Few games understand the true meaning of being a bro. Being a bro is more than being a burly man in a group of burly men who shoot at anything that moves. The concept of “bro” reaches beyond polo-wearing frat boys double fisting red plastic cups.
Bro is a mindset. It’s not even constrained to gender, not always. You can be a ladybro, or a dudebro. Your cat could be a bro. But most games don’t let you fully embody being a bro, and that’s a problem.
Today Gameological wrote a post about affectionate gestures in games that I think captures the beauty of being a bro. Here’s what they had to say about Army of Two.
Destroying your enemies is banal; showing a little love is special. So while any game can load you up with grenade launchers and lasers, it’s more notable when you can perform some small physical act of affection. A wink. A smile. Or in the “two buddies vs. the world” shooter Army Of Two, a fist bump.
Underneath the bravura and veneer of cool, bro is actually a lifestyle choice wherein camaraderie and love trump all. Love! I’m serious. Love for your fellow bro. And how else are you supposed to profess that love except through high fives and fist bumps? Which, mind you, is not a thing you can do in most games.
And people try to tell me that we play as bros in our games? Bullshit! Unless you can high five or fist bump, you are not playing as a bro. Point-blank. A real bro will profess his broness no matter what, even in the heat of battle. Bros before bullets.
My absolute favourite thing in Uncharted 3 is how the multiplayer allows you to taunt after a kill — with the help of a friend. That was the point of the campaign, really. It was all about your bond with Sully. After we see Drake’s origin as a scrappy orphan, we realise just how touching the relationship between Drake and Sully is. Make no mistake, it’s the bond between two bros. Gameological says this about Army of Two, but it applies to Uncharted 3 and to bro-dom at-large.
It’s simply about one muscle-bound gunman showing his probably-not-homoerotic love for his partner in arms. It’s sweet, really.
Thankfully, Uncharted 3 lets you be a real bro, too. You get assigned a buddy at the start of a multiplayer match, and the game can detect whether or not you worked together to bring an enemy down. If you manage to kill that enemy, you can walk over the body and high five your buddy for extra cash. Here, we can make out the fake bros from the real ones: it all hinges on who leaves who hanging.
Medal of Honor did something similar, where you are assigned a fireteam with a bro that you could stick with and help out. No high-fiving, though — and that’s where most buddy/team centric games fall short. I need to be able to show my affection to my teammates!
It’s not just about being sweet though. Being a bro is very versatile. It might be tender, it might be hilarious, or it might be heartwrenching. I think the @two_bros Twitter account shows this best:
Versatile, but there’s one constant: there must be fist bumps or high fives.
Additionally, as important as being a bro is, its inclusion (shockingly?) can’t save a game. I think of Steel Battalion: Heavy armour, which had possibly the most important innovation in modern gaming: Kinect-enabled fistbumping. But, alas, it was a terrible game even with that. Hopefully other games don’t get discouraged from including or iterating on Steel Battalion’s bro efforts though.
Kinect fist-bumping or not, all more games should take cues from both Army of Two and Uncharted 3. Because I mean, bro. Seriously. Bro.