I’m a long-time video gamer — maybe even nearly an addict with a modicum of self control — and lately I have come to lament the good ol’ days of simplicity. I blame it on Madden NFL ’07. I picked up a copy of this latest game, looking forward to going head to head with my son, Sean, in online play. On the drive home I imaged blitzing on defense and sacking his QB at least every other play. (That drives Sean nuts!) Got home, had dinner, and slipped the game into the console and pulled out the instruction booklet. No big deal, I thought, the instructions are no longer than years past. Having played this game for the last four or five years on the Playstation 2, XBox and now the XBox 360, I figured I could get a quick grip on it. Then I actually read the instructions and realized that “bloat” has finally hit the video game scene.
A sample of the controls for Madden ’07:
• Defensive Line Audible: Left Button, Left Analog Stick, Directional Pad…
• QB Action Mode: Right Trigger and Left Trigger, then shift to directional running controls.
How many fingers am I supposed to be able to use and still hang on to the blasted controller?
I’m not too bad at most video games. I play fair. I always stick with an online game even if I am or my team is losing. But I don’t want to spend months mastering a multitude of button combinations just to have a chance at winning a few games. Video games, in my mind, have always been a simple form of entertainment for my generation. That’s why games like Call to Duty 2 and the Halo series have done so well. Simplicity. Is that too much to ask?
After all, as my forty-third birthday looms on the very near horizon, I will need every advantage, lest complex controls, carpal tunnel syndrome, or arthritis become excuses for losing to my kids and grandkids in deathmatch competition.