Being Bad at Popular Video Games as a Socially Awkward Person


By: Brad Manock

            I am pretty good at some video games, great at some, but the popular first person shooters were the only ones that people cared about. I was always terrible at these games. I have discussed this several times in the past but, I only seem to be good at things that people don’t care about. Growing up there were several times where I was at a friend’s house with a bunch of people and played a game such as “Call of Duty” or “Halo” or occasionally “Guitar Hero.” Of course the expectations were high for me because I was awkward and played video games all the time, and each time I would disappointingly under-perform. In this article I am going to discuss gaming the old fashion way, face-to-face and why I was usually terrible at it.

You Don’t Play The Same Games As Me? LOSER!

            I don’t play video games very much anymore, but I used to constantly. I would master obscure titles that the kids at my school would have never heard of: Dragon Ball Z games, Digimon games, Pokemon games, and other games that I would be hesitant to talk about in a middle/high school setting for fear of looking too nerdy. This would make conversations regarding video games very tricky because I would focus on avoiding using specific game titles.

Since I was an awkward kid with no real social life, others would occasionally ask me “so…what do you even do?” This question would often come after an attempt to start a conversation about hunting, fishing, or sports. As was very common growing up in the middle of Wisconsin. So I would reply to that question usually by just saying “video games.” Of course this would cause all of the “fat gamer” stereotypes to sweep across the mind of the person I am talking to. Usually people would completely write me off as someone who was stupid and useless and end the conversation, but occasionally they would ask the follow-up question “what kind of games do you play?” Now here is where things got tricky. I didn’t want to rattle off nerdy titles that sound closer to being Japanese than English so I would just say something very general such as: “fighting games” or “strategy games.”

How About Some Call Of Duty?

In high school I would start going to friend’s houses to play some video games. This is when I realize that I was not as good at video games as I had thought I was. Video games was all I did back then, how could I not be the best? Now one big obstacle was the fact that I have never owned an Xbox which was the console of choice for my friends. I looked at that Xbox controller like I was a caveman who never seen a video game before. The Xbox has so many more controls to memorize than other game systems that I was more used to. This would put me at a significant disadvantage to begin with. Another big factor was that I had never played any game with a first-person perspective, every video game I had ever played to that point was one where I could directly see the character I was controlling rather than seeing from the perspective of the character. I have never been a fan of first-person perspective games, they are quite unrealistic since an enemy can be standing right next to you and you would not even know it. Because of this first-person perspective, during games of “Halo” or “Call of Duty” I would usually be looking down the barrel and I would get stabbed from an enemy just outside my sight.

I would lose horribly whenever I would play a first-person shooter game like this. After I would lose I would usually get a comment like “dude, I thought you played video games ALL THE TIME!” I would usually try to back-peddle at this point saying things like “I’m not used to the controls” or “I don’t play these types of games.” I did not know how to accurately describe my gaming preferences without naming titles of nerdy, anime-based video games.

After this first severe loss I would usually just stay in the background and watch the other kids play video games because I knew that there was really no hope of being competitive. The concept of being a skilled gamer is usually seen as a nerdy thing, but I think that there are levels within the word “gamer” where some gamers are cooler than others. If you play Madden or a first-person shooter, you were a cooler gamer. If you played turn-based strategy games like I always would, you were a less cool gamer.

You WILL Lose Online, A Lot

These days there are online video games where you can master a video game and still get your ass kicked once you start playing online. If anything, perhaps being bad at these popular video games was a good thing because I do not waste as much time on video games these days. It seems no matter what I enjoy doing, it is not valued or considered “cool” even if it is within the nerdy “gamer culture” of the past.


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