Tag Archive for video games

Where Are the Interactive Books We Were Promised?

CYOA and Adventure Gamebooks

One of my big nerdjoy moments recently was when I found a virtual Choose your Own Adventure book while adventuring in Skyrim, titled Kolb and the Dragon.

And that got me remembering all the big predictions and promises at the dawn of ebooks and tablet computing about living, interactive books.

And that made me think of all the awesome IF games I used to enjoy, such as Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

And then I ran downstairs to our library and grabbed a handful of my “interactive” books, pictured above.

There are, of course, the classic CYOA books, like Space Vampire, and the awesome new breed of CYOA books, like the Choose-o-matic series from Matt Youngmark.  

In fact, he did create one specifically intended to be easily played on your tablet or phone: U, Robot.

U, Robot by Matt Youngmark

Some CYOA books, such as Wizards, Warriors and You, present an option in the story itself to choose between a set of characters, and then continue the adventure as the chosen character, increasing the variety of readings.

But there were also books that tried to take it even further, incorporating character stats and other RPG elements. 

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What Xbox Achievements Really Mean

I love gaming.  And as part of gaming on the Xbox, you gain Achievement Points for things like finishing the game, or completing in-game tasks.  The idea behind Achievements is that they show your relative skill and accomplishments at the video games you have played.

Unfortunately, Xbox Achievements have a number of issues that make them not only useless, but actually a bad thing in some cases.

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How to Justify Spending Hours on an RPG Video Game

(From the head of the Q.U. Crypto-Gameology Department)

game review of Fallout 3 and Fable 2 is up at Fantasy Magazine.

For those like myself who feel guilty after spending time playing a game instead of on more productive pursuits or, heck, interacting with other humans, how might you justify to yourself and others the time spent playing Fallout 3 or Fable 2? 


Well, let’s look at the arguments you might make, and see if either sells you.



Click Here to Read the Brilliant Justifications …


The End of the World Never Looked Better

I think about the end of the world as we know it quite a bit. 


Well, okay, usually I’m contemplating CAUSING the end of the world as we know it by conquering said world with my robot army, but when I’m not doing that, I’m thinking about something or someone other than me causing the end of the world as we know it. 


No, wait, actually, when I’m not contemplating conquering the world with my robot army, I’m more often dreaming of Salma Hayek and Deepika Padukone in a pillow fight (while in the background my robot army is conquering the world).  But when I’m not doing THAT, I’m thinking about some disaster causing the end of the world as we know it.


Actually, no, when — oh, never mind.  Suffice to say, I think about it from time to time.


So I was pretty psyched when I saw the just-released E3 trailer for Fallout 3, the new Xbox game from the creators of Oblivion that is due out this fall.  It looks frickin sweet.

fallout 3 player

Then, I see Clint Harris’ blog about what skills would be handy in the event of  the fall of civilization as we know it. 


His list does a nice job of covering the basics – producing food, shelter, water, etcetera.  I encourage you to print it off and start working on it.  But when making a list of necessary skills to have in a post-apocalyptic future, I think we mustn’t forget the following:


1. Keeping children alive.  And by that, I don’t mean protecting them from mutants, or starvation, or even disease, I mean protecting them from ourselves.  Imagine, suddenly there is no more television, no Xbox, no Nintendo DS, no internet.  The non-stop whining about being bored is likely to drive every adult mad.  Especially if those kids are used to playing hours of Fallout 3 (because that game looks frickin sweet).  And if you think the spoiled little munchkins will be happy with Legos and sports after playing a game like that, well, think again.  We’ll need to find something to keep the youngsters occupied before they get eaten by those whom they’ve driven insane with their incessant whining.  Manual labor is good, it should wear them out, but let’s face it, today’s kids have problems cleaning their rooms, let alone building a room, so they’ll probably whine so much about working that it will make their whining about being bored pale in comparison.  It takes a village to raise a child – and I think that village should be far, far away from most of the adults, perhaps run by a gaggle of tough old nannies.  And before you judge me too harshly, give it a few months without electricity, okay?

2. Keeping Fallout 3 alive.  I figure I can actually use solar or wind power to juice up my own widescreen tv and Xbox still.  Just don’t tell the children or they’ll constantly be begging to use it, and I won’t be able to enjoy it in peace.  Anyway, I think we should look at what it would take to keep Bethesda Software up and running, perhaps in a mutant-proof bunker.  Did I mention that Fallout 3 looks frickin’ sweet?!  But I would only keep the developers alive on the condition that they start making a co-op option for their damned games.  I mean, come on, who reading this wouldn’t pay double for Oblivion or Fallout 3 if they added co-op?  Are you kidding?  That would be frickin SUPER sweet!


3. Consolidation of all religions under me.  After all, religion started as a way to help control and hold together the early tribes of man, and then kind of got out of control.  For an idea of what would happen after the fall of civilization as we know it, look at what happened after the fall of civilization as Romans knew it.  The Holy Catholic Church controlled western knowledge, and thereby power.  Next thing you know, you had crusades, witch hunts, Inquisitions, and worst of all, televangelists.  And you know that a bunch of new religions and preachers will spring up out of the woodwork when the fit hits the shan again.  People will believe anything if they are afraid or confused, wanting answers or wanting to feel part of something bigger than themselves.  Heck, there are people who still believe Elvis is alive (when everyone in the know knows he was killed on the grassy knoll after shooting the communist alien who shot Kennedy).  We can’t have that kind of fracturing of my – er, I mean our control structure.  It creates chaos.  So the Church of Randy will reign supreme, and all other religions will be absorbed into it.  And I think an important method of tithing to the Church of Randy will be to create mods and expansion packs for Fallout 3.  Because, seriously folks, I think that game is going to be frickin sweet!


4.  Find worthy leaders.  In olden days, people turned to the elders.  But it’s going to be pretty hard to respect our elders.  Let’s face it, by the time the apocalypse occurs, our elders won’t be the men and women who helped settle this land.  They will not have lived through the great depression, or the hardships and sacrifice of a World War.  The elders won’t be those who remember where they were when Kennedy was shot, or who helped send men to the moon.  The elders will be rambling on about the days of hardship when they had to cut back to just 3 double-tall Starbucks macchiatos per day because of the rising cost of fueling their SUV (the one with the televisions inset into the passenger seats, and the GPS to help them find the nearest McDonalds to feed their overweight spawn (see item 1)).  Many of them will be the a-holes who brought about the end of the world as we know it in the first place.  And they’re going to tell me whether I can or cannot wage war on the mutants who control the fueling station?  I think not.  After all, I will be the one with the Mega-Mutant Mauler achievement on the game Fallout 3 (which, by the way, looks pretty frickin suh-weet!).  Yes, my vast experience at Fallout 3 will clearly make me a superior choice for the new world leader.  Well, experience, and my robot armies.


So you see, when I spend many hours playing Fallout 3, it will not be me shirking my responsibilities and neglecting my relationships – it will be me preparing for the inevitable end of civilization as we know it.


Because, let’s face it – that game looks frickin sweet, right? 

Fallout 3