I'm not very competitive. I'm less competitive than you, that's for damn certain. But sometimes... I will be consumed by a determination to utterly destroy a friend's score or time. I see them above me on the leaderboard, and I want to topple them. I see them beneath me on the leaderboard, and I want to stamp them even further down. A simple list of numbers and numbers can drive me to play again and again, pushing myself to become better and climb higher. Especially when, as in Devil Daggers (pictured), I can watch other people's performances.
From arcade games through roguelikes, all sorts of run-based games can feel so much more satisfying with a leaderboard. Sure, they're fun in themselves, but the challenge and rivalry of leaderboards elevate them. It's like seasoning food. And if something can make anything better, might it not itself be the best thing?
For millenia, humans have gazed upwards at the night sky and wondered: "What if I got to ride around inside a really big metal me?" Sure the mech is wildly impractical as a weapon, but are we even human if we no longer wish to kick buildings apart inside a giant metal effigy of ourselves? And does the vulnerability of the mech, which some would call design flaws, not reflect our own vulnerablity? The mech is an external ego, an idealised versi- ah look, I just like the big stomps and the big guns, okay.
Big mechs! Small mechs! Future mechs! Historical mechs! Fantasy mechs! Dieselpunk mechs! Meat mechs! Flying mechs! Lithe mechs! Greeble-covered mechs! Mechs who are your absolute best mate! Mechs fused with the soul of your dead mother! I am here for all mechs. They're versatile too, fitting into strategy games, sims, first-person shooters, platformers, visual novels, RPGs, and everything between. Anywhere you have a person, couldn't you have a mech? And wouldn't it be better if you did?
Which is better?
Leaderboards and mechs could both be considered the salt of video games, in this definitely-not-spurious comparison I have drawn. But reader dear, I'm afraid you can only keep one on your gaming table forever.
Which will it be? Name your winner and make your case, and we'll meet back next week to see who won.