Starcraft II Makes Me Feel Dumb

I’ve only met one person who didn’t like Starcraft. Years ago I asked him if he was going to pick up Warcraft III.

“Sorry,” he said. “I don’t play anything ending with craft.”

I suspect he doesn’t play because of the same reason I’ve distanced myself from Starcraft II. It’s one of the only games you need to study for. If you lose at Starcraft it’s rarely because you didn’t have good reflexes or weren’t quick enough. It’s because you didn’t outthink somebody. You were outsmarted. You were too dumb.

I thought I had a pretty good grasp on Starcraft II. I had been through maybe half the single player campaign before my first match with a few friends. We played Starcraft a bunch in college and I picked up Warcaft III near to its release date. I watched a few videos of matches on Youtube.

But after a deluge of Zerg forces destroyed everything I’ve built in 15 minutes I learned that I’m actually pretty terrible at this game. It takes so much time to get started only to be completely wiped out. That’s when it stopped being fun.

Which is a bummer, because like many people I’ve been looking forward to SCII for years.

If I have to study for a computer game then maybe I shouldn’t be playing it. There’s a list of better things I could be doing: learning jQuery, finishing up a track in Logic Pro, reading those books that have been sitting on my shelf for a year. I could even play some other excellent games that don’t require Ph.D.s like Mass Effect II or Alan Wake.

I feel like I have better things to do than research build orders, or learn ways to counter Protoss, Zerg, and Terran attacks, or learn which units are best suited for which jobs. That kind of stuff just isn’t fun to me anymore.1

Maybe that means it’s my fault. Everybody likes Starcraft, right? At least a whole lot of people do. So why don’t I? Is it because I’m not willing to give it the investment it requires?

Probably. I grew up on different games. I played the Quake games and Unreal Tournament a lot before being introduced to Starcraft. With those games it’s incredibly easy to get in, play for 20 minutes, and get out. You can’t do that with Starcraft II. You have to set aside a whole evening for it.

And that’s the thing with Blizzard games. Blizzard, more than any other games developer, makes games that require a ton of investment on the player’s part. If you really enjoy their RTS titles it’s because you’re pretty good, or at least evenly matched. Which means you put a lot of effort into getting to that point. If you love World of Warcraft it’s likely that WoW is the only thing you play.

But things have changed since Warcraft was first released – we have app stores and Xbox Live Arcade…things like Steam that give indie developers a shot at your wallet and attention. The games marketplace has exploded. Do I really want to sink tons of time into Starcraft II or check out Amnesia2 and Limbo?

All I’ll do with SCII now is finish up the single player campaign3 and uninstall it. It’s a great game that’s just not for me.

  1. This Penny Arcade comic basically sums up every experience I’ve had playing Blizzard RTS games. 

  2. Hat tip to my buddy Jim, who knows I like these kinds of survival horror-esque games and recommended I get this during a Steam sale for $14. 

  3. If I can. I had to use cheat codes to get through Brood War. The single player campaign isn’t incredibly difficult, but at some points it feels menial and time consuming.