Points

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Achievements. Trophies. Icing on a video gamer’s cake.

The virtual playgrounds of Xbox LIVE and Playstation Network (PSN) each feature what basically amount to  mini-games, the achievement/ trophy grind. In a battle that has no meaning, players try and see who can out achieve and out trophy their fellow gamer. Street cred in its digital essence.

I was recently playing through Uncharted, when I noticed I was receiving trophies for “50 headshots” and “100 kills with a pistol”. While I knew that these trophies really didn’t mean much, they kind of did. The more I played the more I noticed how much I liked receiving these in-game accomplishments. It was as if someone had come and patted me on the back, every once in awhile, for completing some soulless task.

Many of us work thankless jobs; jobs where negativity thrives in the absence of praise. These small, pointless, meaningless achievements and trophies are a breath of fresh air after a hard day of work. Even though I know that they mean nothing, ultimately they do. In the rush of everyday life, the rewards systems employed by these online networks reinforce that feeling that your actually achieving something for the time your investing.

One has to openly wonder though if all this icing is somehow fattening our egos. Will we come to expect being praised for doing something as simple as getting dressed? I wonder…

(Somewhat Related: In marriage, the points don’t come as easily… Check out the video below!)

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The Collection

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Once upon a time, I collected video game systems and games as a hobby.

*Not my collection. Would have been cool though...

I slowly built up my collection over time. A SEGA Saturn here; a random game there. Often I would plug in a misc.  system and play some of the games I had for the fun of it. As time progressed, however, I found that my collection was gathering dust. Mt interests had changed. I mean, I still liked playing video games but didn’t feel the need to collect them anymore. So, I started to sell off the mounds of hardened plastic I had accumulated. I remember that  upsetting me at first. No longer would I be able to play Panzer Dragoon for the heck of it. The collection that had been everything to me was being dwindled away into nothing.

We all find our identity, who we are, in the things that we believe and do. For a long time, my identity had been as a video game collector. With the selling of my collection, that was a title I would no longer bear. Perhaps this was a good thing though. Collecting chunks of plastic, consoles and games, only to let them collect dust and ultimately not be played makes no sense. It’s like me going into the public library, buying all the books up, only to never read them or let anyone else read them for that matter. “Captain it is simply not logical.”

Since the great video game purge, I have tried to limit my video game library. I have done this by becoming an avid user of Goozex, on online video game trading site. This has allowed me to obtain $60 games by getting rid of games that I no longer play. This has occasionally led me to slight dilemmas of which games to get rid of -the inner collector in me wanting to keep them all!- . As I stated above though, this makes no sense. Especially when I can take a game I no longer play and trade it in for something I actually  will.

Worldview

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A recent run-in with a game developer got thinking me about game creators/ developers and the lens with which they view the world.

Worldview – “A worldview describes a consistent (to a varying degree) and integral sense of existence and provides a framework for generating, sustaining, and applying knowledge.”

As a Christian, I view the world through the lens of the Bible and the man Jesus Christ. Within this framework, I make judgement calls and live life. Everything I process and believe is tainted, per se, by my Christian worldview. What happens though when a game creator/ developer offers a rival lens with which to view the world? For example, say they view the world through a “patriot”-driven, anti-government, atheist lens. What then? Would all the games they potentially work on be flavored by their personal opinions? To some extent, yes.

I write this today in hopes of bringing about awareness. Christian or not, we should all be evaluating the things we take in, be it in books, movies, music, or video games.

Virtual Real Estate

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I have never owned real estate in a game before. In the past, saving up money and having an actual housing option stopped me from making such a commitment. Until now…

Note my awesome hat!

Lord of the Rings Online offers housing options that are not prohibitive in price. A starter home only costing about 1 gold. My interest piqued, I decided to visit the local real estate agent in Bree. I was quickly given a list of homes available. Not knowing if one neighborhood was better than another (I have no idea what school districts are like in Bree), I randomly picked a neighborhood to see what was offered.

I love the cartoon drawing of the house. It's the little things.

The house was small, situated on a good piece of property, and had a convenient mailbox located outside. Inside, the floors were bare and the walls ready to be decorated with my spoils of war. Now, I do want to note that while there are no utility costs involved, there is a monthly upkeep fee (in the case of this house, 50 silver). Wonder if that is for both the gardener/ housekeeper? Having seen enough of the house, I rode around the neighborhood and happened upon an area meant for parties. Wonder how many this area holds?

I was all ready to purchase a house, however, I found myself a bit short on funds. A few more adventures across Middle Earth should do the trick. I’ll be sure to post a picture of my house once I have settled in. Until next time.

Demo Friday

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Today has been a demo day for me. First up on the list was Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution on the PS3.

The only other Sid Meier game I have ever played was one of the first Civilization games. I found that game to be dull, complicated, and had absolutely no patience for it. Civilization Revolution, on the other hand, plays at a faster and more entertaining pace. I was so engrossed in my fight against the Aztecs and the more recent discovery of the Egyptian culture (I was playing as the Romans) that I became a little angry when the demo came to an end. What would happen to my cities of Bryantopia, Bryansville, and Awesome? I guess I’m going to have to buy the full game to find out.

The next game on my demo tour was Ron Gilbert’s DeathSpank.

Unlike the humor found in the Monkey Island series, I just couldn’t connect with DeathSpank’s humor. I found myself continually skipping through the quest text, bored. The combat was fun and the controls were tight. Overall, just not my thing.

Dreams

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Sorry the picture is so grainy…no flash photography was allowed in this part of the game. Might scare the zombies!

I do not do well with scary stuff. Take for instance a sudden twist in the Uncharted storyline last night. Everything had been going along swimmingly, when suddenly a past Nazis influence was introduced. Poof! Cue the supernatural elements such as killer Zombies -thankfully not armed with weapons, yet!-. After battling through darkened corridors with only a flashlight, I finally thought I had gotten away from this demonic horde. I was wrong. Very wrong. The game’s developers then decided to chuck not only zombies at me, but terrorists as well. A deadly combination burrito. Without the cheese.

Jurassic Park. Apparently not a fun place considering all anyone does is run and die.

All of the above to say that I had some pretty intense dreams last night. I dreamed of a zombie apocalypse that was somewhat akin to the movie Jurassic Park. Except this time…all of the golden retrievers died.

Dreams can take us to the wildest of places. Sometimes making sense and other times not. I am thankful not to live in a dream world…the nightmares are far too intense.

What crazy dreams have you had recently?