Birthday Pony

Bobby Crewe couldn’t sleep for several reasons. First of all, it was hot. It was late August, and a recent spate of fall-like weather had broken his mother’s dependence on air conditioning, so now, even with the night air returning to the muggy, stagnant qualities of summer in the Midwest, she had merely opened the windows and brought in a fan. “It’s too hot,” he had complained, even before the lights went out, but Mom moved as if she hadn’t heard him. She dimmed the light, hugged him until it was hard for him to breathe, then, as he laid back on his pillows, she pulled all of his blankets up over him. “It’s too hot!” he repeated, kicking the blankets back down. “You know everyone’s had a long day,” she said and brushed his hair across his already sweating brow, then leaned to kiss him on the forehead, whispering “Sweet dreams, little angel. I love you.” Then she got up and tip-toed out, leaving the door open just a crack. He heard her whisper something to his Dad. He couldn’t hear what over the whirr of the fan. But Bobby was sure it was about Jimmy. Continue reading “Birthday Pony”

IRL: Real World Lessons in Weird World Games

I was really committed to bonding with my friend Ren over the weekend. I’d been so focused on building my relationship with my new step-brother Jonas and trying to mend fences with Clarissa, that I felt I was neglecting my best friend. So as we arrived at the bonfire, I thought, I’m going to make this weekend all about Ren. But over the course of the next few hours, he really got on my nerves. Maybe we were growing apart, maybe we were never as close as I had been led to believe. Maybe it was just the sound of his voice. Whatever the reason, in spite of all my best intentions, I started behaving rather cruelly towards him. Again. I couldn’t help it.

Oxenfree, Night School Studio’s stellar 2016 release, continues to surprise me after several playthroughs. It’s a simple, stylish conversation simulator that places you in the role of Alex, a high-school girl coming off a pretty serious rough patch. Throughout the game, you have to navigate a small group of friends and frenemies, helping Alex pick up the pieces of the recent past while also dealing with the dangers of her current situation. Multiple possible outcomes and a brilliant narrative device (that I won’t spoil here) make repeated playthroughs feel like a natural extension of the game. And every time I step into Alex’s shoes, I find I learn a little bit about myself. Continue reading “IRL: Real World Lessons in Weird World Games”

Gaming Glut

What a glorious time to be alive. The electronic game medium has expanded to the point that we don’t have to ask ourselves if we’re in the mood to play a game; we ask ourselves what kind of game we’re in the mood to play. For a gaming chameleon like myself, someone interested in the entire spectrum of gaming styles, this is the most generous of blessings, and the cruelest of curses. I play games because I enjoy them, but I also play games to stay current on what’s new, to check on the progress of a promising developer, to explore blind spots in my back catalogue, to experience a genre I don’t enjoy, per se, but still wish to understand. The list goes on… Rough life, I know. I’m not complaining. I’m just here checking in with you, dropping a brief line to let you know what I’ve been up to since I haven’t been publishing. Continue reading “Gaming Glut”

Color Me Immersed

There’s been a hush in the conversation surrounding Virtual Reality. The Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, took up a lot of space in the collective gaming mind last year. And while the devices are a giant leap forward, still the buzz became a murmur, and the murmur became a whisper. Now we’re all back in a holding pattern, waiting for that ‘killer-app’ software that justifies the hardware. But what was the real root of all the excitement? Sure, we’re always keen on new technology, but the expectations surrounding VR are bigger than an incremental console upgrade. I’m wondering if they should be. When we already have 4K fidelity and 7.1 Dolby Surround in our headphones, why are some of us still chasing the fabled realm of total immersion promised by Virtual Reality? Continue reading “Color Me Immersed”

Destiny 2: Homecoming

Let’s get the unpleasantries out of the way. For me, and if my Twitter feed is any indication, for millions of others, this was the welcome mat that Bungie seemed to lay at the door of their much anticipated sequel:

One Moment Please- Waiting screen
Not the best opening cinematic…

This appeared on my screen only after several failed attempts to even launch the application on my Xbox One. Disappointment is an understatement. Of course, my immediate impulse was to vent to the echo chamber that is Twitter. But as I started to craft my scathing indictment of the team responsible for this travesty, my head cooled almost instantly. This release is, I’m sure, a huge undertaking. I have no idea what’s involved, and at that point, Bungie, Activision, et al, had wasted a mere 282 seconds of my time. I felt childish. I adopted a ‘wait and see’ mentality. Sure, I poked that maybe they should have seen the traffic coming, but really, I know that they did, and this was still the result. So I jotted down some thoughts, and some minutes rolled by. I was bummed out. Continue reading “Destiny 2: Homecoming”

On the Eve of Destiny…

Destiny 2, the sequel to Bungie’s stellar shared-world shooter, goes live in just a few hours. As a fan and long-time player of the first game, I am, of course, excited. I am also curious, nervous, and a little bit scared.

I’ve been excited enough for a midnight release plenty of times in the past. Dark Souls 3 was the most recent culprit, compelling me to be there for the beginning, like I was going to bear witness to an event. And it did not disappoint.

But this one feels different, and I don’t think it’s about the game. I’m not nervous about whether or not Bungie can deliver. I never want a game to be disappointing, but I won’t lose any sleep over it one way or the other. Well, maybe I’ll lose a little sleep. That’s part of the problem. This release makes me nervous for me. I’m compulsive by nature. It’s because of this I’ve always politely said no thank you to MMOs in general. My brother isn’t a gamer at all, and I watched as WoW sunk its teeth into him for a while. I know the power of the endless grind. Continue reading “On the Eve of Destiny…”

Mission: Statement!

Life is long and weird. That is the mantra I adopted as I entered my fifth decade sucking air on this planet. I won’t bore you with a life story; everyone’s got their own, most of them are only interesting to a few people. But let’s just say that every time I reached a point that seemed like a destination, a new journey began instead. Most of the time I didn’t even realize it. Suddenly I’d look back and wonder when I had left that other place. Then I’d shrug, and keep on moving. I have no idea whether or not this is true for most people. But I hope it is. Continue reading “Mission: Statement!”