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Project 602 - Gaming
 
Project 602
(The ramblings of a madman)
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The Gamers Quarter(ly)
Posted - Jan 2nd, 2008 1:31pm
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I'm bound and determined to eliminate paper from my life.  I can see a time when my EBook reader, IPod, Digital Frame and Laptop will eliminate my bookshelves entirely.  So it was with that goal in mind that I started reading something called The Gamers Quarter a few months back.

I'm not usually a fan of reading large volumes on a computer.  I find the experience of holding a book or magazine and lounging on the couch more enjoyable than sitting at a desk staring at a screen for hours on end.  That being said, until a good EBook reader (of which the kindle is not) comes along my laptop is starting to serve as a decent stopgap measure.

While TGQ is techincally available in paper via costly invidual printings, its basically a free zine distributed by PDF over the net.  This works pretty well on my laptop as I can still sloth on the couch or bed and do some reading.  I can also read it at work without having to "surf" so thats a bonus.  I don't think this is going to replace the normal magazine model anytime soon but I can at least guarantee that I'm not getting any junkmail (snail not e) from these folks and as for the content, well there is no contest - its offbeat, unique, intelligent and written far above the 6th grade level that most publications won't admit to targeting.

Basically, the magazine is about video games without really going all that much into the games themselves.  Thats not to say its not for gamers even though the numerical reviews or detailed previews of games that inundate most gaming rags are completely absent here.  Rather, its a humanistic publication for people who enjoy gaming and gaming culture.  Its filled with stories about playing games and traveling to arcades.  Most are really heart-felt like the one girl wrote about her hate for games brought about by an abusive relationship that only years later was resolved by finishing the game her boyfriend was into at the time.  Others are much less serious like the insanely well written piece on the oddities of attending a game conference in Tokyo or the results from playing too much Katamari Damacy (you start thinking in terms of rolling up everything into a giant ball).

In fact, the only bad things I can say about this zine is that it doesn't come out often enough, and how blatently obvious it now is that mainstream media is a very very bland cup of tea.  So if you have ever gamed or know a gamer and you fancy yourself as literary in any way shape or form I suggest checking the publication out and getting cozy in the corner of your couch with the laptop and reading for a few hours.  And to Shaper and the rest of the crew who have been producing this thing for the last couple of years - thank you for all the work - I hope that some day you'll get the karmic payback you so rightfully deserve.
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Drinking the XBox 360 Kool-aid
Posted - Dec 19th, 2007 3:09pm
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Without getting into my own conflicted feelings about Microsoft, let me get this over with and simply say that I finally caved in and bought a 360.  I'm not proud of it, but I will wear my ribbons of shame like medals won in playground warfare as it is my burden for this joy.

It takes more than a little funding to buy into this club.  I couldn't believe that I was in for over $600 and change before I even played my first game.  The wifi adapter was a 100 on its own! I can finally understand however what people enjoy so much about this thing.  The games are good - theres no mistaking that.  I plunked down for the Orange Box, have borrowed Project Gotham, and was given a copy of Call Of Duty 4 as an early Christmas Present.  These are all excellent games in their own right and I will probably write up something on the Orange Box separately as its such an amazing deal.  What really made me a junkie though is XBox Live and the multiplayer component to these games.

I've heard that in ancient times people used to pack up their wagons and head to these social places called arcades.  Fortunately consoles destroyed these establishments and drove gaming into the joyously lonely scene so often made fun of in our culture today.  Sure there were social abnormalities - you could invite a friend or two over and get numb-thumb playing SF2 or get a home loan and bust out Crystal Chronicals for the GameCube, but none of these drugs compare to the heroin that is Team Fortress 2 or COD4.  Shiny, fast, and coated with achievement sprinkles these games tap into some ancient portion of my brain and squeeze adrenaline and morphine into my spine, and I share this trip with my friends "HappyColor" who's a brother Philosophy student in Canada or "Access" a tough little kid from LA or any number of other people.  When I play these people are all "there" and its enormously fun.  The whole XBox Live thing has finally returned gaming to its social roots.  Sorta...

For the most part, outside of the games, I don't really get to know these people and they are "friends" because I've marked them as such.  It feels like I went to the store with a pen writing "MINE" on things things but not really being able to buy them.  Its amazing while your playing but a little empty when its over as the people don't quite seem real.  Thats not to say I don't see some hope.  I spent several hours playing one night almost as an excuse to "philosophise" with Happy and I have friends here at work that I can game with.  I've even attended a Halo party complete with a dinner break at AM/PM (people are just wrong).  So I guess the truth is that this is just another social scene and one with a unique set of rules and challenges.  But damn is it a fun one!

Maybe some day I'll meet these people or maybe some day my family and friends will all join in some big game of XYZ 16 Extreme! Till then I'll drink the kool-aid while its cold and revel in the joyous glow of this humming machine (did I mention its really freaking loud).  So if you want to catch me on Live, look for a user named "root" and maybe we can be "friends".
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