It Boggles my Mind

larzini's picture

It really does. And provides a wonderful excuse for a lame pun. And a wonderful excuse to post something here. Sometimes I start writing and it surprises me that sometimes others are willing to pay for something that comes out of these fingers. (The thoughts don't stay in my mind too long. If I don't type, I may not think. Yet somehow I write in a conversational tone. Strange. especially since I don't know sign language.) (Another reason is my occasionally stream-of-consciousness posting, that I refuse to edit when it appears, somehow I figure there's that 1/1000th of a percent of my miniscule audience that actually follows/gets it/chooses to decipher or ignores it and reads anyway. Here's to you, Mr. Stream-of-Consciousness decipherer reading guy who gets it or doesn't and reads anyway.)

Ok...there was a reason I began this besides jumpstarting the grey matter, I think.

Oh yeah, Boggle. Never played it as a kid. My wife introduced me to it during our dating days. It was fun, yes. But it never seemed to particularly grab me.

Yet today I find this game highly addicting. Yeah, I freakin' love it. On the way to the bus stop. While waiting for pizza. In traffic jams. While blogging. (Sorry.) I've read numerous articles on the topic of casual gaming, and its current growth and popularity. (Yet I haven't linked to one.) So I should not be totally surprised by this new found joy. But it also reminds me about what made so many classic arcade games so great. Simplicity of gameplay.

I love my PS2 and all the highly narrative action-adventure titles with storytelling beyond much of what Hollywood may offer, and all the intricate tasks these games ask me to complete. I've button mashed my way through some early Tony Hawk games and Tekken titles. (Wait a minute...I knew exactly what I was doing. I just could not articulate to you the button combo, it was just something my fingers did.)

But after all that, sometimes it's quite cathartic to boil it all down to something simple and pure. Remove some buttons from my controller. Give me a simple goal to concentrate on, and a score (even if it's just my own) to best. Pac-Man had one joystick. That's all. One or two player buttons don't count. Eat dots. Eat more dots. Eat. That's all.

The purpose of Boggle. Make words. Lots of 'em. Clever words. Stupid words. Even plural words. Just make words. (Maybe that's why I like blogging so much.)

3 minutes. High score of 56. I can hit 60. I know it.

I'm glad to see the resurgence of classic gaming, whether it be through Xbox Live, Free games online, wireless phone gaming, classic compendiums for the console and PC market, the spirit of the homebrew and emulation community.

It's very possible that superbly designed "simple" game will be played more than the best action-adventure or RPG title. No matter how lush the scenery, or how fluid the animation. Despite truly cinematic cut scenes with the cleverest of dialog. It doesn't matter. Classic games have that "quick fix" quality, with none of the exhaustiveness of more complex games. You don't turn these games on and know that you'll need to devote at least an hour to accomplish anything. And no matter how beautiful some of today's games are, there;s always the possibility you'll finish them and never look back. Mission's been accomplished. Move forward.

The classic game can be quite like crack then, can't it? Quick game. Damn, I can do better. Ugh. One more game.

And so on.

Sure you may play just as long. But you never intended to.

And I never intended to ramble this long. But it's too late. Read or don't read. That's what's nice about the Internet.

Comments

Cecil Casey
Cecil Casey's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Ok here it is, The quick

Ok here it is, The quick pick it up for fun game space is here, if not overloaded.

There are just so many puzzles, or shoot the marble down the drain games I can take.
So I suggest we all take a breath and try something old. Yes I said old, whether it is a classic on MAME or something like Hotel Dusk on the DS that came out today.

How is it that a game that just came out today could be old? I feel that Hotel Dusk is 'old' in that it is a classic point and click adventure game brought up to date on the DS.

I will do more of a write up once I get a bit more into it, but I have to say that it is far from simple. Maybe there is some room for narrative in the portable game field. Paperback books are a staple of bus or train rides, why not a well written adventure or story based game that you can open or close when ever you want to?

I would like to believe that this interactive storytelling marketplace will win the largest share over time, but I see the writing on the wall with the video iPod. It will never happen, but just as some people prefer to read a book, some will like a good interactive fiction to explore.

-Cecil

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Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Those are darn good points,

Those are darn good points, Cecil. I'm reminded of one of Bill's ideas about selling interactive fiction games right alongside novels in bookstores. It's painfully, painfully obvious that most people who visit game stores are NOT readers and generally don't show any interest whatsoever in GAGs or anything but the latest graphics fest. On the other hand, people shopping in bookstores are already proving that they like a good story (else they wouldn't be there!) and might just be willing to try these games if they knew about them and could find them easily.

I don't see any reason why someone who really enjoyed a good mystery novel wouldn't also enjoy the two recent Agathe Christie games published by the Adventure Company. The problem is that these games aren't marketed to them very well. There's an old saying in retail--location, location, location. The problem with interactive fiction is simply that it's never been located in a place where it can reach a sizable audience. Most people in bookstores probably aren't even aware that these games exist or that they're more than capable of playing and enjoying them (i.e., not all games are fast-paced action games).

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