Sunday, May 25, 2008

Got Game?

My knowledge of video games has always been limited to the one game that the de Ville progeny loved to play Super Mario. Not only did they love the game...on occasion I would wake up alone at 3:30 in the morning wondering where Mr de Ville was, only to find him at the computer playing Super Mario. God knows that was a lifetime ago.
Later, a little over 10 years ago, I remember dragging my son to B-school one day and he ended up in the computer lab playing Doom, an online multiplayer game, with a group of guys from my B-school class and kicking their ass.
Now he's busy studying for the CFA and learning how to become a young hedge fund mogul and has no time for games other than watching the Lakers playoffs. But as I've learned there is an entire culture of adults out there who put in serious hours every week playing multi player games.

Recently I got a full tutorial in what is the latest and greatest in gaming and I'm here to report.

Fun Com has just launched the most technically and graphically advanced game The Age of Conan and even a fashionista like me is impressed with the cgi technical artistry of it all.

It's got the usual game features where you choose an avatar based on specific archetypes and have multiple quests to accomplish to gain powers and reach the next level.

But as I've learned there is sooo much more involved.
You can choose to play as a single player against the game environment and artificial intelligence characters of the game. Or you can choose multiplayer mode either Themepark where you are basically led through certain scenarios or Sandbox where multiplayer randomness is thrown in.

Add to that an awesome End Game and there is a cyber world that just gets more exciting the more you play.
With multiple players on servers all over the world you can connect online through the game and join informal groups or formal guilds where you share your talents and work together to fight your cyber foes.

Serious gamers are living in this online world on a daily basis. Online relationships are formed. Forget or you can find a cyber lover more easily in a multiplayer game.

It's not only a phenomenon it is a veritable worldwide culture.

Actually. I'd love to try my hand at this game but between the gazillion hours that I spend on the computer for work and on this humble blog I don't have the extra hours just to learn how to manipulate the mouse and the keyboard to make it out of level one where the real fun begins. And I'm all about finding the fun.

Meanwhile the tech geeks at Fun Com are rolling in the cash with initial game sales and all the players addicted and paying monthly subscription fees. We're talking hundreds of billions here.
All I need to find out is whether or not Fun Com is a public company and can I buy the stock.
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Neko-Chan said...

Mother, you have been misinformed. There's several types of serious gamers. There's the RPG (Role-playing Game) kids, the ones who twenty years ago played dungeons and dragons. Then there's the point and shoot kids, who seem to prefer Xbox Live's Call of Duty 4, the most realistic war game out now. Most of my guy friends spend the weekends playing this game. The xbox live stuff comes with a microphone headset so you can talk and strategize with your teammates, and the game is actually ridiculously fun and somewhat disturbingly realistic.
My personal new xbox favorite (played at my friend Dave's house) is an RPG called Eternal Sonata, where your main character is no other than Frederic Chopin and his music plays in wonderful (and accurate) photo-essays about his life, his relationship with George Sand, his relationship with polish revolutionaries, etc.
The nintendo Wii (I have one, bought it when it first came out but it's actually many, many times more difficult to play because you need stellar hand eye coordination) is the top selling console this quarter. Probably because they just released MarioKart (which is the single funnest driving game, perfect for everyone). I haven't played the new Mario Bro's yet, Mario Bro's Galaxy, but I hear it's wonderful.
Playstation 3 is overpriced and lame, but they will have the next installment of Final Fantasy, the seminal RPG.
Dad used to like the original Final Fantasy games, they're much more complicated than Mario and they require puzzle-solving and an in-depth knowledge of Battle strategy. The game, Final Fantasy VII is THE cult rpg. It is supposedly the single best video game of all-time. It has spawned two full-length cgi films (which were pretty spectacular, to be honest.)The fan-boys and girls of this particular game are especially rabid. They're on par with any trekkie, and it is not uncommon at the various comicon's to see many, many, many people doing cosplay (where one dresses up as one's favorite character from a video game, anime, comic, etc.) as the characters Sepiroth, Cloud, Aerith and Tifa.
When one reads walk-throughs (cheat-sheet strategy guides for RPG's), there is almost always a reference to FF VII. For example, "What kind of a world do we live in where we can't bring aerith back to life and we can't make salsa shut up?" (From the strat-guide for Eternal Sonata).
The Grand Theft Auto franchise is equally prominent. The new one even has such minor characters as Karl Lagerfield (as a radio DJ) and Perez Hilton. While it may not be appropriate for younger children, GTA is actually very fun. My personal favorite is using cheat codes to get the tank and trying to get the army and FBI called.
Anyway... the world of video gamers is a lot more extreme than most people realize. I had a barbecue here and my old roommate Joe and Christopher's coworker were here. They had a conversation about the computer game, "Counter-Strike" another war game. They both mentioned people who had gotten seriously ill from playing for so long. People who's marriages had been destroyed by an obsession with gaming.
A good example of how crazy gamers can be is a video which you might find on Youtube, "Angry German Kid". This kid goes insane when his game doesn't work properly. It's funny, but a little unnerving at the same time.

Belle de Ville said...

Well what can I say but who knew. I'm still blown away by the realistic graphics of games like LOTR and Conan.
And now of course I understand the obsession. If you aren't all that attractive, and your life isn't all that great you can live in a beautiful fantasy world where your avatar is gorgeous and powerful and you get to get to interact with other gorgeous and powerful avatars.
I'd like to check out Eternal Sonata with the whole Chopin - George Sand thing.
Neko-chan...whatever that means, I would recommend that you try out the new Conan game...but I wouldn't want you to get addicted. You've got other things to do right now.

Neko-Chan said...

Neko-chan is a japanese Otaku (anime fan) term. It translates roughly as kitty-dear.
don't worry mother, I don't plan to spend 16 hours a day staring at a screen. It's finally sunny, and who wants to sit inside doing almost nothing?

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