Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Virtual Killing Fields

Every now and again an article will appear in a video game magazine, website or blog lamenting the number of people each of us has virtually killed in our tenure as pixelated psychopaths and the increasing violence in today's games. It's an effort, I think, to bring some sort of justification to this hobby. To make it look like the vast majority of gaming fans aren't all socially retarded morons with a fixation on killing, which has been brought about by how new gaming still is and its common use as a scapegoat. Which seems odd to to me, considering every other fan base contains as high a number of these socially retarded morons. They rarely feel the need to justify them. In fact, certain hobbies often celebrate it. Not mentioning any names *cough* Football *cough*.

I, on the other hand, just like to look at these as a chance to take stock of how many people I have personally killed in the video game world. It's literally in the millions. Now a large part of that figure was through a nuclear war game called Defcon, which racked up the kill count like the score on a pinball machine (New York 11.2 million dead. Take THAT America!), so that's cheating really, and in all honesty, fairly abstract. The more telling figure is the blood on my hands through more personal means- bullet wounds, grenade blasts and the odd decapitation. It's still in the tens of thousands, distressingly. To you, I mean, not to me. I'd like to round it off to a nice even 100, 000 and then retire, a nice golden AK47 hanging on the wall as a reminder of all those I've mercilessly slaughtered. Also in case they come back as zombies, which is a real and vital occupational hazard these days.

But get this- I'm as normal as an person has the right to call themselves these days. I don't see opportunities for killing sprees when I'm out in the street. In fact, the only real way video games have effected me like that is when I was playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skateboarding too much and could see nothing but amazing grind spots everywhere. Video game violence is cathartic. It helps me relieve my stresses at the end of the day, not make me want to go out and add to them. In fact, I'd say that video games have stopped as many killing sprees as they've started (0). Not that you'd see that as a headline though.

Argh, I feel like I'm banging a drum that's been beaten many times before, when all I wanted to talk about is how much I like shooting people. I like it a lot. I'm in no hurry to stop. Worlds need to be saved and princesses have to be rescued and I'll always need to dump my stresses somewhere. So I'll continue to get my hands bloody and not give it a second thought. Care to join me?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Last Piece of the Puzzle

I'd always been sliding towards being a big fan of boardgames. It was the final, inevitable step of my ascension to full geek, with honours. My whirlwind (boardgame) romance started around 6 months ago and the range and ingenuity of the games that are out there have blown my socks off. In fact, when recently asked by my girlfriend if I had now become a boardgame collector, my sighed 'Yes' spoke volumes. I love 'em.

I was going to start by saying that I've always been drawn to hobbies that sit on the margins a little more than others. But that's not the case. I've always been curious about the hobbies of people whose company I enjoy. If I like them and they like this, I want to know the reason why. It was like this for the boardgames to, in a round about way. I'd become aware of some stores that catered for boardgame fans in Taipei and through this ended up joining a group of foreigners and ne'er-do-well's. It's through them that I've really seen all that there is out there.

I had always loved the few boardgames I had played. Socially, they always felt like one of the most enjoyable things you can do. Combine the right game with a few drinks and you're in for an excellent evening. Since then, like any good medium, I've discovered just how incredibly casual and shockingly hardcore games can get. Some of the rule books could be released as books themselves to be honest. Which is great, if you ask me. I think the very best stuff is always worth putting in a bit of effort for. However, even some of the more casual games can be a stack of fun. I already have a list of games as long as my arm that I want to at least try.

Anyway, in the past few months, I've played as a waitress in a Lovecraftian horror, a giant monster rampaging through Tokyo, a grizzled renegade gunslinger and a general slowly pushing his fleet across the galaxy. Boy, does that sound nerdy when I read it back. But it was all an amazing amount of fun. Basically, play more boardgames you guys. They are great.