Tag Archive for Gamer Banter

Favorite Game of 2010

After skipping a number of Gamer Banters, this month’s topic caught my attention: “What was your favorite game you played this year?”

I played a few games this year that I really enjoyed.  Among them, Red Dead Redemption and Dead Rising 2 (and Case Zero) and Free Realms and Wizard 101 and a slew of others… but the standout, the one that has to be my favorite game of 2010 is the little indie that could, Minecraft.

The most amazing thing about it is that before and when I picked it up, I was in the LEGO Universe beta feeling like something was missing… and then I found Minecraft and knew what it was: absolute freedom.  As a kid I really loved dumping out the giant box of LEGOs and building stuff, and I had wanted that from LEGO Universe, which ended up having too much traditional MMO in it.  But in Minecraft I could run around and do pretty much anything that I wanted.  Sure, the survival modes of Minecraft are fun, but being able to just run around and create awesome stuff is just incredible.  Check out the map for this server that I play around on.

If you want to play this, buy it soon, because on the 20th of this month it moves from Alpha to Beta and the price is going up.

This post was part of Gamer Banter, a monthly video game discussion coordinated by Terry at Game Couch. If you’re interested in being part of this, please email him for details.

Other takes:
Extra Guy
Man Fat
Game Couch
The Game Fanatics

Browsing the Aisles

This month’s Gamer Banter: “How important is cover art to you?”

Back in the day, we’d go to the store as a family, and in the electronics section there would be the wall of Atari games.  The cover art was pretty much always like a million times better than the actual game graphics.  The art mattered, because that’s what got you to pick up the box and flip it over to see a couple of game shots.  Even into the Nintendo and early PC eras this continued.  The art of a King’s Quest box didn’t match the game, but it drew you in.

These days, I almost never go to the store to browse games.  I check websites, I browse Amazon.  I buy games there too, and the only time I ever see the game box is when I’m getting the disc out to put it in the 360 or installing the game on my hard drive… though Steam has pretty much ended the latter.

If I did, though, game box covers are like a movie poster.  It’s art, meant to catch your eye.  And much like movie posters the same layouts get used so often that I have become almost immune to them.  They fail to catch my eye.  And yet, now and then a movie poster comes along that I have to find and buy and I have to put on my wall.  But game boxes are so small.  Perhaps I might display a particularly good one if it was sold in a poster size, but so few are.

So to answer the question, the cover art is unimportant to me.  I barely even notice it.

This post was part of Gamer Banter, a monthly video game discussion coordinated by Terry at Game Couch. If you’re interested in being part of this, please email him for details.

Other takes:
Silvercublogger: Don’t Cover The Art, Unless…
The Average Gamer: Cover Art
SnipingMizzy: In the eye of the beholder
Extra Guy: On Books and Covers
Zath: How Important Is A Game’s Cover Art?
carocat.co.uk: Cover art? No, thanks!
Pioneer Project: The game box’s big moment
Man Fat: How Important Is A Game’s Cover Art?

The Gamer I Am Today

This month’s Gamer Banter is “What was the game that made you a gamer?”

To be honest, I’ve been a gamer since my dad brought home a Pong system in the late 70s.  Then it was the Atari 2600.  The games that cemented me as a gamer were Yar’s Revenge and Pitfall.  I played those games for hours on end, entire days, flipped them and kept on playing.  Sure, we had dozens of games, but those are the ones that stand out.  We had an NES too eventually, and we got a PC.

Over the years there have been many games.  Zelda and Mario on the NES (and Pro Wresting… Starman forever!), while over on the PC it was dominated by Sierra games, from The Black Cauldron to Leisure Suit Larry through the King’s, Police, Space and Hero’s Quests, The Colonel’s Bequest, Gabriel Knight and the Manhunter games.  And Doom.

Doom was a game changer.  By that time I had discovered BBSs and had a group of friends online.  Much like I’d once bought, with my own money, an Adlib Sound Card to play games like Loom that required better sound and a 1200 baud modem so I could get online, I bought a token ring network card and then begged my parents to let me take the PC to a friend’s house.  I’d played Doom through dozens of times on my 386, but with 4 PCs in the same room, network cards and coaxial cable, suddenly we were deathmatching.  We were yelling at each other across the room, taunting each other in text chat.  Gaming stopped being something I did by myself and started being something I did with other people.

Sure, the BBSs had multiplayer door games, but this was different.  It became a regular thing, and soon it became something we could do over the Internet.

Even so, as much as I was a gamer, I still did other things.  Then along came Team Fortress for Quakeworld.  See, deathmatch was fun, but it never felt quite right for me.  But here came a game where not only were we on a team, but roles in that team formed.  I wasn’t the best player, but I was a demon on defense.  Those BBS people, we formed a clan and we played in tournaments.  We played against teams in other states, in other countries.  It was a new kind of social element to gaming.  Deathmatch had its culture too, but it was ultra-competitive, insular, everyone was your enemy.  Team Fortress fostered camaraderie.  When not in a tournament match, hopping on a public server meant you worked with your team whether they were in your clan or not.  It lead to a lot of respect on the battlefield.

Then came EverQuest.  In some ways it was so natural to shift.  From being part of a team in Team Fortress to being part of a group in EverQuest.  I was comfortable with the idea that I couldn’t win on my own.  I didn’t want to play alone.  Groups and raids and guilds, sitting in the East Commons tunnel on Saturdays looking for deals, message boards, all of it.  It was another level of social.  In the Quakeworld world after tools like GameSpy came out it was easier to track down your friends, or people you’d enjoyed playing with, but in EverQuest, anyone you played with you could put on a list and look for them anytime you were on because they were always on the same server as you.  And it was lasting.  I’m still friends with a couple people from the TF days, but I still talk daily with a bunch of people from my EQ server.

Looking back and looking forward, the kind of gamer I am is one that enjoys active social interaction with his game.  This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that reads my blog as my biggest complaint about most MMOs is when they lack a good social aspect or community.  My Venn diagrams summed it up pretty well I thought.

I was always a gamer, born into a gaming world, but I’d have to say that Team Fortress and EverQuest are the games that made me the gamer I am today, and the gamer I will probably be for the rest of my life.

This post was part of Gamer Banter, a monthly video game discussion coordinated by Terry at Game Couch. If you’re interested in being part, please email him for details.

Other Gamer Banter participants:
carocat.co.uk: A Trip Down Memory Lane
Yuki-Pedia: A Tale of Two Games
gunthera1_gamer: Early Gaming Experience
Extra Guy: Ah yes, I remember it well
The Average Gamer: What Made Me a Gamer
Sivercublogger: Uncovering Lost Treasures
Master Kitty’s World: Gaming Through the Years
Gamer Unit: What was the game that made you a gamer?
Game Couch: Karateka
Next Jen: What Made Me into a Gamer

Friends Through The End

This month’s Gamer Banter topic didn’t inspire me.  It was “Which game character do you identify yourself with most/least and why?” and I spent time thinking about it and the simple fact is that I don’t really even identify with video game characters at all.  Sure, I like to follow along the story, and I might be immersed for the duration, but it rarely lingers.  The characters that stick are the ones I create in MMOs.  Even now, years after cancelling my EQ account, I still think about Ishiro Takagi, my human agnostic monk from Qeynos.

But after firing off an email to the Gamer Banter coordinator about how I wasn’t inspired to participate, I thought of a new angle on the topic.

The closest I even came to identifying with a character was Gordon Freeman in the Half-Life series.  The reason was because Gordon is a shell in which I sit while I play.  Gordon never speaks, and the game never has a 3rd person view cut scene.  I am Gordon at all times.  This makes Gordon more like my MMO characters than your traditional video game character because he has no personality unless I give it to him.

Thinking along this line, I drifted to a couple other games by Valve: Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2.  Here, we don’t have Gordon-like shells.  The four survivors in each game quip and banter, they call for help.  Even when I play one, I’m not them, I’m just controlling them.  However, because the game is light on cut scenes and outside the quips and banter the characters are player or AI controlled and not just standing around, these games have given me a group of friends to survive the zombie apocalypse with.  And through them and their banter, I care about them.  Ellis has told me so many stories about his buddy Keith that I want to know if Keith is out there surviving the onslaught of the undead too.  (I secretly pray that Keith is one of the survivors in the inevitable Left 4 Dead 3.)  In fact, since most of the time I play with my friends, the survivors are my friends.

These eight characters have come to define my view of zombie Armageddon.  When the day comes, I want these people, or at least people like them, by my side.  Even when I’m playing solo, I find myself rushing to their aid, not just to keep them alive but because I don’t want them to die.  A subtle distinction, but an important one.  Even when playing solo, I find myself talking to the other survivors, asking them what the hell they are doing, telling them to hurry up, even reminding them to cover me.  It’s almost a little unnerving to realize that I do that, but there it is.

So yeah, the truth is that most of the time I don’t identify with characters, but in Valve’s Left 4 Dead series, they’ve added just enough to the shell I (and my friends, and the AI) inhabit to evoke a response.

This post was part of Gamer Banter, a monthly video game discussion coordinated by Terry at Game Couch. If you’re interested in being part, please email him for details.

Other Gamer Banter participants:
Pioneer Project: The importance of character creation
Silvercublogger: Will Sing Opera For Italian Food
Game Couch: Gabriel Knight
Extra Guy: Who I Identify With
Next Jen: I’d Rather Be Me
carocat.co.uk: A rushed love letter