Category Archives: Games

WoW – Moving On Up!

I hit level 57 night before last, and am slowly homing in on 60 (the current level cap). I'm getting pretty excited to experience some of the end-game content, which I've heard a lot about but have never seen - places like Blackrock Spire, Molten Core, and Black Wing Lair. I've started to play around with some of the more advanced ideas in the game, like experimenting with different talent builds and building reputation with different factions. I wish I had know about that stuff earlier, as it would have been easier to do it right from the beginning. This game gets more fun the more I play it, and I've met a few interesting people lately - including some fellow parents of little ones. If anyone out there is also playing (or thinking of playing) this game, look me up! My main character is a Tauren warrior named Kwakanu, on the Earthen Ring server. My alts are an Undead mage named Dorowen, a Tauren hunter named Gorgonzola (with her pet lion named Milkdud, which cracks Lori up), and a Troll priest named Goulash.

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Video Game Myths

Not too long ago, Henry Jenkins - the director of comparative studies at MIT - wrote an article debunking eight of the major myths about video games. If you'd like to read the entire article, you can find it here. But there are a couple that I'd like to mention, mostly because certain politicians have been using video games as a way to pander to their constituents lately (*cough* Hilary Clinton *cough*), and have been playing on parents' fears without any real science or research to back up the claims they are making.

Claim #1 - Video games has led to an epidemic of youth violence.
What the federal crime statistics actually show is we are in the middle of a 30-year low in the rate of violent juvenile crime. The overwhelming majority of kids play video games - 90% of boys and 40% of girls. Why aren't all of these kids comitting crimes? According to the Surgeon General (in a 2001 report), the strongest factors in violent juvenile crimes were mental stability and quality of home life. Which makes sense, when you think about it.

Claim #2 - Video games are not a meaningful form of expression.
Are they serious? Anyone who has ever actually played a video game (especially an RPG), will agree that video games can be an extremely powerful form of expression. Because the player participates directly in the story, sometimes a good video game can even be more powerful than a book or a movie, where the viewer (or reader) is just a passive bystander. Video games have made me personally feel every emotion in the sprectrum, at one point or another. Comments like this one are just plain ignorant. Will Wright, the creator of the incredibly popular game "The Sims" said in an interview that "games are perhaps the only medium that allows us to experience guilt over the actions of fictional characters. In a movie, one can always pull back and condemn the character or the artist when they cross certain social boundaries. But in playing a game, we choose what happens to the characters." At different points in our history, this same complaint (of something not being a "meaningful form of expression") has been leveled at jazz, rock and roll, and comic books - all three of which are now widely excepted as art forms in their own right.

Anybody else have any opinions or comments they'd like to add?

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Greatest Easter Eggs In Gaming

For those who don't play video games - or have never played a game enough to find one - "easter eggs" are the little secrets hidden in a game for persistent users to find. Gamespot recently posted an article entitled "The Greatest Easter Eggs In Gaming", and it was fun to reminisce over some of them. The cow level in Diablo II has got to be one of my all time favorites. Diablo II was a action RPG about fighting demons will huge swords and the like. So having a hidden level that was full of evil cows that continually bleated "Moo" while they attacked you was just hilarious. Finding Reptile in Mortal Kombat was also another of those awesome easter egg moments. Does anybody else remember any great gaming easter eggs?
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WoW – Giddy-Up!

I hit level 40 last weekend in World of Warcraft, and was finally able to purchase a mount. Sweet! Aside from just being able to get around faster, these things are the real status symbol of achieving level 40+. I remember being a low level character, checking out all of the high-level folks heading out of town on their mounts - and how I had to hoof it across the same terrain at half the speed.

I've also come across a couple of cool sights while exploring the world in this game, and you can see a few of screenshots below. The first image reminded me of the huge Christ statue on a mountaintop overlooking Rio de Janeiro. The second image is of a dam in the game world that holds back an enormous lake - I really dig the dwarven faces carved into the dam, with the water spilling out of their mouths. Cool visual.

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World of Warcraft

Or as some call it, digital crack.

If anybody hasn't heard of it - which I doubt, if you're a gamer - it's a MMORPG (massive-multiplayer online role-playing game) made by Blzzard. Blazzard is the company that produced some of the best games ever made, like Diablo, Warcraft, and Starcraft. Actually, I would have to say that Blizzard is my all-time favorite game company. I don't think I've ever played a game they made that wasn't amazing. This game is kind of like online D&D (Dungeons and Dragons), where you get to explore the world, fight monsters, find treasure, cast spells, and all that sort of stuff. But the cool part is that you are playing in an enormous, persistent world with thousands of other people. So the cities are actually full of real people. You can group up with other players and take on stuff too tough to fight alone. I dig it. I've played with everyone from 11-year olds to grandmothers. In the game I play a Tauren warrior (which looks like a minotaur from Greek mythology). Currently, I'm level 32. Which probably means nothing to anyone reading this, but I'm pretty proud of it. What a geek! If anyone out there is also playing this game, or had been thinking of starting, I am on the Earthern Ring realm, and would love to play with friends.

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God of War

Has anyone else out there played God of War for the Playstation 2? I've been wanting to pick it up ever since it won "Console Game of the Year" in the gaming magazine I subscribe to - but it has been 50 bucks since it first came out. Well just this past week it got added to the PS2 "Greatest Hits" collection - which means it got marked down to $20. Aww yeah! This is a sweet game. Incredibly violent, with awesome level design and animation. The visuals are stunning. Just look at some of these screenshots. It looks even better in person. And there is just something about being a 6 foot tall guy taking on beasties that are as big as skyscrapers - and winning - that is pretty damn cool. Dig it!

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