Kimochi is a Japanese word whose closest translation is "Good Feeling". I'm going to relate this to video games.

I'm an anti-social freakish nerd, I'll tell you, and I know full well I am. I've had a lot of very bad experiences with group projects, group video games, and group field trips. I've had incredible single player gaming experiences. Still, I will admit something that is true.

Playing with people can be heaven.

Immediately notable is the "can" in that statement of fact. What I am saying in one sentence is "The gaming experience can be augmented by the additional of other living persons such that its enjoyability increases to undetailable levels, or such that it loses all semblence of entertainment." In english, people make games either more fun or terrible.

I've had far too many experiences playing online where people suck. Not suck in the sense that they are bad at the game, that is forgivable. Everyone sucked in that fashion at some point. The kind of suck I am talking about is the suck of cheating, laziness, and general apathy that makes playing with people extremely frustrating.

This is especially true of my years playing the real life sport of soccer. Many of the teams I played on, I was the single player on the team who felt that properly playing the game meant I had to work hard and sweat. My teammates had some weird notion in their head that they didn't need to run around to play soccer, or that they could singlehandedly take on the other team of eleven people. It's a team sport of a reason, and they didn't get it.

So, it is very true that playing any game with people can suck, very much so. However, often the opposite can be true.

Some of the best gaming I've done came in the form of the Halo 2 sessions that started at my college after its release and continued every friday from evening to the late, late hours of the night. Twelve, sometimes sixteen people all together in their battle for flags, frags, and fun. That was good.

But there is good, and there is "kimochi".

I'll begin with the anti-kimochi, the worst gaming experience possible as related to people. This is when playing with people results in such an unenjoyable experience that it crushes our spirit and wish to play anything for a time. There was a game I played with my brother and some random online people where this happened. After my first death in this game, I prepared to start fresh and fight anew. Unfortunately, while the game allowed for this, the other players wouldn't have it. Whatever I did, I could barely erect the most basic structure of my base before I was utterly crushed by my foes' unhindered forces. They didn't adhere to the, "Don't hit a man while he's down" rule. They not only hit me, they had a DDR party on my bloated corpse. I've never even spoken the true name of the game since.

When "kimochi" happens, it is a feeling that is unparalled in any other experience I've had. Whether in competing against people, with people or both, the feeling acquired is simply magical. It's pure excitement and joy poured into you without want or care. It is simply, kimochi.

I've only had a few experiences of kimochi in my life, but they were simply incredible.

The first kimochi I ever experienced was in a old MUD named FreeMUD. It was free, it had a small userbase, and it was kimochi. I played it with my brother, my sister, and people I didn't know. It was always a good feeling to play, it was always great to roleplay with other people, and it was the best MMORPG-like experience I've ever had. But, like all good things, it ended when the MUD disappeared as it was moving to a new server, and I never found it again. That feeling became the ideal of group activity that little has ever lived up to or even partially obtained.

Another significant instance was my first experience of two person, one cart play in Mario Kart: Double Dash with my brother-in-law. I don't think I've ever felt that in sync with a person before. Even when we messed up, it was still awesome. Everything was fun, everything was awesome, and it was all because I wasn't playing alone. The experience is one that I do not easily forget.

There have been other cases, but the point has been made. Kimochi is a great thing to achieve in anything.

The unfortunate situation of life now is that it is increasingly difficult to achieve online. Years ago, even after the days of FreeMUD, the number of people who we'll call "losers" in the world of online games were very few. There weren't people cussing out other people simply because there was a chat function, there weren't people going crazy and intentionally killing their own team, it was a safe place to play games because everyone knew the goals and did their best to accomplish them. This doesn't mean there was always kimochi, as people will often do what they deem best as an individual, but it wasn't an impossible dream.

Such is not the case today. While World of Warcraft has been a very good experience for me, and so has been playing Counter-Strike online, I've inevitably found that there are always people who lack the fundamental understanding that the point of playing in a group competition game is to support your own group and defeat the enemy. The sad state of things in WoW is such that players in "The Alliance" (team 1) will stand around and do nothing while one of their own is battling and being killed by one of "The Horde" (team 2) who snuck up on them and attacked them out of the blue. The real life equivalent is someone is being murdered in the streets, and people (instead of either trying to help or running away screaming) watch the event as though it was a pair of pidgeons fighting each other over a prime spot for picking up bread crumbs. In Counter-Strike, some places will ban you outright for simply making a mistake, not to mention hackers. Kimochi is technically possible, but it had become the impossible dream it once wasn't.

All kimochi has left in the world of games are groups of people, like the Halo 2 sessions I adored, getting together in the real world and playing. Until the anonymity of the internet no longer makes people assume they can cheat and do whatever they want, kimochi will not be easily found there.

No comments: