The Online Gaming Leveler
Author :        Date : 16-Feb-10

My little brother (age 35) has been pestering me for months to get with the times and pick up a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  I was extremely hesitant – getting beat on like a piñata by a group of ‘any’ year olds is not my idea of a fun time.  He promised that I could ease into it with the help of his online posse (team CoDa).  I reluctantly agreed and picked up a copy this past weekend.

Once logging in and becoming acquainted with my new squad, I have to admit that I was feeling rather stoked!  "I love the smell of napalm in the morning… Smells like… victory" kept playing over and over in my head.  With my newly found confidence, I marched proudly alongside my Band of Brothers onto the virtual battlefield.

The action was furious, explosions were breathtaking and the adrenaline rush I experienced was one of the best I have had in quite some time.  My unleashed inner animal was right at home as I sprayed slug after slug across the ravaged landscape.  To my dismay, very few hit their intended target.  My final stats:

Of course I knew the upcoming verbal assault I was about to endure would dwarf the shellacking that ‘earned’ me those numbers.  They did not disappoint.  The comments were fired out at a rate to rival the M240 machine gun.  My personal favorite: "Dude, no offense, but are you ‘special’ or something?".  After taking my medicine like a man (much like the round after round of head shots I recently absorbed), I quietly exited the Xbox Live playground to console myself.  I am no match at all for today’s gamers.

Being an older gamer (43), I fully accept and understand that I will not be able to master any of the newer titles due to my limited time resources.  However, I would like to think that I could at least be somewhat competitive and not be viewed as dead money every time I enter the virtual arena.  There has to be a way to level the playing field for the old guard.  Being extremely analytical, I attempted to statistically dissect this (a.k.a. my own futility).  Here are the results:

Statistical Sample Size = 1 (me)
As is clearly evident from the above, I just can not keep up with the ever increasing number of Controller Action Buttons (and associated combos).  This button escalation mirrors the expansion of the general obligations and responsibilities in my life.  The net result of these two corresponding phenomenon equates to less time for gaming for us old farts.  I don’t know about you, but being the glutton of punishment every time I venture into an online gaming session is not my Cup o’ Joe.  Fear not grey beards, a solution does exist – the Online Gaming Leveler (OGL).  Here is how it works:

( Total Gaming Hours per Week

(Age) X (# of Controller Buttons)
) = OGL
The OGL is a percentage that is used as a multiplier against the maximum level for a certain game statistic (i.e. Health Points).  Basically, this provides a handicap for the less experienced player (blue hairs and casual gamers).  The following table will demonstrate this in action.

Sample OGL Demonstration
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360)
# of Controller Buttons : 10
Young Buck Little Brother Marriott_Guy Da’ Old Man
Age 16 35 43 62
Hours Gaming \ Week 30 15 10 02
OGL % 18.75% 4.29% 2.33% 0.32%
MAX Hit Points 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000
   Less OGL Allowance 188 43 23 3
NET Hit Points 813 957 977 997
I arbitrarily chose 1,000 as the being the Maximum Health Points for the example in the table above.  I used a variety of ages to compare the control group (me) to show how the OGL formula works.  I am sure you will agree that the advantage of having 16.42% more Health Points than the Young Buck would have at least assisted me in being more competitive.  On the other hand, I should give a bit to Da’ Old Man since he doesn’t play that often and he truly is older than dirt.

This same OGL modifier can be applied to a variety of game statistics to further even the playing field:

  • +/- Amount of Gold achieved from victories (Action RPGs)
  • +/- Experience gained per kill (RPGs)
  • +/- Number of bullets in your standard ammo clip (FPS)
  • +/- Rate of speed of incoming objects (all genres)
  • +/- Number of ShipsLives (Shmups)
  • +/- Time to make a play call (sports)

Here is what the sample game screenshot would look like with OGL being implemented:

Yes, this article is somewhat of parody and just my way of venting a bit after the trouncing I recently endured.  I don’t kid myself thinking I am the sharpest pair of skates on the ice, but on the other hand I know that I am not the dullard portrayed during my CoD MF 2 debacle.  I have responsibilities and the like that severely deters the time I can invest in my passion (gaming).  If the OGL system were in place, I might have been a playa this past weekend instead of a beaten farm animal.

But in all honestly, I think my lady friend hit the nail on the head after she read this article prior to its publishing.  She said that OGL was not really an abbreviation for the Online Gaming Leveler. It was really just my way of coping with middle age – Old Guy Logic.

I always knew there was something I didn’t like about her.

For those interested, go ahead and try out the formula – it does work in 95% of the time and accounts for most scenarios (click here for the Excel worksheet if you want to play around with it).

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