Nerdy Friends in need

This is what it really feels like to play Indiana Jones

Most games today have about as much in common with their 20 year old ancestors as Bill Gates does with Steve Jobs. I’ve had an on again – off again relationship with games since the 80’s and still remember the enchantment of stealing away to my uncle’s TV room (maybe it was a living room, but all I cared about was the TV) and turning on the wood grain 2600 to play Indiana Jones ignoring that I had no idea in hell what to do. Now my progeny arrived kicking and screaming and I’m left wondering not if he’ll like games but how will his influences affect him?

The best companion around. Dice not included

I got my NES for Christmas around two years after picking up the one button joystick of the Atari; of course it came with the ever famous Mario/Duck Hunt pack in. Soon I was sitting slack jawed on the floor trying to make my parents watch me play Blaster Master until I got stuck and get anyone that would to play Duck Hunt. Most of my friends however were a different story. All but one of them, I would eventually come to learn, didn’t really care about playing games or Nintendos. The two kids I really grew close to couldn’t be more different than one another. With Chris, I played more games than I could have wished. It started off with just midnight Mech Warrior marathons when we were younger eventually evolving into all night Dungeons and Dragons spectaculars. We couldn’t be closer and did everything together. Gregg on the other hand is the buddy I got into trouble with and had the time of my life away from the TV. It turned out I would eventually get him to play a shit ton of Mario Kart. Somehow it seemed everything I did, I did with him too.

My little boy just loves to cry

Those guys shaped my life. If it wasn’t for Chris I wouldn’t really care about games. Meanwhile, Gregg gave me my sense of humor and rebellious streak. Now I’m left thinking about my little boy wondering what might influence him. Of course, games will always be here but does that elevate them to something remarkable or just label them mundane? I understand that he and I will get enjoyment from many of the same things as that’s the bond of parenthood, but don’t his friends have just as much influence on him?

Now that he has traversed through his fussy stage (for the most part) I find myself hoping that in a lot of ways he will be like me. Fortunately, I’ve come to realize that I’m actually more excited about how he won’t be like me so I can watch him become an entirely different person than myself. I want him to introduce me to new experiences that I would scoff at otherwise. I’ve never been a person to shy away from something new.

This is where his friends come in and how important they are to me as a father. I want him to gravitate towards kids that will influence him in positive ways no matter what they are. If he turns out to have friends that show no interest in video games, so be it. I’ve discovered that all I’m concerned about is him having positive experiences. I’m not so naïve to think that he won't have friends that suck, everyone does, but I have a fatherly worry that will never go away. I’ve resigned myself to the feeling that I will always harbor the need to press X for Jason. I couldn't be happier.

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Actually, games are still fun.

Ramza Beoulve looks cool without even trying.

Gaming is a lost mistress to me. It’s the proverbial beautiful woman who was once beautiful that and is now a chasm of fond memories? A new difficulty artificially superimposed itself into every game I play. “Substantial New Content” appears below “Balls to the Walls Insanity” threating to ruin exciting new experiences something different might bring. I hold onto the same genres, same play styles and try to recapture my youth every time I press the power button. My recent realization came when I finished Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together for the PSP. Don’t get me wrong, the game is fantastic, but as I play through it I keep referring to the protagonist as Ramza and I miss the awesome power of Orlando administering a whirlwind of unstoppable death.

Someone who knows something about repeating a few mistakes.

Mass Effect is the same story. Literally. I’ve played through a couple of different characters between ME 1 and 2 and rarely do I deviate from the choices I made the previous time I finished each game. Regardless of how much variation any game dangles in front of my conscious mind, my id takes over and I’ve repeated my mistakes. I seem to press the repeat button and rarely experience anything new. Granted, I’ve gone through a major life change with the birth of my son and with no sense of loss I play much less, but it seems for the past few years that I want that familiar blanket that I can imagine is oh so much.

It feels good to have a best friend.

For all its flaws Heavy Rain was the genuinely exciting game I’ve played. It has rekindled a search that I once had almost given up. I think my problem was not exactly that I was afraid to play something I had to learn be it mechanics or lore. I think I was afraid of getting older and change in general. Now that I have baby boy I get much less time than I used to. Responsibility beckons, of course. I think this absence from the dark age of free reign has given back excitement to the games that I do play. I no longer rush through a game skipping the cut scenes just to finish it and then move onto the next. I used to be disappointed that I didn’t have to recharge my controllers once every few days. Now, just the prospect of picking up one of those controlers excites me in a way it hasn't in a long time. Now the giant bugs that die tonight don't need to die in vein; they might make my day just a little brighter.

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Getting Started

never considered myself a writer. Putting my thoughts down where someone can get to and critique them frightens me dearly. In an effort to letting my thoughts out, and more importantly improving my writing, this will hopefully be the start of a bi-weekly blog that will loosely be centered around games and how my perspective on them changes after the birth of my son in January. If anyone does happen to read this I would appreciate you checking back in the hopes that I can write something intelligible worth reading.

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