180: One Button, One Scotch, One Beer

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One Button, One Scotch, One Beer

Alcohol and electronic entertainment go hand in hand - as long as the games are simple enough for a 3-year-old to play. L.B. Jeffries examines what makes a successful videogame for drunk people.

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What's not a good drunk game? Street Fighter II. My roommate and I tried that once. It amounted to about 30 minutes of me attacking nothing while crouched in the corner on the far left side of the screen while my roommate struggled to plug in his controller.

Also, there was much shouting about the thickness of Chun-Li's thighs...

I tried to play GTAIV while drunk a couple of days ago. Keep in mind, I was very well smashed.

It was hard as anything. I totalled a car every minute. Some really brutal crashes, haha.

That being said, I don't own that game. I have noticed that a game's simplicity doesn't matter for me when I drink. If I am used to playing the game (example: San Andreas, Mario 64, Halo) in such a way that I don't have to think about what button does what, or it all feels natural from how used to it I am, I have no problems playing it while drunk. I once got 30 stars on Mario in one sitting while properly sloshed.

I think Gears of War 2 is a bit like pool -- you play better when you've had a couple drinks, but if you have one too many, you cross over from loose and flowing play into messy inaccuracy.

I love having a bit of scotch when I game, but you have to know the limit.

Perfect drunk party game: the gliding mini-game from Super Monkey Ball II. Chances are most if not all of the monkeys will end up in the water, which keeps the spectators amused and motivates them to try and do better themselves. They won't, but by that time the first set of players will have unlikely new theories concerning how to make the perfect landing and will be ready for another try. (Splosh!)

What would make a good video game for drinking. The same things that make drinking games fun. Stupid insane rules that usually involve the loser drinking, a slightly competitive nature, an emphasis on luck or over skill or if not luck skills you would never use sober, rounds are short and people drink often. Either that or karaoke and trivia which are just bar games ported to a console.

There is nothing stupider than playing guitar hero drunk(although popular at parties). If you've ever played it sober than the decline in skills is beyond frustrating. Songs last 3 minutes or longer. In fact, since most of us play games sober, playing any game drunk does not translate well. A collection of mini-games would work if the only time you played it was when drinking, and employed a loser drinks type of situation.

...there's always the Beer Pong game on the Wii, right? I mean, if you're not actually in a place big enough to house an actual beer pong table.

While Guitar Hero drunk is awful, Rock Band is, however, amazing. You don't realize what a difference having a vocalist makes in that game until you've got a buddy drawling Don't Fear the Reaper three bars behind the actual song. Usually, when we get to that point, we don't care all that much about accuracy, and just want a good reason to make ourselves and others look like idiots for an hour.

RBI Baseball for Nintendo. When you are playing against someone sober who knows how to play, the game becomes 9 innings of strikeouts (the wicked curveball across the plate trick), but when you are tore up, it becomes the slugfest it is meant to be! (and for some reason, the fat outfielders that all run in unison are amazing haha)

I guess Im strange but a few drinks improves my performance, I usually like a few drinks before healing an instance in WOW or playing a few rounds of Counterstrike.
Maybe Im just an alcoholic XD

Big Buckhunter Pro...it's like that girl I dated in '99...great fun, but I was too embarrassed to admit anything during the day. And before you start the hate, we stayed friends. She's married to one of my old supervisors and they have two kids.

dungeonmaster:
I guess Im strange but a few drinks improves my performance, I usually like a few drinks before healing an instance in WOW or playing a few rounds of Counterstrike.
Maybe Im just an alcoholic XD

I agree. There's a fine line (a REALLY fine line) but I play primarily twitch-shooters (Q3A and TF2) and a bit of alcohol tends to smooth out my movements and aiming. My best guess is that somehow the alcohol balances out the adrenaline, and even though neither are good for fine motor skills, slower and smoother is better than faster and jittery.

Also, bad medics in tf2 suck more than anything else in the game. If you're drunk, you should be playing something that doesn't actually require aiming or timing like pyro or engineer.

Mario Party and its ilk are the perfect games to play while drinking/drunk, all that mad button tapping and flailing can lead to some brilliantly hilarious moments of failure.

Playing games while drinking does lead to some interesting discussions. First, the very notion of just what drinking is varies from person to person. To one guy, drinking just means he's sipping at a beer or two while he's running instances or shooting people in the face. To another, drinking is really the primary behavior, and the gaming is just secondary. The former situation happens all the time, and likely isn't even noticeable to the others participating, while the second perhaps occurs a bit less frequently and is impossible to ignore if you're trying to game with the drunkard.

I don't concern myself in the slightest with people who choose to get smashed and play a game with themselves, but I take serious exception if they're in a position to impact my enjoyment of a game and waste my time. Whether they're team-killing and being ineffectual in Counterstrke, or worse, part of a WoW raid that I'm in, what they're doing is more akin to the obnoxiousness of someone roaring drunk in public.

Grif Ball Halo 3, A friend invited me to a game of Grif Ball at the time I had no Ideal what it was. But the comments he made to the other team was funny as hell. Also Ironically anyone on his team would win. (We had a 5 person party going) And he kept sing, one line over and over of a song.

Best game drunk I would have to say is Rock band 2 period. I played the guitar totally smashed on expert, and still wonder why my friend can't play the bass very well... Also singing works good to smashed, some how I ended up on the floor with a broken bottle of Smirnoff's.

Did the WOW raiding thing drunk, it takes off the edge of everyone is a moron (Pissed me off so much). I never wiped the raid but I was laughing at the people who did.

I often find before a night out and friends come over the Wii gets powered up and something like Wii sports/party or Smash Bros is loaded up. Usually the game is turned into a drinking game of some variety with the loser/winner doing shots or something. And the longer you play the more competative and drunk you become.

Its a good way to play drinking games without the usual card games.

PedroSteckecilo:
Mario Party and its ilk are the perfect games to play while drinking/drunk, all that mad button tapping and flailing can lead to some brilliantly hilarious moments of failure.

Have to second this one, as this game is a few A taps away from playing itself between mini games you have all sorts of downtime between mastrabatory shaking matches and dart throwing.

The down side? Taking 45 minuets to realize your still on the first turn practicing the first minigame you come across.

I really liked this article. its a unique perspective on a topic I'd never really given any thought to. kudos.

I expected the comments section to be filled with a hundred enraged TF2 medics.

I mean... really... there's more to it than just vaguely pointing the gun at whatever team mate happens to be close enough.

1. I would have to go back and check my sources on this, but the topic came up at a party recently after a drunken round of WarioWare. It was revealed that a developer working on a similar party game (I want to say Microsoft, but again, I'd have to check) had purposely set out to do focus tests in Europe on how players would react after a few beers.

2. One of my fondest gaming memories is of hanging out for Thanksgiving up at a cabin near Mt. Shasta. The food was good, and none of us were particularly interested in watching college football while we burned off our Thanksgiving calories, but I had brought along a Dreamcast and Soul Calibur. I can confirm that Voldo is infinitely amusing when playing while drunk.

3. What ever happened to that quasi-controversial "beer pong" videogame?

4. Games have different ways of representing what happens when a character gets drunk. Some mess with your controls. Some mess with the display. Some mess with your mana/psi/energy (for better or worse). Also, don't drink the Dragon's Breath.

- Alan

Great. Now everyone can start bashing Nintendo for making games for drunks. Oh wait, a lot of "hardcore" gamers are fratboys, who tend to drink like fishes... Ah well.

[/jokes]

In all seriousness, I have noticed an interesting phenomena: Some people have done so much practicing on the piano that they can actually play while they're drunk. Somehow the long-term muscle memory sections of their brains can even keep functioning while under the influence of alcohol. And Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter while on enough acid to melt Jimi Hendrix's guitar. I wonder if the same might apply to games, even ones that aren't criminally easy for the sober.

I don't drink (or do acid), but I can't help but wonder if I could still beat someone at Sonic Adventure 2: Battle even if I did.

I find Halo 3 to be a perfect drunk game with friends. You got the option for multiple guests and the game really doesn't take any skill or even have to give it a lot of attention. I've had multiple nights at a friends house where we drink, have some big conversation while Halo 3 is just in the background playing.

And yeah to all who said WoW, drinking and raiding Molten Core brings back some good memories. Good times....good times. :)

GregoriusH:
I expected the comments section to be filled with a hundred enraged TF2 medics.

I mean... really... there's more to it than just vaguely pointing the gun at whatever team mate happens to be close enough.

Not to insult the proud souls who play that class and if this comes across as totally ignorant then I apologize...but I generally find that few people play the Medic when I'm on Xbox Live. I don't know how it goes on Steam, but whenever I played as one (usually coming home from the bars) I'd just find the Heavy who was playing defense on one of the capture points and juice him up. Have a nice chat about current events, kill people trying to capture it, go back to chatting.

Unless I wasn't quite capable of chit chat, in which case I just did the basic aim and press Heal treatment.

DangerChimp:
I think Gears of War 2 is a bit like pool -- you play better when you've had a couple drinks, but if you have one too many, you cross over from loose and flowing play into messy inaccuracy.

I love having a bit of scotch when I game, but you have to know the limit.

Very well said. Iv gamed obliterated and iv games buzzed even tipsy, it just like in real life the same applies to virtual reality If your over the limit, you just cant drive.

The best video games to play drunk are the ones that imitate the real life bar games: darts, shuffle board, pool, bowling etc. In both video games and real life, I find I'm better at darts and pool after a couple of drinks.

I think you're on to something Jeffries, and you've stated it in a wonderfully complete manner. "Party games", as they are affectionately called, need to be part of the atmosphere, not the main attraction. They should facilitate social interaction, not infer with it. Short rounds, reasonable downtime, and reduced dependence on reaction times and fine motor skills characterize any popular drinking game. The best are the ones which become comical as a result of being drunk, such as bowling. The funniest thing to a drunk is watching another drunk make an ass out of himself. Cue the music!

"Guitar Hero can rapidly become an exercise in frustration if you've been nipping too much of Tennessee's finest."

So, so untrue. I can master most songs on expert when I'm intoxicated, yet hand me that fiddly plastic guitar when I'm sober and hear me plink and plonk away on hard.

Valve created an excellent alternative for the drunk gamer with the Medic in Team Fortress 2. All you have to do is run around loosely aiming at people with the health gun and you're doing a great job.

If that's true, I think that half the medics in TF2 are drunk.

dungeonmaster:
I guess Im strange but a few drinks improves my performance, I usually like a few drinks before healing an instance in WOW or playing a few rounds of Counterstrike.
Maybe Im just an alcoholic XD

I wouldn't say that. I'm the same way and it just depends on the game.

I don't play MMOs for many reasons, but I hold to a statement I made a while back that if I ever had to play, I would only do so while thoroughly inebriated. Seems to me like the only way to make the experience palatable. But then, I just prefer single-player RPGs and get my multiplayer fix in action games.

I'll settle in for an XBL session with a few pints and never miss a beat. I love beer, I love homebrewing, I love gaming... I think it all goes together.

Recently I've been pulling off my keg of English Nut Brown ale and playing Left 4 Dead. Combo works great for me.

That said, I rarely get what I would call drunk. A few pints a night, rarely to any sort of excess.

My reflexes for Guitar Hero are shot after one sip, but I can play action games just fine after a few drinks. I have friends who are the exact opposite and will pull out the guitar for the afterparty every time.

I guess it just depends how your body responds, really.

After coming back from a club or pub I've found that the only game worth playing drunk is Warioware Smooth Moves. Watching your friends and yourself fall over time and time again trying to move the wiimote sober would probably be the most boring thing ever, but drunk it becomes one of the best game ever made. Just try for yourselves

I'm still stuck on the picture of the wii remote in the beer. Now I finally figured out what that thing is for, mixing alcohol :P

GregoriusH:
I expected the comments section to be filled with a hundred enraged TF2 medics.

I mean... really... there's more to it than just vaguely pointing the gun at whatever team mate happens to be close enough.

I play the medic often in TF2.

And really, in general it just is following a teammate, aiming the heal ray at him and trying to avoid getting hit by enemy fire, and running when you see a demo.

Being a great medic, of course, requires rapid switching, proper use of the normal heal gun, the kritzkrieg, the ubersaw and ubercharges - among countless other things - but really, you could do worse than "heal the big guy".

I call BS to the very first example. Everyone knows the only real way to play Guitar Hero is after downing a bottle of the most expensive scotch that you bought from the historical society with an age indicating the exponent of two it cost you, followed by a brief session of screwing a blow-up doll painted in cocaine and tears and staying awake for at least 80 hours straight, then turning the brightness on your TV all the way up and dabbing your eyes with the smoldering butts of hundred dollar cigars. That's the only way to get the authentic experience.

That way after it's over, even though you have no idea how good you did, someone, be it out of pity or payroll, has at least cleaned up the mess, patted you on the back and stroked your bulging ego with a list of the venereal diseases you've contracted overnight.

That being said, even if you're not at the top of your multi-handed coordination game, at least if you have a lot of people who are drunk and bad there is plenty of down time and mutual mockery to keep the game going, and there's always a chance at a good violent altercation later after comparing genitals. I think no matter the skill level, Guitar Hero always makes a great drunk game. All the really important bits are there, its bright colored and meant to be played loud to keep the lightweights from passing out and on the rare occassion you manage to squeak out a passable song to the end you're bound to earn a free shot, if just so they can mock you harder when you fail next.

To me, though, a drunk game is not about being able to play it well without much focus or though, the fun comes in being able to flail about wildly, look like a goon, get made fun of, and then make someone else do it and repeat over and over. Its key qualities should be that it has little to no penalty for failing (check), variable difficulty for those who can hold their liquids or think they can (check), solid equipment that can stand a beating (check as long as you're not playing Rock Band), and at least one thing for any type of person (check, unless you hate all music). Plus, at least in GH3, you can cheat and unlock all the songs so no solo play is necessary before getting blasted. Anyway, who wants to play Guitar Hero drunk and alone?

I always drink when I play videogames. The only thing that the game type determines is wether or not I'm drinking beer or wine.

If the game features long sessions of play then it's time to chug red wine from the bottle like it's a 40oz. If the game has frequent session breaks or a good AFK feature than its ice cold beers since frequent trips to the toilet and refrigerator are required..

Here a quick rundown of my current games I'm playing...

Wine Games:
Gears of War 2 (online)
Little Big Planet (online)
Wipeout HD (online)

Beer Games:
Skate (online/off)
Little Big Planet (create mode)
Left 4 Dead (online/off)
Crackdown (offline)
Street Fighter HD (on/off)
GTA IV (off/on)

Oh, and in driving games when I drink i drive on the sidewalk more but I actually don't crash that more often.

Atomicmoo:
Did the WOW raiding thing drunk, it takes off the edge of everyone is a moron (Pissed me off so much). I never wiped the raid but I was laughing at the people who did.

I noticed that in my experience the people who were drunk in raid were just as effective as when they were sober (if not more so). They were however far more entertaining on TS.

My guess is it takes the edge off of the boring aspects of raiding so one can paradoxically be more focused despite being drunk on their role in the raid. Plus when things are kept fun on a social level it keeps players motivated to keep showing up for raiding even when progress is not as fast and as smooth as they want (which happens regardless of drunkards). This was even more true back in the 40 man days. I know that in my experience when I raided drunk I was A LOT more interested in the game.

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