While searching through GoG (“Good Old Games” – a wonderful retro games website) last night for something to play, I suddenly remembered that there is still an X-Box 360 hidden away under the desk. After a quick search in the drawer under the TV in the living room, I returned with a sizeable stack of games I have bought “on offer” over the years – games I have never played.
Among them, Grand Theft Auto 5 (ok, I’ll admit I have played that one), Medal of Honour, Modern Warfare, the Mass Effect trilogy, the Gears of War trilogy, the Borderlands games, the Halo games, the Bioshock games, and a few others. The “few others” included the “Orange Box” – the compilation of old games that Valve released a few years ago now – and that I had never even put in the machine before.
It’s worth pointing out that I buy all of the XBox 360 games from second hand stores. I haven’t spent more than Â£10 on a single game in a very long time. Quite often (as with the trilogies), I have bought all of them together, for a fraction of their original sale price.
So yeah – the “Orange Box”. It has Half-Life 2 on it. I played it for all of 30 seconds last night before my oldest daughter took over, and ended up playing it all night. If I’m totally honest, I was hoping that was going to happen. She usually plays “The Sims” all the time, and has only ever really played “The Sims” – she has never played any of the more “grown up” games – and I thought Half-Life 2 might be a good introduction.
And now of course I want to play it too – having seen her playing it. If I start playing it though, I can’t see myself getting much done for the next few days. I suppose it’s one better than getting back into Skyrim though – because that could render me useless for months.
Watching somebody else play a video game – when they don’t have the armoury of a mis-spent youth to inform them what they might do next is interesting. Early in Half Life 2 there is a scene in a railway station, where you avoid gunfire while dodging between railway cars.”Don’t just stand there! Hide behind something””Have you tried smashing everything with the crow-bar? Why not?””Can you stand on top of that? Ok – stack that smaller one next to it, and stand on that first…””See if you can make the guard run after you – then run in the door behind him”And so it went on… it’s not really an “approach” to playing a game – it’s an attitude to problem solving. Taking in the mechanics the game bestows the world with, and figuring out how the designer might have use those mechanics to construct puzzles. I will admit to being enormously impressed with Half-Life 2.
I warned Miss 15 that playing first person games in the dark was a recipe for disaster – that she would scare herself silly.”But I’m fine with scary movies””Yes, but movies are different, because you’re not immersed in them”After watching her play for twenty minutes, becoming familiar with the virtual world and the methods of interacting with it, I patted her on the shoulder and said I was going to make a coffee.”Don’t leave me!”