Thursday, April 15

Play Well! The fun and frustrations of playing with your partner | Games

Kristan and Keza play It Takes Two

Kristan Reed: “Oh God! Let’s never break up!” Keza pleads as we embark on the antics of the future divorcees of It Takes Two, a kind of Honey-I-shrunk-parents-to-fix-their-marriage- toxic. I admit it, I approached this strange platformer with some trepidation, due to occasionally having a hard time playing with my beloved partner. People imagine it is holy grail nirvana to have a gamer partner, but the truth is that Keza is too good at games to be totally tolerant of others (mostly: me) who move unhappily, especially in games. Nintendo games, effectively his second mother tongue.

Keza is a classic backseat gamer, he always detects the solution within 0.3 seconds and barks at you for getting there a little later. And yet It Takes Two has a nice and friendly feel to it, possibly due to the crazy cooperation at its heart. For once, our antics – failures to nail an angry boss’s arm down – were the cause of soft taunts and screams of laughter, rather than impatient growls. What starts out as a poignant story of marriage reconciliation actually reminds me that, hey, I really enjoy playing with Keza. Maybe we should do it more often.

Likewise MacDonald: Kristan and I met because we are both video game journalists, so I would assume that we have spent many wonderful afternoons over the years working together on the classics of the art form. But when games are your job, you tend to want to do other things when you’re not working, and in fact, it’s surprisingly hard to find great two-player games. Many of them relegate one player to a boring buddy while the other does all the fun things. Others insist on online gambling, which for us would involve installing two separate televisions and consoles in the living room and bedroom (it has been known, but is evidently ridiculous).

It Takes Two, however, is one of those rare games designed for gentle chatting and competition on the couch. When two soon-to-be divorced parents (harsh vibes) transform into miniature dolls, we run, jump, and make our way from the garden shed to the family home, and neither of us feels like the hapless Tagalong (usually he ). ) or the impatient drill sergeant yelling orders (usually me). Instead of relentlessly concentrating on the goal, I’m actually enjoying the ride. We really should do this more often.

Chris and Dylan play Overcooked

Chris Godfrey (left) and Dylan Jones.
Chris Godfrey (left) and Dylan Jones. Photography: Natasha Khambhaita

Chris Godfrey: Dylan and I don’t really play video games together because I’m better than him at all of them. Even those we haven’t played yet. I grew up playing games and haven’t stopped, so instinctively I’m better than him (a casual gamer at best). I have tried to help you. I generously spent dozens of hours training him in Mario Kart 8, but still, losing is a rarity (losing to anyone is a rarity, to be honest). It’s not fun for either of us.

Enter Overcooked, a cooperative game in which job together, staffing a number of kitchens while preparing and serving orders to restaurant customers. A four minute timer, custom plates, impatient customers, and environmental hazards (burglar rats, icy floors, lava pits, etc.) create a confusing pressure cooker environment. Bedlam is never more than one kitchen fire away. But as long as we communicate and work together, I am sure we will complete it in no time. It will be fun!

Things seem pretty simple on the first level. Customers want onion soup and therefore they will have onion soup. Dylan, whom I have named my kitchen helper, cuts the onions; I take the onions and put them in the pot; When the soup is done, I put it on the plate, yell “SERVICE!”, then Dylan carries the plate to the conveyor belt to complete the order. Chop, cook, serve, repeat. We divide the dirty dishes between us. Easy!

As we progress through the game, the dishes get more complicated (pizzas with different toppings, burritos with different fillings) and the most ridiculous kitchens (haunted houses, frozen lakes, a volcano crater). However, our (my) strategy remains the same: do some tests to plot the level and then create a perfect metronomic system of delegation and cooperation.

As long as Dylan continues to follow the plan, we’ll be fine. Even if you panic, miss a beat, get confused, slip on the icy floor, and get into the lake, I’m good enough to take over. We are having fun! I am really enjoying this.

Dylan Jones: I hate this. The best word to describe the Overcooked sous-chef experience, under the barking orders of Executive Chef Chris, is “grueling.” If the hapless lambs at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen slaughterhouse thought they had a hard time, they should try for half an hour frantically trying to make an inexplicable salad, as a flurry of ingredients and instructions fly at you from every corner of the kitchen. Oh, and the kitchen is 300 feet in the air, in the swinging basket of a hot air balloon. That is on fire.

Of course, for many, Overcooked’s frenetic, stress-absorbing appeal is its appeal, and don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game. But I value my sanity too much, and my and Chris’s relationship, too much. It’s 2021! I don’t need a consuming stress, I need to watch Will & Grace season 3 episode 12 for the umpteenth time (in which Sandra Bernhard is the guest star and everyone sings Midnight Train To Georgia) while eating the salted fries and McCoy vinegar. , with taramasalata.

While some find Overcooked’s high-octane cuisine escapist, I find it triggering. I am having memories of my days as a student working in restaurants in Soho. I was so bad at it that I had at least 12 restaurant jobs in my freshman year. In Overcooked, I usually go through three of the trickier levels, which Chris gleefully selected to be as traumatic as possible, before calmly putting down my controller and walking into our much more serene and thankfully grounded kitchen to pour myself a large glass. cheap beer. Red wine.

Oliver and Pip play A Way Out

Pip Usher and Oliver Holmes play A Way Out.
Pip Usher and Oliver Holmes play A Way Out. Photograph: Oliver Holmes / The Guardian

Oliver Holmes: Getting my wife to play video games has always felt like a dream. Pip has imagined that we could become a couple doing yoga and cleaning the juices and watching the sunrises. My wish is to poke fun at the chicken wings and Haribo until I achieve that delicate mix of food coma. and a sugar rush and then play PlayStation until dawn.

There have been several failed attempts, but Pip agreed to give it one last chance. We play A Way Out, a cooperative game in which two convicts help each other escape from a Shawshank-inspired jail. Pip chose to be Leo, a short-tempered armed robber, while I chose Vincent, a white-collar con man.

Events got off to a good start, distracting a guard while Pip snuck into the infirmary to steal a chisel. However, things soon inevitably deteriorated. We ran into the same problems as in previous attempts to play together: Pip could make his character walk or look around, but never both at the same time. It made me remember how unintuitive and frustrating video game controllers are when you’re just getting started with them.

It’s hard not to share what you love the most with the person you love the most. But after an hour of playing, Pip was repeatedly stabbed in the prison kitchen. So we thought about giving it a break.

Pip Usher: I have never understood how playing a stressful game helps you relax. Like sociopathic politician Frank Underwood in House of Cards, my husband likes to relax with high-stakes virtual adventures, like A Way Out.

Within minutes of starting the game, he was being mugged by an ogre man who kept yelling that Harvey had sent him. Who is Harvey? I have no idea and the ogre offered no details.

Because I couldn’t understand how to operate the controller, my short time in jail consisted mainly of walking against walls, getting stuck looking up, and being repeatedly humiliated and brutalized. Oliver and I pulled off some successful operations, which I found so stressful that I kept repeating, “Oh God, oh God, oh God” as he yelled “Press square! Press square! Press square! “

Alysia and Joe play Call of Duty: Warzone

Alysia trained Joe as her rookie partner in Call of Duty: Warzone
Alysia trained Joe as her rookie partner in Call of Duty: Warzone

Alysia: Joe was not a player. He had a second-hand PS4 that he bought to watch Netflix. But when Covid reached 10 weeks into our relationship and non-cohabiting couples like us were forced to stay apart, the world inside that PS4 became our shared space.

Since Call of Duty: Warzone was free, it was the obvious game to introduce Joe to when we realized that we were indeed going long distance and needed a way to connect. However, first, my rookie partner had to go through an intense training camp. “Calm down!” I hissed as I clattered through a house as four green enemy dots illuminated my heartbeat sensor. At one point we were pinned down on a hill and I forced Joe to keep going, which he obediently did and was immediately machine-gunned. My guilty silence over the headphones was deafening.

But as his skills have grown over the months, Warzone has become a way of taking care of each other. We set up covering fires, strategize, and in the silence of the cargo lobbies, catch up on the complexities of our day. And after a year, Joe is now actively involved in video game culture. His YouTube feed is full of tips videos from Warzone, and he has bought special paddles for his controller that allow him to perform advanced movements. Warzone has become our routine, a lifesaver, and a way to get victories in the days when real life has been full of losses.

Joseph: I only started playing video games regularly during the lockdown after Alysia suggested teaming up at Warzone. To begin with, he had no idea what he was doing. He regularly threw grenades at doors instead of opening them because he had forgotten which button did what (“Sneaky Joe! Sneaky!” Alysia yelled). It was fun having Alysia training through the controls and game mechanics, even if she overestimated my abilities at times …

I tend to feel bored and isolated if I play a video game alone, but being able to play together online with a headset makes me feel more like we are in the same room. Because our relationship was so young when the pandemic occurred, I know some of Alysia’s friends only by their voices, yet we have shared (virtual) life and death experiences! With Covid making travel impossible, I would never have met them without Call of Duty.

The lockdown closed all dating spots and vacation destinations, but Alysia and I have still managed to get away on a little adventure each night. Instead of museums or a trip to France, we are getting into shootouts and flying helicopters around the fictional map of Verdansk.

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