This Is A Fire Door Never Leave Open – The Weakerthans
I’m acutely aware that much of my writing about games makes it sound as if I hate games, by the way. This is not true.
I love games. I crave new experiences, intimate discoveries and bombastic tales. I delight in my own surprise, enjoy mastering new skills.
I love the intricacy of Frozen Synapse, the speed of Quake, the rhythm of BioShock’s combat, the insanity of Just Cause 2’s vehicles, the stress of Thief’s audio design.
I have too many favourite games to count, from Atom Zombie Smasher to Zeno Clash; Alan Wake to X-COM; Alter Ego to Wolfenstein.
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Christmas’ are always a difficult time for the friends of boring people in my line of work. I only really have two hobbies – writing and playing computer games – and both of them are sated on a daily basis. I play computer games, write about them and people give me money for that. Sometimes I don’t even bother to write about them because I’m too busy playing. Other times, vice versa.
The other potential gift that would work would be films, naturally…but I can get those when I want them too, for free. My occupation really does make it difficult on my friends and family. Mostly they get me sci-fi books, which are great.
Now, I’m expecting something in the post that will completely ruin that avenue of giftage too. I’ve ordered an Amazon Kindle. I opted for the 3G version, just so I can always read about comics on Wikipedia if the whim takes me, and it’s set to arrive in a day or two. I expect to be instantly struck by buyers remorse when I get it, because it’s hugely expensive compared to my current tactic of buying books from charity shops or waiting for birthdays, but I figured it’s been a while since I last treated myself. God knows I could use cheering up at the moment anyway – or he would if he existed.
Bit-Gamer’s steady growth continues at the moment. In line with Dennis’ new Social Media Strategy, which I read over the Christmas break, I’ve created and optimised a Facebook page to complement our Twitter account. I’ve also been contacting new freelancers and designing advertisements to feature across other Dennis publications. Fun!
We put some content up over Christmas, as usual, and I’m going to link to it below. Before I do though, here’s a link to Craig’s latest piece – a short one-page feature about Trackmania, why it’s awesome and why I’m an idiot. The article is really good, even though it gets some fact wrong. I love Trackmania. Anyway, the article is called Trackmaniac.
Backseat gaming; the act of sitting behind someone playing a game and just watching them and giving advice, is one of the things I love most about playing computer games. I love doing it and I love it when people do it to me and there’s a long, long list of games I’ve had my enjoyment of increased by the addition of a second or third party.
The oldest example that springs to mind is probably Cryo Interactive’s Dune/Bloodwych on the Amiga A500+, which my Dad used to play late at night when my Mum had gone to bed, letting me and my brother stay up late to watch him. I remember I kept a long list of all the different sietches in Dune in a notepad – such was my fascination with the sandy world on the other side of the screen. At breakfast I would get my Dad to tell me of how the adventure continued after I had finally gone to sleep and he’d fill me in as he got us ready for school like some sort of absent-minded, domesticated bard.
Duke Nukem 3D was another one I enjoyed with my brother and some friend; four of us swapping places depending on what skills were required. One for shooting, one for solving puzzles, one for something else and me, the secret finding guy. It was all very similar to how I enjoyed Serious Sam at University, my girlfriend and best friend sat on my bed behind me and laughing along as I gunned down the masses.
Unsurprisingly, Monkey Island was a big part of my backseat gaming history too. My brother would sit on the floor and watch me solve the games. Years later, in the same albeit redecorated room I’d watch him play Half-Life 2 through to Half-Life: Episode 2 even though I had finished them years before. It was part of some vague effort to recapture that earlier joy and slightly-rotted friendship.
Now, I’m doing the same thing with Mass Effect 2 and loving it. My girlfriend sits behind me as I play, loving the stories and asking questions about the fiction. I consult her on difficult quest choices and she obligingly does all the mini-games for me. It really is the best way to enjoy playing a game, in my opinion.
Also, I joined twitter – @Joethreepwood -, recorded two new gaming podcasts – one and two -, and have a nice little plan for something cool to do on bit-tech.net in the future. I also wrote a Mass Effect 2 review and did an interview with TIGA founder Jason Kingsley.