Friday, July 2, 2010

A New Family Member

I had never owned a gaming console when I was growing up. As such, my gaming experiences were limited to the PC and, very early on, the Commodore 64. And I enjoyed every minute of them. Some of my favourite gaming experiences were on the PC, ranging from Point and Click adventures like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and The Secret of Monkey Island to space sims like Wing Commander and X-Wing

And yet, I couldn't help but feel like I was missing out on some essential gaming experiences, not when my friends were crowing on and on about Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, and Metal Gear Solid.

Don't get me wrong, I never felt deprived, and appreciated everything I did have. Still, nowadays, I can't help but wonder: "What if I did grow up with a console? Would my writing make-up have changed at all? Would I have gotten into the videogame industry quicker?"

In September of last year, I finally fulfilled one of my lifelong gaming ambitions. After signing a contract with a game developer to write them a game, I remembered what someone in the industry once said to me: "Even if you get a foot in the door, if you don't have a 360/PS3/Wii, you won't go far". It makes sense. Just like in publishing, if you never read books, you'll never be able to make a living writing them. You have to know the market. You have to play games in order to be able to analyze what they do right, what they do wrong, and just why you're heart starts racing at certain points of the game.

And so I got a PS3. And I've loved it ever since, particularly enjoying Metal Gear Solid 4, Fallout 3, and Uncharted 2 among so many others. And, beyond the fun, I learned so much about both the writing of games and game theory itself.

But, and this is admittedly a bit greedy, I wanted more. I am a huge fan of RPG's, Space Opera, and Bioware. And so when Mass Effect 2 came out, I desperately wanted to play it. Thing is, I didn't have an XBox and my PC was too old to play it. I let it slide, telling myself that eventually I'll build a kickass PC that can play those games.

But then, all I kept hearing was that Mass Effect 2 (and Alan Wake after that) were some of the best exercises in modern videogame storytelling. And as a story guy first and foremost, that definitely piqued my interest. "Why?", the creative center of my mind asked, "Why are they considered as such?" Add to that, the fact that a lot of my friends have XBoxes... well, suffice it to say that I started canvassing around for dirt cheap units.

And then, a fortuitous series of events happened: 1) The new Xbox came out, dropping down the prices of older models. 2) I got hired for a story editing gig, meaning I had a bit more spending money than I had budgeted for this month. And 3) The silly BC government decided that, by July 1, taxes were going to rise.

And so, on the 29th of June, my wife and I welcomed the newest member of our little family:

Mass Effect, here I come.

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