7 Things I Will Always Wonder about Video Games

I’ve been playing games for many years, but some questions just never go away. Without giving some long-winded introduction, I pose to you seven things I’ve always wondered. Maybe you can help me out?

Why is Quake so brown?

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Wolfenstein was revolutionary. DOOM was, dare I say, evolutionary. Quake was… very brown. Yes, in addition to being a fully realized 3D world with angled floors and rooms above rooms, it was also quite brown. I can recall Doom 2 slowly transitioning towards brown as its dominant color, but I never really understood the appeal, convinced this was just some fad. But knowing Doom could be so colorful and eye-catching, how did Quake’s assortment of browns become fashionable?

Why are there still points in Mario games?

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Mario players have already gotten used to the fact that 1-ups are mostly useless and collectible coins are a spoiled currency due to excess supply. But did you ever wonder why there’s a score? I mean, you probably forgot that it was still there. And trust me, it is. They even have it in Super Mario Maker, where the very idea of comparing your score at end of a 100 Mario challenge to your friend’s is beyond laughable.

When I play EA Sports NHL 16, why is NBC Sports covering a junior minor league hockey game in northern Ontario?

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In the latest edition of EA Sports NHL, they offer the ability to play as the Oshawa Generals. You probably haven’t heard of them. They won the Memorial Cup last year. You probably haven’t heard of that either. But if you’re Canadian, then you probably know that OHL hockey is covered by local access cable, with camera work done by high school interns.

But not in EA Sports NHL, a supposedly “realistic” simulation of hockey. Each time I play an OHL match-up, Eddie Oulchuk and Mike Emerick of NBC Sports travel all the way out to London, Ontario along with an NBC production van to cover this game live. I can’t for the life of me understand what kind of ratings they expect from this broadcast. Don’t they usually fill this kind of dead air with poker or darts?

What the hell were they thinking with that Survivor PC game?

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Seriously, what the hell was that? I was a diehard Survivor fan when this game came out, and I was ready and willing to pick it up day one. Negative reviews scared me a bit, so I waited for the price drop. Years later, I found a jewel-case copy in a tiny shop in Woodstock Ontario and picked it up for 95 cents. My god, I overpaid.

This isn’t a game.  It’s not even the shell of a game. It features what I’m guessing is a beach. You walk around it for three minutes, occasionally engaging in dialog trees with other castaways. They’d either tell you off, agree to an alliance, or complain about how some other tribe-mate keeps prancing around like an idiot. I never really figured out if my alliance was legit until like the tenth round, when I finally didn’t win immunity and was voted off unanimously. Game just said “thanks for playing” and didn’t even let me stay around for the jury.  Fuck that.

Why is LA Noire’s Cole so obsessed with bottles?

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Let me back this up for those who haven’t played this game. In LA Noire, you play homicide detective Cole Phelps in the 1950s. During investigations, you control Cole as he searches for clues. When the controller vibrates, you can examine an object for evidence. Thing is, you (the user) usually don’t know what the object is until Cole picks it up — and most of the time, it’s an empty bottle. A stupid bottle. Is Cole fixated on them? Is he perhaps an alcoholic? Was his dad an alcoholic? I never did finish the game, so maybe the truth is there.

In Doom, how can you die when you’re already in Hell?

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Going back to id Software for a moment, there’s a bit at the end of the Doom shareware episode where you teleport into a room full of demons and, in turn, die. The next two episodes take place in and around Hell itself, implying that this is the afterlife for Doom Guy. This of course begs the question, what danger could this possibly pose if Doom Guy is already dead and literally in Hell? I believe it was a 24 villain who said you’re either not dead or dead. He never gave a qualifier that you could be super dead.

Why is the user in Reboot such a pushover?

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You remember Reboot, right? It was a 90s Canadian cartoon, the first ever to be computer animated. It also took place entirely inside a computer, filled with various inside jokes and nods to modern day (at the time) computers. And every once in a while, games would literally descend from the sky, and our heroic sprite characters would have to play them. But for these sprites, the games were a matter of life and death. If they win, they continue as normal sprites. If they lose, they get turned into brainless insects called “nulls.” The user of course, doesn’t know this; he’s just playing silly games for innocent fun.

But what’s weird is that this user, whoever he is, just gives up every single time. He always boots up a game, loses once, then never plays again for the rest of his life. What a pushover. I don’t know what it’s like to be a sprite (shouldn’t they be more two-dimensional?), but I know what it’s like to be a user. Hit reload or bring the difficulty down, dude.

Article by contributor Mark Kalzer.

6 thoughts on “7 Things I Will Always Wonder about Video Games

  1. I don’t think a sprite technically has to be 2D, the word is just used with them in mind. I think 3D models in games count as sprites because they are projected from their world space onto 2D screen space.

  2. Attempts at answers:

    1. WHY IS QUAKE SO BROWN?
    Quake was extremely ahead of the curve, beating out Xbox 360 games (Gears of War and the like) by about 10 years. Brown is real.

    2. WHY ARE THERE STILL POINTS IN MARIO GAMES?
    Future proofing. In 30 years or so someone will attempt to finish the game with the lowest score. Much like the 500 point run of Super Mario Bros. in 2014. I imagine it will be even more challenging.

    3. WHEN I PLAY EA SPORTS NHL 16, WHY IS NBC SPORTS COVERING A JUNIOR MINOR LEAGUE HOCKEY GAME IN NORTHERN ONTARIO?
    It’s cheaper then hiring local talent. Also Carl had an exam the next day.

    4. WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING WITH THAT SURVIVOR PC GAME?
    At the time there was a lack of sand(?) in PC games…? Just a random guess. Not really $ure what the thought proce$$ wa$ there.

    5. WHY IS LA NOIRE’S COLE SO OBSESSED WITH BOTTLES?
    Cole’s father was an abusive drunk; which was the style at the time. Cole only ever saw him at peace while building miniature ships in a bottle, or at least attempting too. Despite all the time and care put into it the old man wasn’t very good at it. Still he loved it and would spend a lot of time working at his hobby. Time he never spent on Cole. Long story short, Cole is looking in every bottle for his father’s love. (Assuming; never finished it either.)

    6. IN DOOM, HOW CAN YOU DIE WHEN YOU’RE ALREADY IN HELL?
    The danger of losing his conscience. He’s fighting to escape(?), damage taken is damage to his spirit and will. Continued abuse and it can’t take it any more. (See answer 5 and some of 4)

    7. WHY IS THE USER IN REBOOT SUCH A PUSHOVER?
    Most likely he’s an adult with responsibilities and just wants to take the rare moment of freedom to play a game from his younger days. These moments are few and far between. Also not helping when they do play the damn computer always cheats, so “f*ck this piece of sh*t, stupid cheating game. I’m done. DONE!”

    None of these answers will bring you peace I suspect. Just figured I’d try.

  3. In regards to Doom, perhaps he didn’t die but got dragged there so I think his physical form is in hell so he can escape but if you did die there, your soul would be for the taking…

    …this is the most I’ve thought about Doom’s story. Then again, even the developers have said they are not focusing on the plot in the new game this year.

    1. “Then again, even the developers have said they are not focusing on the plot in the new game this year.” It’s things like this that give me hope! As much as I love games with story, there’s no reason Doom has to try to be one of those games. It’s why I could never quite get into Doom 3.

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