City of Chillin'
How my attempt at hardcore gaming proved too hard
Recently, I was given the chance to beta-test the new massively multiplayer online game City of Villains, a sequel to the popular City of Heroes. Both are from Austin game producer NCsoft. In an attempt to test the waters of serious gaming, I learned that there is no shallow end to this pool.
After a weekend of creating accounts, signing up for message boards, losing passwords, receiving new passwords (thanks, firstname.lastname@example.org), and downloading a painfully graphics-heavy game for seven hours, I'm ready to create a character that will strike fear in the hearts of people who can't see just how lanky I really am. First a name: I go with Major_Mettle because it's alliterative, incorporates a military title, and utilizes a badass pun. When given the option for a character type, I choose a Brute over a Mastermind or Stalker, because the others seem to need allies. Major_Mettle has no need for friends. And for that reason, I give him "hostile face 1" and proceed to trick the major out to look like a cross between Snake Plissken, Steven Seagal, and a pirate. Happy with this trifecta, I sit down for some long-overdue gaming.
Major_Mettle is thrust into the middle of a prison break. Strange-looking characters litter the anarchic landscape, and one Tyrande Demonicus decides to ruin the moment with a speech bubble that reads, "Hey look! I'm playing City of Villains!" Before I can smash that bubble back into his brain, I'm booted off the server. A few more attempts, followed quickly by ejections, and I come to realize that my puny computer cannot handle all the graphics in the major's 9-foot frame. I do get about two seconds of game play with each login, however. One hour later, and I'm informed that I should find the nurse and relieve her of some tranquilizers so I can trade them for information. An additional half-hour, and I see the nurse in the distance with an arrow over her head informing me that she is 97 feet away. Another hour, and she's 37 feet away. This rather buxom nurse (although no more buxom than any other female character that has crossed my path) sports Capri pants and rather unsensible heels. At this point, frustration is clouding my mind, and I wonder why this nurse can't do me a solid and meet me halfway so we can exchange a look at "hostile face 1" for some illicit narcotics.
As the fourth hour of repeated logins approaches and with the 37 feet seeming insurmountable, I throw in the towel and watch my dreams of being a real gamer vanish. I comfort myself with the knowledge that even if all the other characters just saw me standing there unable to move, at least I was 9-feet tall and sporting a pony tail and an eye patch.