Sunday, October 4, 2009

Playing Video Games

I'm not a bad person; so what if I get a little obsessed now and then?

Since the onset of my computer life, I have obsessed over computer games. There have been so many wonderful ways to wile away the hours that it almost defies logic. I'm sure I will one day wish I could have all those hours back.

But for now, I don't consider this time spent as a waste. It is almost like therapy. It allows my mind to wander free from the stresses of the day. Then again, it often creates a kind of stress of its own, but it is one that disappears easily. Rarely do I stay awake thinking about computer games. Now that I think about it, I do recall dreaming about them though.

I recall when I was pregnant with my second child, it began as I spent hours playing Space Invaders on the old Atari 2600.

Since that time in the early 1980's, I cannot count all the different games I've enjoyed. They seem to come in phases. I am a loyal game player.

For a time I was a Sim City freak. As an opponent of urban sprawl and rampant development, playing this game gave me a sense of understanding of the other side. I also enjoyed playing Sim Farm with these two games being the yin and yang of my Sim life.

For a long time, I played a frenzied Mahjongg. I even began collecting different versions. Some had great graphics. Others played calming, zen-like music. The one I played the most, however, was an old version from Galaxy Games. It is so old, that it isn't even available anymore, although many other versions of Mahjongg abound.

That is a real source of aggravation - falling in love with a game only to have all support discontinued.

That happened to me with one of my current favorites, Mind Your Marbles. I was so enamored with this game that I bought it from Big Fish Games. I own the game, have the original documentation, and the original code to run it. But Big Fish changed its system. When I bought a laptop I contacted the company to see why my code didn't work on my new computer. They said they no longer supported that game, even though my license was for a lifetime. I refuse to buy it again.

I wrote to other companies that sell Mind Your Marbles, but they won't honor a game from Big Fish Games, even if it is the same game. They could care less about my feelings. So, I'll never buy another game again. So many are available online anyway.

I do have several games from Big Fish that work with no problem -- probably because they are more recent. My favorite is Upwards, a fun variant of Scrabble, which I also play regularly. As a writer, I cannot live without word games. I admit that I am a fast typist, so playing these keep my vocabulary and typing skills well-honed.

The latest obsession that keeps me more than occupied is a Facebook game --Bubble Spinner by Mind Jolt Games. These simple arcade-style games are my favorites. I am not a fan of the graphic killer games, although I did love Castle Wolfenstein. I had that game when it was first introduced for the Commodore 64. That was a very long time ago.

As obsessed as I am, I am probably even more competitive. I admit that I get a kick out of winning. Striving to be the best you can be is not a bad thing.

I believe my competitive nature is inherited, and it is undeniable. Ask my daughter who also got the gamesman gene. The two of us go head-to-head often. I whip her at Scrabble, but she beats me in our all-time Mahjongg challenge. She has me by a few seconds. She and I don't play the game as it was intended. We play it as a personal challenge to beat each others' times, clearing the board as quickly as we can. I believe her record is 1.21 minutes. Mine is 1.23. I chalk it up to the generation gap. I admit that she is just plain faster than me.

There are so many game sites available online now -- offering free game play if you have the patience to deal with the multitude of advertisements that appear.

If you have a favorite game, let me know. I'm always open to a good challenge.