Well, it’s 5am and instead of flying to my bed to pass out, I’m forcing myself to write yet another blog entry. I really hope that this is actually sharpening my writing skills rather than just underlining for me how stagnant my writing is staying. I mean, if I’m not improving then I’m basically just torturing myself right after a bout of insomnia, right? Would I be that cruel to myself?
Rather than answer that very obvious question (the answer is yes, for those who don’t know me well) I’m going to move onto a topic I’m quite invested in: video games. I’ve loved video games since I was about seven years old when my dad bought me an Acorn Electron from the neighbour next door with a jar of opals he dug up in Cooper Pedy. I loved that thing. It came with about eight games, all on cassette. I think the main one I played was a game called ‘Ghouls’ where the ghost chasing you would taunt you when you died by basically looking really happy about it. I also used to borrow books on programming the Electron from the library and spend hours typing out the programs in them. Yep, I was a bit of a nerd but I remember those days fondly.
After that, I upgraded to a PC. Not just any PC though, this was one with a 5 1/4 inch floppy drive and 512kb of RAM. On top of that, it had a monochrome monitor. After the world of colour I got from my Acorn Electron, I was a little disappointed. Though once I discovered how much faster disks were than cassette (to load the “Acorn Olympics” game on the Electron, for example, took about thirty minutes) I was hooked on playing everything I could. First I started buying magazines that came with disks, then ordering disks from the back of the magazine. The internet didn’t exist yet, at least not as we know it, so I had to actually go out and find every game I played.
Finally, my gaming life changed when the man who supplied my parents’ chicken shop (yep, I’m Greek and my parents owned a chicken shop. Feel free to report me to the stereotype police) gave me a copy of the Sierra adventure game ‘Police Quest’. [Edit – He supplied their chicken shop with arcade cabinets. Because of this, I got to play all the way through Double Dragon 2 and Golden Axe]. This game allowed me to be a police officer and play through an actual storyline. It completely blew my mind. After this, adventure games were my favourite genre. I found and played everything I could at the time, using various tricks to get my monochrome graphics looking as good as possible (which still wasn’t that good.) I also played through the old Infocom text adventures which required me to actually read the words on my screen. This was actually perfect for my monochrome monitor and I never needed to tweak the graphics. Not much, anyway. I also got to play through Douglas Adams’ own game version of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ which is incredibly funny, incredibly frustrating and currently exists as an online version here: http://www.douglasadams.com/creations/infocomjava.html
Eventually my PC got upgraded to… another PC. This one had a colour monitor! And two floppy drives instead of just one. I remember getting it from Cash Converters. I was so excited I celebrated by getting Space Quest 3, which was the best game I had ever played. It’s still right up there for me, and one of my most prized digital possessions is the reply to the email I sent to one of the writers of the game. It was actually as funny as the game was. It wasn’t for a few years later that I discovered that sometimes your heroes don’t turn out to be exactly as awesome in real life as they are in your favourite media portrayal of them, but Scott Murphy was that guy for me.
From here of course I went through a string of upgrades and games and a brief stint testing games in a gaming centre which… was pretty awesome, actually. Even though it doesn’t pay well (or at all, outside of the occasional free game) and I was living off of iced coffee, $2 meatball subs and lollies. Half Life 2 was the amazing game of the hour, followed by Deus Ex and, when everyone came over to play, Rogue Spear, where we worked together to kill terrorists and yell at my cousin for running ahead of us and getting the hostages killed.
These days, when I actually have any time (which isn’t often), I play games on my PS4 because maintaining a PC just is too time-consuming, space-taking and expensive. Right now I’m playing a game called “Far Cry 4” where I can get attacked by a tiger at any time. Though usually it’s either a bear or some sort of badger that kills me. I also get to ride some sort of one person helicopter, or gyrocopter, or something. Whatever it is, it’s fun and makes a buzzing noise. I can chop chunks off trees with it as well.
Where am I leading with all this? Well, the first games to really capture my imagination were story based. They were rich, funny and detailed fiction and on occasion the story-telling was excellent. At some point I plan to try my hand at scripting something in the game universe and I’m hoping I can make people laugh and have fun like I’ve done over the years.
Alright, I think this counts for my writing. I can finally go to sleep. Do you have fond memories of storytelling in games or even any other unconventional media? Let me know in the comments!