends – Ron Weasley.
My cousin doesn’t do tutorials. He dropped me in to the story midway through year 6. I had barely enough time to work out the controls before we were duelling Malfoy. I had more than enough time to drop a student off a balcony using Wingardium Leviosa, however. As I said, black sense of humour.
The experience was… interesting. He is almost exactly as I was at his age: headstrong and defiant that he will get the answer, even if it means mindlessly repeating the same action around the room as he thinks. I now take a lighter view. I sprayed everything with water. Including Harry. I picked my little cousin’s in-game character up by the heels, I blasted him, I would probably have set him on fire if I could. I’m a bloody hazard, made worse by the fact the Wiimote made accurate spell casting HARDER for me, as I prefer working with WASD than the annoying nunchuck and wibbly Wiimote.
Despite this, we made great progress, except that the screen spent most of the time split as we wandered off in different directions – me to wherever there was something to collect. And this is what made the experience interesting. I had forgotten to play the game. I was distracted by the opiate of the Lego masses: golden bits that you use to… er… buy… stuff. My cousin, on the other hand, was enjoying every moment in the Lego castle. He was competitive to the last about finding things first.
And this occasional breakdown of teamwork showed me how easily distracted games can make us. I spend more time in Skyrim’s menus than in the world, taking 3 septims from each dead bandit when I could be charging ahead and saving the world a grand total of about 9 septims poorer but with much more time on my hands.
Teamwork is great for this very reason. It jogs you out of the routine of enter area, defeat opponent, solve puzzle, break everything, collect everything. Why is it so important to get 100% for every single game? Why not just say “screw it. I don’t need more virtual money.”
The drug-like addiction to collecting things to complete games might just be what makes me not finish. I know I got sick and tired of Lego Star Wars, despite loving the whole idea, because of the enforced minimum double run-through of each level for little material gain except for pushing the percent complete a few digits higher.
That’s just the manipulator that keeps us going: a little counter. One of the old Zelda games had, on the loading screen, the number of times you’d died. That’s motivation to do it perfectly. An even better example is a little online game about Ancient Greek legends of hell’s torments. One counts your failures as Sisphus (condemned to push a sodding rock uphill for eternity) and another tempts you as Tantalus to keep reaching for food and water, by counters that stay fixed at big fat 0.
This is why teamwork with someone who couldn’t give a stuff about 100% completes and achievement unlocked is necessary every once in a while.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have virtual money to count.