In response to “Package Tactics” from The Escapist Forum: This feature made me smile and remember my own Christmas stories.
I’ve always been a Christmas present snoop and my Dad knew it. Years and years of presents with small rips in the corners the paper, scotch tape I had carefully (but obviously) reapplied after lifting the folds, and bows used to conceal precision cut stamp sized flaps in the wrapping.
The giving season had turned into a game of spy vs. spy.
My Dad was never one to back down from a challenge. Most of the gifts were usually clothes, with maybe a few cassette tapes or a Nintendo game. But each year, I would get one or maybe two “great” presents for Christmas. Those were the ones we battled over. Multiple layers of different colored wrapping paper. Boxes placed inside so many other boxes that they resembled russian nesting dolls. He came up with new strategies each year that I would usually defeat.
One year a wooden winebottle box containing an RC car had to be opened with a clawhammer. He found “someone” had drilled a hole in the side just large enough to shine a penlight. Suspicion fell on me when he found I had already built a ramp.
I remember Christmas 1989 when I was caught completely by surprise. Two large and extremely heavy boxes had been sitting under the tree for two weeks with my name on them. Each box was obviously a shell containing an actual present tucked inside. They were too heavy for the “lift and shake” method. Beneath the wrappings, each box had been fully encased in a layer of brown packing tape. Drilling expeditions had only returned shredded cardboard or newspaper-like pulp. I didn’t dare drilling too far to risk damaging my unknown present. It drove me crazy.
On Christmas eve, I unwrapped a 50 lb up box of Duraflame fire logs with most of the logs still inside. Under the top layer of logs was my new Nintendo Powerglove. I think I fell asleep wearing it and dreamed I was the Wizard.
On Christmas morning, I unwrapped the second box. It was a three box affair. Inside the outer box was a second box surrounded by phone books (including one with a 2-inch deep hole newly drilled through it). Inside the second box, surrounded by newspapers, was my first Gameboy.
In response to “Digital Footprints” from The Escapist Forum: This was one of the most beautiful and thought provoking things I’ve ever read on the internet.
In response to “I’d Rather Game Than Read a Book” from The Escapist Forum: At the moment my favourite books outshine even the best games I’ve played in terms of story/writing. But games have some things which books don’t have, naturally.
I think attempting to denounce games by saying that they marginalize books is just luddism. Books ARE being marginalized though. And well-written books are getting read less and less.
Speaking as a wishful-thinking “games are art hippie” I would say that games have the potential, as many have stated above, to deliver unique experiences and content as well as interacting with the end-user on new, previously unimagined levels. Examples of excellence in the medium, or demonstrations of aforementioned potential are few and far between.
The real problem with the gaming industry is the same one that threatens the future of Literature: the marketing man. Games like ‘The Sims’ will out-sell genuine works of art like ‘Monkey Island’ and because the profit margins are wider, the financial support will always lean towards the mass produced rubbish. In turn this stifles the creativity of developers (or writers) who want to push the boundaries of their artistic medium.
Its not all doom and gloom however: Bioshock and S.T.A.L.K.E.R, for all their (many and often glaring) flaws, represent the most artistic steps forward in the gaming medium for years. Playing through both of those games I felt and experienced things I had not thought possible in a computer game. Games have not yet reached the lofty plateau inhabited by the likes of Dickens, Tolstoy, Kafka or Sartre, but there are signs that they may yet.
In response to “Santa’s Game Shop” from The Escapist Forum: Heck, I’d rather like to give this game a spin. Sure, okay, “break out clone with do-it-yourself Christmas theme”, whatever. Hearing about how it was put together? It makes me actually want to see it in action. It’s got some heart to it! Some soul!
Hell, if it’s any good, I’d love to have it to give to my dad and stepmom. We’d plonk it on the family computer, and spend all of Christmas competing against each other for high scores. Now that’s some holiday magic.