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Not Enough Frustration in Your Life? Try Video Golf!

Photo: Actual player not exactly as shown

(SNN) I may look like a sofa-bound root vegetable (sounds better than a couch potato) but I am actually on a personal quest. I am on the hunt for exciting adventures and bountiful treasure, just like a hero in a video game... albeit one with an older, stouter, lazier hero than most. In fact, that is what the quest is for; to find another video game to play on my tablet. If you were a fan of awful puns, you could say I am the one missing Link. (Please note subtle "Legend of Zelda" reference.)

I am between games, you see, having just vanquished the Big Boss in some Dungeons and Dragons-ish RPG epic. For the video game challenged, an RPG is a role playing game which features a simple young, good-hearted farm boy (read "sucker") who is suddenly forced to save the world by some amazing twist of circumstance. It never fails to alarm me that the world keeps getting into terribly dire straits from which I must come rescue via a pixel-packing game character.

Selecting a new addiction is a tricky enterprise. One must be vigilant not to play a game that never ends, like World of Warcraft or others of its ilk as the addiction can never be broken unless you run out of time, money or computer access. The irony is that the cause of you losing your time, money and computer access could very likely be the addiction. I also wanted something that has a complex plot. Filleting sulphur-spewing monsters or evil mutant alien zombies is fun for a while, but if that's the whole game, I bore easily. I don't find constant action very compelling but need a bit of a back-story to remain interested; sort of like with porn.

To satisfy my craving for such adventure, (gaming, not porning) I tried practically every RPG in the App Store collection, but none seemed to fit my needs. They simply did not capture my imagination like Cecil, Cloud or Zelda. They were either too derivative, too boring or wanted too much money for their in-app purchases.

Frustrated, I began seeking other sorts of games to transport me mentally off my comfy couch. I finally hit a stroke of luck by giving up on finding a replacement for Link and turned my attention to other links; namely the ones on the World Golf Tournament gaming site. Now, I must tell you in real space, not cyberspace, I have swung actual golf clubs on carefully manicured courses, though spectators would never describe me as a golfer. I am still aspiring to reach the level of "duffer" with what one might call "mixed success" if one was infinitely charitable.

Despite my tragic, physical handicap (I am a klutz) I do love the sport mightily. Being out in the carefully managed, elaborately maintained natural setting is always a joy even when considering I am involved in a source of immense frustration. This is because golf, for we perfectionists, is an exquisite form of torture and constant source of self-flagellation. Surely having a prodigious treasury of golf wisdom and theory but the hand-eye coordination of an earthworm, a video game version of the sport should be the ideal answer to my quest to kill time. (Ignoring, of course, the fact that we don't actually kill time; it's the other way around.)

The game was free to download and I prepared myself for a plethora of in-app purchases. They were quite evident, I readily saw upon uploading, but had to admit you could play lots without spending a dime. The money one might spend would be to buy coins which can be used to acquire better clubs, balls and other accessories which will improve one's score. I opted, due to my Scottish ancestry, to try and improve with practise and dedication, rather than with new clubs.

By the way, for those frugally-minded, the game does offer other ways to earn coins, such as watching long ads, taking surveys or watching long ads about taking surveys. I tried a couple of these but quickly re-embraced Plan A; earning my way to a better score. The game is also charitable in that it gives you experience points along the way for various achievements which allows you to advance beyond "hacker" to such lofty levels as "tour pro". I am not there, quite yet; but have advanced given that you get an experience point every time you hit the ball. I do that a lot during every hole.

The problem is that the video game, much like the 3D version one plays at a course, requires that dreaded hand-eye coordination. After setting up for a shot by moving a stick where you want the ball to go, you initiate a swing by dragging a button upwards that advises the power bar on the bottom how hard to hit the ball. Then, as the cursor tracks along the power bar, you have to hit the screen at the exact moment the cursor hits the end of the power bar or face the effects of a hook or slice if tapped too early or late. The game even tells you when you hit it at the exact right spot. I've only seen it once, however.

To suggest this game is as good as real golf would be silly. It has none of the fresh air, exercise or cute beer girls in travelling fridge carts with icy brewskis and all of the frustration. It makes me angrier than any RPG ever has. WTG is the only thing that makes me want to hurl my iPad against a wall, other than reading the political news. (Once again, my highland heritage to the rescue of my imperilled tablet.)

What is most frustrating about the game is all the factors that must be weighed when planning a shot. You need to allow for wind speed, elevation, your lie (meaning where your ball ends up, not what you tell your wife to get to go golfing), and other aspects before deciding on your shot direction and power level. Even after carefully considering every aspect and hitting the ball fairly straight, that's when the game decides to crush your sprit and make you end up in a bunker anyway. It drives me so mad, I have come to hate it. But then, like smoking, one doesn't need to like it to be addicted.

And the game has no end.

Now leave me alone. I have to go take a survey.

Image: Jim Sher flickr photostream.  Some rights reserved. Original image found here.

DISCLAIMER: The above article is OPINION.The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the authors of The Sage Opinion and forum participants on this web site do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the The Sage News Network or the official policies of the The Sage News.
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