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The angry gamer

Gears of War 2 may have been great, but it still made J.D. Richardson's blood boil...

Remember the scene in 'The Thing' where Kurt Russell is playing chess against the computer? And the computer wins so Kurt opens the front of the machine and pours his whiskey into it with the venomous line "cheating bitch"? Yes, I think as gamers we've all felt that pain many times during our gaming 'careers'. I swear on my own eyes that, on a few occasions, there has been what almost seems like a flash of sentience from a console or PC, intent on winning no matter what. Being outwitted by an inanimate object is always a bit galling, especially if it's a computer. But maybe, just maybe, we are not being outwitted at all. Maybe the computer is cheating.

"What the heck? I just shot this zombie Nazi in the head seven times with the shotgun and it didn't die, and then it just teleported behind me and stabbed me in the back, killing me instantly. They only need one shot to the head, right?"

"Yeah. What difficulty have you got it on?"


"Oh, that's weird, then. It should have died straight away. Guess it must be a bug."

"Oh really... it's a bug, is it?"

"Yeah, I reckon. Why are you looking at the PC like that? Look, just calm down, J.D."

"And zombies don't even have the ability to teleport! Graaaah! I kill you, you piece of plastic %$^! Damn you! You are my electronic slave, you don't cheat me! How dare you, you *&$% thing!"

"...cheating bastard CPUs that cause aneurisms..."

Many times have my gaming sessions ended with situations such as this, even way back when I used to have a ZX Spectrum (128k, no less - no rubber peasant keys for me). I don't suppose we can prove that games cheat, but I've suspected for a long time now that they do. Maybe I'm just paranoid? No, no, definitely not paranoid. I've seen with my own eyes. I've been fighting through Stalingrad in World War 2 and seen a bullet do a 90 degree turn in the air just before it flies into my face and kills me. I've seen dinosaurs that are trying to get me suddenly accelerate in speed and conveniently hover over wide chasms to catch their prey. I've even had the computer switch off just as I'm about to beat a boss or finish a game, as if somehow the PC is throwing a tantrum...

This is usually followed by a tantrum of my own and, on some occasions, actual threats of physical violence against my electronic nemesis.

It's not just the cheating bastard CPUs that nearly causes aneurisms, but bad game design also. Take, for instance, the early Tomb Raider games - classics, no doubt, but infuriating at the same time with all the jumping around that had to be timed perfectly or you died over and over and over again. Shuffling around on the edge of a platform is not my idea of fun or good game design. Sidestep a bit, back a fraction, left a bit, left a bit more then jump and... miss for the twentieth time, fall down sixty feet into some water and then have to climb all the way back again and shuffle some more.

It was bloody ridiculous and made me very angry indeed. I could have been outside running through fields of golden corn, hand in hand with a lovely blonde country lass, flowers and butterflies in her hair. We would have rolled around on the bank of a gleaming stream of perfect azure water while fluffy white clouds rolled lazily overhead. She would smile up at me and I would gently start to untie her corset lace and... woah! Sorry, got a bit distracted there for a moment. Where was I? Ah, yes. So instead of all that I'm in dark cave shuffling about on the very edge and in the game I'm shuffling a big-titted bint around on the edge of a bit of stone. Happy days! Or not, in this case.

"...fuck your 'on-rails Space Invaders' shite..."

Another more recent example of this was when I was playing through Gears of War 2 and I was getting through it rather well until one section towards the end. The section in question is where you have to take control of a mounted machine gun and defend a command centre by shooting down a certain number of attacking Reavers. This is nigh-on impossible to achieve as the Reavers swarm around like flies on speed and the mounted machine gun takes about five minutes to move a few inches in any direction, resulting in the 'Game Over' screen appearing far too many times to bare (I'm talking probably around fifty times I tried to do this bit) and a stream of profanities from my mouth, so extreme that Roy 'Chubby' Brown would blush. I'm convinced the whole section is designed to irritate you and ruin your day, I'm convinced of it. Why? Why do they do this to us? It was all going so well up until that point! Fuck you, Epic, and fuck your "on-rails Space Invaders" shite!

Yes, I was playing it on hard mode, but that's not the point. It's such a dramatic leap in difficulty because it has nothing to do with the skills you have built up over the course of the game. I only got past that section through sheer fluke and endurance. I had got so far in the game that nothing, not even this crap, would stop me finishing it. It literally drove me insane for a few minutes. I was reduced to gibbering and laughing in such a way that it could be considered screaming, and tufts of my own hair were scattered around me. I think I actually "went feral" for a while there. I'd say the only upside to this kind of gaming travesty is the unbelievable sense of relief and satisfaction when you actually overcome it. I guess the only thing you could compare it to would be a ray of golden light shining right on your face from heaven itself.

So I think, just possibly, games could actually be bad for you after all. I dread to think how high my blood pressure goes when playing computer games. I'd be very interested to hear from other angry gamers out there - it would be nice to have it confirmed that it's not just me being mentally defective and that other people actually experience this as well.

Just one more thing: how annoying are those people who will then go: "Oh that bit was easy, I did it first time"?


Which games make you angry?  Do let us know at 

Issue 4


Editor's Note

The Special Report
A silly video! Hooray!

The Evolution of Horror
A look back at the genre's history

16-Bit Boy
Do our minds corrupt the most innocent games?

Is it 'Game Over' for survival horror?
Where's the genre heading?

The Angry Gamer
Are games programmed to cheat?

Listen to your Elders!
Lessons from the FPS grandfathers

Vince D. Weller
What makes a good RPG?

Interview: Dan Pinchbeck
How far can we push FPS boundaries?

First Impressions: Resident Evil 5
Rekindling the spirit?


F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason

The Last Remnant

The Path

Big Bang Mini



Spelunky (Game of the Month)

ShellShock 2: Blood Trials

Hotel Giant 2