Archive for Games

How I’ve Fallen Out of Love With Games

The following post was written in France.

Two and a half years ago I was on track to be a games journalist. It’s what I wanted from life. Then something changed.

Despite my flurry with PC Zone, the now extinct UK PC gaming magazine, I had to find a mid-recession job that matched my strengths. PR, marketing, publishing, editorial; hell, even sales at one point, were all on the radar. Luckily Bamboo PR panned out, but I now sit pondering what might have been.

Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the moment I stopped caring about games. In January 2011 after a particularly heavy Christmas Steam sale, I decided to stop buying games for a month.

Surprisingly, or maybe not so, I coped fine. Spurred on I decided to see how far I could go – big releases like Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead rightfully caught my attention, but around six months ago something completely changed.

Game Over

Suddenly, it wasn’t just buying new games; I didn’t even want to play those I already had. I kept myself amused over winter with Minecraft; a passive non-gaming activity that allowed me to watch films simultaneously.

In January 2012 that stopped, and the desire to play anything was even less. I’ve gone through the motions with Football Manager 2012 (another non-gaming experience) and the odd bit of freelance here and there, but there’s nothing remotely pulling me to play.

My Xbox hasn’t been on (bar the recent review of Birds of Steel) for 6 months. My Steam account’s played FM2012, 2 hours of CS:GO’s beta and a night of GRiD with Craig Lager et all. Oh, and a multiplayer session of L4D2 with some ex-PC Zone boys.

I’m trying to decide whether I’ve grown up (a stupid thing to say considering the age-accessibility of games), had a monumental shift in taste, or just come to a natural conclusion after 16 years of playing video games.


The longer I go without the medium, the more I learn to live without it. Oddly, the biggest yearn I’ve had is reading. You had to force me to read my University syllabus, but now I have the urge to re-read, taking my time.

I’ve mentioned my sudden thirst for knowledge, especially in the cinematic area, already. Maybe I’ve just come to the realisation that while gaming is arguably the greatest entertainment medium on the planet, it’s also one of the most useless.

Productivity is a funny thing – I don’t regret the thousands of hours I’ve put into gaming, but the same amount of time broadening my literature, film and photography skills is likely to leave a longer legacy than a strong k/d ratio.

I’m not suddenly lamenting those that continue to enjoy virtual pleasures, nor suggesting
there’s anything worthless with gaming itself, but I’m just struggling to see how it can help better myself, improve my cultural knowledge and help others who meet me along my hopefully long journey.

[Self Edit – Parts of] gaming, much like modern cinema, are broken. They are and will be for a long while. You don’t have to have degree to know that. Or maybe I’m broken. Who knows.

EDIT: As C.Y. rightfully points out – when I say gaming’s a pointless medium, I’m unsure at this current point in the industry, and my own life, as to whether that’s a personal statement, or a broad one I believe in.

Scrummy Skyrim Screenshots #1

It’s no joke, I love photography. I also love video games. I love the Elder Scrolls series. Put those together and what do you get? Skyrim posts – virtual Photography like the below/above. This is the first of many posts, feel free to share yours with me on Twitter. High resolution versions can be found here.

How To Be A Detective

I’m late to the party. I’ve just started playing L.A. Noire. I’ve been trying to be the best detective I can be, and as I watch a lot of Castle, Dexter, The Glades, etc, etc, I seem to be very good. This is how to be a great detective:

  • Shout GUILTY at everyone to get a confession
  • Walking over evidence is a good idea; you absorb clues through your feet
  • Be good at 1940s parkour
  • Shots. You must take lots of them
  • Alcoholic shots. You must take lots of them
  • Touch every dead body’s face a lot – the eyes are a window to the soul
  • Shoot to kill
  • Pedestrian – 10 points
  • Don’t look at the road, admire the landmarks
  • Threaten every witness with police brutality

My Top 20 Games Of All Time

Courtesy of GreyViper

Twitter friends Jen and Sinan recently posted a hastily Top 20 Games of All Time. I thought I’d join in. It’s interesting to see the lean to PC games and the fact there’s only one current generation game on the list. It’s also very FPS and RPG heavy.

You can find Jen’s here (who mistook the headline and did 25) and Sinan’s over at YouHaveLost.

  1. Half Life 2 (2004, PC)
  2. Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000, PC)
  3. Counter Strike Source (2004, PC)
  4. Total Annihilation (1997, PC)
  5. Football Manager 2010 (2010, PC)
  6. Company of Heroes (2006, PC)
  7. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002, PS2)
  8. Icewind Dale (2000, PC)
  9. Call of Duty (2003, PC)
  10. Rings of Power (1991, Mega Drive)
  11. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (1992, Mega Drive
  12. Timesplitters 2 (2002, PS2)
  13. Metal Gear Solid (1998, PS1)
  14. Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe (N/A, PC)
  15. Left 4 Dead (2008, PC)
  16. BioShock (2007, PC)
  17. Theme Park (1994, Mega Drive)
  18. World of Warcraft (2004, PC)
  19. Cilvilization II (1996, PC)
  20. Red Dead Redemption (2010, Xbox 360)

There are games from other series’ that I’d like to include (FFVIII for example) and Half Life #1 etc, but I can’t.

Edit: Reading Steve’s effort, I can’t believe I forgot Pokemon Red/Blue on the original Gameboy.

Review – 250 Indie Games You Must Play

I first didn’t meet Mike Rose last year at a Microsoft Kinect review event. We looked at each other, before deciding it wasn’t who we thought it was. We were both wrong and it wasn’t until we got back to our respective instant messaging platforms, quizzed each other and laughed, that we’d released we’d gotten it mistaken. What does this have to Michael’s book? Nothing aside from the fact Michael Rose wrote it.

My experience with indie games has been an on and off love affair. One minute I’m proclaiming my passion for Limbo or rewinding time with Braid. A week later, I’ll be entering a year’s drought and won’t play an indie game for a year.

At the moment I’m dropping in and out of indie-darling Minecraft (as so demonstrated by my recent ode). Two years ago it was Size Five (formally Zombie Cow) Games’ Time Gentlemen, Please! I gave it one the highest scores I’ve ever awarded a game and it was for none other but dead UK magazine, PC Zone.

It was there that I first discovered IndieGames – it was an invaluable resource for the Freeplay section I was covering while David Brown was broken. While reading through the blog, it became evident just how much Mike loved indie games, (as well as saving my skin for offering deadline-saving content).

Why is the above relevant for a book review? Well, books are the most subjective art forms around and you can argue that it’s the stories that accompany the actual story (in this case, non-fiction) that’s more important than the book itself.

It’s obvious that 250 Indie Games You Must Play is the fruition of Mike’s love affair with independent gaming. A comprehensive collection of indie greats, shoestring powerhouses and unfound gems. Each title is explained why it deserves to be in the exclusive 250 – factually and why it stood out against the backdrop of so many others. If you’ve never played an indie game before, this is your starting bible. If you’re familiar with bootstrap gaming then there’s plenty in here to keep you busy.

Everything you’d expect to be included is, and then some. You’d think a concept like this would only work online, but such is Mike’s eloquent love that it suits a flick-through-and-pick-one approach the book offers.

Buy It. It’s £16.66. Hurry up with another 250 Mike.



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