In the past I’ve mentioned what I think is the subtle difference between gamers just playing games versus gamers playing with games. Game designers sometimes spend years crafting what they think is an enjoyable and engaging experience, only to release the game to players who figure out their own ways in which to play the game, sometimes contrary to what the developers had in mind.
Often these games within games take the form of self imposed restrictions where players limit themselves for a greater challenge. Other times players come together to create their own rules and mini-games to stave off the boredom from doing the same things over and over again. Either way one thing is for sure, whenever a game is released, regardless of genre, someone is going to think of something else to do other than the built-in objectives thought-up by the designers. After the jump are a handful I could think of off the top of my head, feel free to add any you think belong on the list in the comments below.
The Skyrim Pacifist – Felix the Peaceful Monk
What do you think of when you think of Skyrim? If you’re anything like me, mentioning Skyrim conjures images of battling dragons, purging the undead, turning into a werewolf, or simply wrecking havoc at random all over the in-game world. Regardless of how you play the game, I think it’s safe to say that at some point there’s going to be some violence… at least for everyone except WestSideLuigi and his character Felix the Peaceful Monk aka Felix the Cat. He’s sworn off killing anything in the game, even the undead, because as he puts it “Felix the cat doesn’t even kill the undead, he’s just a great guy.”
Using a clever combination of calming animals, fearing enemies, and tank healing, Felix the Cat managed to get pretty far into the world of Skyrim before his honor code prohibited him from continuing. By focusing on survivability and a healthy amount of wit, Felix the Cat took advantage of the game’s robust utility trees such as Illusion to complete as many of the game’s non-lethal objectives as he could while keeping his honor code intact. At one point his progress was halted as he was required to kill something, I think it was a dragon, to continue with the main quest, however given his demeanor I don’t think Felix the Cat was meant to be a true-blue Dragonborn anyway.
NovaWar Says – Starcraft 2
Why would anybody ever want to make Starcraft 2 any more difficult than it already is? I won’t go in to how much more enjoyable the game is for me to watch than play, especially when I’m watching NovaWar and MaximusBlack on their LAGTV Starcraft 2 channel, but let’s just say my brain can’t handle having to balance both a macro game and a micro game at the same time. This is why I think their series “NovaWar Says” is something I would never try, even though it’s fun to watch. Essentially NovaWar gives MaximusBlack certain rules to follow at the beginning of a Starcraft 2 game. Sometimes it’s something simple like Marines only or Battlecruiser rush, other times it’s vastly more difficult like playing left-handed or a “let’s see how you do with the screen displayed upside down”, or as they call it the Australian Edition.
There are some serious aspects to their channel, but it’s the games in which they make up their own rules, even while playing on the ladder, that are the most entertaining – even to them judging by their laughter. I still wouldn’t try it as I’m sure a five year old could beat me even with the screen flipped upside down, but sometimes you have to make your own rules in order to make your own fun.
ONLYUSEmeBLADE – CoD
I think I’ve featured ONLYUSEmeBLADE in the past as he runs my favorite CoD YouTube channel, but his melee only style of gameplay also fits into the category of self imposed restrictions, creating his own game within a game. It’s not uncommon to get knifed in a game of CoD, in fact it happens all too often, but ONLYUSEmeBLADE uses nothing but knifes in one of the most gun-oriented games of this generation. His reaction videos need no introduction as many on Xbox Live aren’t particularly happy with his style of play, especially when playing Gun Game where getting knifed sets players back a tier.
It would be one thing if it was only part of his channel, but he uses knives exclusively, showing a commitment to the game he enjoys playing even if it isn’t the same as everyone else’s. His channel is the perfect example of the types of things players do when they really don’t feel like playing the game “as designed.” The video above was casted by ELPRESADOR, another popular YouTube caster.
Mike Myers – CoD, Rainbow Six, etc.
This is kind of an obscure one, but having actually participated first-hand I figured I would put it on the list. One day a few years ago while playing a completely normal game of Rainbow Six: New Vegas 2, someone in chat asked if we all wanted to play Mike Myers instead. “Mike Myers?” I said, “What’s that?” I spent the next two hours laughing more than I had in recent memory. There are a bunch of different types of Mike Myers depending on the game you’re playing, usually shooters, that assigns one person as Mike Myers with everyone else as his unfortunate prey. In the mode I played, the person playing as Mr. Myers was given a shotgun and smoke grenades while the rest of us were confined to using the pistol. The objective was to kill Mike Myers before he killed you, which was nearly impossible in smoky close quarters against a shotgun wielding maniac. Still, it was the most fun I had playing the game, vastly more so than the game modes created by the design team. You would think people would cheat, and sometimes they did, but for the most part there was more commitment to staying true to our own mini-game than in any of the other authentic game modes I played.
Ultimate Bravery – League of Legends
The learning curve for a MOBA can be pretty high, even LoL, but after a few hundred (or thousand) games things can get a little… bland. That’s where Ultimate Bravery comes in. Players are given random champions, random items, and random Summoner Spells to battle opponents who are most likely playing normally. Any combination is possible; attack damage on casters, tank items on assassins, and spell damage on those without any spells. It’s obviously best to play with friends as most people don’t appreciate what will most likely be a tough game, but sometimes it’s a good exercise in really learning how to play well even at a disadvantage.
I actually won a few games this way, even with really crappy builds, but most of the time it’s a free win for the other team. However, winning a game of Ultimate Bravery also grants the winners ultimate bragging rights, especially useful for trolling all chat at the end of a game. Nothing says a satisfying victory like crushing with attack damage Heimerdinger (normally a caster), so it’s pretty much mandatory that you remind the other team of that as they are losing.