When I was younger, I didn't enjoy life that much. Computer games were a way to escape that fact and I embraced them whole-heartedly. I put months of time into PC and console games as a teenager, ignoring as much of reality as possible.
When I reached adulthood (ha!) I found new escape in online gaming. Years of my life were sunk into multiplayer text games, like Terris and Orone; later, World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs dominated my time. This was mostly not to any obvious advantage, although I made many friends, who have helped shape my outlook, my work and my life. I married one of them!
These days, I'm pretty happy. I like my life and the people in it. I still game though, to avoid doing my paperwork/taxes and to relax when things get a bit much. I'm not as 'hardcore' as I used to be. I no longer (mostly) write huge spreadsheets to document my gaming or write angry forum posts about alleged in-game injustices. I suppose I am becoming a "casual" gamer.
This post had to go somewhere eventually and this is it!
As a casual gamer, I'm in a demographic that the gaming industry is trying very hard to monetise. Almost every game that I pick up these days has shiny new features to make me want to spend more money. From in-game shops with their own currency (only purchasable with cash money) to multiple DLC (downloadable content) many of which are already included on the game disc, but "locked" until I've parted with some more £$.
It's not like the games are cheaper either, because many of them require me to pay a lot up front, then still have the cheek to want more moneys during my game time. There is a growing tenancy for games publishers to be disingenuous about their games, hiding behind flashy marketing campaigns with shiny (not in game footage) videos and as little actual information as possible about what new revenue streams they've hidden in their content. This is especially prevalent in newer MMO titles, which launch with one revenue stream then are forced to fall back upon ever more blatant monetising as their financial planning falls to pieces.
Even some games which don't directly try to extract more cash from me can't resist mentioning it in game (Diablo 3, with it's Real-Money Auction House, for example).
What I'm trying to say (in many words) is that I want to go back to the old way. I want games which don't try to milk me for all my cash, or even mention the "real world" from the moment that I install to the moment I'm done. I don't want my immersion broken, I don't want to even *think* about my taxes, my paperwork, or any other thing that I'm procrastinating over by playing a video game, instead of being a "responsible adult".
I especially think that it's important for games which require a lot of investment in time and money (this means MMOs mostly) to have plain words contracts for users, which explain explicitly what they are getting and what to expect in a number of financial situations. No small print, no wriggle room, just plain English and a legally binding commitment that things will be done in a specific manner. MMOs are communities and the operators of these communities MUST behave fairly, honestly and openly.
- Music:Bourne's Ultimatum (Extreme Ways)
Every time I express my desire to live in the middle of nowhere, people keep telling me that I won't be able to hack it. They say that I'm born & bred city, that I will miss the availability of "stuff". To an extent, I think that's true. There are undoubtedly conveniences associated with late-night (24h) shopping, a vast selection of delivery food and takeaways for those days(weeks?) that I just can't face cooking.
Since neither Rachel or I drive, we'd be pretty reliant on public transport (not a lot of that in the middle of nowhere) delivery services and (Duhn-Duhn DUHHHHHHH!) walking. Apparently this walking stuff is something that's somewhat passed out of fashion amongst normal folk with cars and also not something that an unfit overweight fellow like me would be comfortable doing.
As it turns out, I've been in Wokingham this week. Not the middle of nowhere, to be fair, but very much less stuff around than I'm used to in London. I'm staying in a lovely mansion-type hotel a little out towards the countryside. Consequently, the nearest shops (and food) are a couple of miles away. There is a very nice looking hotel restaurant, but the prices are somewhat silly and although the company is paying, I'd prefer not to run up a big expensives tab. So, I've been doing some walking.
Yesterday I decided to avoid a cab fare and walk from the conference venue back to my hotel. It was a lovely day and I really enjoyed walking in the pleasant surroundings and sunshine. As it turns out, the route was a bit longer than expected - more than 4 miles, the route I took (and 3.5 by the most expedient car route). Still, jolly nice (although I chose taxi this morning!)
Today, I returned to my hotel and decided that I needed food (and diet coke). Although I briefly toyed with the idea of more delivery food (having eaten pizza the night before) I eventually decided to walk to food. Food was less far than the conference centre, but I had to bring it back too. Another nice evening, so I pootled along the country roads to the BeeGees. I enjoyed exploring a few different roads and eventually found a takeaway chinese. I observed that almost everything in Wokingham was closed (it was a real struggle to find drinks, after the chinese surprisingly informed me that they didn't do drinks). Still, the chinese fcod that I have is tasty and decent quality. I ended up doing about another 4 miles (2 each way) to get my food and I don't feel at all bad for it.
Anyway, the point is, I suppose, that I don't feel remotely unhappy about having to go and get things and the walking feels pretty healthy. I feel the same way when we're on the island with Rachel's parents too, so I think that perhaps the real issue isn't the walk or the distance or the availability of conveniences.
I think it's actually to do with time. Whenever I need to go and get things in this manner, I really don't have any time pressure. I can putter along at my own pace (which incidentally is pretty quick - roughly 4.5miles/hour) and not be worried about how long it will take. If I want to smell the roses, I can. JOYFUL REVELATION!
It's also worth mentioning (in conclusion) that the experience is vastly nicer with Rachel. Although she bellyaches on occasion, having a lovely walk with my mate is even more calming and relaxing than going on my own. I think we'll do fine, if we ever pull our fingers out and move into isolation.
- Music:BeeGees - One Night Only