It’s great how there’s been a shift in thinking and these days when I say I’m a gamer I rarely get strange looks. Although people often do find it odd that I love to read as well as play games. As if the two are mutually exclusive. I like to play not only computer and console games, but also board games and RPG’s such as Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).
Years ago, particularly when I was a teenager and in my early twenties, I often encountered expressions of surprise and even utter disbelief when I talked about gaming. I remember going into a game shop and the assistant thought I was lost. When I told him I wasn’t, he then asked if his friends had put me up to going in there. I talked about my current D&D game that I was the DM (Dungeon Master) for and his jaw gradually dropped lower and lower. It took him a little time to recover, but he did regain the power of speech and we talked about games for ages. We even talked about the Commodore 64, which was my introduction to computers when I was ten. That was also around the year I started playing D&D.
I still have the first D20 I ever owned. Sadly it’s no longer useable as one of my kids chipped it when they were younger, but it’s like a photo from an album, a relic from my past. There are many memories attached to it and I wouldn’t think of throwing it away.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that as a reader I’m often drawn to games with a storyline. Such as the Elder Scrolls games. I’ve spent hours following side quests, sometimes completely forgetting all about the main quest, as I explore all the locations. There are other games I enjoy. Sims is fun and sadly many of my characters have met the Grim Reaper well before their time. I’ve also played shooter games with my kids. They’re the type of game I like to play as a team. I find them a lot more fun that way. And of course there’s Minecraft, a game you can do so many things with. Fight, create, work as a team, explore and discover. That’s another game I enjoy playing with others, both vanilla and modded Minecraft.
The list of computer games I enjoy playing is rather lengthy, but some of my favourites of all time would have to be the entire Elder Scrolls collection, Age Of Empires II : The Conquerors and Fallout 3 and 4. There are of course others on my list of favourites, but it is extremely long.
The list of board games I enjoy isn’t quite as long as that of computer games. At the top of the list would have to be Articulate. I’ve had so much fun playing that game. It always involves a lot of laughter, often to the point of tears. How can it not be at the top of my list when it causes that much fun?
Now don’t get me started on my list of books. I’d be here for days talking about some of my favourites. It’s impossible to name only a few when there are thousands of great stories out there. Both the ones I’ve read and the ones I’m looking forward to reading.
2 thoughts on “Gamer And Reader”
I love RPGs especially, at least when they’re good. They almost have to have a story, but you get a few without, probably. I think those are generally more tactical RPGs, something that’s more RTS than RPG but still has RPG grounding (usually set in a fantasy world and uses heroes instead of the RTS method of spamming units in “turtle” play until you have a numerical advantage and then going full-on “bear” mode (I think that’s the term for going all-out attack, if I remember reading a Tekken guide one time).
Final Fantasy – the early ones were alright, for basic 8bit battle simulators. I don’t know when they started getting stories, it had to be either 2 or 3, but 4 was enjoyable, if ridiculously convenient and where death was only a distraction. 5 was alright. 6 was where the series really took off, and is regarded as one of the 3 best. 7 is 9 kinds of awesome, in hilariously terrible fashion. The graphics are… iconic, and I think they’re basically mirroring the Zelda games of the time, which would have been the n64 era ones, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. I haven’t played them, but I understand they’re classic games of the era. But my true love, the very best Final Fantasy in my opinion, has to be 8. Squall is relatable to a miserable sarcastic bastard like me. He was negative, but he was also a truth bomb, and just DGAF. At first. His growth was amazing, and it was the first game I’d seen with amazing cut scenes. The regular graphics were pretty good, considering I’d only played Pokemon and Baldur’s Gate 1 at that point.
Pokemon Red was my first RPG, and the first that I obtained myself. I’d been given demo discs before, of shareware games with basic graphics, and they were somewhat alright. I’d played that racing game where you drive across the USA in a red ferrari and race a white one and the chick gets in the car of the leader. I crashed so much. Pokemon Gold is my favourite of the series, simply because that’s the one I had. I totally didn’t download it. I spent entire days playing Pokemon, for the first time in history. I don’t play all day or all night any more, not that I can’t physically stand it or don’t have the time (pensions are great, sort of) but I just don’t feel like more than 3 hours doing any one thing. Usually.
Final Fantasy 6, 7 and 8 were great. 9 was funny and charming, but the Trance system infuriated me, as did the speed of the battles, even sped up a bit. Liked the story and characters though, even if my brother disrespects me for liking 9. He did sway me into loving 7 though, in all it’s cheapness. Pokemon Red and Gold are my favourite of that series. Gold and Silver were the perfect example of how to do a sequel to Pokemon Red and Blue. It started going downhill after that. I liked Baldur’s Gate, it was addictive, but it was also repetitive and grindy and a bit light on the story. The story was amazing, but it was a bit of a story-light game. The big reveal is done by a letter in a drawer in a library. I LOVED 2 though. It expanded on the first in a big way, the graphics were better, the classes had options, the true nature of how much of a monty haul D&D is became apparent, and the villain… oh man. Oh, and there’s a guy named Minsc in it. He is a brain damaged ranger who flies into a beserker rage and carries a miniature giant space hamster named Boo around. RPGs don’t have that kind of humour any more, not in appreciable doses. Although, if you sit on the throne in Dragon Age Inquisition, one guy is charged with throwing a goat at your castle. You even get to see it, because of course you do! And Sera is hysterical. A breath of fresh air in modern gaming that’s about as funny as Taken. Icewind Dale is also a great D&D RPG. Well, not 1. 1 is boring. 2 is addictive as hell though. I just wish I could get through it completely.
Fable 2 is my favourite Fable game. I don’t want to play 1 – I don’t know if the story is anything amazing, but it’s probably solid considering the storytelling ability displayed in 2. But the mechanics… oh god. No. Don’t want to try them, I hear they’re just that bad. I understand why a lot of people were disappointed with the defeat of the villain, but the thing is, it works narratively. The music box plays SUCH an important role, it has to show up as it does. It’s just that the ‘press x to win’ function felt like a total cop-out. THAT angered fans. NEVER anger gamers.
Speaking of angering gamers, and RPGs still, I have to mention Mass Effect. Great game, though the first was a bit buggy and a bit sterile in places. It was an amazingly detailed, charming, cool sci fi RPG with guns instead of swords, and your decisions generally mattered, and OMG SEX! It wasn’t perfect, but it rocked. Then 2 blew everyone away with how awesome it was. Both had amazingly inspiring speeches, too. All of them had fascinating characters. And then there was Garrus. And Jack. I don’t really like her, but you have to admire her… spunk. She’s screwed up, but so are a lot of people who just have bad things happen to them. She’s a mirror to humanity’s darkest depths (heh!) and I think that’s why the gaming world love her. And then there’s the Illusive Man. Creepy, cool, sophisticated, powerful, charismatic in a serious and driven kind of way… and so very, very evil. The ending to 3, though… what did you think? I believe the Indoctrination Theory is the only way it could possibly be redeemed. An ending like the one we got would make no sense to such a fantastic game if that theory is false. If that’s the case, Bioware got bullied into a crap ending by the evil monster that is EA. But if it’s true… holy shit does that theory make the ending work, and just blow my mind away with how WELL it does so! Plus, it was good to see the all-out war with the Reapers that had been promised since forever.
I don’t really get into survival horror games like Silent Hill, but I did get into a similar game, Onimusha, about a samurai chosen by Ogres to kill the demons by slashing them with magic weapons and absorbing their souls. I thought it was very cool. 2 was even better mechanically, and 3 was fascinating as time-travel done right, though I couldn’t get past a certain puzzle in the final castle. And 4 was just shit. It killed the franchise that I’d come to love. Turned a horror game into an arcade slash-em-up with high scores. And the bosses were both hard and tedious. Spending an hour on the first boss alone is just bullshit design. What were they thinking?
I got my first taste of violent games in… wait for it… Noah’s Ark 3D. It was a Christian, family-friendly ripoff of Doom. You put the animals to sleep (not in the death way) by firing feed at them from slingshots. And being a bible game, it had bible quizzes every major (parent) chapter. I think. I did play something like Doom once, and Duke Nukem Forever Atomic networked with my brother on the PCs that someone my dad knew arranged at a party. It kept us entertained all night. Mum had a go, and freaked out when the ‘bullets’ went out the side of the machinegun. (I had to explain that was the waste, the casings, though I think I didn’t know jack about guns then).
Halo 1 rocked. 2 did a few typical things like add duel-wielding BS and flying enemies. 3 was good though. I liked 3. It really brought the series up to snuff again. And now there’s the 10th Anniversary Halo 1, which is just given a fresh coat of paint, but man, the things they can do graphically these days make the original Xbox’s graphics look so ugly by comparison. But man, it was pretty when I played it with my best friend over a weekend. Our first all-weekend bender, and we more-recently did it again only up a difficulty. I always play on low, because I suck at games. I’m not a noob, I am very familiar with the major genres and how to beat them, I just need the difficulty down to minimum because I have a learning disability that affects me so badly. That and I want to enjoy a game for the story, the fun of it, not the challenge. Which is insane in a male gamer – male gamers ALL want the hardcore challenge. They’ve also been playing games since they were like, 3, because their parents were never poor like mine. Apart from the racing game, Noah’s Ark, a Joshua of Jericho game, some shareware demos and one or two sessions of just screwing around on other people’s PCs with Duke and Doom, I didn’t really get to play games all that much. Especially not with homework to do. Mum made me do a LOT of maths homework, which was like pulling teeth and just as slow. I could have spent it improving on my English understanding, but I didn’t get to do practically any other homework in other subjects because maths took up so much time and it was considered mandatory that I not fail it. Even though I think I could have evened it out by excelling in English and History and doing ok in business, IT and even art (a skill I’ve lost). I failed music, or what little of it I ever did, because I got so monumentally confused. Science was boring, but I think I passed. Just. I find cool science fascinating. Most of science was pretty tedious and uninteresting though, since we couldn’t do explosions or time/dimension travel or teleport or build robots or go on exciting adventures. Nope, boring classroom science with boring books and boring teachers.
I used to draw Pokemon routes in my maths books. My maths teachers hated it, but one tolerated it as long as she didn’t see it and I didn’t make noise. I was in the dumb class, because I’m so horrible at it and they didn’t understand that the learning methods of the last 50 years were designed solely to make people confirm for the purposes of… what? Military desperate for recruits? Factories and assembly lines? I think that’s what I heard, anyway. Wouldn’t surprise me if that was it.
Games were my escape from that, though books did that too. I didn’t get to watch any cool movies till I was 15. Same with games, actually. Then I discovered these things, that I could now watch M rated movies no problem, and that on the net you could get so much stuff you had to have money for irl. I didn’t have money, so this was a godsend, although we also started going to the video store when I turned 15. Mum and dad never went to the movies or rented videos. Then anime happened in Australia. Pokemon and DBZ. And it was more or less around that time, or at least somewhere between 12 and 15. Back on Cheeze TV (it’s coming back, at night, with adult programming! (I doubt they’ll do certain adult anime, thankfully)). My dad pleaded with me to not be a geek, and for a while I actually TRIED to be normal and boring. Then geek became COOL, and now I’m a gamer, movie goer (not much any more, but I go to most Superhero and sci fi or fantasy movies) and semi-avid reader. And the rest is history.
And I now have a weird genre-mash superhero, urban fantasy and apocalypse book out on Amazon. Amazing how your life can change when you just embrace who you actually are (and society accepts it). And you have some form of money. That always helps.
I enjoyed Bladur’s Gate too. We played it as a team and had so much fun. There are so many amazing games with fantastic story lines and awesome graphics. And don’t get me started on anime. So much great anime too.
I’ve always been happy being a geek, even when it wasn’t cool and I was never interested in changing who I am to suit the trends of the time. Be yourself, but remember not to infringe on other people’s right to be themselves. The world would be a boring place if we were all the same. Continue to embrace who you are and what makes you unique.
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