When Do Young Geeks Make You Feel Old?

I am still a decent distance away from considering myself ‘old’. I turned 32 last week, I don’t get confused by modern technology, I get very few eye-rolls when I reference popular culture around my students. My five month old daughter definitely makes me feel youthful, if a little tired sometimes.

Nevertheless, from time to time, I experience events that give me the sense that I am old, or at the very least getting noticeably older. This happens to us all in various ways. You might hear yourself saying things your parents exclaimed when you were little, or react to what you see on the TV with the disgruntled attitude of a person past their youth.

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When do you Fast Travel?

The ability to skip sections of a video game has been around for a long time. Think about this mechanical feature for a moment. The creators of a game have poured their sweat and tears (I hope there’s very little blood involved) and spent a considerable amount of time writing and coding, only to give the player an exit. Take cut-scenes for example. Lots of love went into a visual spectacle that drives story and inspires excitement for the gameplay to come. And then the creators add a “press _ to skip” feature.

In one respect, fast travel feels a lot like this. An entire gaming world has been forged for your entertainment, but with built-in a feature that lets you teleport. “We made this to entertain you.” The developers say, “But we put in a button that lets you skip it in case you don’t find it entertaining”. If it can be passed by, why is it in the game?

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The Geek is a Dad: Baby VS D&D

I seemed to start playing Dungeons & Dragons as it began its surge in popularity. I can hardly say that I was “playing D&D before it was cool”; the game has been around for longer than I have. Nevertheless, when I was first introduced by a fellow teacher in 2015, the current edition of the game was only a year old, the massively popular Critical Role was just rolling out episode number 6 of campaign 1, and the vast majority of people I spoke to had barely even heard of D&D.

Four years later, D&D has evolved from a minor interest to a major hobby. Up until a few months ago, I was playing several times a month, most of which I was hosting. As the Dungeon Master of these games, I was either pouring over official campaign books or tinkering with my own, far-too-detailed homemade story. I enjoyed creating and playing D&D so much that it even took over the time that I usually reserved for playing video games or watching a good movie. I play other ‘Table Top Role Playing Games’ from time to time, but Dungeons & Dragons has its claws in me.

That was until six months ago, when I began to close the book on all my adventures in preparation for the arrival of my baby daughter. By Christmas, all of my groups knew that once we got to a satisfying place in the story I would bow out. My little lady was on her way and rather than string each game along until we ran out of time, I wanted to choose where the line in the sand was drawn. It was tough, because we all really wanted to play, but there’s nothing worse than a campaign that just fizzles out.

The games I was a player/character in would continue without me, but the games I ‘DMed’ would be gone for a long, long time… or so I thought.

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How do you become a ‘Grown-Up’ Gamer?

Hello internet, it’s been a while. Ten months since my last blog in fact. There have been many reasons for the long pause: my marriage last August; the extensive renovations on our new home; the workload that comes with being a teacher, and other very grown-up things. For a few months I wasn’t even really playing video games, never mind blogging about them.

I have, of course, started gaming again. I’ve hardly made up for lost time, and the amount I can play has adjusted. The last few months have led me to the startling conclusion that I am, in fact…

a ‘grown-up’.

The way I game has changed gradually over time, but it’s only this year that I have truly embraced the fact that the way I play needs to be altered. Maybe you’ve been through a similar experience? Perhaps you have yet to feel a change. I’ve found a few ways to adapt gaming to suit my adult life.

  1. Become more selective.

When I was younger, if two decent games were the same price as the game I really wanted to play, I would go for the two games. It would pass the time until the newer game dropped in price, and the older games often turned out to be better than expected. Besides, I’d get through all the games I wanted to play eventually.

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How Historically Accurate is The Witcher Part 3?

Compared to other RPGs I’ve played, The Witcher is a very intimate game. Even counting the segments of the city of Vizima as separate locations, the list of places I’ve seen so far is very small. The cast of the game is also quite lean. Both of these conditions are hardly negatives; it gives a feeling of familiarity and makes the interactions more personal. It also helps to enrich the story, in my opinion at least.

This intimate setup has impacted on my observations. Whilst with Skyrim I could skip about, cherry picking historic details, this games narrower landscape has led me to make a more specific consideration of the world.

In the third instalment of my ‘grown-up’ look at the historical accuracy of this fantasy adventure game, I’ve picked out one feature of the main character and two features of the city to analyse. The field of discussion is quite specific, though the History addressed is quite varied. Let’s start with a piece of History that has had one foot in fantasy for a long time.

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Gaming Fantasy Dinner Party – Guest Number Five

When someone describes their fantasy dinner party, it’s quite common for a villain to make it onto the guest list. For every five noble, heroic or inspirational persons considered for the fantasy evening, the sixth person is often villainous, cruel or despotic. It’s a curious thing, that we would make space around our dinner tables for a Charles I or a Ghenghis Khan instead of a Mary Seacole or a Confucuius.

The reasons for this are odd but understandable. Sometimes people want to see what makes a dictator want to be dictatorial. Being able to sit down with a tyrant and find out what makes them tick garners a certain appeal. No matter how evil the person might be, there is a belief that around the dinner table surrounded by sensible people, that person can make for unique company.

My fifth guest is base in that logic. I have four good guys so far, but now I’m going to risk upsetting the balance by adding a baddy. And not just any bad guy… one with god-like powers of destruction and a fondness for tyranny. But I think he’s an awesome character.

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Gaming Fantasy Dinner Party – Guest Numbers Three & Four

This week is a twofer. The next two guests I would invite have a lot of similar traits, and it seems sensible to introduce them side by side. Firstly, they are both scientists, though their fields of expertise do differ. Secondly, these men are true intellectuals – men of ideas, creativity and invention. Thirdly, they are very gentlemanly in their own ways. As such, they contrast the rough and ready natures of my first two guests.

So far, Alyx Vance and Jim Raynor have been invited to my make-believe evening of food, drink and entertainment. Whilst these two characters are a little rough around the edges, I believe they would make excellent house guests. Having said that, a little refinement wouldn’t hurt; guests #3 and #4 will add a touch of civility to the evening, without butchering the light-hearted atmosphere I’m aiming for. They’re both odd, awkward fellows in their own ways, but they are sure to make for good company.

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