Reluctant Gamer - Chris
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I can't deny it. I really don't want to get too involved. It's not that I don't like playing games, it's just I have a very hard-to-shake underlying suspicion that videogames are a waste of time. And it does take a lot of time, doesn't it?
At its best, game-playing provides an oasis of calm in the struggle of life. As Charles Darwin once famously said "...the more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play." Well it was either him or some other great intellectual, but the point is well made – most of us need to wind down a bit.
I've always loved the interaction of game-playing, and for me that has by and large meant cards and board games. At school we played games of Risk that lasted all week, and I played, and invariably lost to, my far cleverer friends at Chess or Poker.
Even so, a few handheld consoles have made their way into my possession over the years.I can easily play a videogame for a few hours, but I'm often left feeling a bit let down and disappointed with myself - a bit like how I'd feel after watching ITV2 for an evening. Spare time at home is in short supply and it's hard to see the value in interaction with a piece of software. So I've generally underinvested in videogames, shunning the latest innovation for any soon-to-be-obsolete hand-me-downs that come my way.
I guess I understand the desire to be emotionally engaged with a videogame, and that there can be narrative and meaning, but instinctively it just seems intrinsically less valuable.
Now I've got a wife and three little boys to play with too, and I want to make the most of it. I don't remember my parents engaging much in any sort of play, but on occasions my Dad got out the cards and showed us how to play Whist, or bowled as many overs of cricket as his arthritic hips would allow. It may have been infrequent, but the attention that we got then was unlike at any other time, and I loved it.
And that's about as significant and meaningful as I could wish for from a game-playing experience. If I can share my gaming experience with my kids then maybe they'll have some memories to treasure too. I'm just not sure they'll reminisce in the same way about their Dad playing on the DS.
I'll be writing my way through the experience right here on this page - so you can enjoy it too. Here are my game reviews.
I've been away from the DS for a few months so I've had very little to say about videogames and, to be honest, very little desire to go back to them. But I've been coaxed out of my shell by the most trivial of games, Rhythm Paradise, that has got me re-assessing my take on the meaning of life. The ability of humanity to transform the mundane into something of beauty. And if you think that's just hyperbole, you'd be wrong... read now
Award-winning Carcassonne has reminded me that for fun, strategy and sociability, videogames do not even come close to the satisfaction of a really decent board game. .. read now
Peggle Dual Shot has been an instant hit with everyone in my house. It's easy to pick up, bright and funny and has had all of us comparing notes and getting a little more competitive than the game really merits... read now
The apparently-popular Professor Layton series' fourth release has given me another gilt-edged chance chance to complain about time-wasting story games. However, either Professor Layton Spectre's Call is a lot better, or my standards are lowering, because I'm actually having a rather nice time... read now
Advance Wars Dark Conflict sets its stall out with confidence. This is a serious strategy game for grown ups, with a gritty look and an engaging storyline. It's chess on steroids... read now
Plants vs Zombies DS has loveable cartoon Zombies that shuffle, dance, dig, run, balloon and bungee their way towards your house in waves, and you have a bit of a giggle repelling them to a soundtrack of groans and falling heads and limbs... read now
Ticket to Ride is a steam train themed board game, but don't let that turn you off. It's been a massive hit with my boys who can't get enough of it, and it's got the grown-ups playing too -- sometimes even when the kids are in bed. .. read now
I've heard a lot about Limbo recently, but visiting a friend for an evening of gaming away from the familiar DS I got my first proper look at what all the excitement is about... read now
Elite Beat Agents combines beat-heavy tunes and bizarre storylines with stylus tapping, dragging and spinning. It's surreal, funny and highly entertaining and has left me seriously reconsidering my position on videogames... read now
Sort It Out is a board game that tasks you with putting lists in order. Now that may sound a little dull, but the variety of imaginative (and sometimes slightly insane) questions make this a lot of fun... read now
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