Shame on Your Name
Monday, 24 January, 2011

I happen to be thinking about the concept of “public play” at the moment because it’s the next theme for pitches to Kill Screen. Anyway, Skate 3 obliged with a bit of a public play experience last night which I kind of enjoyed, kind of hated.

So I don’t really play the game online a lot because it’s just not quite my thing to do skateboarding competitions with unknown strangers. The idea of skating around with someone I know while talking to them is deeply appealing, but the silent and gritty trick-fests that are the “quick match” setups online aren’t my cup of tea. Nonetheless, I do occasionally log a little time in that world because it’s an interesting thing.

So anyway, last night I ended up in a “spot battle” with two other players. This means just trying to score the highest score in a 30 second slot, where each person takes their turn while the other two watch them (and even rate them with a primitive rating system). We ended up at a level in which you start on a really high ledge and have to ollie off it to land in a sequence of vert and tranny ramps, doing sweet tricks.

I was last, so I watched the first two dudes go for it, my heart beating a little hard. They were really quite great – lots of flips and grabs and one foots and on and on. So I wasn’t really figuring on competing with them or anything, they were flat out better than me. Still, my turn came up and I figure I should at least make a game of it. Ollied off the high ledge. Misjudged something. Landed, after a long fall, right on some flat ground that caused my skaters knees to buckle and him to fall down. A score of zero.

Next round the first guy was pretty amazing again, but the second guy did the same thing as me and just fell down. Up to me again, so I pushed and this time tried a different angle to get off the ledge, going sideways instead of straight ahead. It seemed great until my skater’s knees smacked into the edge of a ramp and he faceplanted. A score of zero.

By the time it came around to me again I was desperate to pull something off, but also in the throes of a kind of “learned helplessness” effect where I also felt I couldn’t do anything about my fate. I ollied off, more hoping for something than trying for it. Off the board I came, this time collapsing onto my back for a score of… zero.

Now that’s a kind of public play they don’t talk about as much as they should – public humiliation in the company of silent, awesome strangers. Naturally, nobody said anything because there were no words. But somewhere out there in the world there are two people who saw a third play literally the worst round of Skate 3 possible three times in a row. I’d love to know what they thought about it in some ways, sitting there in their living rooms, listening to the thud of my virtual body on concrete.

Frankly, I’m kind of proud that I stuck it out enough to fail three times rather than just quit (a “shame quit” rather than a “rage quit”, it would have been).

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