Being me, however, can make gaming even more interesting than normal. My stubborn ways spill over into my play style more often than not, and unlike humans, the games don’t give a shite what I think. There have been countless times when my refusal to play by the game’s rules has landed me in more than a little trouble. In fact, a more accurate description would probably be- landed me in a whole world of shit. However, this hasn’t stopped me from playing my way. Against the grain, against all odds, and usually against everyone’s better judgement.
A fine example of my stubborn side gone mad can be seen when I play the recently released Tekken: Revolution. It’s a free to play game on PS3. Everyone and their boxing glove wearing kangaroo knows the craic with Tekken games, so I’m not going into great detail about how it’s played. It’s a fighter… you fight! The difference between this one and every other Tekken title that I’ve played though, is that you can upgrade your characters. The more you play as your favourite fighter, the more upgrades become available. Give them extra strength, extra speed, whatever it takes to make sure you have the edge over your opponent when you battle online. Unfortunately though, there is no option that allows you to give the newer characters some personality. With these stat changes in place, you could have a Marshal Law that’s faster than Bruce Lee and sports multiple health bars. In fact, pretty much every player online seemed to have just that. Auld Law seems to be overused and then some. In many ways, he seems like the Tekken equivalent to Ryu. And what stands between me and getting Dragon Kicked to death by an angry Asian? A vanilla Paul Phoenix with a haircut that makes him look like a Jedward fan.
There are plenty of other examples of how my stubbornness manages to give me a great, big, self-induced pain in the ass. Usually it boils down to being reluctant to use health packs until I’m down to my very last shred of health, and then not having time to actually activate it before the bad guy lands the final blow on me. Making that time consuming, extra cautious run through Doom and Doom II on Ultra-Violence mode using nothing but the shotgun, chainsaw and occasion blast from the rocket launcher when things get really heated is another great way to let my stubbornness get the better of me. I could rip through those games in little to no time if I’d just allow myself the simple pleasures of using the plasma rifle and the fucking BFG 9,000 during something other than boss battles. Recently though, I realised that being so unmoving in my ways that you’d swear my boots where made of concrete effects something outside of the gameplay itself.
Over the years I’ve had a single frame of mind when it comes to collecting games. If I can find it, I can have. However, to me finding it means being able to physically pick it up and check it out before purchasing. Finding them “in the wild” as a lot of collectors would say. I’ve got many local haunts which I hit on a regular basis to see if I could pick up any old, out of date games. Some days, I strike it quite lucky and come home with a bagful of PS2 goodness. Other times, I return empty handed. It’s all hit and miss really. It was already a self induced unwritten rule though that I must be able to hold the game in my hands before ever thinking of handing over my hard earned cash. This way I could check if it’s case is in tact, check the disc for scratches or thoroughly examine the cartridge. When it comes to handheld gaming, I’d even go to the extreme of bringing my DS or PSP with me to test drive the game there and then. This way, I can make sure I’m not being ripped off. This stratigy has been very kind to me over the years. Excluding any presents and hand-me-downs I’ve received, this has method has managed to bring my games collection up to just under 500 titles. Even through my enhanced stubborn-vision, I’d call this a roaring success.
However, although disc based gaming from the last twenty years might pop up in my regular spots, it’s the real oldies that become gold dust to me- The SNES/Megadrive era. I’ve a small, humble collection of these titles which pretty much sums up a portion of the “must play” gems from that era.
Being Grandpa Grumps ain’t all bad though. It really does have it’s merits. One of which is sheer tenaciousness. Even though I play games by my own, mental, made-up set of rules, I still managed to see the end credits on more games than most people do TV shows. I’d acquired this relentlessness, that I find a little hard to explain. It’s like a hunger to prove myself. To prove that I can do this my way, regardless of which way it’s actually supposed to be done. If anything, it’s probably helped me more than hindered me over the years, forcing me to improve my reaction skills and make sure I’m constantly two steps ahead of the computer or the other player. Knowing that they don’t play my way, because there’s a possibility that they may be completely sane, means that things can be a lot more interesting on my end. This willpower to do better my make me pull out the “one more go” card a hell of a lot, but it’s also made me more battle hardened. My physque can take a kicking and keep marching on, unscathed. In a roundabout way, I’d imagine that it’s helped me an incredible amount when achievement hunting. Giving me the incentive to keep trying as hard as I can, and to never give up until I reach my goal. Because of that, my Gamerscore became something that I was quite proud of. Always built on a foundation of skill and determination, as opposed to asking my friend to stand still mid-game so that I could get a an achievement for a perfect headshot. Again, being stubborn as feck means that I refuse to use boosting methods to gain Gs. To me, achievements must be earned. If they are not earned fairly, then they’re not worth shit.
Will I ever actually change my ways though? I honestly can’t say. I can see the pros and cons in the way I play games and the way I collect them, but the cons have never come across as all that bad. Sure, sometimes things go wrong, and I bite the game over screen, but all in all it’s still a fun way to play. Maybe it’s not even stubborness. Perhaps it’s pride. Then again, those two emotions often go hand in hand. Through playing this way I know my limits and I know what I am capable of. The flip side to this is that I know what I can’t do, and therefore I enjoy working around these inabilities in fun and interesting ways. More importantly though, being Grandpa Grumps, The Sultan of Stubborn, The Titan of Thick-Headedness, has given me the mother of all poker faces. It also means that when I win, I overcome huge odds. Often unnecessarily huge. When I lose, I know exactly where and when I went wrong. And, of course, it means that no matter what the outcome, I play my way.