Once upon a time, when I was a littler boy, I used to spend my evenings watching my Dad play computer games. It started back with Amiga classics, like the Cryo’s adventure/strategy hybrid based on Frank Herbert’s Dune, but later moved to more modern games on the PC, especially the Thief games
Despite the games my Dad played though, you couldn’t really ever consider him to be a gamer. He chose a few games and played them religiously, but he didn’t have the breadth of gaming knowledge that I have and when he played, you could see that. He manifested it physically, especially in 3D games which he sometimes found difficult to navigate.
Playing Thief: The Dark Age
, for example, he would move his head to match the movements of the mouse. If he moved the mouse to tell Garret to look up then my Dad would also move his head to look up, though keeping his eyes glued to the screen. When he needed to shoot a rope arrow into some rafters overhead then he’d slowly start to point his nose at the ceiling, gazing down past his chin. Peering over an in-game cliff he’d be burying his jaw in his chest, having to open his eyes wide so he could see past his eyebrows. The constant side-to-side movements made him look like he was nursing a stiff neck, but I don’t think he was ever aware he was doing it, even when he did it really fast.
Roll your head and say "Aaaahh!"
Nowadays I’ve got a gaming twitch of my own, which I’ve noticed coming about only in multiplayer games. The crux of it is that, in multiplayer games where you have a melee attack, I end up lunging towards the screen as if my chair had been suddenly electrified. It’s especially evident in Modern Warfare 2
, which I’ve picked up again recently. I’ll be playing along as normal, no strange head movements or anything, when an enemy will dart across my screen at point-blank range. Quick! Press Mouse 4!
And suddenly, for the duration of the time it takes to click that button, the screen increases in size and my buttocks have left my seat. Only afterwards do I realise that I’ve lunched forwards as if I was actually reaching into the screen for a sweeping knife attack.
I'm not the only one who does things like this. Harry's fingers twitch whenever he hears a guitar solo, like he's playing Guitar Hero
in his head.
Lunging: Occasionally useful
My theory, unnecessary though it is, is that it’s borne out of immersion into the game. Like my Dad, pivoting his head around to mirror Thief
’s Garret, I’m so caught up in the game that the barrier between planned action and actual response starts to fall down. Edward recently wrote that getting into ‘the zone’ is key to scoring well
, but for me it’s more of a barrier for some games. I live in fear that one day I’ll become so immersed that I’ll actually lunge forwards far enough to knock my screen off the back of my desk.
The only cure that I can see so far is to either stop playing the games which have this effect, which I obviously can’t do, or to tie my neck to the chair back, which might kill me. I’m going to be forced to do one or the other eventually though, I think, unless someone else has a better idea? Surely I can’t be the only person with such an odd gaming-induced twitch?