Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Deja Vu

I've done this a million times.

The thought hits me as I step smartly round a tombstone and click on a Nazi's head, ducking quickly back again as a hail of bullets clatter against the stone in front of me. I'm playing Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (yes, I know it's 5 years old - I have a rather incompetent laptop to contend with). And what I'm doing is clicking on graphical representations of little men. Well, what I'm actually doing at this point is staring at the featureless grey expanse that's supposed to be a tombstone with a puzzled frown on my face, but you know what I mean. And I've spent hours of my life doing this.

Everyone knows that if you keep on repeating the same word long enough, you start to lose your grasp on its meaning, till it becomes an odd, featureless sound. That's what this was like. Suddenly, I wasn't battling through a French graveyard, bravely taking on hordes of murderous foes. I was just moving a mouse cursor around and clicking on things (ok, so technically the cursor stays still in the centre of the screen and you move the rest around, but that's how it feels). At that moment, I couldn't for the life of me articulate why I was doing it.

The feeling passed and I successfully cleared out the church, but it left me with a lingering feeling that what I spend a fair bit of my time doing is actually a pretty weird thing. I can reel off reasons why games are worth playing, and I'll happily defend the Half-Lifes, Civilizations, and Marios of this world as excellent ways to spend your time, but I can't quite shake the impression that all I'm doing is making a handful of meaningless, repetitive movements. It's decidedly odd.

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