Rank 30 On The Most Pointless Leaderboard In The World

Did you know that the person ranked 5054th on the Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness XBLA leaderboard has 329 kills? That’s a fact. You can check if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The only reason I know that fact for certain is because I was trying to scroll to the bottom, but my Xbox crashed before I got there. Ten minutes of holding down on the left stick, and the fucking thing crashed on number 5054. That means there are lots more numbers down there. Lots of people.

Why do I know this? Why in God’s name was I scrolling down this particular leaderboard, seeing how far down it went? Why did I choose to tell you this story? Background, mostly. I wanted to introduce you to the type of person I am. I will happily keep my thumb held in one position, restricting blood flow and causing myself mild pain, just to see how big the numbers get on what is one of the most pointless leaderboards ever. As I scrolled, I made mental notes of the names. Hats off to DicholasCage for a wonderful pun. Shout out to Socks Mahoney, whom I recall frequented the Slackerz forum. You guys were way down in the thousands though.

I am currently, at time of writing, ranked 30th on this leaderboard.

At school, I never really joined in with sports. I’m not a particularly competitive person. I would watch people chase after the ball and work out where they were going wrong, predict who would do what, but never engage. I didn’t see the point. I have no drive to win or be the best; I’m comfortable just doing okay, and moving along at my own pace, doing things in my own time. Yet, here I am, ranked in the top thirty of Rain-Slick One players – a feat both mildly impressive and completely stupid.

There is no skill to the leaderboard. It simply counts how many enemies you’ve killed, and updates this number every time you save. The game has a finite number of enemies. I haven’t yet counted them, but I’m working on it. I can tell you for certain that there are nineteen enemies in the tutorial. The tutorial, however, is definitely not the place to be for grinding out the kills – you can have that tip for free. You never know, you might decide to take on the challenge as well. I aim to reach number one someday, but that spot is held by someone with a kill count of 6066, which is, frankly, ridiculous, and I’m pretty sure they glitched it. How can one person have that much time and patience for one game to play it around one hundred times, over and over, never changing? And then I look down at my hands, cradling that black controller, hammering the block button at just the right time in order to counterattack, and think, ‘I’m becoming that person’. I have played this game through at least ten times, if not more.

One time my girlfriend came over after school, and we were going to just chill out in my room before she had to rush off for dinner with her parents, and I said “alright but I’m just gonna play this game for a bit”. This was my fourth run-through and I was just about to beat the game once more. My girlfriend was not impressed. She watched briefly, but I skipped through all the dialogue since I already know the words by heart. She grimaced at the ultra-violence and, eventually, turned away and went to sleep. I carried on playing. This game has broken me.

We have reached a point in gaming culture where talking about Penny Arcade in anything other than a negative light is frowned upon by just about anyone. When discussing PAX earlier today, talking about the interesting games that may well be viewable there, I was greeted with a simple “yeah, but it’s Penny Arcade”. This is a webcomic which perpetuated rape culture by creating a joke about being raped to death by Dickwolves, gave a half-arsed apology, created a t-shirt claiming to be “Team Dickwolves” and then, after removing the t-shirt from sale, openly stated that they disagreed with the decision to stop selling it. A company whose figurehead actively refuses to accept transgender people exist. The same figurehead who openly supported the development of a card game centered around kidnapping and raping schoolgirls, and chose to call people who disagreed with him crazy. This is just a sample of the long list of controversy that surrounds Penny Arcade, and they never seem to learn their lesson, or so the denizens of Twitter seem quick to remind me at every available opportunity. So a part of me feels even more awful for giving this game the time of day, let alone setting my sights on being the best at it. I’m sure many people would see it as akin to being crowned “person with the most STIs”.

But it’s a game I enjoy playing, and one I’m empirically good at. There is an indicator there to show that I am better at (or at least more willing to play) Rain-Slick One than thousands of other people the world over. I imagine the leaderboard stretches far beyond position 5054, but to say that I’m categorically better at something, without really trying to be, then 5024 people brings some comfort to me. So perhaps that’s why I do it; because in some small way, it helps me feel better about who I am. If anyone ever asks me what I’ve achieved in life, I can point to my place on the leaderboard and take great satisfaction in their bemused look at what I consider an achievement.

This is something I have crafted over years, a mark that I have made that has taken a considerable investment of time. It’s small and pointless thing, but it’s my small and pointless thing (tehe). So I will continue to invest my time in it, and maybe one day I can proudly say yes, I, Ric Cowley, am number one in the world at a video game.

Though currently, I will settle for being number 30. It’s a nice number.

Last five articles by Ric


One Comment

  1. Lorna Lorna says:

    Never been very high on leaderboards myself. I think that obsession was one step too far beyond simple achievement gathering. That said, when the most recent Naughty Bear game came out, I was very pleased to see my gamertag so high up on some of the leaderboards – completely ignoring the fact that it was brand new out, so not many people had taken a good run at it.

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