The term noob is used often by gamers, and often in a derogatory way. I however am proud to be a noob. As an absolute beginner when it comes to modern gaming everything is new and shiny for me, and whilst I may not have the gaming nous of seasoned gamers, I bring with me a bright new perspective, one that is not clouded with previous gaming experience.
It is approaching a year since I first switched on an xbox. Yes it took me ages to sort out, yes it cost me more money than I had at the time, but it was certainly worth it.
After hearing endless stories at work about Ceri and Ant’s exploits on the battlefield in Bad Company 2, and with the impending arrival of my sister in law and her teenage son to stay with us for a couple of weeks, Ceri offered to lend me his old xbox. Ant phoned around and found a second hand copy of the game for me. With work finished and after collecting the xbox I drove to get the game, also buying a gold membership for xbox live and some points to get the map pack, I returned feeling quite bad about the amount I had just spent. It was, and still is a lot of money for me to spend at one time. This guilt dispersed as I realised that that night I too would be stepping onto the battlefield for the first time.
I won’t bore you with the amount of effort it was for me to set everything up, or how I had to phone Ceri to find out how to put the disc in, I will simply say that it took significantly longer than I expected. Then when I finally got it working there were numerous updates required and the 2 hour (or at least that is what it seemed) process of downloading and installing the map pack and the matrixian task of tracking down Ceri in the electronic cosmos.
Finally it was ready, after preparing myself with some breathing exercises I pressed the start button and in I went. Moments later I was talking to Ceri and Ant, sat in the middle of my lounge at well after ten, talking to people who weren’t there as other people in the room looked at me. Perhaps it was the being observed, perhaps it was the awesomeness of what was happening, whatever it was, I was very conscious of what was happening. Then within moments, I joined Ceri and Ant in a virtual battlefield, preparing to fight alongside and against twenty other people around the world.
Now sure, as seasoned gamers you are probably all thinking ‘yeah, so what, you started playing a game.’ That’s right, that is all I did, but I did it with an awareness that somehow made it special. Now this is not the first time I played games, but realistically I had not really ‘played’ a game since I was twelve. Back in the days of Gunship, Daley Thompson’s Decathlon and Blackbelt. I hated platform games at the time, they just frustrated me, and didn’t work with my mind. But this, an xbox, proper gaming, was something totally new. I’m sure everyone has their first memory of gaming, and I’m sure everyone remembers it with some fondness. I have only just had mine. I was playing a Russian soldier in an expansive graphically detailed virtual battlefield with 23 or so other players. As I controlled my soldier, they controlled theirs. 24 soldiers operating in the same game at the same time, and it was happening without any delay. The smoothness of the gameplay, the incredible interaction, it was all just amazing. To be honest I spent the first few minutes just looking and moving around the deployment. I pressed buttons, shot my gun, and stood nervously. Preparing to enter a world where the pace is fast, the conditions are brutal, and where everyone else had been for a long time.
Really I should have perhaps spent more time at the deployment figuring out the controls, but the anticipation was high, and I had been working towards this point for four hours, I just decided to go for it. A deep breath and I was off, running away from the deployment into the virtual expanse. That’s it, I’m going in, Keith is going to war. Then the screen changed. I was dead.
Unperturbed, enter the noob.