An Open Letter To The Creators Of Dark Souls II

Hey, guys. How are you going? Just thought I’d pen this letter to say how much I’m enjoying Dark Souls II. I’m 20 hours in and I’m still getting killed by giant rats … and loving it.
But I do have one tiny gripe. Well, a big gripe actually. I’m tired of getting pulled into fights with other players. I’m tired of being summoned into someone else’s world so they can lie in wait and hack at me with a +10 Bastard Sword of Glee or whatever. I’m tired of being some 19-year-old from Arkansas’s punching bag. Like a former European great power whose days of glory are over (but who still wears ridiculous pointy helmets), I’m tired of being dragged into private, unnecessary wars that cost money, prestige and treasure.
Because, as a mature gamer, every hour is precious. Gamers of a certain age don’t have hours upon hours to spent exploring dark dungeons, looking for obscure items of treasure that would take a cheat sheet or several days to find. That’s for younger folk with time on their hands. You never see 40 years olds in the news dying after playing Diablo 3 for 40 hours straight, at an internet café, forgoing food, sleep, the bathroom and the company of one’s fellow man in the epic quest for more levels. Locking oneself into a room and playing Starcraft until one loses one’s job, girlfriend and possibly their own life is not for us. We have passed the age of gaming addiction. Gaming is a cherry on the cake of life, not the entire cake itself.
So when I do enjoy a bit of downtime in the dungeon, I don’t want to have to slink around like Archduke Ferdinand, wondering if some loon is going to jump out from the shadows and assassinate me, thus providing the catalyst for World War I. OK, maybe the Archduke Ferdinand analogy is a little extreme. We’re not starting World War I here. But I am being dragged into someone else’s agenda. Someone else’s little war. Someone else’s quagmire. Someone’s Vietnam.
You see what I’m getting at here, creators of Dark Souls II?
Such duels are not like being dared to take the Ice Bucket Challenge: that would be fun. There’s no winner in these fights … just a reminder of the futility of war, of man battling man. Cue the theme music from Platoon and Willem Dafoe collapsing in the jungle just as the rescue chopper flies overhead.
I do understand your motives for including that ability in Dark Souls II. I’m aware that there are millions upon millions of gamers who are deeply into multiplayer games, who love nothing more than wasting their opponents with guns, knives, sharp sticks and harsh words. After a while fighting against a computer loses its appeal – you want to hunt the greatest game of all: man.
I was young too once. I relished the chance to waste some over-the-hill 40-year-old dinosaur with my teenage gaming reflexes. I loved hunting noobs during Counterstrike games (ha … noobs). I loved sneaking up behind the less agile for some critical backstab damage. There was something almost Darwinian about it.
And the rush … ahh, the rush. Defeating another in combat will give that to you. I can’t deny that. I also can’t deny the pleasure of defeating the summoner, to remind them of the consequences of unchecked aggression. Like Conan once said, when asked what was best in life: “It is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”
But I like to think as Conan got old, he would have a different approach. He might realise that there were better things in life than to crush your enemies. I imagine the ageing barbarian would back my stance on the whole Dark Souls II thing. And he’d probably backpedal on the whole “lamentation of their women” thing. That kind of belongs in the era of Genghis Khan, where he stole his quote from, anyway. 
Now that I have become the dinosaur – the ageing chimp, as it were, confronted by younger silverbacks who want my position – I find I don’t have the taste for one-on-one combat like I used to. Even if I win, I regard it as a time waster. Besides, it takes away precious time from completing main quests during games.
And frankly, I find people invading my game … well … rude. If Emily Post was alive today and writing a book on modern manners (gamer edition), she might even suggest that it was the height of incivility to enter another’s Dark Souls sessions and disrupt their campaign to kill a rat king.
So I would like to think that you include an “opt-out” button in Dark Souls 3. For gamers who want to invade other people’s worlds and games for battle royales, fine. More power to them. But for the gamer of a certain age, there should be a box you can tick so that your private gaming world becomes just that – private. And without having to resort to some finite magical resource to protect your own domain.
Anyway, thanks for the hours of fun – and I look forward to your next instalment with keen interest.

My ebook military thriller, The Spartan, is out now on Amazon.

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