I’m Finally Playing Sports, Dad! (Rocket League)

Whilst I much preferred the predecessor’s name, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars, I must also admit that I’d never heard of it until Rocket League landed on our doorsteps, so I suppose there’s a lot to be said for punctual titles. From what I’ve heard and seen, the two games have an immense amount of gameplay in common, and the fact that the predecessor to Rocket League didn’t take off may very well be due to its foreboding title; you cannot even acronymise it easily. SARPBC? Whatever the reason, it’d be very interesting to study, as in contrast to Superbatic-Acrosonic-Rocketbattle-FUCK, Rocket League has, erm, rocketed into immense popularity.

And this pleases me.

I finally caved in and picked up a copy around the time my student finance was starting to consider my bank account as a possible future friend. In other words, I bought it at full price when I really probably shouldn’t have, and that rarely happens. The, ah, full price part, at least. I’d seen so many people play this game that it was on my favourites list before it had even finished installing. I did pause briefly to consider the irony and dismay the future would bring should I dislike the game or be atrocious at it, but luckily, this was not the case.

Rocket League is one of the most ego inflating games in existence. I’m not sure I’d ever shouted “Fuck yeah I’m awesome” at my computer screen before last week. Realistically speaking, I’d like to think I’m marginally better than the average player, although there’s a good chance that everyone thinks that way if they’re able to grasp the basics and some nifty tricks. For instance, the frontflip you spam when you’re out of boost and are trying with futility to reach your goal before the ball trundles its way across the line, sneering at you as it explodes in your face and frames you for hitting an own goal.

One thing I do not like about Rocket League is the people playing it. If you’re one of those people who screams at their teammates over text chat about how much they suck at the game, then for goodness sake, stop. In anticipation of this, I discovered and utilised the disable chat function in the options before ever entering a multiplayer lobby, having heard grim tales of rage goblins. Nothing’s to stop them from sending me an angry Steam message but luckily it seems that none of the ragekind have evolved far enough to hit shift and tab at the same time.

I also avoid ranked matches, and this typically goes for all games. Any type of game in which you feel forced to perform your absolute best for fear of being told you suck is, in my opinion, not a game at all but a competition. And I’m not playing for a competition. I’m playing to frontflip into the ball a second time, accidentally knocking it from its trail into the goal and subsequently sending it hurtling towards mine. I’m playing to laugh at those moments, not crumple into a ball of apology and regret. And if you take the game so seriously that you rage at my thankfully deafened ears over this, then maybe you should be playing ranked matches instead.

To clarify, I’m not saying that enjoying ranked, competitive play is foolish, or a waste of time. Everyone experiences fun differently. It’s just not for me. It’s the same reason why I don’t do raids in World of Warcraft. Anger, indignance and spite towards a bunch of pixels has never been what gaming is about for me.

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