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Tycho / on Mon, Dec 3 2007 at 12:37 am

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Old School

Both our holiday visits had a number of moments like this one.

It’s at least partially a story about how Nintendo dominates the entire universe, but that’s not the core of it.  Our parents and grandparents are playing videogames.  A lot.  My mom probably plays something like four hours a night.  The "Brain Games" thing never got its hooks into me, but as a type of play that is a "Mental Exercise Regimen" it provides an in for people who won’t allow themselves to enjoy leisure for leisure’s (delicious) sake.

People play games (videogames included) for a number of reasons, and those motivations make different types of games more appealing than others.  We’re not measuring laser-cut slabs of aluminum here, with precise angles and volumes.  We’re talking about a context in which the weight of each element depends on the person viewing it.  I will often read a review of a game I have played and cry aloud at its content, as though they were making false claims about demonstrable, physical phenomena.  It’s like I am gesturing with my whole body at what is obviously a pumpkin, and being told that the object on the table is, in fact, an opossum.  They aren’t liars, or villains.  They are gamers.  They simply have a different sort of metabolism, one that craves peculiar, to my mind heretical fare.     

A good example of this playing out is in the guitars for Guitar Hero and Rock Band.  When the Rock Band guitar is working, I vastly prefer it:  its size and shape are much closer to electric guitars I have played, and the strum bar is thick at the outer edge to be gripped like a pick.  Its operation is largely silent, without the characteristic click of a microswitch, designed (I am sure) explicitly to be quiet.  Some people love that click, though - it means precision - and for the player who craves that fifth star, there is no higher virtue.  Stars in single player are, for me, irrelevant.  I’m sure this makes me a scoundrel.  I only care about stars in co-operative multiplayer, where I see them as an index of our indomitable band spirit.  I want a measurement of our unity.  I’m playing the same game for an entirely different purpose.  I wouldn’t notice if it did click.  When the song begins, I enter a trance. 

That’s a pretty serious distinction - people who play games in order to excel at them, and those who play games as a conduit to fantasy - and its only one axis of the diagram.       

(CW)TB out. 

  your strange imagination


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