War Is Hell(a Fun): Becoming an FPS Gamer

I knew, one day, that it would come to this. I have become an FPS Gamer.

Despite doing all that I could to avoid it, despite mocking them in all they do, and despite having avoided shooters for as long as possible, I finally caved 4 days ago and joined their ranks. And you know what? It feels good.

I picked up Battlefield 3 on the 4th of February. Since then, I’ve logged about 8 hours of prime game time online; 463 kills; 451 deaths; 347 points; 347 points scored a minute. That’s in between watching films, working, writing other articles and playing other games.  They’re not the best set of stats in the world, but they’re definitely not the worst – I’m pretty chuffed by them.

The weird thing about it all is that I’m sort of surprised by how taken I am with it – not in a “die in a pile of my own crusty sweat and piss” kind of way, but by the fact I keep going back on a daily basis, notching up 2 hours a day so far. It’s not a cruel obsession, eating away at my time like a cruel mistress – instead, it’s one that embraces you gently, patting you on the head and rubbing your back each time you go back. Okay, it’s armed to the teeth with rifles, pistols and jetplanes, but it’s loving all the same.

And what’s weird about the surprise? I never expected to be like this. In the gaming world, it’s very easy to be in the minority, and act as if you’re better than everyone else. It’s very easy to brand the FPS player base as mouth-breathers and averaging an age of 13 when you’re not in among them – but when you join them, the games are excellent fun.

Sure, they glorify killing a little. They reduce casualties in the Middle Eastern settings they take after to mere frags and respawns – and love to make enemies of the Russians. But you know what? They’re games.

Shooting people in the face in a virtual environment answers a primal instinct to one-up your fellow man. And it's fun.

There’s a good reason the term “war games” exists, and they are, in the purest definition of the term, an exact, if simplified, fit. A war game, says Merriam-Webster, is “a simulated battle or campaign to test military concepts” – and the likes of Battlefield and Call of Duty are virtual, simulated military exercises. Okay, simplified and dramatised a little – throwing knives, Call of Duty? – but somewhat simulated all the same.

There’s no beating around the bush that war is ugly, and scary, and ruins lives. War as a game is pure adrenaline. It is fast, furious and tense – Battlefield‘s presentation is one of spotty gunfire, whizzes, bangs and contextual shouts from your fellow players for medkits, ammo or repairs to their tanks; lens flare, laser sights and torches blot your vision, and nailing a kill unleashes an inner, furious instinct to be better than your fellow man. It’s a little primal and animalistic, but tapping into that corner of your brain feels good.

Battlefield – and I imagine, Call of Duty – succeed at being so fun online for a multitude of reasons: war, as a game, is fun; there’s a drive to better the other players and win; the adrenaline is incredible. For 2 hours of my life a day so far, and probably beyond, I have been converted to the tribe of FPS Gamers.

War is harmful; war is hell; war as a game is addictive.

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  1. War.

    War never changes.

  2. Boom! That, right there. That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

  3. Darth Nutclench

    Totally with you there. Been addicted to BF3 since Christmas. I’m a gamer dad, and get very little time to play, and when I do drop in get regularly beaten by younger more able players but I don’t care. I’ve met some great people, some who have taken me into different modes I wouldn’t normally play, such as squad rush and who (mostly) tolerate how crap I am. I’ve always preferred FP shooters as single player based games and must be one of the very few who have enjoyed the evolution of the Mass Effect games away from RPG to more FPS based Story games. Hit me up some time if you a fancy a game (PSN JPRE).

  4. Lukas Heinzel

    So when you buy a 360 , you notice its far better than the ps3 🙂

  5. Vestigial-Man

    I shared a similar epiphany when I got really into Battlefield 3, though it has been confined to that game alone. I never really liked any of the COD games but I just fell head over heels for Battlefield 3. Once I stopped playing though (blame Skyrim), I didn’t find myself suddenly more interested in FPS multiplayer, it was only Battlefield. I don’t mind FPS games but still enjoy single player games of other genres more.

    TL;DR It might just be Battlefield doing this not FPSs as a whole. That’s how it went for me.

  6. Welcome, Jon.

    Don’t deny it’s beauty. You’re getting hooked. Let me know when you start playing a ‘good’ war game.

    Lexi x

  7. Benton

    I agree with Vestigial-Man. Call of Duty, the only other big name trying to replicate the contemporary war experience, does not offer nearly the same rush, or the same realism, as BF3.

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