Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Games: My Answers, Part Two

Here's part two of my games post, about how I discovered the games I love.

Video Games
Civilization: It's not hyperbole to say that the Civ series is my favorite video game(s) of all time. Period. I was first introduced to Civ when a friend handed me a copy (yeah, an illegal copy) and said "here, try this game." I installed it, fooled around with it, and when my buddy Mike came over for a sleepover we decided to give it a go. We stayed up the entire night playing Civilization, only to end up losing at the end game as Germany's tanks rolled over our knights. Civilization is different because no one was actually there to show me how the game worked; like a lot of video games, while it was recommended to me by a friend, I learned to play it on my own, often through trial and error. An interesting differentiation between video games and traditional games, I think, and a pattern you'll see repeated.

Also, I purchased a legit copy of Civ not long after the sleepover.

Grand Theft Auto: I include the GTA series because, unlike other games, I actually didn't like this one so much when it came out. My first roommate in college played the original GTA and I thought it was shit; I ended up with a copy of GTA2, which had its moments, but I thought GTA3 was far too violent and realistic for my tastes (it lost a lot of the cartoony flavor of the first two games.) It wasn't until Vice City that I found a GTA game I really loved, and San Andreas almost went over the edge. Actually, some parts, like the DDR-like dancing sequences and the "gravel pit" missions, did go over the edge. But I've spent a good deal enjoyable of time with the GTA games (and the slick, and in many ways superior, Bully), but it was a series I really did discover on my own.

Wasteland / Fallout: Those really are one game, right? Of all the games I've replayed that haven't been strategy games, I've had the best time with Wasteland and its spiritual successor. I also discovered Wasteland through a friend, although I discovered the game's depth myself (and Fallout as well.) What I mean by that is that I played the game with a buddy, but never really got into the game. When I got my own copy, I bothered to read the story and begin to understand the game's underlying RPG structure, so it was a far different - and more rewarding - experience.

RPGs are a little different. Some of my fellow Alliterates might string me up for this, but I think that many RPG systems are, at their base level, the same game. That is, the game where you show up, imagine you're a character taking part in a story (or creating the story in the case of the GM), and the system itself is simply an abstraction that allows the GM to govern the universe by a set of rules that includes randomness and possibilities and impossibilities. So differentiating between "the d20 system" and "the Rolemaster system" is fairly pointless, at least when it comes to the kind of analysis I'm doing here.

But that being said, I was introduced to D&D - no joke - through the "red box," advertised in a comic book and purchased by me. I ran through Zanzer Tem's tower with an Elf. I can't remember the Elf's name, but I had a good time. And I was hooked. And now look at me.

The Lone Wolf books, on the other hand - my buddy Nick Hannum put me on to those. We used to trade them back and forth. Did you know they're all available online? They are. You should play them.

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