27
Apr
2010

Once upon a Time...

Posted by Cha

I've been a bit sick over the last week. That hasn't been conducive to a lot of posting, but did mean some quiet gaming time. I should probably be tackling my stack of shame but, as often happens, I was tempted by shiny new experiences instead.

Firstly, I downloaded a copy of Trine, gladly snapped up on sale for $5 on Steam.

Trine is a game I almost love. I was charmed by its beauty and fairytale atmosphere. The graphics have a sort of intimate quality. Everything feels a little bit shiny and fantastical, but with a softness to it. The overall vibe really works for me.

21
Apr
2010

First Person Shooter

Posted by Cha

If you are bothered by ten-year-old television spoilers you might want to skip this entry.

I have a large X-files box set, which I've been working my way through at a rate of approximately one episode per day for, well, quite a while now. I am currently in Series 7, and just watched the episode "First Person Shooter". In this episode, Mulder and Scully investigate a virtual reality game which has somehow started killing people for real.

The X-files is not a show that always takes itself too seriously, and that is fine by me. I'm happy to ignore the ridiculousness in a lot of the cases investigated. However, in this particular example they really missed their mark for me, and First Person Shooter may well be my least favourite episode. Which is sad, given my interest in gaming, and love of geeky episodes and the lone gunmen. The episode is even written by William Gibson, which I would have thought was a good sign.

15
Apr
2010

Sleep Is Death

Posted by Cha

I have often pondered the character dilemma in computer RPGs. Either you are given a fixed character to play, with a relevant story but less personal input. Or, you create your own character but the story needs to be generic enough that their personality doesn't matter all that much. Basically, Planescape: Torment versus Baldur's Gate.

Sure, the moral choice systems and character development have improved over the years, but personality and story options remain fairly limited. That doesn't make these games terrible, and it's something I would generally accept. If I want a more customisable experience I probably won't look to computer games for that. But can that flexible story actually be achieved in video gaming?

"Hardcore" is another one of those terms thrown around a lot in relation to gaming, even though the definition is pretty fuzzy. Ditto "casual" on the other end of that supposed spectrum.

I don't own an XBox 360, rarely play FPS games, and don't usually enjoy competitive multiplayer. That rules me out of most of the stereotypes that pop into my head when someone uses the phrase "hardcore gamer". Also, although I find games fun and interesting I've never considered myself particularly skilled at them (though I have improved a lot in recent years).

I don't think that makes me a casual gamer, either (although the fun I've been having recently with Endless Ocean 2 may beg to differ). I'm pretty happy with my average-skilled, variable-genre approach to gaming.

08
Apr
2010

Witcher Sex

Posted by Cha

My favourite current-generation RPG so far is The Witcher, and I'm really looking forward to the sequel.

Unfortunately, Geralt's sexual exploits got rather more attention than the rest of the game. It's not really the part I'm most interested in. But I'm getting it out of the way first with this post, since it seems to come up whenever this game is discussed.

Geralt is infertile and immune to disease, but his promiscuity remains potentially quite emotionally reckless. And I will admit it's pretty tacky to reduce sexual intimacy to a series of collectable playing cards. It was widely labelled as yet another game trying to call itself mature, while including sex in a gratuitous, sexist, and immature way. I have a slightly different take on this.

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