Shoot Club

Veteran game writer Tom Chick continues his gritty exploration of the videogame lifestyle at The Escapist. Shoot Club features an unnamed protagonist as he plays games.

Shoot Club

"Okay, here we go." Trevor takes up the mic, Peter hitches up his guitar strap, I lower my guitar strap to be more bass like, and Jude taps the drum sticks against each other three times. Tap tap tap. And then three more times as the song as loading. Tap tap tap. And then three more before the song actually starts. Tap tap tap. And then the song starts when he's half way through trying to tap the sticks another three times. It doesn't bode well for Jude's sense of timing.

Shoot Club

down talking quietly to each other. The place seems otherwise empty. So much space, so much stuff, and just us six people. It's what the end of the world would look like. Except maybe with zombies.

Shoot Club

It's a big sign for Valley's End, announcing "New Phase Release". It promises stylish homes, up to five bedrooms and 3% broker co-op. There are "special incentives available". At the bottom of the sign, in italics, it says, "It's your time to come home!" Out here, in the dark and stranded, it all seems insidious. What special incentives? Could "come home" mean "die"?

Shoot Club

One of my editors won't shut up about how cool it is. He keeps emailing me about how everyone in the office is playing the advance copy, and even the guys from the insurance company upstairs have been coming down at lunch to play it. But whatever. I've got plenty of games to play for work. I'm doing a strategy guide for Assassin's Creed, trying to list the location of as many flags as I can find. My Kane & Lynch review is due in three days. I'm reviewing Pinkie Pie's Party Parade for FamilyGamer.com. The Beowulf game just came in. It's a busy time of year. I can do without Rock Band.

Shoot Club

Trevor is the anti-Jude. He moves around. He bends at the waist. He steps forward and back, prancing a little. His head moves. Sometimes he even looks away from the screen. He has so much style that he accidentally pops off star power before he means to. But that doesn't faze him. He just rolls with it, pretending he meant to do star power.

Shoot Club

"If your keyboard is taking up too much room on the desk and he wants to lie there, the keyboard will have to move. The same with any mouse space. Mouse space is prime real estate for cats, because they think it's empty space, and empty space is for lying in, especially if any form of attention is directed to that empty space. Say an open book or a pile of laundry from the dryer. That's where the cat wants to be. It's their way. That's cat physics."

Shoot Club

"I didn't get a cat. It's not mine." The cat blinks and lets Jude hold it. "They want to name it."

We look around at each other. Who's going to speak up first and risk ridicule?

"Link?" Jude asks. He's been playing Phantom Hourglass. It's his first Zelda game.

"Gay."

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, everyone starts throwing out names.

Shoot Club

"Sorry to disturb you," he says, "but there's someone at the door."

Why is he telling me this? At Shoot Club, you just walk in, like on a sitcom. You don't knock. You don't queue up. You don't wait to be announced. You just come in.

Shoot Club

Me, I'm terrible around children. They're little and weird and I don't know what to say to them. I have to be careful not to cuss. I think I make kids nervous. They certainly make me nervous. But Trevor talks their language. He's a child whisperer.

Shoot Club

"What did those numbers mean?" Mike asks.

"Boobies," Trevor says.

"Those numbers mean boobies?"

"What are you guys talking about?" the new guy asks. He's been playing the Halo 3 game that Douglas left running on the TV. Well, not so much playing as trying to figure out what the buttons do. He's figured out how to switch weapons when: "What's this about boobies?"

Shoot Club

"Hey, what if I don't have any health. How do I heal?" Mike asks once the match has started.

"Call for a medic," I tell him, trying to hack the shield controls while Trevor covers me. Jude shoots Trevor, I shoot Jude, and then Peter shoots me. I cuss.

"Hey, how do you call for a medic?" Mike asks a few minutes later.

Shoot Club

It began with Jude checking the time, which is harder to do surreptitiously if you're not wearing a watch and instead have to extract your cell phone from your hip pocket. Then Douglas slid into the seat at one of the other computers and starting randomly shooting. While I was explaining the respawn timer, he asked me how to reload, as if the button to reload is ever anything but 'r'. I told him it was ctl-shift-F9, which kept him busy for a while.

Shoot Club

It takes no small amount of Googling, but I eventually figure it out. You have to actually exit the game to host a server. (Pretty tricky. Outside the game is the last place I would have thought to look.) Then there are some shenanigans with having to add command line parameters to the executable. I'm not sure what that means, but I figured it out by finding forum posts from people kind enough to address the issue as if they were talking to fourth graders. But wait, there's more.

Shoot Club

The waiting's the thing. The waiting, unsullied by anything actual, is the easiest part. As a kid, it was Christmas. Now, it's game releases. The prospect of things yet unknown delighting us, mysterious things assigned their particular Tuesdays, which are sometimes Wednesdays.

Shoot Club

The waiting's the thing. The waiting, unsullied by anything actual, is the easiest part. As a kid, it was Christmas. Now, it's game releases. The prospect of things yet unknown delighting us, mysterious things assigned their particular Tuesdays, which are sometimes Wednesdays.