Archive for July 31st, 2010

Fun & Games

I like to balance my controller on my boobs sometimes.

Even taking pictures doesn't distract me from my game.

I’ve always liked playing games. Not just video games, but card games, board games, and everything in between. I even got into trading card games for a while in my youth (mostly Pokemon, which I am not ashamed of). I’ve always liked games that exercised the mind and used strategy as well as luck. I also like games of chance, although a bit less than games that require actual skill.

The only game I remember disliking as a child was Monopoly, and solely because it took forever to play until someone won. What my family usually ended up doing was playing until we got bored, then counting up everyone’s money and land values and declaring the person with the most the winner (I’m fairly sure a lot of families did this, actually).

One game I personally really liked that my family didn’t have much use for was Life. I dunno why it was so appealing to me, but I used to play with the game board even when no one else was interested in playing also. I did that with another game we had too, it was based on Robin Hood and had a little plastic castle, and wooden pieces to represent Robin and the Sheriff and such. That one I played on my own too. Really, my brothers tended to be a bit too busy with their NES and SNES to play with me, so unless I could convince my parents to play (which they usually wouldn’t do because I tended to beat them) I usually messed with the board games alone. I was never any good at Solitaire card games, though, so I didn’t do them as much.

I remember a game I used to play on our old computer, called You Don’t Know Jack. I think it’s still around, actually, but PC only these days (of course). We had four versions of it, the first three regular versions and the movie version. One summer I got so bored that I played one of them (I think it was the second one) until I had almost every answer memorized, and then gleefully beat anyone who I could convince to play with me (before they realized I knew every answer, that is). I credit that game for most of my enjoyment of useless trivia and silly game shows (I used to watch Win Ben Stein’s Money all the damn time in high school).

I didn’t start playing video games until I was more computer-savvy. My mother worked for a while as a consultant for a company that sold educational software, which meant she got a lot of free versions of really cool games like Cosmic Osmo and those old CD-rom games that were versions of popular kids books but interactive, or collections of several games of skill that were also educational. I think she actually used me as a guinea pig a couple times, because she would ask me which games I liked. XD Not that that’s a bad thing for someone trying to sell educational games to schools to know. ;D Most of those games would probably be way too easy now, but they were still really fun and I wouldn’t mind playing them again (although I don’t know how I could, considering how long ago this was).

Really, until I learned of RPGs I didn’t have any interest in actually playing video games myself. Mostly I bugged my brothers to let me sit and watch them play, until they got tired of me and told me to go away (mostly because I asked too many questions). Sometimes, when he was in a really good mood, my middle brother would narrate the scenes to me. I have fond memories of him doing this, and there are still scenes in oldschool SNES games (or their DS ports) that I hear in his voice. I distinctly remember that the first video game I ever played on a console was Earthbound, for SNES. It was so weird to play it, when I was used to just watching, but it was also a ton of fun. I quickly moved on to Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy, and played them many times, but never actually beat them. I’m not sure where my fear of beating a game originally came from, although I know that there are parts relating to my perfectionism (I want to make sure I get everything done first) and parts relating to not wanting the fun to end. These days I generally do better about actually beating games, but it took me a long time. Even games I enjoyed (or perhaps especially them) were difficult for me to beat. I’m fairly sure I didn’t beat a video game for the first time until I was in high school, and it was a SNES game on an emulator. I still haven’t beaten the first Kingdom Hearts game either, despite beating the second and 358/2 Days. For some reason, though, I’ve beaten Dragon Age six times now (that’s what I was playing in the picture). XD So I don’t know. I do know I enjoy games more when I have the option to go back and play them with my endgame stats (Chrono Trigger, The World Ends With You, etc). I like to relive the story bits, without all the work.

I can understand why some people of older generations seem to distrust video games. But I can’t agree with them. I’ve loved games of any kind since I was a kid, and video games were a natural extension for someone who grew up in the digital age. Even if I hadn’t had two older brothers who were seriously into video games growing up (and still are), I probably would have ended up playing them at some point anyway. I think it’s one of the ways to exercise your brain. It’s certainly more stimulating that watching TV.


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