Smile and Nod

Every Monday, The Escapist's Russ Pitts presents a treatise on games, the games people play and the people who play them, sharing his decades of experience as a gamer and media producer. With biting wit, cutting commentary and in-depth analysis of the trends driving today's media culture, Smile and Nod is a must-read for everyone with a brain and the eyeballs to feed it.

Smile and Nod

A week ago Saturday, I was in Jamaica. It was wonderful. No, allow me to be more precise: It was absolutely, incredibly wonderful. Every evening a few clouds rolled in and we got a nice, warm rain shower, but the clouds didn't last and by the next morning the sky was blue again, the weather warm, the ocean perfect and the drinks served with just the right amount of rum and obsequiousness. No computers, no deadlines and no videogames. It was like being in paradise on Earth.

Smile and Nod

Sometimes you get a second chance at happiness. Not often, and I wouldn't suggest you go around expecting it unless you're prepared for the laborious process of rebuilding your ego with careful applications of alcohol and one-night stands, like re-inflating a used car dealership's giant gorilla with a bicycle pump. But if you stay on target - for just a few more seconds - every once in a while, what was once wrong will become right. And that will be a joyous day.

Smile and Nod

You have to give credit to The Originals. Steve McQueen, Ferrari, Coca-Cola and the straight razor all have a special place in my heart. Sure, the newer models are flashier, more fully functional and, perhaps, better, but The Original is where it all started; the inspiration for the new. Without them, we'd still be sitting on our hands wondering why nobody had ever thought of driving fast, looking cool or shaving.

Smile and Nod

I don't take public transportation, so I don't have much occasion to play games away from my more comfortable gaming setup. And I don't believe in playing games on the toilet. I know some of you do; don't pretend. I've heard the clicks and bleeps in the stall next to me. But I don't do it. The idea of holding the thing in my hands again afterwards ... no thank you. So I don't do handheld gaming.

Except now I apparently do.

Smile and Nod

I'm not sure what strange portent of the apocalypse this is that people send out "exclusive" invitations to parties and then expect you to wait in line for hours just to get in. Where I grew up, we considered that rude. I declined to wait and had burgers with Yahtzee and crew at the diner near the Moscone.

Smile and Nod

"I'm excited that ZP is getting into new forms of media," Yahtzee says. "It still amazes me how this is all taking shape and putting me in new and weird places of fame and recognition. G4 is a great place for it."

Smile and Nod

Or, to put it another way, Martin Scorsese won a lot of awards over the course of his career, but he didn't consider himself a success until he bagged his first Oscar. Why? Because the recognition of his peers ultimately carried more weight than the opinions of anyone else. And so it is with the IAA Awards.

Smile and Nod

But Sunday I had to take a chance. I was in a hurry and the shortest distance between Point A (my house) and Point B (where I needed to go) was down Heisenberg Way, past the mall. Lucky for me the universal constant (mall = traffic up the ass) was taking a day off. Super Bowl Sunday is like a national Holiday in reverse.

Smile and Nod

It's pretty much the end of everything. Dogs and cats living together, brimstone falling from the sky ... televisions turned off. While the smart people are keeping their eyes on the shrinking polar ice caps, falling water levels in the reservoirs and the rising price of oil, I'm watching the television - or, rather, not. And I can assure you the end is a lot nearer than you think.

Smile and Nod

This weekend, I felt normal. I felt like Clark Kent after the red Kryptonite chamber, denuded of my powers and helpless before the onslaught of post-Christmas supply shortages. I felt weak and mortal. And I don't like this. I do not, as Trent Reznor says, want this.

This weekend I decided I wanted a Nintendo DS.

Smile and Nod

If I'd ever gone to an AA meeting, I'd know which step this was; the one where you accept your problem, but still don't care. But I haven't, so I don't. But that's where I am. I know I'm not just doing it to relax, I know I can't quit any time and I know it's going to suck me down into a nether region of my own devising and leave me a tortured, empty shell of a man. And yet I don't care.