Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A heartwarming thanksgiving tale, involving video games.

I was reading this post from Penny Arcade, a website that I read for funny cartoons and news on video games, and such. But it brought to mind my own thanksgiving day experience with video games.

My sister came down for my birthday dinner and for thanksgiving, which happened to be in the same week this year. When she heard that the wife and I had a wii, she asked me to bring it over for thanksgiving, so people could play. Being a good big brother, I naturally obliged.

Before I actually discuss the experience, i want to note two things that I discovered that day. First, the Wii is small enough that I can fit the entire system, including two controller sets and five games (not including wii sports) into a bag that I got as a freebie at a Nationals game. A small insulated bag that is intended to keep a six pack of beer cold. So, the wii is really small.

Second, (a lesson learned while actually hooking up the wii to my father's TV), my father has the most complicated audio-visual setup known to man. I don't know who installed it, but they should get a medal. The back of the stereo/video receiver system at my dad's house must have approximately 80,000 plugs, all of which have just enough room to plug in properly, all of which can (and do) become unplugged as soon as you attempt to move the receiver even 6 inches. But this massively complicated system shows no wiring at all from the front. And, (when his son is not messing with it), the system works perfectly, switching between components so easily that anyone can figure out how to operate the entire system using just one remote. I realize that someday, this will likely be my destiny, to own a system that freaking complex. It's unavoidable. It's in the Perle-Levy genes, like liberalism, or cheating at cards (I get that from my great grandmother, and I don't really cheat).

Anyway, back to the substance of my original thought. Once I hooked up the wii and had it working properly, all of the "children", with the youngest being approximately 24 or 25, descended on the system, eager to play pretty much every game I brought. (Resident Evil 4 wasn't popular. I suppose that Zombie Games aren't good after dinner). That was predictable. But, when the adults heard what was going on, they all filtered downstairs, usually individually, to check the system out. And some of them even played a bit. My aunt was playing tennis against my sister, and my family's friend Mike Mike played with both his son and daughter. His son hadn't played a video game in about three years, and still managed to beat his dad. People played, or watched, fascinated.

It makes me believe that anyone can still play these games, and that the generation gap is not as wide as it would first seem. Anyone can play games, it just has to be the right game for their interests, and the right level of challenge. I've played the 8 second wario ware games, I find them confusing and kind of off-putting. I think a lot of people do also. Conversely, some RPG that requires you to watch unskippable videos for a half hour before you can play; or a FPS game in which a novice player gets continually blown away (and subsequently teabagged by jackasses) has too high of an entry point for a lot of people. The Whole Idea of Casual games (as exemplified, for better or worse, by the wii) versus Hardcore Games (games on the PS3, or the XBOX 360) is kind of a myth. It's not a zero-sum game between games that can be played and won in an hour versus games that you have to invest 40-60 hours in. The real thing is that in some games, the initial learning curve/entry barrier has to be low enough that someone who has never/hardly ever played games.

At least some games should be designed so that people like my parents, and their friends, can play with their grown children, and have something cool to bond over. If the video game market is ever going to expand beyond twenty-somethings and us 20-ish-30-ish people that grew up on the games, and be recognized as a legitimate form of media, not just something for kids, that's the direction that things will have to go. Because sometimes, kids want to play with their parents. And sometimes, a good game can bond everyone. Plus, it's fun. I certainly thought so.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Angry Like Hulk & Passive-Agressive Sighing

Due to a prescription snafu, the drug industry's desire to control everything and sheer laziness, my birth control pill has not arrived yet. And I am out. There is a point to this, rather than just too much information. It means that due to the HORMONAL IMBALANCE of incredible magnitude, the PMS has come. And it's not pretty.

Yesterday there was the crying. I got a lump in my throat during a journey diamond necklace commercial. Those are for mocking, not crying; journey diamonds are the most ridiculously overhyped piece of crap jewelery that lame people buy because they have no taste (if you have one or are going to buy one, then . . . you suck, sorry). But today, oh today, the anger has come. The oh-my-god-will-you-just-DIE anger. Work required deep breaths and feeling massively superior to the less-competent.

Anyway, I went to the art store to get something framed. The store closes at 6:30. I arrived at 5:15. The framer had left for the day. Now, in my sensitive (irrational) state, this upset me. I wanted some compassion for my situation. I had walked all the way over there in the freezing cold. But the guy (flunkie) didn't have the right attitude (grovelling, apologizing and giving me free stuff) for my situation. And 'lo, I was angry like Hulk. But I held it in. Maybe I acted a bit of a martyr. I might possibly have sighed heavily. And maybe made a big deal about how busy I am a la a person with a life: "will they be here on Tuesday. . .no, wait, can't do it Tuesday. . .Wednesday? Will she be here until close? Are you sure?" - like I am very important* whose schedule is just SO FULL that this is a MAJOR inconvenience. But that's it - I recognized that I was irrational. But I was thinking death-thoughts about the flunkie.

*Just to let you know how ridiculous this is, my life consists of the following: sleep (8 hours), work (9-12 hours), watch television vaguely and waste time (2 hours), eat (2-4 hours). That's my life. Sometimes I do the time wasting with my guy (though he makes me do activities, such as moving or sitting at the table to eat, which I do while sighing heavily).

And I get home and my drain is still clogged (because it didn't get unclogged magically while I was at work by little Oompa-Loompa fairies?), my Christmas dress hasn't arrived from Nordstrom.com, and my prescription still has not arrived. My suffering is great, but I am strong. There will be phone calls, oh there will be phone calls. And I will sigh heavily. They should be afraid.

Aaanyway, as a special "treat" (what I do every night), I am going to watch Friends, eat Puffins out of the box and watch the scarf I am knitting not knit itself. Don't be jealous.

PS: On a tangent, however, I am also angry at Hollywood. Why do they suck? Why do they think we are dumb? There is a movie coming out with Matthew Perry and Zac Efron and it is apparently a remake of Big, Like Father Like Son (the gem with Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron), 13 Going on 30, Dream a Little Dream (the Coreys are masterful), and others, I'm sure. I think there was one with Milton Berle. WTF. I was in Blockbuster the other day and wondering (loudly) why all the movies sucked (though my guy was slightly affronted when I said this as had his arms full of 30 straight-to-DVD horror movies that he thought looked awesome). Why are they passing off unoriginal drivel? I don't have really high movie standards (Bring It On is far superior to Stick It - oh, but I'll still watch Stick It), but if I'm offended, you know Hollywood is fresh out of ideas.