I used to consider myself a hardcore gamer, but I’m not sure I am one anymore. Yeah, I still try to stay in touch with the industry by scanning RSS feeds and listening to podcasts while driving to and from school, but as for actual gaming… not as much as I would like.
These days, I appreciate squeezing in gaming time whenever I can, so I’m not above inputting a cheat code or two if I keep getting stuck (though I do so reluctantly). The purist in me gets sick just thinking about it, but time is more valuable now, and enjoying myself when I get a chance to play is more important than holding onto some arbitrary gaming code of honor.
I was playing through Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and was tired of conserving ammo so I typed in a code whenever I needed a boost. Not too egregious of an example. But the final level was irritating because you need to cover a lot of ground while defending a base and taking down some big enemies. Hope that wasn’t too spoilerish, but it was getting frustrating so I turned on god mode and noclip, zooming around the level like Neo and taking care of business. By that time I had gotten my fill of the game and just wanted to see the ending.
The me two years ago would be crying inside if he knew what I was up to now.
I love the weekend after a test because I have absolutely nothing to worry about and plenty of time to catch up on TV shows or play games. I spent a good four hours in Team Fortress 2 yesterday playing some absolutely thrilling matches on 2fort. Ask me what some of my all-time favorite maps are, and 2fort from the Team Fortress series and Facing Worlds from Unreal Tournament would definitely top the list.
I was playing the soldier class and was part of the attacking force on my team, which included three very proficient medics, a trio of soldiers, and a couple HWGuys and pyros. We rushed the opposing base the entire time and were so relentless that the other team was hopelessly pinned down. I don’t think they ever made a serious attempt to capture our intel because they couldn’t even leave their base. Later on, they resorted to becoming entirely defense-focused and had five engineers building sentry guns with the rest of the team acting as support.
Let me tell you, coordinating with my attack force and spontaneously figuring out ways to punch through their defenses made for some awesome “this is why I love gaming” moments. At one point, I had two medics backing me up and must have taken out at least 16 opposing structures and players in one exhilarating life before I finally succumbed. That made a serious dent in their armor, and I couldn’t help but grin when I saw a HWGuy and an accompanying medic rush past my dead body to take advantage of that run I just had and continue the assault.
It’s pretty amazing that complete strangers can work together as a functional team and be so in sync. I hope at some point, everybody gets to experience a moment when everything clicks together like that because it really is truly beautiful.
Ironically, Team Fortress Classic back in the late 90s was perhaps the game that turned me into a hardcore gamer. I was actually part of a clan and had skirmishes with other clans and all that, but more importantly, TFC was when I first started studying a game and learning nuances and strategy. The Dreamcast era was the height of my hardcore-ness since I had tons of time at my disposal to invest into gaming. Even when I worked in the industry as a gaming journalist, I don’t think I was as hardcore since covering quantity of games became the norm rather than quality time with them.
But in the midst of my Team Fortress 2 play session yesterday, I couldn’t help thinking, you know, maybe I still have it in me after all.