Counterfeited Simulation

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Christmas, 1989. 

I was 8 years old.  I remember opening a bulky rectangular package that contained something called a Game Boy. My aunts and uncles seemed more excited about it than I was. What was this grey brick-like device? What were Super Mario Land and Tetris? More importantly, why would I want to play these games on the go versus on the TV? I was a kid. I had no clue that I was holding the portable future of video games in my hands.

Today my iPod is a constant companion. When I’m not listening to music in the car, I find myself browsing the net or playing the latest iOS game on the Apple-made device.

Now, I’m a sucker for a good simulation game. I grew up with Theme Park, Sim City 2000, and Roller Coaster Tycoon. I love spending hours micro-managing and designing environments for my virtual denizens. Because of my love for this genre, I have been suckered into what can only be called mere imitations.

Simulations are not all created equal on the iOS. Some, most, are built around artificial time constraints and real life money transactions. Want to increase your build time? Buy a 1000 Tower Bucks for $5.99. These “games” are usually fun for the first few hours and then they slowly reveal their true selves. A digital gaming relationship of sorts gone down the drain. Like a spurned lover, the following is a list of such games that have suckered me  in only to drop kick me later on:

The above games–and there are many many more like them–boil down to a simple equation:

time constraints + breeding monsters/building cities/routing planes + virtual money = supporting video game heresy

Disguised as simulations, these games prey upon your time and offer what is ultimately a counterfeit experience versus something real such as Game Dev Story.

As a follower of Christ, I find myself constantly sifting, weighing, and comparing what I am being told daily versus what the Bible says. I don’t want to settle for the counterfeit and end up cheated out of my time and money. I want the truth. I want the real deal. Don’t settle. No matter how flashy the gameplay may be; no matter how deceptive the lie is that you’ll never find anyone to marry. Don’t settle. God always has a better way. There is always a better alternative than embracing and engaging the counterfeit.

2011 Reflections: Part 2

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Gaming-wise, 2011 was a high mark for me as a gamer. I completed more games last year than I ever have in my gaming career. Part of this has to do with how much I enjoy gaming on the PS3; the other part being how short games are becoming. In 2011, I completed:

  • Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – Which was excellent.
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – Which was even better.
  • Call of Duty Black Ops – A massive disappointment due to boring set pieces and a ho-hum story line.
  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 – One of the greatest games I’ve ever played. A roller-coaster screaming to be ridden at least once. I wrote a few words about the game’s “No Russian” mission you can read here.

I also played a few other games last year:

  • Enslaved – Repetitive level design bored me.
  • Mario Galaxy 2 – Still working through it.
  • Final Fantasy 13 – Gave up on it due to a hard to follow story line.
  • Dragon Age Origins – Nothing fresh to see here.
  • Tiny Tower – You can a few words about it here.
  • L.A. Noire – I have a love/ hate relationship with L.A. Noire. The game is amazing in what it does but becomes highly repetitive over time. I came within 4 cases of finishing this game. 4 cases! I will no doubt pick this up again when I have the time and drive to plow through to the end. I did learn a few lessons from L.A. Noire which you can read about here.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum – I’m truthfully not sure what I think about this game. It did make me question what I play in front of my 2 year old, which you can read about here.
  • inFamous – Cool game with a great concept. Somehow not compelling enough for me to finish.

I‘m sure there were more games that I played but I can’t think of them right now. What did gaming in 2011 look like for you?

The Raging Tiny Tower Inferno of Doom!

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Woke up this morning to find it gloomy and cold outside. A perfect day for coffee laced with a bit of caramel. Apparently, we had a cold front move through last night. Today is supposed to be windy with a high of 68 degrees. Such a welcome relief from the record summer heat we experienced in East Texas. Good riddance!

Had a friend email me this morning about the iPhone app Tiny Tower. He specifically asked: “Does this game ever end?” I am guessing the answer is no. For the uninitiated, Tiny Tower is a tower building simulation for the iDevice. The game allows you to build different business types (retail, food, recreation, etc.) and then rack up the cash as consumers consume your tower’s products in droves. There is also another “gameplay” component that allows you to act as a slum lord/ hire and fire employees. For those that have a fashion bent, you can dress up your Bitizens to your hearts content. Keep in mind that this app is free with a catch, Tower Bux. Tower Bux are Tiny Tower’s currency that speeds up construction time and increases other in-game options. Think of Tower Bux as liquid patience. One of the beautiful things about this game is that you don’t necessarily  have to purchase the in-game currency. Every once in awhile, the game will automatically award you Tower Bux for random events such as taking a Bitizen to a specific floor via elevator. Again, think of this slow feed Tower Bux concept as a drug dealer methodically bringing potential users in with a “taste” of his product.

Overall, I have enjoyed my time playing Tiny Tower. My most favorite part of the game has been naming the individual stores. Where else can I have a coffee shop called Hipster Brew? I have to question though the longevity of playing this app. There do not seem to be any goals other than to build a massive profit-making tower. This will get old at some point. Like the donkey with the carrot on a stick, eventually I will just kick my rider off and eat the darned carrot. In the mean time though, I’m going to mindlessly distract myself by building another floor to my tower. Maybe I’ll expand the “Hipster” line of stores?