With the Olympic Games in full swing and all over the TV it would be understandable for some of us (*cough* not me) to feel a little inferior to the near pinnacle of athleticism that has been displayed so far. Thinking along these lines, it occurred to me that those of us with more sedentary hobbies (that’s right, move on Wii enthusiasts) should have our own structure of disciplines. We already have professional level tournaments in a lot of games where players compete for a rather significant amount of prize money. And of course there is the Starcraft league that is practically the national sport of South Korea. I feel we could expand into more areas. A competition open to all comers (through various qualifying stages, like the real Olympics), where gamers come together to compete for glory. So I present to you The Gamers Decathlon! (v 0.001 pre-alpha)
For the unaware, a decathlon is an athletic event that most often takes place over two days, though we could probably fit it into one given we’ll be sitting for most of it. Competitors score points based on how they place in each event, which is converted into a single equal ranking based on some maths I didn’t really quite understand but that’s OK, we can iron out the bugs later! I’ve based this on the Men’s Decathlon because the Women’s event is practically the same but with changes for scheduling purposes.
The classic and arguably most famous athletic discipline. Victory in the 100m sprint requires an athlete to possess the raw power to run so quickly and the mental acuity to pace themselves combined with the rhythm to keep a steady speed.
The Game: QWOP
No really! Hell, not only is the game about a track runner but it’s insanely difficult and whilst I haven’t really tried all that much I get the feeling that mastering the 100m isn’t an easy feat. QWOP has the possibly dubious honour of being one of the games that I have not merely failed at but instead failed so hard I have gained negative distance, possibly similar to how I would fare in a real 100m race.
Practically requiring the athlete to have springs for calves, long jump is not only about jumping but also running (taxing, I know). Athletes speed down the track and launch themselves into a sand pit, but without stepping over the cut-off line which carries an instant failure of the jump as a penalty. Arguably it is all about timing your jump as to skirt the very edge of the line and attain maximum distance, all under the treat of a severe penalty.
The Game: Super Meat Boy
I’ve chosen SMB for a few reasons; firstly, the game revolves around timing jumps that more often than not incur insta-death if failed but also because as a game it is brutally honest. Super Meat Boy is hard but it never fucks you over. If you die it is 99/100 times your own fault and you learn from your mistakes. I think that makes it a perfect addition to our decathlon event.
I’ll be frank, I know next to nothing about Shot Put as a sport except that I keep mistyping it as Shit Put, clearly a testament to being more used to swearing than sport. I’m aware that it involves spinning around on the spot and throwing a rather heavy object. Really that is about the sum total of my knowledge on the sport and save copy/pasting Wikipedia, that’s all you’re getting.
The Game: Anything with Decent Grenade Mechanics
OK so, not a single game for this one because I couldn’t decide/didn’t know which to choose. Gamers would be required to spin and throw a grenade into a group of targets, points are awarded for targets hit. I’m open to suggestions for which game this should be!
Another jumping event! This one however, is quite obviously about the height. It is becoming rather apparent that size does indeed matter at the Olympic Games. There’s really not too much to talk about here. They run, they jump, ta-da! It’s sort of like Long Jump only up and not across (I think…) so once again timing is everything.
The Game: Any 2D Mario Game; Flag Jump
It’s a pretty well known end to pretty much every Mario level, I’m told it is in fact possible to reach the top of the flag but I myself have never managed it. Gamers will be required to run up the steps and leap for sweet pixel-based glory as they grasp for the flag and net a hefty score. Power-Ups are considered performance enhancing drugs and will carry the penalty of disqualification from the entire event.
Hey look, another running event! As with pretty much all of the decathlon events, 400m has a pretty self-describing name. Competitors are required to run 400m, one lap of a regulation track, with athletes scoring points for their final position. The greater distance requires strategy, endurance and enough energy to go for broke over the last 100m. Needless to say I was never very good at it.
The Game: Rayman Origins; Heartburn Boss.
Suggested by our very own Alice Williamson, this stage of the game sees you race around an oval-shaped room avoiding influxes of what appears to be lava and popping what I can only imagine are gastric ulcers, after this has been completed, the player must make a mad dash to the end of the level whilst being chased by the lava-ish substance. Check out this video from about 9:00 in.
Not unlike the 100m sprint but with jumping. This possibly requires even more rhythm to know when to jump over the hurdles and enough common sense to not just run through them. The 110m hurdles requires a combination of speed, balance and once again timing those jumps!
The Game: Sonic The Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone 1 Time Trial
What else were you expecting when it comes to speed and timing jumps? Players have as long as it takes them to complete the opening level of the first Sonic game but remember time is of the essence! In the event of a draw, the player that finishes with the most rings wins.
Dating back to the 5th century, Discus requires athletes to throw, well, a Discus as far as possible. Like all other sports on this list, I am probably selling it way way short and no doubt angering some people. Please feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments. Athletes must turn through 540-degrees to build momentum and then release the projectile into the legal zone of 34.92 degrees to qualify as a throw, which is then ranked by distance.
The Game: Half-Life 2: Gravity Gun Saw-Blade Toss
Pretty obvious. On a custom constructed map (probably Garry’s Mod) players are required to perform the one and a half turns and then launch the saw blade within the legal area. An altogether more lethal discus.
I am pretty convinced that only a complete nutbar could come up with a sport that requires the athlete to fling himself over a rather large height by flicking themselves off the end of a pole. It’s not really thinking outside of the box as it is getting the box and setting fire to it whilst screaming. It’s the only sport on this list I haven’t actually tried so I don’t even know what it’s like but it looks terrifying.
The Game: Portal Time Trial
Wait, let me explain my thinking. Not only does Portal require you to often think outside of that box you just set on fire but it also involves thinking about forces like inertia and momentum that are probably quite applicable in the Pole Vaulting discipline. Players race to complete a pre-decided test chamber which they can practice in beforehand to actually solve the puzzle.
Ahh, our penultimate sport and the one discipline I was actually pretty good at in school! Another throwing event only this time with spears. Athletes are required to run up to a deadline and then throw the javelin as far as possible. Getting distance requires a mix of timing, speed and strength. From my own experience, javelin is one of those ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’ sort of things.
The Game: Mount and Blade: Warband
This is the only game I can think of that actually involves throwing spears (seriously, chime in in the comments if you have a better one). I was going to go for a sniping-based event but I didn’t think that really conveyed the essence of Javelin. Players will compete in a standard Javelin event with a twist. As well as distance, players will be scored on how close to an enemy NPC they throw their javelin with bonus points for actually hitting it.
Our final and longest event in the modern decathlon. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by explaining what it is other than a 1500m race on the track, which I think we can all agree requires far more stamina than I have (when it comes to running… ba-dum-tsch).
The Game: Any Decent Length Boss Battle
The 1500m takes skill and stamina, I’m refraining from naming an actual game as we could be here all day going through technicalities and the likes. The general idea of this endurance stage is a time trial fight against a suitable boss in an genre of game. Criteria for suitable bosses includes: single player (the decathlon isn’t a team event), no minimum time restriction, and at least some change in strategy. Originally I wanted this to be a time trial WoW Raid Boss but that requires a team. It fits for a general example though. Raid bosses take a decent amount of skill and stamina (I used to get bored mid-fight all the time…) as well as strategy with phase changes, knowing when to do damage and when to ease off a bit. Players are ranked on time taken. In the case of an RPG or similar gear-dependent game, all players will play the same class with the same gear.
That’s it! The startings of a modern decathlon for the more armchair-oriented hobbyist. As I said previously, this is all open to change and I welcome CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Hell, I’m even cool with this becoming a thing if anyone fancies actually holding one. Ciao for now.