Saturday, 14 January 2012

Secondary Gamers - A First-hand Guide

I've talked about gaming as an addictive vice before and there is a natural extension to this metaphor which will be obvious to any vaguely serious gamer. Think about the well known class of people known as 'passive smokers' or the idea of 'second hand smoke'. The primary smoker acts as the addict and the second hand smoker is exposed to a fragment of the primary smoker's addiction by merely being in the vicinity of the primary smoker. Similarly people's lives are certainly affected for better or worse if they are periodically exposed to the addiction of another. Heavy drinkers and other regular drug users indirectly influence others near them with their habits. As do gamers!

Imagine that putrid pre-2004 tobacco smoke is kinda like... 'gaming gas' or something.

Primary gamers, especially if they have siblings or cousins that they regularly had contact with, influenced those family members by playing games in their vicinity. This idea also translates to friendship groups and other social circles that include at least one primary gamer. Although these people  are largely spectators to begin with, bedazzled and entranced by the show being put on for them, those on the peripheries are often enticed into 'having a quick go' alone or playing a co-op mission or two with the primary gamer. Some even have the balls to go head to head with the primary gamer in full on multiplayer action.  

So these secondary gamers then return to their real lives and go about their non-gamey things. They'll never be all that bothered about super geeky stuff and probably won't understand or quite frankly give a rat's ass about this kind of bullshit.

Utter crap is the lifeblood of gaming humour.
So when one encounters a second hand gamer (easily identified by a relatively low gaming skill and knowledge despite a passing interest in gaming) one must be wary that although these people don't think you are a sewer dwelling social outcast for being a gamer, you will get nothing but blank stares if you try and pull off a 'I can't let you BREW that Starfox' gag so avoid that kind of stuff. It's only polite and will serve you well. Further it is very rude to annihilate or exclude these gamers when they do take an interest in what you are doing.

Head shots, lapping or perfecting are only impressive or humiliating to victims of a similar skill level. Against a much weaker and less interested player, it's just plain mean. Rectify the situation in competitive play by making use of handicaps to make the game fun and challenging for all concerned.  Offer broad brush help that will get results when coaching a secondary gamer through unfamiliar or slightly tougher sections of games and it is best advised to play co-op games as in that case it often doesn't matter how good the secondary gamer is and you can get your kicks by playing well whilst they get theirs by just dicking around in the game.

Perfect for a mixed crowd,

Wario Ware is probably the series of choice (on par with Rayman Origins or New Super Mario Bros. Wii) to involve secondary gamers as it's fast, stupid and easy enough to pick up. Further still, the competitive modes are auto-regulatory in the sense that the game becomes more difficult for those who are far ahead and easier for those who struggle so the game usually feels balanced. To top it all off the game is such a random crap shoot at times that everyone seems to win fairly often which is nice when the skill levels are so obviously different anyway. Or you could just have fewer friends and win! win! WIN! It's up to you.

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