This is a true story. It really happened this way.
The Game of Life
By Matthew Sakey
October 12, 2010
Originally published by the International Game Developers Association
Leftovers: I got a number of responses to last month’s column, some surprised that I would advocate self-censorship. That’s not what I’m doing, exactly: I advocate common sense, and not putting shocking content into a game just for the carnal joy of putting shocking content in. If it’s relevant to your game, do it. If you’re just being a dumbass, don’t.
copyright (c) 2010, all rights reserved.
BOREDOM is a registered trademark of SaKorp(r)
version 1, revision 1086
You are at Corpus Christi International Airport in Corpus Christi, Texas. It is 11:27 a.m. local time. Your flight does not depart until 5:30 this evening.
All other flights are sold out.
You are overcome by a profound desire to be home.
>get on standby
The counter agent informs you that your ticket does not allow standby.
>what the fuck does that even mean
I don’t understand that command.
You really, really, really want to go home. You are tired and grumpy.
Corpus Christi International Airport serves the eponymous town in the tarry pitch rectum of further-south-would-be-Mexico Texas, where it is ridiculously hot even in October. Though small, with only a single terminal and six gates, it is tidy and well-tended. Annoyingly, the only bar/restaurant in the facility is before security.
You enter the bar and sit down. A woman with appalling teeth arrives to take your order.
You order and eat the most revolting sandwich you have encountered in recent memory.
A woman with appalling teeth arrives to see if you’d like anything else.
>drink until flight takes off
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Only thing to do when stuck in an airport
You have had two beers.
>attempt to explain the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise to nongaming colleague
Your nongaming colleague stares at you with a very peculiar expression of bafflement when you state that, like the novel and film that inspired it, the game is (in part) about man’s relationship with God. He does not appear to believe that games can be profound.
You have had four beers.
Your nongaming colleague’s ticket does allow standby, so he heads through security in hopes of catching the 1:00 pm to Houston. It occurs to you that his hasty retreat may be fueled in part by a desire to not hear any more foolishness about games, though he had the decency to listen curiously throughout your explanation.
You are alone at a bar in the airport.
>reflect glumly on the fact that I want to go home and am trapped in the most boring airport in the world. Wonder why no one has started a business venture to set up those tiny capsule hotels – like they have in Japan – at all airports, so stranded or delayed passengers can sleep. Consider the fact that Drew Davidson is going to kill me if I don’t send in my Well Played draft soon, but ultimately decide to depend on Drew’s good nature for a little while longer.
Reflect further on Brick Bardo’s recent Edge column on aging Otaku, which wondered about the fact that the youthful geeks of today may have no experience with the geeky things of yesteryear. Think about all the blank looks students give you when you talk about games like Zork and Archon, and what they are missing.
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: I’m really sorry, Drew, I promise to get it to you soon
Done, but with the sinking realization that as much as those Otaku of today may not know Activision was once a tiny company, you, a rapidly aging Otaku, don’t understand the value of Twitter, so it works both ways.
You have had six beers.
>remind myself that Clint Hocking’s column in the same issue of Edge suggests that even silliness such as Farmville can be leveraged toward the “core” gamer with the application of a little creative unity – that we can put those housewives to work as Gaming l’Cie, turning their obsessively constructed maps into content for other games, like global handcrafting of missions in an X-COM remake – something that would otherwise be impossible in a modern development environment.
pause to depressedly realize that Brick Bardo’s young Otaku have never heard of X-COM, and decide that they are missing out on more than I am. Consider the likelihood that Clint’s idea will one day be put into practice, that a casual mini-game can be fed into a core game, and that both sides will enjoy the results without ever having to merge. Wonder how someone as brilliant and admirable as Clint could have made a game as sewage-garglingly awful as Far Cry 2. Realize that had this very idea been built into Far Cry 2, with casual players somehow constructing adventures and locales to be enjoyed by the core, it might have been everything it could have.
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Please don’t hate me Clint, but Far Cry 2 did everything wrong
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: No one should think about open world shooters as much as you do, dork
You have had eight beers.
>look at watch
The time is 4:32 pm. Your flight will be boarding in about twenty minutes.
>wait 20 minutes then board flight
You feel a little queasy as you stagger down the jetway and wedge yourself between the airframe and an immense and improbably sweaty Texan. Yet some of your lightheadedness may be from the giddy sense that, Choose Your Own Adventure style, you had an option to either die of boredom or amuse yourself with limited options… and managed to survive.
Some say life’s a game, but they’re really annoying. Life is no game. But there are games inside of life that we can make for ourselves, and find meaning in them. The value of the games we play intentionally is that they come pre-packed with meaning, whether it be man’s relationship with God, or man’s relationship with the plasma gun that’s about to vaporize that alien over there. Play exists for a reason: to bring happiness, pastime, and thought. So whether you’re playing Far Cry 2 or playing Figure Out A Way To Kill Six Hours At The Airport, it’s less a matter of whether which game is better (the latter) and more a matter of always remembering to play.
Congratulations! You have completed BOREDOM(r). You unlocked four of 16 Achievements and scored 92 of a possible 430 points.
Play again? (Y/N)
Send an email to the author of this post at email@example.com.
This content appears under the author’s copyright at the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).Views expressed herein are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of the IGDA or its members.
Tap-Repeatedly is not affiliated with the IGDA.