Video game enemies: an appreciation – Reader’s Feature
A reader celebrates the importance of a good video game rival, from the colossi in Shadow Of The Colossus to ghost cars in DiRT Rally.
‘If you are ever to be successful in your practice of patience and tolerance, which are critical factors in counteracting negative emotions, it is due to your own efforts and also the opportunity provided by your enemy’ – The Dalai Lama
Games are a great illustration of the efficacy of enemies; where would we be without them? We need them so much that they resurrect from the dead repeatedly until we achieve a certain goal. How selfless of them! They resurrect from the dead solely to provide us with skills and experience. They resurrect from the dead to provide us with something ‘meaningful’ to do. They are so central to the experience that many gamers yearn for smarter enemies with more intelligence and bemoan the lack of progress with AI despite the exceptional growth in computing power.
So this is the paradox; the thing that stands in your way is the very thing that facilitates your growth and in some sense the more it obstructs the greater your achievement! Hence the love for Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice where what, at first, seems insurmountable, gradually becomes a possibility and is finally achieved. I have discovered a similar relationship with DiRT Rally 2.0 where the level of difficulty combined with the absolute requirement to develop skill passes through initial frustration and ‘failure’ to satisfaction at the smallest achievement.
Some games self-consciously highlight the ambiguous nature of ‘enemies’ in profound and beautiful ways. Who could fail to feel concern or even remorse at the fall of each magnificent colossi in Shadow Of The Colossus’? And the culmination of these colossal collapses must lead to an even more conceptually challenging ending.
Sometimes, when playing an action or adventure game and the odds seem insurmountable, I remind myself, light heartedly, that I am only a visitor to this world that these enemies inhabit and am the only one likely to emerge intact!
It’s a sunny afternoon at Brands Hatch and I’m getting nicely into the rhythm of the lap but how is he getting out of the corners so fast? I’m right behind and then as we accelerate out of Graham Hill Bend he is off up the road with apparently ridiculous traction.
Frustration builds and I begin to wonder about my opponent’s set-up or even if they are cheating in some way I don’t know about.
As anger starts, I shock myself into the realisation that my opponent is me from the past; yes I am accusing myself of cheating and this fast exiter is me from 15 minutes ago!
Is it possible to be your own enemy?
Perhaps competition breeds the perception of enemies as even our own ghosts seem to be standing between us and what we are striving to achieve.
The ultimate enemy may well be yourself and the beautiful conclusion must be that you are also your own best friend.
By reader John Weston
The reader’s feature does not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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