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At gaming consoles far, far away

Published: Friday, 10/16/2015 – Updated: 2 minutes ago

CULTURE SHOCK

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER


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“Are you dead already?”

“Yes. Twice.”

“Ouch … “

Even to my non-gamer wife, my first experience with an online multiplayer shooter — the Star Wars Battlefront beta released last weekend for a short but successful run — was an epic fail.

This impressive recreation of The Empire Strikes Back’s battle of Hoth between the Rebels and Empire was no place for a fortysomething rookie matched against gamers half my age and quintuple my skill.

My ego already singed, moments later I was felled a third time by a red laser blast I never saw.

And then a fourth … by a player with the gamertag with a sly pot reference, Hoosierdaddy420.

Shortly after an ignominious defeat to Rebel Reefer Madness, I respawned yet again as my hapless but dutiful Imperial Snowtrooper, one of 20 player-controlled foot soldiers on team Empire competing against 20 players on team Rebel Alliance.

The objective of the “Walker Assault” mission, depending on your side, is to either protect or destroy the walkers, aka AT-ATs, the Empire’s gigantic camel-looking metal war machines.

Star Wars Battlefront, Electronic Arts’ foray into this fabled film franchise’s gaming universe, also features power-ups for jumping into a spacecraft and battling it out over Hoth’s wintery-blue sky or assuming the role of one of two powerful heroes — Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker — who, in the proper hands, are more than capable of turning a battle’s favor.

In fact, it was the lightsaber of Skywalker, as played by gamer TrickyPorcupine, that next cut me down with a deadly slice from behind.

Fifteen seconds later and gamer Zestic killed me. I never saw him coming, either. The Emperor would be most displeased by my apparent lack of staying alive.

The Force suddenly smiled upon me, though, as I successfully managed to traverse the chaotic frozen battlefield just long enough to squeeze off multiple shots at Rebel scum UnlimitedBt0 from long range. My celebration of his death was fleeting, as gamer TrickyPorcupine exacted cold revenge for his fallen teammate.

And again. I hated TrickyPorcupine.

A gamer named ShowgunBull also found it easy to up his kills tally by blasting my trooper … twice. There’s no Mercy Rule in Star Wars Battlefront … or any multiplayer game, apparently.

Being either stubbornly masochistic or naively optimistic regarding my gaming prowess, I ventured into Hoth again,  moving and ducking through rocky embankments, hoping the snow provided cover for my white-armored avatar.

Then I saw a group of my fellow troopers being knocked around by Skywalker’s blade like snow-white piñatas. Preferring stealth to Rambo heroism, I zoomed in with my blaster’s scope and started blasting away — inadvertently hitting a fellow trooper before I locked onto the true target.

Skywalker fell dead. The Rebel traitor and scourge of the Empire was no more.

Even better — moments later and my team was victorious. I audibly exhaled in relief that the battle was over and in excitement at besting such a powerful opponent.

My triumph was fleeting as the leaderboard popped up with detailed performances of every player in this match.

Krofftsuperstar — my obscure gamertag reference to the truly horrible ‘70s Saturday morning series, The Krofft Supershow — was at the bottom with one kill and 13 deaths. Not only had I not been the one to deal the fatal shot to Luke Skywalker, I was by far the worst player in this match — and everyone could see it.

Even in victory the stats mocked me.

To quote every aging action hero, “I’m too old for this.”

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.

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