My college roommate grew up with a guy named Josh. Josh possessed a skill set that, while mostly useless in real world application, is none-the-less impressive. One might call it stickttoittiveness, or dedication, or even too much free time on his hands, but what one couldn’t call it is unimpressive. I am envious of this talent, although years of practice and training have left me short of the bar Josh has set. An uninformed observer would say Josh plays video games, but more accurately, Josh makes video games his bitch.
I learned of Josh’s amazing abilities in my freshmen year of college when my aforementioned roommate (who graciously brought his Super Nintendo to our dorm room) asked if I had played [insert name of every popular SNES game here]. The short answer was no. The roommate, incredulous of my arcade naiveté, proceeded to beat the shit out of every game he brought as I watched, mouth agape. As he played he would often loudly declare “I just Joshed the shit out of that!” Assuming this was some arcane New England turn-of-phrase, I dismissed it as one of his many idiosyncrasies. Before too long, I realized that “Joshing”, traditionally meaning “to joke or kid”, in this context meant, “to play a game like Josh would – that is to say, play a game so well that the programmer of said game would begin to reevaluate his life’s work in deference to the player doing the ‘Joshing’”. New Englanders aren’t into brevity.
Soon, we moved away from the safety of the 16-bit console and devolved into the diabolical world of Sid Meyer and his Civilizations. Now playing head to head, my roommate, during one of his inevitable wins, would turn around and yell something to the effect of “Too bad your agrarian civilization didn’t figure out how to make a nuclear bomb before my post-industrial society did. You just got Joshed, bitch!”
Indeed, I did.
Recently, my former roommate, now a father of two (with a third on way, God help him), was telling me about the challenge of Joshing Batman: Arkham City. He has already beaten the game, but he had not beaten every single minute aspect of it; a game can only be truly Joshed when no additional content remains. I found myself a little envious. I began to think dark and lonely thoughts. “Why can’t I be good enough to Josh a game like Batman? Am I not dexterous enough? Am I not patient enough?” I mean, this was a serious psychological blow.
Long ago, I resigned myself to my inability to play video games as well as my friends, or in this case, my friend’s friends. First-person shooters actually make me feel nauseated. RPGs have to be especially compelling for me to become invested. Racing games have a serious and real-world effect on my driving. However, some games, by virtue of their content, are a lot of fun. Batman: Arkham Whatever features Batman, so my pre-order is almost guaranteed. Games where unrelenting and wanton killing is the core element are right in my wheelhouse. (Yet, my ability to complete a game gives me psychological pause.) So, when an opportunity to commit virtual murder in a sandbox environment presents itself, I often jump at the chance.
However, I am always aware of my shortcomings vis a vis the completion of games. I don’t believe that I will ever be able to Josh a game. My attention span won’t allow it. I will also admit (although it’s practically heresy in the gaming world) to using walk-throughs on the games I love the most. To me, using a walk-through allows me to skip over the parts that would inspire me to Rage Quit. If I’m stuck, I can bypass the feelings of inadequacy and convince myself that I am worthwhile as a gamer.
I suppose I have Joshed something. I just didn’t expect it to be myself.
Dickie, while reflecting on his life, realized that he’s beaten only a handful of games. He became sad when he thought this may be a greater indicator of his ability to see tasks through to the end. That being said, he also realiz