Dear n00bs,

XBoxController
Above: A photo of my poor XBox 360 controller after completing Red Dead Redemption last year.

I used to be like you once; curious of all the great video games out there, yet scared of the multitude of buttons on modern controllers. But I have a secret for you: modern video games are designed to teach you those buttons throughout the game.

When I was a kid I played a lot of Atari 2600, Nintendo NES and Game Boy. When paying Atari, I had my right hand on the joystick and my left thumb on the orange button. When playing Nintendo, I had my left thumb controlling the d-pad and used my right index and middle fingers to control the A and B buttons. But when video game consoles introduced controllers with 4 buttons, I lost my way and failed to adapt.

Now XBox 360 and PS3 controllers have SO MANY buttons! And, while I'm telling my friends about all the awesome video games I've been playing this year (mainly Portal 2 and L.A. Noire), I've come across so many people who are afraid of those buttons. The thing I've realized, though, is that those games are all designed to teach n00bs like you!

Let's take the first Portal for example. From the very beginning, the disembodied robotic voice of GLaDOS instructs you. You start working out puzzles in test chambers under her instruction and in every level you learn a new trick. Once the game finally gets complicated, you've learned all the rules and have the tools necessary to figure out the rest of the puzzles. Portal 2 is similar... the beginning teaches you basic movement, then basic controls and skills.

In Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire the early stages of the game are spent also teaching you basic skills. In Red Dead Redemption, Bonnie MacFarlane teaches you tricks like using a lasso - which you can later use on criminals for bigger bounties - while the sheriff of Armadillo takes you on raiding missions that give you access to better guns than your shitty default Cattleman Revolver. At the beginning of the game you are SUPPOSED to suck. The further you get in the game, the better it gets; your guns, your aim, everything improves. L.A. Noire is also very similar... while there are 5 desks in the game, the first desk is there to teach you the ropes.

So time to stop worrying and go pick up that shiny new console you've been wanting. I personally think that some of the stories I've seen in video games over the past year are more riveting than those I've been watching on TV and in theaters. I highly suggest picking up Portal 2, which will have you tumbling down the most awesome rabbit hole you've never seen.

With all that said, there are always exceptions. If you're more interested in playing fighting games, you're going to have to either learn some serious combos or click every button as fast as you can. Ahh... the more things change, the more they stay the same. ;)