My Christmas/birthday present this year was a new TV and Playstation 3. We already have a Nintendo Wii, so the PS3 was bought mainly for its high definition Blu-ray Disc capabilities (which are phenomenal, by the way). For obvious reasons, I don't play video games all that often anymore. If I do play, it's usually Jameson and I spending some time on the Nintendo. Anyway, I bought one game for the PS3 just to have something to play. The game is called "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare." I knew nothing about the game and essentially bought it after asking one person, "if I'm only going to buy one game, what should I get?"
Well, after getting everything hooked up, I eventually got around to playing the game. In the game, you are a U.S. soldier placed in the middle of some eastern European conflict and you basically advance through levels shooting up bad guys. It was mildly fun, but I got bored with it after a few levels and gave up on the game. Oh well.
Then one evening, at my brother's suggestion, I tried out the online multiplayer function of the game. Whoa. Totally different game. Instead of mindlessly shooting my way through computer controlled enemies, I was now smack dab in the middle of a 12 on 12 team deathmatch with real live players from all over the country. Now this was fun. It was a virtual paintball game with graphically realistic death and destruction. People running around, shooting people in the head with high caliber modern weapons, bombs, sneak attacks, snipers. The whole goal was to kill as many people as you could while dying as few times as possible. (In video game wars death is only temporary as a bullet to the head only means that a few seconds later you appear somewhere else in the game with nothing but a "death" on your rap sheet to show for it.) The killing, the adrenaline, the excitement. It was awesome. And I couldn't have sucked more. In a typical game, I might score two or three kills compared to the twenty or so times I was knifed, sniped, exploded or otherwise gunned down in a hail of bullets by the other team. Gunfights are much, much harder than they look in the movies. This all eventually led to my early strategy of hiding in a corner somewhere hoping that no one would see me and maybe, just maybe, someone would walk in front of my gun long enough for me to pull the trigger and send them to their demise. I mean, I REALLY sucked. Julie was even kind enough to watch me play a few times and point out how much I really sucked and how big of a marshmallow I am on the field of battle. I really can't repeat the names she called me.
So I'm a big dork who plays an online war game and plays it really poorly at that. Dork. Well it gets worse. In addition to all this killing, if you have a headset hooked up to your PlayStation, you can communicate with the other players in the game in real time. This is a useful feature as it allows people to warn their teammates about hidden enemies, coordinate attacks and generally strategize. And of course taunt the weaker players, too. Even if you don't have a headset, the chatter of all the players with microphones comes through on your speakers. (Another note: Video games are no longer for kids. Judging from people I've heard playing online, the game is dominated by men in their twenties and thirties with a heavy skewing towards east and west coast hispanics, college students, NASCAR fans and anyone with a propensity for foul language. It's a very volatile mix and the testosterone and machismo runs in overdrive.) After growing tired of just being a silent participant (if you can call a sitting target a "participant") in these matches, I decide to see if a never-used Bluetooth headset from an old cell phone of mine would work with the game. It does. Bigger dork.
Unfortunately, this story gets worse. Here's how I become a dork among dorks. As you know, my time is limited, so it's difficult for me to put in any serious blocks of uninterrupted gameplay and actually get good at the game. Well, one afternoon I get the twins asleep while Julie is out shopping with Jameson. I decide this would be the perfect time to try out the headset and focus on playing a game of Call of Duty with the goal of actually contributing to my team's success. I fire up the game, join an online match, throw on the headset and shortly thereafter I'm fully absorbed in this virtual war. Being the noob that I am, even with the headset I'm really not saying much if anything throughout the game. I'm easing into it. Slowly I start gaining confidence in my abilities and the game even becomes more fun as I spend less and less time face down on the ground dead. Good times. But eventually reality comes crashing back as Amelia starts to cry. Without regard for where I am in the game I snap out of my seat, throw my game controller on the couch and rush over to the crying baby. I pick her up and spend the next minute or so trying to console her as she screams her little head off. Soon thereafter, I realize she's screaming her little head off into the microphone strapped to my ear. Oh crap. Almost unwillingly, my attention goes back to the game conversations coming directly into my ear. "Is that a BABY?!?!" "What the f**k?!?!" "Is this guy f**king serious?!?!" "Dude, COME ON! Your ruining this for everyone!"
I don't even know how to shut off the microphone so in a fit of fumbling embarrassment I desperately rip it off my ear and stuff it under a pillow on the couch. Shortly thereafter I'm booted from the game. I couldn't have been more embarrassed.
I am officially a dork among dorks.
(If you need proof, you can find me online playing Call of Duty under the PlayStation ID: Mightydeez. I'll either be hiding in a corner or laying face down in a pool of my own blood.)