I have been playing Counter-Strike since it was in beta.
I’ll never forget playing match after match during Thanksgiving when I was a kid, sneaking time on the PC between meals, and I am amazed that I am still playing it today. It’s a strange game because in the world of the “modern” FPS (First Person Shooter) it’s a bit of an old-timey thing. You don’t have regenerative health, you have to buy your weapons every round (If you don’t die), and the weapons are completely the same for everyone (minus their looks that now include stickers, making your AK-47 into the adult version of a Trapper Keeper).
It’s weird to say it, because most gaming websites and web comics have made fun of it so much, but it’s a very skill based game. At it’s core, you have to be good at CS or else you just get stomped. Sure, there are auto-win guns *cough AWP/Auto cough* but even these take a bit of skill to use and they can be countered easily; and there is nothing like outfoxing an AWPer. Sitting there, waiting, mentally stroking their ego as they compare themselves to Tom Berenger’s character from the Sniper movies, only to be blind sided during the climax by a load of buckshot to the face.
There will be rage, in chat or in voice, but you have won. You did this. You two met in a digital space and you won, be it blind luck or skill, regardless, you are the victor. There isn’t any additional gameplay mechanics helping you. There isn’t anything but yourself and your ping between victory or defeat.
If any of you have wondered why this game has been around for fifteen years, it’s because of that fact.
At one point I got sick of CS and stopped playing. I even joined the boat of haters for a bit. Then a friend got me back into it and I haven’t regretted a minute since. Yes, this game has the nut-jobs, the twitchy-overly-racist 10 year-olds, but it also has some of the best game mechanics out there by not giving a lot of help to the player. In a world filled with hand-holding games, this isn’t one of them, and it’s a trial by fire, love-it-or-hate-it, kind of game.
Counter-Strike is a strange place, filled with strange people, some terrible, some hilarious, and it’s because of this bizarre mixture that is continues to thrive. It’s a game that is both beloved and reviled for the same reason: If you suck, it’s just you being terrible, so stop it. Not many people can deal with the starkness of that statement in real life, and in gaming this goes doubly so.
To conclude, I’m not saying it’s the best game ever, but it certainly has it’s merits; and if you hate it because of whatever reason I have one thing to say. Stop being bad.