I've got this strange relationship with video games. I feel obliged to know about them, in the same way that a guy will educate himself about (e.g.) baseball so he doesn't feel left out when conversations start at the water cooler.
I rarely play games, not because I'm avoiding them, but because when it comes down to the way I choose to spend my time, they come up last on the list. A few years back I bought a PSP and have since accumulated a few games for it, but it never winds up being anything that commands more than an hour of two of my attention at a stretch.
In fact, that was a big part of why I got my PSP in the first place, instead of a full-blown console — I could pull it out most anywhere or at any time, play a few rounds, and then put it away again. Not being tethered to the TV was a nice bonus, too.
The biggest thing of all — and man, this is going to make me sound like a loser — it gave me an easy way to stay on top of gaming, at least peripherally, so that I didn't fall completely out of touch with something that has become as important a cultural force as the movies.
I decided I wanted to do something about Not Falling Behind when I realized that just about every friend of consequence I have — and many colleagues I have above and beyond that — are gamers. Not just in the sense that they play a game every now and then, but they take gaming seriously. It's not just a pastime; it's something they throw a good deal of themselves into and feel they get just as much back out of.
A big part of that is the social aspect of it: playing with other people, talking about the game[s] with other people, or ganging up on the game with other people. This explains why MMOs manage to be such smash hits despite the fact that most of what you do in them is deadly boring, repetitive nonsense. (Once upon a time, we were paid for doing that. Now we pay others for the privilege of getting to doing it. Or we pay someone else to do it for us so we can do the interesting parts ourselves. O tempora, o mores.)
To that end, I don't want to remain totally ignorant of what's going on. And again, for that I have my friends: they keep me briefed on most of what goes on in gaming. Every now and then something will pop out and grab my interest because of an unusual game mechanic (Katamari Damacy) or something thematically intriguing (Dynasty Warriors) or some combination of both (Okami). It keeps my attention ... for a little while.
I have joked in the past that if anyone ever comes up with a samurai-themed MMO, I run the risk of vanishing off the face of the earth.
For a week.
Tags: video games
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