Saturday, January 03, 2009

Gamers in a Dangerous Time

One day you're waiting for the sky to fall
And next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all
When you're lovers in a dangerous time
--Bruce Cockburn, Lovers in a Dangerous Time

And make no mistake, these are dangerous times we're living in. Economically, things are already pretty bad. There's a good chance you or someone you know has lost his or her job as a result of cutbacks, and things will, according to many people who know a lot more about this stuff than I do, get worse before they get better. I'm very thankful for my job and fully aware that at any point, someone could decide that my company could save a whole lot of money by paying people in Mexico or India or elsewhere to do my job. This is a time for belt-tightening and saving, not for spending.

Beyond our economic woes, long-simmering tensions in other parts of the world are building up to dangerous levels, and it's possible that the human race may blow itself to hell in the relatively near future. Is ths really a time when we should be playing games?

Heck yeah, it is. Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight, and being able to relax and enjoy life is absolutely worth having. Here are the things I'm playing in these precarious days.

Prince of Persia--It's beautiful, I'll give it that. The visual design is striking, evoking ancient Persia not as it ever was but as it is in our imaginations. But the gameplay all feels a bit rote to me, and not very engaging. This one may be on the next GameFlight back home.

Fallout 3--I know I said that these are not times for spending, and GameFly seems like a good way to save money and still play the games I want to play, but after a certain point having a game from GameFly must stop being cost-effective. I think I might be reaching that point with Fallout 3. I play it in fits and starts, and I like it well enough, but more often than not there's something I'd rather be playing. Still, I have to play it through to the end. I think it might just be in very small pieces over the course of the coming months.

Lumines Supernova--Ohh, how I love/hate Lumines! Its design is so flawless, so compelling, and I want so badly to be really good at it. But Lumines greatness eludes me. Still, I keep trying. Maybe someday I'll get past the sixth skin in the basic challenge mode.

LittleBigPlanet--When I wrote up my favorite games of 2008, I called this my odd game out, because the perplexing moderation of so many wonderful user-created levels just seemed to fly in the face of the game's good-natured, Fun shall overcome philosophy. But things seem to have recovered nicely, and I still regularly encounter user-created levels that charm, thrill, and genuinely surprise me with their inventiveness.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts--I spent about an hour and a half playing Nuts & Bolts tonight, and my first impressions of the game are extremely positive. It's very funny in a way that both mocks video game conventions in general and the Banjo-Kazooie games in particular. It's gorgeous. And the gameplay is purely, tremendously fun. I haven't yet had to design any of my own vehicles, which is a good thing. The game has an excellent learning curve that lets you use pre-designed vehicles successfully in many early challenges. And the challenges themselves are varied and fun. I'm already hooked and can't wait to collect more jiggies.

Chrono Trigger--I'd never played Chrono Trigger before. I was in college when it hit the SNES and I didn't make much time for games during those four years. It's probably for the best. Without my degree in Theater with a minor in English, it's doubtful I'd have the lucrative career in tech support and customer service that I have today. But I'm making up for lost time by playing it now.

Life with PlayStation--Folding molecules for the benefit of humankind. Gee, that planet of ours sure is pretty, isn't it?

Yeah, that's the thing, isn't it? Even as things get uncertain and scary, there's still so much to be hopeful for and so much to be thankful for. Play what you love and do what you love, and when things get tough, remember that nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. Or, as the late, great Harvey Milk said, "There is hope for a better world. There is hope for a better tomorrow."

Happy 2009, everyone!


Carrie said...

First cry of the New Year. THANKS Caro. :P

Anonymous said...

That's awesome! Yeah, do what you want, and be who you are! Don't let society or others tell you what to do or what you should like! You always have those friends trying to get you to like what they like, pushing books, dragging you to concerts that you didn't want to go to (as a gift too!), so that you need to distance yourself from them since they're not letting you be who you really are. It's all about that! Be who you really are!