Monday, February 3, 2014

Leveling Up

You know who I totally get? Barclay. We are introduced to Reginald Barcaly in Hollow Pursuits and we follow this guy throughout his struggle (across two series) with Holo-Addiction. I've written about Reg here here and here so I won't go into yet another post about why this guy is so great. Instead, I want to talk about games and the way we, like Barclay, escape into them.

As a kid, I played Commodore 64 and Amiga games then both NES and SNES, I moved to PS1 as a pre-teen then the PS2 as a teenager and an XBox360 as an adult. I bought the 360 so I could play Halo with Scott but we deserted that gaming world as soon as the Borderlands franchise entered our life. Now, after we'd completely exhausted BL1 and BL2, we faced a tough choice. Get something else or play online.

Listen people. I don't play games online. Ok, yes I used to play Diablo 2 online with my dad but that was a father/daughter thing. Playing online defeats my entire gaming purpose as it involves other actual humans and if I wanted to deal with actual other humans I wouldn't have built such an amazing life for myself here on the internet.

Anyway, we were starting to get desperate. BL2, on its highest levels without online integration wasn't as relaxing and lovely as it once had been. So, for my birthday, I got Diablo 3 for the 360. And then... got completely sucked into its ridiculous world of endless hack and slash monsters and loot collection for the sake of itself. I've sunk many, many hours into the accumulation of items with names like, "Fleshraker." Why?
From the Adventure Time episode ALL ABOUT this phenomenon: Dungeon Train
It's easy for me to see how people get lost in video games. I play games so I can relax in a world that is completely different from my own. A while ago when Scott (who I was used to seeing 24-7) got a new job and both his hours and commute were incredibly long, I got sucked into Skyrim. Scott would come home and ask about my day and my answers were filled with details about picking mushrooms, making potions, forging armor and how my gorgeous wife made me some stew in the lovely, rustic house I owned. After a week or so, I adjusted to days spent without Scott sitting right next to me (we lived in a studio apartment so we were essentially always next to one another) and left the world of Skyrim behind.

Now, as I move into a new phase in my life, as I'm getting my first novel ready for publication while planning the next and doing art commissions and paying bills and washing dishes and lying awake at night worrying about the future, I find myself needing that same escape that Barclay craved. I need to easily achieve something. I need to spend less than an hour leveling up because, in the real world, it's a lot harder and it takes a lot longer and there's no sword or spellbook, no Majel Barrett-voiced computer, no programmable versions of Crusher and Troi to make the day better or easier. There's no mini-map and the waypoints don't glow. Leveling up (or leveling sideways) in the real world is just a lot of plodding around in the dark hoping that your hard work is getting noticed and you aren't spending all your time groping along the wrong path.

So anyway, that's a bit of what I've been doing lately. Leveling up. It's awesome and I mean that when I say it. It's also just kind of scary.

Incidentally, I have a friend who's working on releasing a longtime dream of his--a tabletop RPG. His awesome project is on Kickstarter and if you're the kind of kick-ass nerd who likes leveling up with some dice and your actual, real life human friends, you ought to check out Far Away Land.


  1. I'm a huge Borderlands fan, but like you I played it to death. Try Far Cry 3.

  2. "... if I wanted to deal with actual other humans I wouldn't have built such an amazing life for myself here on the internet."

    This just made me laugh. So true and SO Reginald Barclay of you! Love it. ;-)


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