Brother in Arms

May 2, 2009 at 7:28 am | Posted in Life, Television, Video Games | 1 Comment
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An excerpt from a blog called “A Life Well Wasted,” wherein Ken Levine, critically acclaimed video game director, offers this glimpse into his mind…

“There was a time when I could get on a plane with a magazine or two. Now, unless I’ve got my DS, my PSP and my iPhone full of apps, Kindle books and movies, I get a bad case of the heebie jeebies.  I’m an ADD baby in a world that’s finally caught up to my inclinations. The ability to get on a plane, or go on a trip with literally thousands of hours of entertainment in tow is something that makes me happy.  There’s a part of me that wonders if it’s making me dumb, that I wouldn’t better off contemplating the universe, watching the sunset or talking to my seat mate. And then I pop in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 and forget all about those kind of questions.”

An ADD baby in  a world that’s finally caught up to my inclinations. Something about reading that sentence felt like putting on a warm pair of slippers that I’d been looking for all day.

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Arrested Development

November 12, 2008 at 11:27 pm | Posted in Video Games | 1 Comment
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I am typically a solitary gamer. I spend my whole day dealing with people to some degree or another, and so when given the chance, I tend to enjoy more lonely pursuits. I don’t want to meet people online, or quest with people online, or raid a cave with people online (truth be told, I don’t think I’d be interested in raiding a cave with you in real life, either). To be honest, the whole thing just seems kind of strange to me. There is a game, though, for which I will break this rule: Gears of War 2.

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Gears of War 2 asks the age old question, “What would happen if you mounted a gas powered chainsaw to the end of a machine gun?” I think we can all guess the answer, and for this I will venture online and allow the denizens of the internet access to my home via my little plastic headset. I have lost entire evenings to this game’s prequel without even noticing it, and by evenings I mean that I look up at 3am and realize that my family must have gone to bed some time ago.

Problem is, though, I lack the inherent flair necessary to be a true online gamer. When forced to give myself a “gamertag” for my XBox Live account, I chose the ever so original “Michael9906.” Yeah. That’s my first name. And that’s my wedding anniversary. That’s all I had.

When the matchmaking system (more on that later) is making up teams, my gamertag always looks kind of silly plastered up there on the screen with such stalwarts of online gaming as MrDixiNormus69 and DropBawlsinJaws. Even the less offensive gents don’t tend to make the modest choice, so rounding out my team will be a SrgtGalactus or a SgtScreamzz. When the game begins, I dare say that I am already at a bit of a disadvantage. Michael9906 is not an intimidating fellow. GhettoGhandi? Now that is a terrifying image.

In any case, I play this game online, and have been for the past weekend. I won’t claim to be very good at it. My wife picks on me because every time she sits down to watch, I’m usually getting shot or chainsawed or someone is in the process of sticking a grenade to the back of my head. I die a lot, and don’t seem to be getting any better. I do still enjoy playing, though, and I think that it has a lot to do with the people that I meet online late in the evenings. 

When you log in to play, XBox will attempt to “match you with players of similar skill.” Between the hours of 6pm and 10pm, this apparently refers to racist british nine year olds, but by around 10pm, the crowd settles down, and I find myself playing with other (I assume to be) thirty year old working people. They get offline because they have an early meeting, or they need to walk the dog…not because their mother made them. They leave, and this is my favorite, to put their kids to bed, which gives me great hope.

You see, after spending the past twenty years of my life trying to secure the means to consistently enjoy this hobby of mine (this ever-more-expensive hobby of mine), I live in constant fear that I am going to have to stop someday. That I am going to have to grow up. And I don’t wanna. 

I don’t wanna I don’t wanna I don’t wanna.

It is for this reason that I love meeting these few, these proud, these video game dads. They give me faith that I can continue to be an immature man-child well into my twilight years. So, if you are a gamer, and you are not nine years old, and you are not a racist (british is still ok), feel free to look me up. I have a big round head that you may enjoy sticking a grenade to the back of. I promise that I won’t complain.

It’s-a-me!

October 16, 2008 at 9:01 am | Posted in Politics, Video Games | 1 Comment
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So last night was fairly one-sided (and a little bit embarrasing, to be honest). The moment that sticks out to me, though, is the repeated use of the “Joe the Plumber” lines. How, I wondered, does something like this come out of the mouth of a 30-year Washington veteran who’s wife dresses in $300K suits? What is the significance of the plumber?

Here’s what I think happened (cue the music from JFK, conspiracy theory coming…)

1) Obama is, by all counts, winning handily right now. Obama is also vastly outspending McCain in almost every conceivable state.

2) On Monday, Obama posted a new campaign ad in Paradise City. Never heard of Paradise City? That’s because it’s in a video game.

That’s right. Obama has such an overwhelming amount of money right now that he is advertising in fictional cities that appear in racing video games. As a side note, this is a wonderful validation of my chosen past time…but I digress.

3) McCain wakes from his afternoon nap and hears about this. He must respond! He must relate to this crazy-hipster video game crowd. Now, what would a 93 year old man know about video games? What would the one piece of knowledge be that he might possibly have absorbed through simple pop-culture osmosis?

And “Joe the Plumber” is born.

I rest my case.

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