Tag Archives: video games

Share Your World – 2015 Week #26

The questions.

In a car would you rather drive or be a passenger?

In real life I’d have to say a passenger, partly because I can’t drive and partly because I like to watch other people drive. In another world, a different reality, like in video games I love to drive. Especially in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, I love to drive around the countryside at night in a old junker of a car called a Clover (if I’m remembering correctly) listening to country and western music like I Love A Rainy Night and Crazy. Or in GTA 4, driving around the city at night listening to the radio station that plays Phillip Glass music.

If you were handed free opera tickets, would you go or sell them? Why?

If it were for an opera in Vienna I’d probably go, especially if they were for Wagner’s Ring. Otherwise I’d probably sell them, I have no real interest in opera or any wish to sit through such a thing.

Describe your own outlook on life in seven words or less. (NOTE:  does not necessarily have to be a sentence.)

There is almost always a silver lining.

Or alternatively: Books, football, Jogi, Hansi. All you need.

Which would you prefer:  a wild, turbulent life filled with joy, sorrow, passion, and adventure–intoxicating successes and stunning setbacks; or a contented bordering on happy, secure, predictable life surrounded by friends and family without such wide swings of fortune and mood?

I’d prefer the latter I think, well part of it anyway. I think I’ve had enough adventure and trouble for a lifetime. It would be nice to enjoy boring and predictable for a change, I’d welcome a little security right now. As for being surrounded by family and friends, not so much, they are part of the problem. The only excitement I want is football related, in regards to everything else a quiet and predictable life would suit me just fine. I want nothing more than to go to work in the week, to do what I have to do and be left alone. And at the weekend, books and football whether it be at the stadium for a home game or at home in front of the TV if it’s an away one. And stickers of course, there always has to be stickers.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful that I got plenty of reading done, and that I got lots of nice new pictures of Hansi. And that it wasn’t quite so unbearably warm all the time, at least in the night it was cool enough to get some writing done, I’m very happy with the ending for my DFB Pokal chapter.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Minions film today and the Niki Lauda documentary at the cinema. I’m also happy at the prospect of finally being able to buy some stickers, and maybe checking out a second hand bookstore I found online. I don’t have a great deal of money to spend on books right now, but I’ll be happy if I can just find the place to check it out and to look through the old books. Looking through shelves of old books is in a way better than new ones, there’s something more special about it.  I hope that I can find the place and that I like it. If so I plan on going back there once the summer’s over with my backpack and a wad of notes, imagine all that money to spend on books.

In defence of video games

Do or Die

You have three hundred words to justify the existence of your favorite person, place, or thing. Failure to convince will result in it vanishing without a trace. Go!

I’m not going to spend 300 words justifying the existence of Joachim Löw or Germany or football. Neither of those subjects needs 300 words, especially not the first two.

I used to spend more time playing video games than doing anything else; not so much these days but I still consider it my absolute favourite thing. Whilst playing games I’ve won World Cups and European Championships, saved entire planets from obliteration, invaded Berlin with the Red Army, and taken out high ranking Nazis as a sniper, managed Karlsruher SC and am currently in the process of getting them promoted to the Bundesliga and much more.

Some people say video games are a waste of time and that none of that means anything because none of it is real. Like anything is real, you have no idea what is real and what is not. Everything is fictional in a sense, just as everything is real. Life is a game in itself, yet you don’t call that a waste of time.

I should spend my time on more worthy pursuits such as reading apparently. Because books aren’t fictional are they? What difference does it make, whether the story unfolds on the page or the screen? Video games are criticised for being too passive a form of entertainment when in fact that accusation could be levelled at books, after all I’m the one making the decisions, which player to play, which soldier to save, with a book you have to go where it tells you to. Even history books are fictional in a sense, after all you weren’t there were you, it’s not a part of your reality, reading about something that happened even fifty years ago never mind several hundred years is something that is far removed from your daily reality.

Video game related rant

Something I find equally amusing and frustrating about video games is the amount of misinformation about the subject. I frequently come across comments online about games that enrage me. For example the parent who would never let their teenager play GTA because they think there’s a mission where the player has to rape a prostitute. I’ve played every GTA game except for the DS one and I don’t recall any such mission. I recall driving prostitutes to customers in GTA III and rescuing a prostitute in GTA: San Andreas but nothing like what that person mentions. If they don’t want their teenager playing GTA, then that’s their decision as a parent, but can’t people be bothered to actually research or at least find out a few basic facts about something before making a decision? What happened to making an informed decision?

All the criticisms that are frequently aimed at video games can equally apply to other things too, overly violent, misogynistic, lacking in any depth or substance. You wouldn’t have to look very hard to find many films that could be criticised for these exact same things. The same could apply to books.

The most obvious criticism is that people, especially children play too many games and aren’t active enough. Which is a valid criticism, but how come children who are bookworms don’t get the same thing said about them? When I was younger and I read voraciously, nobody (including teachers) ever told me that I had to spend more time outside. It was a different story as soon as the book was replaced by a Game Boy. Never mind that the story of the game was little different to that of the books I enjoyed.

The thing that frustrates me the most personally is the accusation that games are passive. Naturally some are more passive than others; obviously casual games don’t require the same attention level as more serious and in depth games. Something which could equally be said about books, naturally there is a difference between a crime thriller which is a quick and easy two day read in comparison to a history book on whatever subject. People play different games for different reasons, like people read different books for different reasons.

I don’t play many strategy games so my examples are somewhat out of date, but the point still applies. Take Caesar or Pharaoh for example, or any game of that genre, a game like that requires decision making skills, balancing the requirements of short and long term goals, multi-tasking, making financial decisions, and in the case of those two games you can learn a little about history as well. All without any significant violence (there are some battle sequences and people can get eaten by crocodiles) or bad language. Intellectually stimulating, family friendly and non-expensive, what more could you ask for? Those two games are actually part of the reason for my interest in history as a child and which led to me wanting books about Ancient Egypt.

And those two games represent excellent value for money, I think they cost a little under £5 each and I bought them about twelve years ago. I’ve gotten hundreds of hours of entertainment out of them. Gaming doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. Likewise games like Mass Effect are excellent value for money, even if you got them on release day and bought the special editions like I did for the second and third one. The first Mass Effect game, I’ve owned three copies of it across three platforms, two physical and one digital.
None of them cost more than £10 and it’s a game I’ve completed at least five full through play-throughs of with each one taking about 20/25 hours.  And I can envision playing again from start to finish, if not just to design a character that looks like Joachim.

I notice that whilst people frequently comment on how much money I spend on games, or to be more precise how much money they think I spend on games, they don’t have anything to say about the often absurd amounts of money I spend on books. I once spent a little under £40 tracking down a rare Holocaust related book, and that price is a bargain considering the first copy I found cost more than twice that, and I was willing to pay that much I should add. I’ve read that book once, will likely never read it again, nevertheless I simply had to have it. Equally certain people are equally quiet on the amount of money I’ve previously spent on DVDs and blu-rays. When I spent a not insignificant amount of money tracking down rare CW films from Austria and Germany (some of which had no English subtitles) they understood why I had to have them. Yet those same people can’t understand why I had to have the new F1 game on the day it came out and not a few months later when it was a more reasonable price (this was during my Niki Lauda obsession).

Which leads to another advantage of video games, especially for autistic or otherwise socially awkward children, they can help people make friends or gain a little popularity. During the Pokemon craze, I found that all of a sudden people wanted to talk to me. And later on in secondary school gaming helped me cement friendships that otherwise would not have been made. It was pretty much the only age appropriate interest I had that didn’t bore my peers to death.

I’m not saying there aren’t any bad points about gaming, the addictiveness of them can certainly be troubling for some people, but for me it’s a non-issue. Not because I don’t addicted to or fixated on a game. That happens frequently. It’s not an issue because if it wasn’t a game, it would be something else, that much is guaranteed. It makes no difference whether I don’t sleep all night because of a particularly addicting game, or because I couldn’t stop reading a certain book or because I spent all night on the internet reading about my new special interest. The end result is the same, I still had no sleep. I’m still hyped up on excitement and sugar. And I still have to deal with the hangover of regret when I wake up the day after.

The experiences I’ve had in games are as memorable and important to me as the things that happened in my favourite books and films. Choosing Kaidan over Ashley in Mass Effect and all of the decisions you have to make throughout the rest of the trilogy, storming through Berlin as a soldier of the Red Army in COD: WOW, the camaraderie that’s built up in your party in Dragon Age, the end of Red Dead Redemption, recreating Germany win the World Cup in a football game and many many more. A book takes you where it wants you to go; it offers you no choice or active participation in how the story proceeds. Which makes me baffled as to how someone can argue that gaming is passive hobby, surely nothing is totally passive anyway, not even watching TV, because you choose what to watch, you actively make a decision to watch one show or avoid another.

It’s not easy to explain to someone who doesn’t like games why they are so great. It’s like trying to explain the appeal of watching football to someone who hates sports. Some things just can’t be done. I’m going to try nevertheless. Who wouldn’t want to explore other worlds and universes, save the world, defeat Nazi Germany, win the World Cup, rule your own nation, be a pirate on the seven seas and experience many more adventures? Or pretty much anything you can imagine. Want to track through a desolate wasteland and have to choose between helping or hurting people, creep through an abandoned spaceship whilst almost dying of fright every 30 seconds or so, be a valiant knight or an elf lord.  Especially when in real life you are, or at least you feel like you are powerless and can’t do anything. You can argue that games are pointless, spending hours of your time building up a fictional character, collecting things that have no value in the real world, that instead of building up your Ultimate Team in FIFA you could be outside actually playing football. Believe me if I could be doing that, I would. Not that the two couldn’t co-exist though, why is that some people think you can’t do both?

To follow that logic, aren’t all interests pointless? Isn’t everything pointless and meaningless in some way? Even if you think that it’s not ok to say that to someone about their hobbies or interests, even I know that. It’s too depressing even for me to think that way, once you start thinking like that it’s hard to snap out of it. I can’t allow myself to seriously consider that idea, if I do, I won’t bother to do anything.