Not just a game, but a way of life

People play video games for different reasons, reasons that are often inclusive rather than exclusive.

Some people play video games for the excitement and fun: to be in the shoes of their favourite hero, to support the franchise they love (*cough*pokemon*cough*), to experience the thrill of a first person shooter, or the satisfaction of advancing to the next level.

Some people play games for the people they’re playing with: for the cooperative and competitive spirit, to accomplish major feats or to be the best of the best.

Some people do it to relieve stress because sometimes the real world can be too much and we just need something to make us remember what it feels like to smile.

Some people play games for a living and others just don’t give a damn about games at all.
And that’s okay. Because games don’t have to mean the same thing to everyone and they don’t have to mean anything at all.

But then there are people like me who could never give it up. Because people like me have blurred the lines between video games and reality and as we play, we can no longer say “it’s just a game” as others do to downplay the significance of what we’re doing.

People like me live second lives on the internet: for us, playing a RPG is not just about the role play, but about living an opportunity we’d never be able to experience in our own lives otherwise; for us, the pixels on the screen are just as real as the people around us; and the memories we create with our imagination are just as important in our hearts as our physical experiences – the tangible and intangible lie equal in our minds.

We find solidarity, peace, and a sense of belonging in a community that didn’t even exist a couple of decades ago.
This is real life to us and it offends us when people question the way we live.

Yes, it may not seem productive and yes, we may not be great contributors to the problems of the world. But understand that our definition of world has already shifted.

And while some people would define success as something greater, I’d be happy enough with a Lv100 Jibanyan.

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Tl;dr: I think I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t quit gaming. But don’t send help. I’m happy with this.

Child of Light (review)

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Not much new in my life as of late, so I figured I might as well express my appreciation for the Ubisoft Montreal game Child of Light.

The game itself is fantastical and reads like a fairy tale. The artwork is simplistic but beautiful and feels like something out of a storybook. The characters all talk in rhyme and the plot is like something akin to Snow White or Sleeping Beauty – except there are no princes in this story, only a princess who fights her way out of a mystical land to save her people.

The dialogue is enticing and the main character Aurora is absolutely captivating. She starts out innocent and naive, but quickly grows to be mature and quite frankly, powerful with a sort of wisdom towards the end that comes as a bit of a surprise. Kudos to the story development, the game was enchanting and classic. The story itself took many elements from classic fairy tales and wasn’t very creative, but the integration into a game was very unique. The other characters have simple, funny, and lighthearted personalities and it really contributes to the overall feel and enjoyment of the game.

I loved the gameplay. At the start of the game, the jumping platform system may seem traditional and overdone, but the transition into flying mechanics was wonderful. I’ve never been able to fly in a 2d platform-based game before and I fell in love with idea. There are still traps and monsters around every corner and it was very well planned with hidden passages here and there. I enjoyed the integration of  local multiplayer controls, as the mouse controls Igniculus, a flying firefly that does neat things during battle and during map movement, and the keyboard controls Aurora. The combat system is turn-based, reminiscent of Final Fantasy, but the turn interruptions and the integration of Igniculus which can heal your characters or slow the enemy down, made it more thrilling.

The player collects fairy dust to upgrade their characters’ stats and gems called occuli that can be upgraded/combined and used to power-up the characters. Although at one stage, the game bugged out and I lost a whole bunch of occuli that was equipped on my characters, so I was disheartened from the game for the rest of day (but not for long!).

Overall, the artwork and the background music created an extremely pleasant atmosphere. It was the kind of game I enjoy most so I can’t say it’s for everyone.

The best part of the game would probably be discovering that Beatrice Martin, or Coeur de Pirate as she is known, did the soundtrack. I must say, she did very well. I was enchanted and shocked to hear her voice at the end. As a Coeur de Pirate fan, I seized a copy of the OST immediately. It is now one of my favourite soundtracks to listen to as I fall asleep.

[GAME] Poy Poy

I haven’t done a game “review” in a long time, so I figured I’d reflect on one of the most memorable video games of my childhood: Poy Poy, a game on the Playstation.

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Having only owned the Japanese version of the game, I have never known it by its real name and have always just called it the “Rock-throwing game”, but out of plain curiosity, I recently looked up the name.

For me, Poy Poy was the first game in which I learned to button smash – to mindlessly press buttons on the controller and hope something worked. Adding to this effect, everything was in Japanese from the instructions to the characters to the different gloves you could equip. It was basically guess and test for me, having no knowledge of the Japanese language at the time. Looking back, most of it was in Katakana so if I played it today, I’d be able to decipher the majority of the items.

There was something so gruesomely violent and yet enticing about throwing rocks at each other. It was so pointless that it was fun. Whenever my brother or I got bored playing one of the more quality Playstation games such as Final Fantasy or Digimon, we’d retire and play Poy Poy for the heck of it. The feeling of competition and randomness that arose from battling each other in the arena of object-throwing was exhilarating. It was so ridiculous that we would laugh at times – especially on the park map which was dark and often had a roaming dinosaur on the map. Ah, that was always both my favourite and least favourite.

My best friend would sometimes come over and we’d throw rocks at each other for hours, not really understanding the point of the game as it was completely in Japanese. In reality, the game would be terrifying: throwing a rock three times your size would not only be impossible but superhuman-like. I loved the polygon-shaped people and their wacky hairstyles. I loved how there were jelly bean like things you could collect and have no idea what it would do – mostly due to the fact that again, the game was in Japanese and we had no clue what we were doing.

In the end, I guess Poy Poy served as an experience to show that no matter what language a game is in, you can enjoy it. There are, of course, limits on this as it would be completely unpleasant to play a role-playing game without understanding the story, but for something like this, it worked out for the best. I’m sure if the game was in English and I understood how to play, I would’ve had a completely different experience, but the fact that it was in a language foreign to me  urged me to not only indulge in Japanese culture, but to have fun without worrying too much about strategy or what not.

Poy Poy, for me, will always be that one game that leaves me grinning in the thought of it. It was never popular and it was rare to find anyone who had even heard of it, but it was special – something unique that will forever be a small chip of the video game world.

As I was unable to find a decent video of Poy Poy, I present to you one from Poy Poy 2, which is equally awesome and um…updated.

[GAME] Survival Project

This is, hands down, the hardest video game to talk about. It’s hard because of the all ties to the past it holds. It’s really difficult to reflect on.

This is a review, but in reality, it really isn’t. It’s a piece of my life.

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3 Things to know about this game:

1. It really can’t be played anymore…though I think it may still be running  in Korea. Who knows.

2. It’s a computer/MMORPG game.

3. I quit this game 3 separate times. With 3 separate groups of friends.

—–

4 elements. 8 characters (2 per element). I can’t remember all their names.

There were several modes: Dungeon, PvP, Symbol, Racing, Dodge, and Community. Did I miss something? Oh well.

I spent hours, literally hours in Community. I had a family. The third time around. A survival project family and for the longest time, that family meant more to me than my actual family. They were supportive and were there for me in ways my normal family couldn’t be. I’m sure they probably won’t recall this same level of support, but it meant a lot to me. i know for sure my ‘sis’ cried with me when it all fell apart. It all fell apart.

There was this one guy that I really liked. Before I talk about him, there’ something else I should mention. The first time I played the game, I was 7. The last time, I was 10/11. Yes, I was freaking young. How could I possibly understand anything? For the most part, I didn’t.

I remember laughing once. When my ‘brother’ was teaching a friend how to say ‘I love you’ in Japanese. Aishiteru. ‘Shit’, of course, was filtered by the censoring system in the game. I was mature enough to communicate with people much older than me.

When I was 7, I had a boyfriend in the game. He would give me free elements and spoil me with compliments. I liked him…but it was a really shadow relationship. We didn’t even talk much. Plus, I was 7. How deep of a relationship can you have with a 7 year old?

Okay, back to when I was 10. I think I knew his real name. At some point. I can’t remember it much now. I think his username was Shigamaru. I have no idea. But he meant a lot to me. Ten years old means around grade 4. I had this really tough project and all my group members weren’t doing much. I worked my butt off for it. I did. He stayed up with me in a Community Room, offering me support as for the first time, I stayed up until 3:30am for a school project. In freaking grade 4. I had to grow up faster than the average kid.

He told me that it was all grunt work and that if you got through it, you could do what you enjoyed. I smiled. I think it was because I was playing Warcraft III at the time and telling me it was ‘grunt’ work reminded me of an orc. I knew what he meant though.

Finally, I guess I’ll talk a bit about my ‘sis’. There are a lot of other people I could mention, but I think I’ve enjoyed enough reflection for now. I’ll get to them at a later time…or just leave them out altogether. Sis. Sam. Samantha. Friendshipcharm. I remember her best. I hope she never reads this post. She was two years older than me. 12 when I was 10 and 13 when I was 11. She kept our SP family together and she was definitely the one to let me in.

She protected me from things. When she could. She was conscious of my age. Yet she was only 2 years older. I learned how to be a teenager before I was even one. It’s strange. Really strange.

Our relationship kept up for over a year after we quit the game. We tried other games. Didn’t work. I would bother her for no apparent reason – didn’t last. She had things to think about as a teenager and now that I’m in her shoes, I understand. It’s hard to keep contact with someone you’ve never met and probably will never meet. I miss her. But it’s been a long time and I should let go. I think I already have. She’ll always be a part of my past.

In essence, Survival project was perfection in all video games. It had the best community and enough modes to fit everyone. Dodge was always my favourite…we would pratice our ‘moonwalk’s in order to dodge snowballs thrown at us by snowmen. You had to play it to love it – and I certainly loved it.

It was buggy at times and hackers caused it to fall. Shame on them. Ruining the best game of all time.

You lost track of time in that game. You never lost interest as there were always different things to do.

It’s funny though.

I quit so many times.

Heartbreak. Lack of friends. Or just drifting away.

If I had the chance to go back to the game, I would. I definitely would.

A lot of us would.

Sometimes it’s all about growing up. This game helped me grow up more than any other game.

Good bye, Survival Project. I’m tired of thinking about you.

[GAME] Age of Empires 1 & 2

[My first game review, but not really. Just something personal about an old game I miss.]

Age of Empires (AoE) was three things to me: Lego, chessboard, and friend.

When other friends were playing with building blocks in their free time, I was playing Age of Empires. I was six or seven-ish when i was first exposed to it. Considering that the game came out when I was two, that’s not bad. Sure, I grew up with Lego too. Sure, I played like any other kid. Still, I was different. More different than I wanted to be.

I played around with the map creator for hours. I liked putting units where I wanted them to go. I liked having control. I felt important even when I didn’t anywhere else. It was a nice feeling and I remember it well. I remember it well.

Chessboard. AoE was logic. Pure logic and strategy. One wrong attack and you were screwed. No way out of it. My favourite units? Elephants. They were so darn cute and not to mention strong. I loved the Persians. They were my second favourite race – next to the Huns of course. Oh no, I can’t forget about the Huns. I loved those horses so much to the point where I started drawing them. I can still manage a decent horse today. If you asked me to draw one.

AoE was my friend. Not that kind of regular friend whom you simply play with and have fun with. No, AoE was a friend that I grew up with. It helped me become a whole lot more mature in a short period of time.

I idolized Attila. The Hun. Yeah, I loved the guy who has been dead for over sixteen hundred years. Hah. ‘Course I didn’t know that at the time. I didn’t know much. School went by slowly. No or little homework. I spent my free time gaming. Joan of Arc became another obsession. I went through that campaign where you learn about her story and how she was burned at a stake. I shed a tear or too. She was admirable. Strong. In a game where males dominated (war), she was there. It stood out to me.

I pulled my first all-nighter playing this game. At the age of eight. That’s right. Probably the youngest kid to lose sleep over a game. I had attempted it more than once before I finally succeeded. My dad caught me and pulled me back to bed a lot. Eight…I think he had left by then. Not the kind of leave where he’s gone forever. Just the kind of leave where he’s only back in the summer. Though later the visits became more infrequent. Off-topic. Back on topic, AoE aided my growing and learning process in one way or another. Would I be the same without it? Definitely not.

Just like I wouldn’t be the same without a whole arsenal of my other games.

I had an online “boyfriend” at the age of nine. I learned about manipulation.

That’s a story for another time.

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The game’s still alive.

Age of Empires III. If you’re interested, click here.

Couldn’t find any old pictures of I, but the concept’s the same. Here’s one from II. 

EDIT: Here’s a picture from I.