Happy Feet: The Art Of Playing Games ‘Wrong’

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One of the (many) amazing things about videogames is that we can all enjoy them in our own way, at our own pace. 

You like playing Super Smash Bros. with a few mates and some beers on a Friday night? Awesome. You wanna sit at home and sweat League of Legends online by yourself? That’s cool too, chum.

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There’s certainly no shortage of ways to enjoy videogames, and as time has gone on we’re looking at even more ways to play than ever before. Motion controls, VR, numerous controller configurations to suit your play style or preference – we’re simply spoiled for choice.

But there are some people out there, on that thing called the internet, who seem to thrive on taking this variety beyond what most people would ever expect, much less ask for.

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I’m talking about people who push games past what the developers ever intended, purposefully handicapping themselves with ridiculous control schemes and outright bizarre challenges.

Take Dylan Beck – AKA Rudeism. His brief Twitch description says it all really: “I play games wrong”.

And good lord, he isn’t exaggerating. One of his most recent feats involved reaching level 100 in World of Warcraft using only dance mats. Other highlights include his quest to play Rocket League with a guitar, and his attempt to play five Pokemon games simultaneously.

Watch live video from Rudeism on www.twitch.tv

Why? Well, as Dylan told me (and as you might expect) because it’s fun, first and foremost. But he also reckons that a bit more to it than that:

I find it breathes new life into older, previously conquered games, and I feel that the more I do it, the more it opens up the possibilities in my head of what else can be possible. Just like it’s always been, we mostly play games for fun, and I find this whole idea really fun! I want to push myself to try and make the impossible a reality in terms of what we can do when we’re impaired – whether that be with less buttons than usual, more difficulty in pressing them, or some other way. Trying to work around that impairment is a game in and of itself for me

It’s an admirable idea, certainly, and Dylan clearly entertains a lot of people in his attempts. He boasts a sizeable 6354 followers on Twitch, with tons of people tuning into his streams watch him play and generally shoot the shit with him.

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But besides the obvious – that it’s fun to play or watch someone fuck about on a game in a weird way – this approach adds an entirely new kind of challenge for the gamer, well outside what the developers ever intended.

I mean, games like Rocket League and Mega Man just weren’t built to be used with Guitar Hero controllers and dance mats, so how the hell do these guys come up with shit like this?

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For Dylan, these ideas usually just come out of nowhere. “Typically, the dumber the idea, the better” which, if you ask me, is an incredible way to make any decision in life.

While Dylan is something of a jack of all trades, in terms of odd peripherals, there are some gamers out there who favour conquering titles with one specific bit of gear. Nick Hagman, springs to mind here, an intrepid young chap who endeavours to beat games using nothing more than a dance mat.

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Around seven years ago, Nick was asked to try out a dance mat peripheral for his disabled friend. He’d just been playing through Castelvania on the NES and decided to see if he could play that with the unconventional control scheme (standard).

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A curious addiction gripped him, and after realising that other people got a kick out of him seeing him dance his way through games, he decided to stick with it.

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Like Dylan, Nick does it for a number of reasons:

Personal satisfaction, the labor of love that is self-challenge, for my friends, and for my Twitch community. It’s a real joy to overcome the challenges!

Nick certainly has a pretty impressive record himself, having beat everything from Super Mario Bros and Goldeneye 64 through to Mega Man 2 and Ninja Gaiden. Seriously – he really beat Ninja Gaiden on a dance mat. Magic feet? I suspect as much. Check it out below.

There are probably a ton of people who’d be ready to write off what the likes of Dylan and Nick do as stupid or pointless, but I honestly see their strange exploits as a wonderful example of the incredible range and scope that videogames have.

For example, I can’t imagine for a second that when Shigeru Miyamoto finished work on Super Mario Bros, he expected some guy to come along years later and attempt to beat it using nothing but his feet and his will.

The fact that there are people who are getting enjoyment out of games in ways that literally no one ever expected is pretty amazing. And if there are folk who watch Dylan, Nick, and the many others like them, and then decide to spend a stupid afternoon with their mates doing the same and having a laugh? Well, only a bastard could find fault with that.

Dylan (clearly a man of ambition) seems to think that there’s no such thing as an impossible way to play. 

I think I’ve barely scratched the surface! The only challenges I’ve immediately thought of as impossible are ones that we don’t have the technology for yet. The one example I can think of is when someone said that I should play a game with mind controls – as far as I initially thought, we didn’t have that kind of gear yet!

I should point out that Dylan actually kindly showed me that thanks to the likes EEG headsets, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we could one day see Rudeism tackle Demon’s Souls with a mere thought.

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Meanwhile, Nick acknowledges the limitations he’s set himself do come at a cost – there are certain kinds of games that simply aren’t possible on a dance mat, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise I guess, but when you watch a man beat Ninja Gaiden with his feet you believe anything is possible.

Although, he remains optimistic that most things are possible:

There are ways around everything. Moving cursors, hotmapping, figuring out how to beat a certain level that expects you to use Weapon X or Skill Y, but you don’t have enough buttons underneath your feet to use it. With handicaps in place, you learn how to play the game your own way, formulating strategies that often times take advantage of the game’s mechanics (or lack thereof). It requires patience, determination, patience, support, and patience. I would say nothing is impossible, but most games are pretty hard!

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So what does the future hold for these ever industrious chaps? Once Dylan is done with his downright odd Multilocke Pokemon Challenge, he might turn his attention to Dark Souls 3. All the hype around the game has got him excited to give it a go, and I’m sure if he does, he’ll do it in the weirdest way possible.

Nick, meanwhile, will continue to dance through games no sane man has ever thought to dance through. Someone’s gotta do it, I guess.

All in all then, Dylan and Nick are set to carry on doing what they do best. Playing games wrong, and having fun while doing it.

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