Right and wrong in gaming

Before fatherhood I had a lot more time to spend gaming and even for the first year or so I could put Elly on my lap, pick up a wireless joystick and play for a few hours with the vibration and sound turned off.

Don't judge me. I don't like television because I would rather do something than watch something, even if the "doing" part is a carefully crafted illusion. And while I would much rather be out walking, riding, running or biking, sometimes there really is nothing better to do than sit on the couch with a baby in your arms and play video games until she wakes up.

I've tried to play a few games online and discovered that I'm either too old or too slow, or perhaps that my Internet connection is a little too slow, in which case I'm awesome. I haven't had the opportunity to play a co-op online game like Halo: ODST or Left 4 Dead 2 so I don't know how I'd size up there, but I plan to in the coming weeks.

Ergo, most of the games I play are of the single player variety. In that sense I don't have a real preference for type - I like a good Real Time Strategy title (RTS), First Person Shooter (FPS) or Role Playing Game (RPG). I like racing games, flying games, war games, strategy and puzzle games, whatever. The best titles will combine a little of everything without sending you to your computer every 10 minutes to read a walkthrough on or watch someone else complete a level on

I always do a lot of research before I buy a game and there are certain titles that I know I'm better off borrowing or renting because I doubt I'll be replaying them.

In recent years some of the best games I've played include Halo 3 (beat it on Legendary), Dead Space, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (still waiting to play the sequel) and Bioshock. I also enjoyed the downloadable Battlefield 1943, Shadow Complex, Castle Crashers and Puzzle Quest.

Now that my gaming time is more limited, so is my patience for games that assume we have all day to play them. But while games are for the most part getting better there is still room for improvement.

Sandboxes are for the Unemployed - Right now I'm playing Fallout 3. Ask me again in about three months and I'll probably still be playing it. I also played a bit of Grand Theft Auto IV, but gave up after a few days because of the amount of time I spent watching cut-scenes and commuting to crimes missions. Fallout 3 is similar, in that you have to physically walk to a lot of places to "discover" them.

Realism is very demanding of our time. Think about how much time you spend in traffic, waiting for buses or standing in line - do we really need games to replicate those experiences? That's why I liked Bioshock and Dead Space - there is some exploration involved but for the most part you go from A to B to C.

Loot is Losers - I probably spend most of my time in Fallout 3 collecting things I find, travelling back to my home base to sell them or stash them, then travelling back to the action. I'm still not sure why - you have to buy some things, but nothing important. Some strange items probably have uses later in the game, but this isn't explained and I can't imagine right now what those uses are. Speaking of which...

Easy On The Info - I don't play every day, or even every week, so filing away passwords, names of AI characters, side-plot details, etc. is kind of stupid. You always end up forgetting and then have to cheat by going online. If the information is not essential to the plot then it shouldn't be in there.

Easy On The Plot - I like a good video game plot as much as the next guy, but sometimes they become a little too convoluted or divided. In Fallout 3 sometimes you're on five different missions at once and it's hard to keep straight what you should be doing first or whether any of the side missions are really necessary. I can't keep my own life in order, so why am I being asked to organize a fake life?

Saves Are Key - There's nothing more annoying in a video game than dying and then having to sit through cut scenes and replay a whole level to get back to where you were. Anytime there's a boss fight, an extended action scene, or major plot development there should always be an auto save. Fallout 3's only saving grace is that you can save anywhere at any time, even in the middle of a battle.

Which is handy, in case the baby wakes up.




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