Posts Tagged ‘video games

09
Dec
08

Holiday Gaming

The holidays are upon us. As we assemble with others for seasonal gatherings, video games are beginning to become a part of the festivities. So if you have a party coming up, here are a few ideas.

Wii is a natural party platform since it gets people up and moving. Even with the included game Wii Sports, you can have a homerun derby or similar contest with everyone getting a turn with the Wiimote.

Another idea are quiz type games such as Scene-It. The Xbox 360 version comes with four buzzer type controllers allowing four people (or four teams) to answer questions about movies. This game is a hit not only for parties, but also with a family or significant other. I gave this to my wife last Christmas and she, who had never played on the 360 at all, loved it.

For really livening up a party, get the gang back together with Rock Band. Four people can play this at once and it can be really entertaining just watching. Other music games like Guitar Hero and even American Idol are fun for group gatherings.

Bring a little retro to your party with older games you can download from Xbox Live or the Playstation Network. For those in their 30s and 40s, Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, and so forth can be a lot of fun to play. These are fairly inexpensive and you can have tournaments with these classics.

Video games can even be the theme of the party. Have several friends bring over televisions and their own game systems and set up game rooms throughout the house or party location. Rock Band can be head banging in one room while movie trivia is in another and sports in a third. The key is to pick games that partygoers are either already familiar with or can pick up quickly. Be sure have something for everyone. Zombie slaying is not for everyone. You can even make up your own games with a computer, digital camera, and PowerPoint. Trivia games about your guests can be a great way to start the evening. “Name that Baldspot” or “Which couple has been together the longest” are easy to put together and help everyone get to know each other better.

Have a great holiday season and please write to let me know how video games were a part of your party.

 

 

02
Jul
08

loreology: wights

If you’ve got a memory like an elephant, the old saying goes, then your noggin’s in good shape. Mine, when challenged under the gun, tends to shoot blanks. I’m a research kind of guy, not a living, breathing almanac…. Each week “Loreology” will unravel the mysteries behind something in gaming that I may have known once and completely forgot, or something that I should probably know and cram up into my nearly full brain cavity.

 

 

This Week: The Wight Stuff

 

I never knew if these guys sported a rib cage like some skeletal graveyard reject, wavered insubstantial like the spirits of the past or looked like something else strange and unearthly. What were wights? I remembered that barrow-wights from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” were corpses with corrupt souls that bound them to the world to continue with their evil deeds, and wights in the D&D Monster Manual had this vicious power to drain the life essence out of their victims and turn them into fellow wights.

 

Turns out the word wight comes from Middle English and means “living being” or “creature.” Perfectly generic to confuse us even further. A wight can also label a being from one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology, especially a nature spirit or ancestor. The English Channel’s famous Isle of Wight, by the way, has nothing to do with our creature wights, though that would be a crazily disturbing sight if it did, like something straight out of 28 Days Later.

 

Wights are a fascinating part of fantasy history that aren’t as fleshed out (no pun intended) than some of their famous elven and faerie brethren. Dwarves, goblins, dragons have become canon in fantasy literature; not the wight. They’ve only shown up as bit players on the fantasy stage. And that’s probably the way they like it, left to their own horrible devices in secret lairs beneath the earth. It’s enough to make a Balrog envious.

18
Jun
08

loreology: the hydra

If you’ve got a memory like an elephant, the old saying goes, then your noggin’s in good shape. Mine, when challenged under the gun, tends to shoot blanks. I’m a research kind of guy, not a living, breathing almanac…. Each week “Loreology” will unravel the mysteries behind something in gaming that I may have known once and completely forgot, or something that I should probably know and cram up into my nearly full brain cavity.

 

 

This Week: Hercules’ Headache

 

Today I found myself playing two MMOs with similar names and the same, dangerous creature: the hydra. World of Warcraft, the current reigning champ in the online gaming arena, and Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, an upcoming dynamic challenger, pit the multi-headed monster against you, though the hydra stamped me into the muck in WoW‘s Outlands mires and roared through elven mountains in Warhammer.

 

Most of us know the Greek myths of the hydra. The poison-breathing, multi-head-chomping beast guarded the entrance to the Underworld in some stories and fought Hercules as one of the Twelve Labors in others. It’s the offspring of Gaia, and the sibling to other impressive beasts like the Chimera and Cerberus. I didn’t know that the hydra is also a stellar constellation, a record label, a Transformer and one of the most sinister criminal syndicates in the Marvel Universe (okay, I did know that last one, comic geek that I am).

 

In some tales, if you cut the head off a hydra, it grows back–or even worse, it grows two to replace the one. Call it super regeneration, or, to tap into my comic geekness again, a super healing factor that only Wolverine can dream he had. Neither of the hydras I faced had a whiff of regeneration, and it’s a good thing or I’d still be hacking my way to salvation.

11
Jun
08

loreology: androids

If you’ve got a memory like an elephant, the old saying goes, then your noggin’s in good shape. Mine, when challenged under the gun, tends to shoot blanks. I’m a research kind of guy, not a living, breathing almanac…. Each week “Loreology” will unravel the mysteries behind something in gaming that I may have known once and completely forgot, or something that I should probably know and cram up into my nearly full brain cavity.

 

 

This Week: Metal Heads

 

You could be fooled, or just plain confused, by an android. Unlike robots, which are more mechanical in nature, androids are machines designed to look like humans. Remember the replicants from Blade Runner? They were never called “androids” in the movie, but the movie was based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Cyborgs are even further removed from androids; they actually wear a little flesh, as they’re part living tissue and part metal.

 

Now, on the off chance that you were down at the local police station and had to pick out the android amidst a motley mechanized crew, I think I’d ask for a metal detector. Forget what your eyes see. Cyborgs beep half the time, androids probably fall in the middle and robots set off that annoying, constant whine that makes the sound of an unattended boiling kettle seem as blissful as crashing waves.

 

The term android comes from the Greek “andr,” or “man/male,” and the suffix “eides,” or “of the species.” Back in 1270, Albertus Magnus, a Middle Ages priest famous for critical thought, first used the word. It also appears in 1863 U.S. patents to describe “miniature humanlike toy automatons.”

 

Star Wars droids are the most famous modern-day examples. The shortened android term makes sense to me–chrome domes like C-3PO come up short in the human likeness department. Ironically, androids show up in Isaac Asimov’s classic I, Robot, and they’ve been the stars of video games, such as Data in any “Next Gen” Trek game or various characters in the Phantasy Star series.

 

In the 21st century, several Japanese companies have built “real” androids–you know, ones with plastic, computer chips, metal gears, or whatever makes it tick, not just imagination. They say one of the newer androids can fool the unsuspecting, so we’re certainly getting closer to BSG Cylons.