A Defense of Brawl

So, Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out Sunday at midnight. A friend of mine bought it then, so I’ve had access to it for the last 96 hours. And I’ve spent way too much time playing it. (according to the game it’s been played for 40 hours, but I myself have probably only played for 10-15 hours. Which is still a lot.)

Sure, it’s fun. For those interested, my characters are going to be Zelda, Pit, Ganondorf and Wolf. I already knew how to play Zelda from Melee; I basically learned Pit on Sunday, since he’s a pretty easy character; I played as Ganondorf for a while on Monday, and I’ve decided I’m going to learn how to use him, but so far I’m not that great with him; I picked up Wolf yesterday and have played him exclusively since then, and have gotten decent with him.

But, I wonder, and perhaps you do as well… Is playing for 10-15 hours not a bit excessive? Am I not wasting my time?

I’ve thought about it, and in the end, I think – no.

Playing video games is justifiable in several different ways. I’ll look at three – (1) It’s a social activity, (2) it stimulates thought, and (3) really, what better stuff do I have to do?

  1.  Clearly Smash is a social activity (as long as you’re playing in a group, not by yourself). And it’s truly social, not like sitting in a room with a bunch of people and watching a movie, which is either a solitary experience in a group setting or extremely unpleasant. You interact with the other people playing – taunting them, allying with them against the leader, yelling raucously, and generally getting into the competitive spirit. If you accept that social activity is a good thing (and I think you have to – if we were not intended to participate in society, we might as well not be corporeal beings), Smash seems like a fairly good option as far as social activity is concerned.
  2. Indeed, I do think Smash is good for the mind. I have been gently mocked for using the term “strategy” in relation to Super Smash Brothers, but I think I had a point – playing Smash, or really any video game of decent complexity, does more than just train pattern recognition and quick reflexes. Take a stage like Hyrule Temple. It requires thought to decide when to go into the “cave of infinite life”, to decide when to charge the enemy and when to use ranged attacks, to figure out the best places to place mines, to decide who to target and who to avoid fighting (and this depends on the skill level of other players as well as the in-game situation). Really, Smash presents the players with a fairly complex system they must try to manipulate – and I think that probably helps with system manipulation in general. (I’ll stop now before it sounds like I think Smash should be taught in schools.)
  3. This isn’t to say I think Smash is the ideal activity or anything. But, really… what do I have to do that’s more important? I can only spend so much time every day processing knowledge, by which I mean the verb “reading” generalized beyond literature, or producing knowledge, by which I mean writing generalized beyond literature. I honestly couldn’t stand spending 100% of my waking hours doing that, and I don’t think it would be natural for me to do so either – like I said above, man is meant to be a social animal, not just a knowledge processing/producing machine. So I might as well play Smash. It’s better than going out and getting smashed.

That said, I could probably stand to spend a bit less time playing Smash and a bit more working on Orbivm, etc… and I probably will. I only played for 10-15 hours over the past four days because the new game had just come out. Isn’t not a permanent thing. Really. I promise.

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2 Responses to A Defense of Brawl

  1. Thrawn says:

    Smash Brothers is truley awesome. Great blog!

    I agree with all the points, but I actually think that #2 could be a bit more in depth.

    Since around 2004 I began playing melee seriously, and as f now I’d consider myself semi-pro in it, and the biggest aspect that makes it different from other fighting games was the need to think–without set combos, button mashing wasn’t an option, and the ability to bth read and react to your opponent, as well as see what they are doing, and know ways to counter it was important.

    But I was probably too obessed with melee.

    Brawl is simpler, but that just makes the thinking more important…

    For the record, koopa is too good ;)

  2. Stephen Wang says:

    Hahaha I find it a little funny (and representative of your character) that you feel the need to logically justify your time spent on Brawl. I kinda agree, although I still think a game like StarCrat (or Go…) is better overall.

    Metaknight ftw.

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