Tag Archives: stories

Does Good Writing Matter?

How important is good writing in video games, and why do you think that?

Does well-written code and “fun” gameplay matter more to you than the writing?

Do we have to choose between fun gameplay and good writing, or can we have both?

By writing, I mean the words used in cutscenes, storytelling, dialogue and more. By good, I mean something that stands out, that took some effort and makes the game enjoyable.

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Filed under Video Games: Reader Q&A

Video Games in Everyday Life

Our hero woke up and hopped out of bed, just like a bunny high on caffeine. But he crashed back down to Earth when he realized he couldn’t find his stuff. He needed that stuff to start his day.

Like Nathan Drake, he decided to hunt down this missing treasure — only he was looking for a majestic tooth-brush and a pair of enchanted Mickey Mouse socks. Yes, his world was far less exciting than Drake’s. The tooth-brush was, in fact, sitting in the toilet bowl. The silken socks were fluttering on the fire escape railing and nearly flew away before he pounced on  them like a cat on a  plump bird.

Standing on the fire escape, he peered down and noticed a mess on the street. Someone overturned his garbage can and his refuse, including the obligatory banana peel, lay naked in the street for all to see. How embarrassing! Sly Cooper, that anthropomorphic raccoon, must have tipped over his bin again. Everyone else’s bin was fine; Sly had chosen our hero’s collection just to cause extra irritation.

Oh, well, our hero got on with his day.  He opened the fridge, opened his mouth and began to suck everything out of it like Kirby might. In the end, his belly was pink, bloated, and his body resembled a big puff-ball. Ah, “life is good,” he said.

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I Can Walk on The Moon (and You Can Too)

moonThere I was taking giant leaps for mankind and almost tripping over moon rocks in the process. My jumps were just too impressive to ignore. Sometimes I chained multiple sets of jumps together to reach the top of a space mountain.

The other astronauts wanted to know where and how I learned to time my jumps. I started telling them about my friend, a mustachioed Italian plumber who taught me.

Wham!

I hit the lip of a cliff, tumbled down and landed in a bad place.

I almost drowned in the sea of tranquility. A landslide of rock and dust slapped me in the face, and I sank to the bottom. But I woke up and dragged myself out of the rusty rubble.

When I got up and dusted the space dirt of my lily-white space suit shoulder, I recognized life. Not just my life returning. No. It was more than that. It was a large blue bauble teeming with life not to far away.

I thought about all those stick figures back home. They sat with their eyes glued to screens. They took everything for granted.

Meanwhile, I was drilling holes on another planetary body for the good of us all. I also took samples so they could sit in a museum and collect dust. They weren’t doing that.

Then Mr. Houston interrupted my space train of thought. “Jim, you there?” he said.

“Roger, roger HQ,” I said as my drill slid through the rocks like a knife through warm butter. “Hear ya loud and clear.”

“Jim, get the last of those rocks and bring ’em back to earth. We need them to save humanity. And Jim…”

“Yeah?” I folded the ten foot drill up and threw it in my space backpack.

“We’re all rooting for you down here.” Mr. Houston’s voice became as silent as the vacuum of space. Then he said, “Get back in one piece.”

As I put away the final sample into a space doggy bag, I gulped hard. Then I heard a strange gurgling sound behind me. I turned around to see a huge eight foot hazy figure.

That’s when I was face to face with a hideous, ragged monster that made big foot look like an annoying mosquito. It’s pearly white fangs had blood dripping from their tips. It extended its arm and lunged toward me. An epic space battle was about to unfold.

And it all began when I pressed start.


People think that traveling into space is both a great mental and physical challenge. Well, they’re right. I don’t know what else to tell you. But you can do it in video games too, so go out and try it.

Bonus embarrassing/funny fact: I once thought Houston referred to a person when I was a kid. That’s why I included it in this post. Also, I thought it just sounded different and cool to give a person that name.

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Cruel Achievements Ruin Everyone’s Day

text that says insulting achievement unlockedI had so many tedious chores to do yesterday. As I glanced over my to-do list, I felt an itch. This wasn’t lice in my hair or something that begged for a scratch. It was an itch to finish the game I started the other day.

“Better play now,” I thought. “The dirty dishes can wait. Besides, if I didn’t do something now,” I reasoned, “the itch would only get worse.”

So I sat down and continued what seemed like a regular play session. I set out to find all the hidden fruit in the game and unlock an achievement for this feat. After I grabbed the last set of grapes, the achievement popped up. I felt a surge of excitement, accomplishment and adrenaline mix into a cocktail of euphoria. But then I saw something strange. It brought me down from this natural high.

You have unlocked “Grapes of Wrath – 0 Exp.”

I thought to myself, “Well, that was a waste of time.”

The summary confirmed this, “Whoop-Dee-do! You collected all the hidden fruit in the game. Why don’t you go make a fruit salad with all of it?”

I decided to keep playing and forget the thing had ever happened. And, sure enough, the game became fun again. Everything was fine.

After a while, I paused the game and made myself a quick sandwich. It had meatballs – which had marinated in marinara – and gooey cheese. I played the game with one hand and managed to eat half of the sandwich with the other. That worked for about five minutes. Then another achievement popped up.

“Ha,” I thought, “I deserve an achievement for beating half of this game.”

Boy was I ever wrong.

“You’re a disgusting pig” unlocked. The summary read “Hey lazy boy! Put down the sandwich, get off the couch and get outside!”

I shrugged it off. After all, I was relaxing after a long day and words don’t hurt my feelings.

Yet, in truth, the achievement had bothered me. I lost focus and watched in horror as zombies slaughtered my character a dozen times. On top of that, my character fell off a couple of cliffs because I couldn’t think straight.

Then another achievement appeared on the screen.

“You have unlocked Epic Fail – You’ve died 1000 times. So put down the controller, hang your head in shame, and walk away already.”

That was the last straw. I was going to beat this game and prove it wrong. It would soon find out about my skill.

I charged the through the swarm of zombies and survived. I scaled the treacherous precipices on the cliff that had tested my patience. And I still had time to make a fruit salad in the game. “Ha I proclaimed to myself. That was easy.”

Then something popped on the screen. “You have unlocked Wasted. You have wasted 10,000 hours on this game. You’re pathetic. How can you stand yourself?”

“Why you little…,” I started to say.

There was no time to argue. The game could insult me all it wanted and make stuff up. It was crazy. So I trudged toward the finish line and made it across in record time. The game was over!

As the credits rolled, I dreaded seeing another achievement. Sure enough, it appeared just as I hoped to escape the game’s insults.

“You are terrible at video games. Seriously. Just give up already. Don’t you have something better you could be doing with your time? Oh wait, no you don’t”

“That’s it! I’ve had just about enough of this,” I said. I lunged toward the TV determined to destroy the console forever.

Before I couldn’t finish my foul deed, I felt sweat drench my forehead. My clothes were covered in sweat too. I opened my bloodshot eyes wide and found myself sitting upright in bed at 2 AM.

I surveyed the room and took it all in. The apartment was quiet, except for the TV in the other room.

“Haha it was all a dream. There’s no game like that.” I laughed out loud.

My roommate furrowed his brow and steadied his gaze on me. “Are you alright? He had a puzzled look on his face with one eyebrow arched higher.” I ignored him for now, and he walked away.

“It was only a dream… only a dream. None of it really happened,” I said.

My eyes started to feel heavy as if a giant boulder weighed them down. I instinctively grabbed a half-eaten meatball sandwich on my end-table, took a bite and then let it fall on my bed. I was fast asleep again.

***

Meanwhile, somewhere far away in a deep, dark cave, a pasty man roars with laughter. His flabby jowls jiggle as if made of jello. He taps away with Flash Gordon-like speed at a keyboard. Then he stops, scans the screen, and shakes his head. “Oh man, the achievements in my new game are too cruel.”


What if achievements were cruel and picked on people? That was the prompt that inspired this silly post.

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Help! My Video Console Is Out to Get Me

I know why it tried to kill me. I neglected the console for a while. In fact, it was so neglected that it choked on house dust.

The console was also jealous about how I spent more time with its competitors. Several times it caught me on the couch with an Xbox or with the PC in my bedroom. The console didn’t like that I grinned from ear to ear when I was in the bedroom. I’m sure this neglected console’s power-on button was green with envy.

The console became distant and cold after these events. Then I stared at a blank screen alone in dark. For a change, I tried to become re-acquainted with my Xbox or PC, but they mysteriously disappeared. I only had this dusty, neglected console.

The console got worse. I learned about its pyromania problems. One day, it became so hot that it almost burned a wooden shelf I had placed it on. Good thing I caught that before bedtime. After that incident, I kept a fire extinguisher nearby—just in case.

The last straw occurred when the console developed homicidal hatred. I awoke one morning to find a picture of my girlfriend, normally on the end table by my bed, missing. I shrugged it off and stumbled into the bathroom. I reached for a knob in the tub when I noticed a long, plugged-in extension cord and something else. There was a toaster in the bathtub!

I guess I should have seen this homicidal behaviour coming. After all, advertisements touted it as the killer console of the century. Those advertisements were true to their word, a rare occurrence indeed.

I decided to put an end to this awful relationship. I threw the console in the dump; it wouldn’t turn on anyway. Let’s hope some poor soul doesn’t chance upon it.

As for me, I walked out of the dump with my held high, staring at the blue sky. The future looked bright and there was a new generation on the horizon.

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Filed under Video Game Technology

Berenstain Bears Inspired This Post

writing is one of my favourite hobbiesMama and Papa Bear inspired me to write this post.

See, when I was a kid, my dad read the Berenstain Bears to me before bedtime. I loved that series. Sometimes he would add funny words to the story to see if I was following along. I would always call him out on these added words, and we would laugh.

On occasion, after he had a long day, my dad would fall asleep while reading to me. My mom would check on us after my dad had already shut his eyes. “Shhh,” I’d tell her, “Don’t wake him. He’s sleeping.” Then I’d continue reading until we all had to go to bed.

Not too long after these bedtime stories, I decided to pen my own tale. I remember a book called “Colour Your World,” about a cat, inspired me to write. After scribbling the last word and showing my mom the triumphant masterpiece, I realized I had a lot more to learn about spelling.

Cue years of learning and writing. But most of that writing was dryer than 2 week old stale bread. Yes, it was fun to write at all, but I wanted to try different styles of writing and be more creative.

So I started this blog and decided to write with flavour. I wanted to leave behind the bland writing of my past, to experiment with words, and to make something that excited me.

Video games became my subject because I love to play them and know a little about them. So many of you love them as well, which meant I could talk to you on my blog.

But when it comes to hobbies, writing is near the top. Thanks Mom and Dad.


I wanted to reflect on why I write this blog. Why did l choose video games as a topic? What experiences in my life made me fall in love with writing and then start this blog? As I reflected, I recalled something beautiful about life that mirrors my favourite hobby. My life is a story with a history, a present and a future I look forward to writing.

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