I think video game designers assume all their customers possess the technological savvy of a modern teenager. But they shouldn’t, as I can attest. If I’d had the knowhow of even a twelve-year-old, I wouldn’t have wasted an entire day installing my latest computer game.
Yesterday morning, I purchased an expansion to a PC game I already own. I downloaded the product and immediately set to work installing it on my computer. Try as I might, however, I couldn’t get the expansion to operate. It crashed on start up every time I clicked its application icon!
Luckily, it seemed, the game manufacturer hosts a forum in which its designers actively participate. I located the site’s technical support threads and posted my problem. Minutes later, a helpful designer replied with a number of potential solutions — none of which I understood. His mystifying advice suggested that I: a) modify the pathways of my “registry”; b) download the “latest 32bit versions of the c++ redistributables”; and c) install the game in a “non-protected directory.”
Four hours of internet research, system tinkering, and reboots later, I finally figured out what the designer had been talking about and implemented each of his suggestions. Crossing my fingers, I clicked on the program’s executable file and … watched the game crash. I nearly threw my PC out the window!
Again, I returned to the forum and posted my unsuccessful results. As earlier, the same designer promptly offered another potential fix. This time he told me to make sure “DirectX 9” is running on my computer.
I managed to figure out that DirectX 11 was the version currently installed on my machine. Applying basic math, I assumed DirectX 11 to be more advanced than DirectX 9. I therefore concluded that I didn’t need to install the inferior version. Just to make sure though, I risked appearing an idiot by posting my assumption on the forum.
I guess my computer illiteracy began to exasperate the game designer. Though I received another quick reply, this one carried a hint of sarcasm: “Sigh! DirectX 11 is not DirectX 9, is it?”
I went back to the internet, again. An hour later, after downloading DirectX 9, I once more activated the application … and saw it crash again.
My options at that point were either to punch a hole in my monitor or take a breather. Wisely, I opted for fresh air. It being 4:30, I encountered the school bus’s daily drop off of neighborhood kids. I asked a twelve-year-old boy I know if he could take a look at my system.
Mere minutes later, he questioned the presence of two folders labeled with the game’s name on my hard drive. I explained how the first folder held the original game and the second folder stored the expansion I’d downloaded. As if conversing with a five-year-old, my prepubescent friend informed me: “There’s your problem. You have to install the expansion in the same folder as the original game.”
Five minutes later, six hours after my initial purchase, the game was up and running. If only the designer had treated me like a five-year-old too!