Top 5 Friday: Gaming Genres I Fully Admit To Being Bad At

It seems to be expected of gamers to be cocky about their gaming prowess and claim nothing less than pro-level skill at any and all video games. Well, today I’m going against that expectation and admitting that there are some genres of video games that I’m just not any good at.

5. Racing/driving sims

I was so excited when they first announced Gran Turismo. I had always enjoyed racing games, and the thought of a game that had hundreds of cars that all handled like their real-life counterparts sounded amazing. And then I played it. Turns out, the kind of racing that I like is flying around corners at impossible speeds, only even using the brake button to activate ridiculous powerslides. It’s not even just that I don’t have the patience to slow down to take turns – having to follow “racing lines,” knowing when to drop the clutch and activate the throttle or whatever the hell it is that you’re supposed to be doing in games like GT and Forza is just beyond my grasp. Basically, if a racing game has “license tests” of any kind, I’m probably not skilled enough to play it.

4. Puzzle games

Sometimes people ask me whether or not I know how to play chess. I always tell them that I know the basic rules of chess, so by definition, yes, I can technically “play it.” But am I any good at it? Do I know advanced strategies and how to think a few steps ahead of my opponents? No. Which is pretty much where I’m at with most puzzles games. I “know how to” make lines in Tetris, make viruses disappear in Dr. Mario, build gems in Puzzle Fighter. But simply knowing the basics and functionality of a puzzle game does not make me good at them – that’s like saying you’re automatically an expert golfer simply because you’re aware of the fact that you need to hit a ball into a hole with a stick. And that distinction becomes painfully obvious when I get just a few levels into a game’s solo mode, or worse, go head to head with anyone with real proficiency (such as my girlfriend who plays Dr. Mario like a brain surgeon and makes me look like a med school dropout). Any combos or chains you see me pull off in a puzzle game are 100% luck, I assure you.

3. Fighting games

Once upon a time, I would spend months immersing myself in a fighting game, picking a couple of go-to characters, buying a strategy guide, and trying to memorize their special moves and a few killer combos. The problem is, I still never seemed to get any good. Although I consider myself a proficient gamer overall and I feel I have pretty good finger dexterity (that’s what she said?), I just never seemed to have the skill to pull off advanced strings of combos that required more than just hitting two different buttons in a varying order. So at some point, I just stopped bothering, and accepted that I was just never going to be a fighting game master. Now, when I do get the occasional itch to play one, I mostly stuck with the types of fighting games that you can have moderate success at – against the AI, at least – with just knowing a couple of super moves and being able to pull off combos by mostly spamming the attack buttons. Mortal Kombat is great for this purpose, as it has a relatively low barrier of entry and lets you have fun and look like you know what you’re doing so long as you aren’t a complete putz. But that puts most other fighting games out of my reach beyond lucking my way through the first few AI characters in story mode before the game starts stepping up and revealing the fraud that I am.

2. Competitive first-person shooters

I feel like a badass when I play solo-focused FPSes like Bioshock, Half-Life, and Deus Ex. I sneak around, I land quick headshots with sniper rifles, a take out clusters of bad guys with well-timed grenade tosses, I go long stretches without getting killed. Then I go online in a competitive FPS, and I’m alive all of three seconds before my body is a crumpled corpse for reasons I’m not entirely sure of. I’m really not sure what it is that makes me so awful at online FPSes, whether it’s the speed of play, the more unpredictable nature of human opponents vs scripted AI ones, the map memorization that I don’t play enough to have, or simply that I don’t have an especially strong competitive nature to feel the need to put in the time to get super good and be awesome at them. Or maybe it’s the fact that it usually only takes 10 minutes before someone calls me or my mother something inappropriate, which, at age 33, I simply have no need to deal with. Whatever the case may be, most of my first-person gaming will remain solo and offline, where I can continue to feel like a hero rather than a scrub.

1. Strategy games

It doesn’t matter what type of strategy game you’re talking about – real-time, turn-based, strategy RPG, whatever – I just don’t have the patience required to properly learn them. Similar to my struggles with puzzles games, I just don’t really have that ability for deep, complex planning and setting up troops and defenses and whatnot for actions that aren’t going to happen for another half hour or so. No, I don’t only play games where I’m constantly flying at the seat of my pants – I’m a huge fan of stealth games, and those require a little bit of planning and thinking ahead. I guess it’s just the idea of having to think that far in advance that I just don’t seem to be any good at. Also, I just don’t like games where I can’t learn and be proficient at them within my first session. I’m fine with games that slowly introduce new mechanics as you play them, like a regular RPG, but not games where I’m several hours in and I’m still basically at the “tutorial” phase. I’m also not a huge fan of “wasted” game time, and the idea of playing a round/match/whatever of a game that lasts for hours and hours, and then I end up losing, is not my idea of fun and sounds to me like a giant waste of what is supposed to be my leisure time. No, I don’t have to constantly be winning at a game to enjoy it, but losing a game session that lasts for 20 minutes versus one that lasts for an entire evening are two very different things. I just don’t have the fortitude to play and lose for however many days/weeks/months it takes to get to where I’m “good” at a game; for me, the reward of finally getting good at a game just isn’t worth such a huge commitment of time and effort. I suppose that sentiment applies to all of the genres on this list, actually.