5 Video Game Strategies That Are Way Less Useful in Reality
Playing video games inspires all sorts of creative behavior. Whether it's the competitive nature of video games or the fun of thoroughly exploring a new toy, players will devote an incredible amount of energy to devising efficient new strategies for how to play and beat these games.
In much the same way we don't come up with efficient strategies for living life.
Many of the new strategies we come up with when we're not bathing ourselves rely on exploiting game mechanics in ways developers never intended. Straferunning, for example, exploited a quirk in the movement mechanics of many early first person shooters that allowed players to travel much faster than the developers intended, so long as they only ran in diagonal lines.
Just like in real life.
And that's one of the more sane ones, in that it merely looks ridiculous. Some of these player-developed tactics are insane, the kind of things that, if tried in real life, would be suicidal, leaving behind just the most ridiculous-looking corpses imaginable. Tactics like ...
Going the Wrong Way
So you're in a dungeon, because this is a video game, where dungeons are shockingly commonplace.
Every one of these is a dungeon.
Anyways, you're there to defeat the Troll of Some Importance and take his Scepter of MacGuffin, which you need to unlock the next dungeon. (You know. A video game.) And at some point you reach a fork in the road where two paths lie open to you. Down one path clearly lies the Troll of Some Importance's lair. (Let's say there's a signpost, or a carpet of bone.) Down the other path, meanwhile, lies what is almost certainly a dead end, perhaps the Troll of Some Importance's broom closet.
Gotta keep your dungeon looking crisp with all these guests passing through.
Here's the thing: Every single video game player in the world will see these two paths and go the wrong way first, because we all know that we have to explore every last corner of every dungeon on the off chance there's loot down there. And when we get right down to it, the Troll of Some Importance isn't that goddamned important, certainly less so than the prospect of finding a new cool weapon.
This Broom of Wounding adds +10 to the player's Dust Control.
Contrast that with dangerous environments in the real world, where heading the wrong way is widely considered to be nuts. We get no bonuses for exploring every nook and cranny of reality. When a fireman enters a burning building, he's going to the place where the victims are, grabbing them, and getting the fuck out. He's not taking the time to check all the bookshelves first to see if he can find any really powerful hats.
OK, so you went into the Troll of Some Importance's broom closet, and sure enough, it was filled with loot, including a pretty badass-looking rocket launcher.
This actually sounds like a pretty cool game.
And now, as you go back the other way, with hordes of Trolls of Lesser Importance blocking your path, you spy a ledge from which you could rain fiery death down on your enemies. But it's just out of reach, leaving you stranded on the ground like some kind of useless penguin.
That is, until you fire a rocket at your own feet to propel yourself up in the air.
Explosive weapons in video games are surprisingly non-fatal. Also, they almost all have incredible concussive properties and are capable of launching nearby objects vast distances. It's easy to understand how they came to be programmed this way: One dark night, a programmer realized how hilarious it would be if corpses flew across the room when they died. He was right, so very right, as right as a man has ever been about something. That it led to one of the most insane tactics in video game history is just one of those funny little curveballs life sometimes throws our way.
Who would have thought an innocent interest in corpse desecration could result in something so wrong?
In real life, of course, rocket launchers work almost the exact opposite way, being really fairly small explosives that are preposterously lethal. That's why Army Rangers don't bounce up onto rooftops in this manner, and also why the world's escalator manufacturers haven't gone out of business. There isn't a single user of rocket launchers in the world who's ever looked at their feet and wondered. And there's no reason to suspect there ever will be one.
Changing Clothes Mid-Battle
Finally, after much closet raiding and lesser troll dismemberment, you've reached the Troll of Some Importance's lair. He scolds you for snooping through every single one of his dungeon's closets and making a point of massacring every one of his guards, then stands up and produces a flaming ax crossbow.
This is less than ideal for you, because, for a variety of very good reasons, you're wearing your Armor of Gas-Soaked Cloth. If only there was time to change into your Asbestos Codpiece, but alas, battle is afoot. Unless ...
"Hey, uh, could you give me a second here?" you ask, reaching for your backpack.
"Don't even worry about it," the Troll of Some Importance says. He picks idly at something under his fingernail while you hop around his lair on one foot, changing clothes.
"Do you have like a beach towel or something I could wrap around me?"
This won't work in every game, depending generally on whether the game pauses when the player enters their inventory. But that it works ever is hot nonsense. Imagine Osama bin Laden casually putting on his ballistic vest while Seal Team 6 waits patiently. Imagine ... actually, real life doesn't have that many examples of clothes granting special powers, does it?
Sure. OK, imagine Seal Team 6 waiting patiently while ...
Having slain the exceedingly polite and patient Troll of Some Importance, you race away from his dungeon in your highly tuned sports car, embarking on the next leg of your cross-country race.
Seriously, someone make this game.
As you jockey for position with your competitors, a moment of distraction (changing out of your beekeeper's outfit) causes you to fail to notice a sharp turn ahead, and the braking point for it, which you've just badly missed. Or maybe you deliberately missed your braking point because you know you'll be able to T-bone into three or four of your hapless competitors, bouncing around the turn less like a car and more like a bowling ball, without any negative consequences at all.
"I AM UNBREAKABLE!"
I have logged a lot of time in video game race cars, and it's shocking how well this works in almost every racing game made, including the "realistic" ones. Obviously a certain amount of contact is a part of race car driving; rubbin' is famously racin'. But so are things like black flags and traumatic head injuries and physics. There are only so many T-bone collisions a car can inflict (zero) before it will be incapable of T-boning any further.
"Maybe ... maybe try that corner in second next time."
After a couple of insanely reckless turns that sent a few people (who weren't you and don't count) plummeting to their deaths, you realize something. You want to go home. But don't worry! This isn't a moment of growth or self-realization! You just want to drop off your loot.
And maybe pick up a more powerful pair of trousers.
But home is a long, long way to go, and to save yourself a tedious drive, you simply pitch yourself off a cliff instead.
This works in a lot of games, depending a bit on the particular game's mechanics for checkpoints and progress retention. Sometimes you don't end up home, but in a hospital, or at a previous checkpoint, or wherever. But the point is, you end up somewhere else, and in many game situations, that's worth the price of your profoundly valueless life. Essentially, every video game player has deliberately killed themselves at some point, purely out of convenience.
"I want to live! Just not here!"
When consulted, death scientists point out that this doesn't work so good in real life. "Also, I'm just a regular scientist -- don't write that," they add. You see, it turns out you've only got one of those real lives to give, raising one side of the pro/con equation rather heavily. Also, a cliff or swamp or pool of lava isn't going to transport you anywhere you want to go, the only possible destinations being a world of hurt or a house of pain.
Also possibly the Hotel California.