Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures
One Button, One Scotch, One Beer

L.B. Jeffries | 16 Dec 2008 08:56
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Game developers haven't stopped there, however, and it shows in the pristine design of Big Buck Hunter. Yes, it has received universally low scores, and yes, it's incredibly dull when you're sober. But drunk? Big Buck Hunter is one of the best. The average drunk person can still grasp the fundamental principles of a gun: You just aim, pull trigger and take a sip of your drink. Big Buck Hunter boils down all the essential elements of hunting into a five-minute experience. It forces you to wait before you start unloading, brilliantly combining the need for downtime into the game itself. To get the highest score, you have to hit a certain number of bucks before they all run away. And when the moment finally comes, you have a limited number of shots, so you only have to focus until you're out of ammo. It seizes on all the handicaps a drunk person may have while playing a videogame and makes them part of its design.

Plenty of other bar games follow a similar set of gameplay principles. Trivia games allow you to chat with teammates and reflect, and it doesn't take much manual dexterity to press a button every minute or so. Blackjack is also highly playable for drunk people because it involves next to no thinking or strategy. If the cards add up to 17 or higher, stay. If you're below, take a hit. If it's 11, double down and pray. That gives you a 44-percent chance of winning no matter what. As my dealer would fondly say back when I lived along the Nevada border, "If it can breathe, I can deal it cards." Even if you're playing with other people, you don't experience the stress of a competitive game like poker because you're not taking each other's money. It's just you versus the house; revealing your hand has no consequences. Drunk players can even ask other people to do the math on their cards.

But what about the console world? We can't always be in a bar, and nothing quite beats a good house party or pre-game gaming session. Unsurprisingly, the best drunk games still rely on these basic themes. Wii Sports is an interesting drunk game because all its sub-games still feature the key ingredients: bursts of activity, plenty of downtime and a minimal requirement of skill or coordination. "Casualness" aside, Wii bowling is really fun when you're drunk and have company over.

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