quiting WoW

We did these screenshots whenever we downed a new boss and posted it on the front page of our guild website. It was kind of a way to flaunt our progress. This particular encounter took us 2 weeks to fine tune our strategy in order to kill it. Very fun. It brings back a wave of memories.

When World of Warcraft becamee a priority in my life I knew I had a problem. Or you should’ve known. It’s easy to see in hindsight. For most of high school the game consumed my life. I would come home from school and log in to be greeted by over forty other like-minded individuals. I was proud to be a member of the best guild on my server. I guess the term “best” is subjective, but in terms of content cleared we were number one most of the time.

We downed some of the toughest encounters in the game. Everything from gigantic dragons to ancient gods. I would sit in the main hub and people around me would stare in awe at the gear I was wearing. Being the best was all that mattered and my real life took the backseat to the game.

When I moved away to college I was forced to quit. The dorm internet was unreliable with very long ping times.When you’re an integral member of a 25 member team you need to be reliable and fast.

So I quit.

It wasn’t worth it to play lightly because that elite status was unattainable. It was all or nothing. Looking back I truly regret giving my high school years to the game. But I did have lots of fun with the friends I made in our guild. I feel like it was my education in gaming because I encountered almost every kind of gaming interaction imaginable. I saw people fall in love and marry each other in the game. I saw people’s marriages crumble, boyfriends lose their girlfriends, girlfriends get addicted and lose their boyfriends, friends drift apart, and every other kind of relationship all with the background of orcs and elves.

I attended three different Blizzard conventions (Blizzcon) and met up with some of my guildies, many of whom I still keep in touch with today over two years later. Once in a while I think it might be a good idea to go back but I never get further than a 10 day free trial. It takes up too much time. And there’s that pesky I want to get back to being the best. If I can’t commit the time it requires I would rather not commit any time at all.

Besides there are other games that need to be played. Games that don’t drain your soul the same way WoW does. The only MMO I could see myself getting into would be Star Wars: The Old Republic. It looks as fun as WoW looked at launch. I just don’t see myself getting as far into it as I did with WoW. I have too much on my plate.

Thanks WoW. Game over.

written by: Jordan Crair

[ad#720 bottom banner]

Tetris

Games help people learn, and are great at improving problem solving skills. And while some people may not consider themselves a gamer, I’d like to label them an “invisible” gamer. Someone who may not subscribe to the game culture, but at least plays some sort of game. In a study done in 2009 by Dr. Richard J. Haier and his associates, gray matter in the adolescent girls who participated increased. “Compared to the structural scans of controls the group with Tetris practice showed thicker cortex, primarily in two areas: left BAs 6 and 22/38 after three months of practice.”

Alexey Pazhitnov invented Tetris in 1984 while working at the Academy of Science of the USSR, and he named it by combining the words Tetrominoes (4 segmented pieces) and Tennis.

Tetris is probably the most ported game ever made. It got many people who weren’t gamers to take a look at video games in general in a different light. A list of platforms Tetris isn’t on would be shorter than a list of what it is on. Tetris has sold over 100 million copies for cell phones alone making Pazhitnov a very successful man. Very few other games have had similar success, or have gotten as many non-gamers interested.

Tetris is a great beginners programming project and many programming classes have making the game as an assignment. I’d like to think Pazhitnov knew what he had on his hands when he created it, something that might entice the invisible gamer population to emerge from the basement.

There are a few good tetris games out there, so here are a few:
freetetris is a bare bones Tetris. Good for beginners.
N Blox is a Flash game.
Tetrisfriends requires you to sign up but you can play live against other people, which is pretty fun as long you have someone to play with.

I think the official version is kind of cool. Think Copyright 1985. You can get this on your Xbox or Wii as well. Lots of maps. Definetly try Tetris 6P as it is amazing. But good luck beating the high score. The arcade version of Tetris has a high score of 1,648,905 set by Stephen Krogman in 1999. I can’t even get over 100,000 so if you do count yourself among the elite.

Written by: Jordan Crair
Graphic: John Foster

[ad#720 bottom banner]

Half Life 2

I bought an entire computer to play Half Life 2 back in 2004. I was using an old Gateway machine before its release. This was the thing with games back then. You had to upgrade your hardware because games pushed the limits. My friends at school would sit at lunch and exclaim “Dude, I threw a gas tank at a guy with the gravity gun and BOOM he went flying!” I couldn’t resist. I had to upgrade and not just for the new found bragging rights you get with new hardware. I confidently booted up the game for the first time expecting an action romp for the next eight hours.

What I got was something entirely different. While the game is full of action and adventure, it’s true testament is it’s storytelling power. The cool tools and toys like laser’s, mech’s, zombies, bugs, dune buggies, and a load of gratuitous eye candy disappear in to a bigger picture. Zooming around the sewers in a fan-boat, getting off the train at City 17 and seeing the oppressed masses, or realizing that the head crabs turned people into zombies, are all iconic moments in the game that can’t be expressed without playing it.

By the middle of the game I actually empathized with Gordon Freeman’s plight, and losing sight of Alyx Vance was, and always will be, heart wrenching. Being paired with another character for most of the game made it tough to see them leave, especially one as likable as Vance.

After being handed the gravity gun I remember realizing how much fun I could have with it in real life. Pick up anything and throw it anywhere. Such a simple concept implemented so flawlessly in a game I couldn’t believe it.
Zoom forward to today. It is easily forgotten how very old the Half Life 2 game is as 6 years have past since it’s release. It’s still good storytelling no matter how old it is. this is key. Not many games survive past 2 years of their release.

With Steam running on Mac you can experience this cinematic game. Or you missed it the first time because of the hardware requirements any PC purchased in the last four years it should run quite smoothly. Otherwise, I’m sure Gordon will let you borrow his crowbar which will easily “upgrade it.”

be sure to listen to Give Me Steam.

written by Jordan Crair

[ad#720 bottom banner]

remembering Game Boy

I bought my first Game Boy to play Pokemon. When I say I bought I mean my I begged and pleaded my parents for months to buy me one so I could play Pokemon. Because having just one GB would cause an argument they bought two. I got Pokemon Red. My brother got Pokemon Blue. We could trade each other the specific Pokemon that the other couldn’t get with their version. It’s easy to see now how malleable we were as little kids.

A video game in your hands is something a whole generation has grown up with. Compared to a computer Game Boy was utterly simple. It had an On/Off switch, a volume wheel, and the basic buttons. As a kid I was loaded up with activites like karate and swimming making the amount of time I had at home where I could play a computer or a console. This made the Game Boy my platform of choice.

Nintendo was really good at marketing to kids in those days. Even the name Game Boy made so much sense to my 9 year old mind. I liked games and I am a boy. Game Boy? Sold!

Game Boy had lots of things other than games developed for it. There are language translators, musical synthesizers, a camera that made movies, a sewing machine controller, a fish finder, an oscilloscope, a GPS, MP3 player, an eBook reader and on and on like that. it’s a pretty simple platform consisting of a 8-bit CPU running at 4MHz with 8K of RAM. it makes it about the same power as an Apple II although the Game Boy ran faster. What’s cool is that there are people still dedicated to making things using Game Boy.

The Game Boy and Game Boy Color have sold 118.69 million units worldwide. Meaning there is one stuck in a drawer near you. So pull it out and enjoy old platform. There’s lots of fun to play in there.

written by: Jordan Crair
photo by: wwarby

[ad#720 bottom banner]