Yesterday I played DOTA (a video game, yes). I’m pretty sure that I’ll uninstall it soon, but Luca The Italian insisted that I should give it a try. Already the idea of him shouting to me what to do with his hilarious accent made me laugh, so what the heck, why not.
It was incredibly confusing. I spent most of the time just fighting with the interface. I got annihilated several times while trying to drag items from the ‘stash’ to my ‘inventory’. I had no time to read the descriptions of what anything did, so I found myself just practicing the basic moves, and mostly trying to avoid death, which from my gaming days I learned is the first thing one should master in any online game. All the time I just kept wondering how was is it that a game with such a Heaviside learning curve ended up being so incredibly popular. It is somewhat true that good games that are hard to master take a while to become popular, but stick around for a long time (e.g. real rogue-likes, the Civilisation series, Counter-Strike.). Also good but idiot-proof games, on the other hand, seem to linger for just a few weeks and then they’re quickly forgotten, if just because there is nothing more to talk about them anymore.
There is some underlying truth to the fact that hard things are more rewarding. A good bait is fundamental though, the promise of a good treasure (the princess) at the end of the adventure that makes the pain tolerable. Usually we know of this just from vox populi, or more generally, critic. I saw The Mirror by Tarkovsky last week, recommended by the internet. It was a painful experience. I had to struggle with my thoughts ‘common Nico, you should be able to get surrealist films by now!‘ And even though my first reaction was to consider it completely over-rated, since then it has constantly popped up in my thoughts, kind of like a trauma. And I’m starting to like it. If I knew more about psychoanalysis I’m sure there would something deeper to say about this. My image is: only traumatic experiences have enough power to leave a mark in our mind, and there’s intrinsic value in survival, like that object that we love just because we haven’t lost it for 20 years.
‘common Nico, you failed nerd, you have be able to kill at least someone in a Moba!’