By Noman Ansari
For many in Pakistan, video games are still in the same category as children’s cartoons – which I still watch, by the way. But for hardcore gamers, video games can be a form of art that aside from providing entertainment, can also stimulate one on an artistic and intellectual level.
Personally, I’d like to see a child perfectly execute a bomb disposal with zero casualties in the tactical shooter, Rainbow Six, or lead their nation to world domination in the strategy game, Sid Meier’s Civilisation. Also, I’d love to see a child frag me in an online shooter, like Battlefield. Okay, so the last one actually happens quite often.
Anyway, I have compiled a list of 10 things which Pakistani video gamers absolutely hate. Here you go!
1.The stereotypes: The last time I told an uncle and aunt that I, a 31-year-old male, spent most of my free time playing video games, I earned a smile so incredulous that for a moment I felt like a ‘special needs’ child. The aunt, sensing my discomfort, tried to diffuse the situation, but only made things more awkward by nodding at her frowning husband and saying:
Well, he still watches “Tom & Jerry”
2. Gaming with low pings: Having your rear handed to you in a multi-player game by a kid yelling at you in a funny accent from France is amusing, but for the wrong reasons. Yes, that little munchkin screaming French profanities has a better internet connection than you in a tiny rural corner of his nation, and a distinct advantage, as your game runs as jarringly as a rickshaw low on CNG.
It just gets more frustrating when you call your ISP to complain, only to have them take hours to walk you through a hundred taxing steps on your computer, to finally declare what you already knew:
“Yes jee, the problem is from our end.”
Here is an idea for a Call of Duty map, which Pakistani gamers would love to pay for (and fail on): A hostage rescue mission, which takes place in the offices of PTCL or WorldCall.
3. The racially charged quips online: When I announced in a game of Counter Strike that I was playing from Pakistan, a foreign squad member nastily asked me why I wasn’t on the terrorist team before cussing out my ethnicity.
Initially, I thought they banned me from the server for my nationality. Later, I realised that it was for shooting my squad member!
4. Piracy and local video game stores: Geekily decorated video game stores abroad have called security on me for nerding out on video gaming nirvana. Pakistani video game stores on the other hand look like they were decorated by left over ‘paan’ spit.
What is worse about local stores is that they only stock pirated copies, leaving local gamers with few options, aside from importing, or buying digital versions. Importing something like a fancy collector’s edition of a hot new video game can cost twice as much as retail.
Moreover, with an ever weakening currency, paying subscription fees for a massively multi-player online game (MMOs), or buying digital copies online can take a big chunk out of your wallet.
All of this is especially frustrating when you consider that countries like Thailand and India have localised versions of video games, which are legitimate and sold at prices that match national income levels.
5. The local hardware stores: Want to buy a video game peripheral you want desperately? Not only will you have to spend significantly more than the item is actually worth, but god forbid it malfunctions, you will have to deal with a local warranty system; this is more frustrating than watching Misbahul-Haq batting to save a cricket match.
6. The UPS/stabiliser factor: Unless you are willing to spend another small fortune on a voltage stabilising system, your super expensive gaming setup could be back at the store. And yes, that would mean you having to deal with the dreaded Misbahul-Haq warranty system.
7. The loadshedding factor: Want to relax after a long day by cracking some skulls in Mortal Kombat? Well, you better hope there isn’t a power outage. Only in Pakistan do gamers have to schedule around loadshedding sessions.
8. The video game café dirty mouths: If you want to try a local video game café, make sure you leave your little brother at home, and carry a bar of soap to clean out the mouths of everyone cussing out rude things they’d like to do to each other’s relatives.
9. The lack of local video game development: While becoming a professional video game developer in a foreign country is very lucrative, it isn’t nearly as easy in a country where only a handful oflocal developers have found success.
10. The fact that Pakistani parents don’t understand the “AO” rating: Pakistani parents gleefully buy their kids ‘adults only’ games like Grand Theft Auto, where players “gain health” when serviced by prostitutes. Then, they have the audacity to blame the games rather than themselves, when instead of parenting, they were watching reruns of “Humsafar“.
The Express Tribune