Games and Themes

Games and Themes

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This is a bit of a brain dump, so don’t expect cohesively structured thought.

Me and computer gaming

…or should it be computer gaming and I?

Anyway, grammar aside, I was reading a blog called Musings of a Nerdy Girl, and I saw the article about computer gaming. (Please visit it – some interesting thoughts) It evoked something in me. You see, for about a decade I was an addict to online computer games. No – not gambling. I mean first person shooters. These are games that put the player in the position of a gun-toting hero (at least that is how it feels). Below is the emblem of the clan that an army corporal and myself formed in the year 2000. Warriors Assassins Rebels (WAR) was to max-out at about 87 members by about 2003, which was not bad in those days. warskull I call it an addiction, but it was more of an overwhelming passion. Having said that, I do believe that it caused me to miss opportunities (I had been experimenting with computer graphics since the early 90s and I lost interest to play games). I think it did some short term damage to my relationship with my wife (whom I ignored quite a bit). And it also stopped me focusing too much on work.

So why the passion and why bring it up?

The best computer games provide the type of experience that modern-day storytellers should aspire to emulate. They are immersive. Our primitive ancestors (no not my mum) used to gather around fires and tell stories. There would often be some musical accompaniment and audience participation. Perhaps a bit of acting out or dancing. This was all part of the ancient bardic traditions, be they as diverse as those of Simonides of Ceos or of the author of Beowulf. Indeed, study the tribal story-telling traditions of the so-called primitive peoples of the world and we find the same thing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love books and I love the written word. I read a couple of novels a week. But the ones that I love the best manage to immerse me in sound, smells, sights and fury of alternative existence. They also make me feel a part of the community of “actors” within the story. So when reading the Lord of the Rings, I feel part of the company as they struggle across Middle Earth. How do authors accomplish this? I wish I knew. So don’t look at me for answers. What I do know is that children seem to be playing more computer games and reading less books. Perhaps this is because games are providing a superior experience. If so, then we need to understand this. Furthermore, instead of fighting with children to drag them away from computers, perhaps we can look at games and work out how we can bring the strengths of the written word to games to enhance and enrich them. In the end, I would love the next generation to learn the poetry of language. To savour metaphor and play with puns. To stir the soul of audiences and whip up emotion. But whether they learn that in a written form or a spoken one does not matter much to me. Just as long as they learn it. Please feel free to disagree with me. :)

My struggles with themes for Blogging 101

My latest assignment in Blogging 101 is to experiment with themes. The problem is that I have customised this existing theme so much with heaps of add-ons etc that every time I try to change the theme to another that I get error messages. DOH! I have tried several themes and always get error messages. So in the end, I am not going to meddle with a winning formula. I guess it makes sense for most people new to blogging to go be encouraged to change themes etc, but I did so much experimenting in the first few months that I did not actually write posts. LOL.

regards

Greg

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3 Comments


  1. “perhaps we can look at games and work out how we can bring the strengths of the written word to games to enhance and enrich them.”

    Maybe we just need to promote “oldschool” CRPGs to our children more actively? While I have nothing against FPS or any other shooters (b’vec, Raven Software’s Heretic I and II, which are two games I next to idolise, are basically shooters with CRPG elements) – CRPG is a genre that was born out of “community storytelling” experiences of tabletop RPG and LARP. Almost every “random” CRPG – even if it’s a “hack’n’slash” Diablo clone – has at least some text in it, and series like TES feature not only hundreds of ingame books (check out http://www.imperial-library.info/ ), but also tie-in novels (in actual printed form). And of course, DnD encompasses it all, from tabletop manuals to novels, and numerous CRPG releases.

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    1. I totally agree. Just imagine that (I am). I think that it would indeed create an immersive experience. Some television shows have done something similar to that.

      And yes, I loved Heretic too. Funnily enough more than Doom (albeit Doom knocked my socks off when I first got it).

      Did you ever play the roleplaying game Traveller? I’ve still got the original 3 books from 1977. :) Some of my best immersive moments came from rpgs. :)

      Thanks for your insights :)

      Greg

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      1. Nope, I haven’t played Traveller, but I have heard good things about it =)

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