Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Personal Gaming History

I'm cheating a bit here. This piece is a direct copy of a post I made on a Guild Wars forum:

My first machine was a 16k ZX Spectrum. Sadly all the best games for it needed 48k and I was too skint for the upgrade. In college I did get to play with a BBC model B and early IBM PCs. I developed something of a talent for "Elite". My favorite PC game of the time was a freebie called "Snipes" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snipes.

I went intp a gaming hiatus for a few years. The whole Nintendo, Sega thing passed me by. In the early 1990's however my eyes were opened to the potential of PC gaming by the discovery of point and click. I can proudly boast to having locked myself into the office to pull an all nighter in order to finish "Leisure Suit Larry" on one of the work PCs. I pulled more than one all nighter playing Lucas Arts "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".

I didn't actually my own home PC until 1995 and I was literally blown away by the tremenduous advances in first person shooters. I gobbled up "Doom" in all its forms, "Duke 3D" and my own personal favorite: "Descent". In those days I mainly played shooters and the odd strategy game. I loved the "Earthsiege" series (big stompy robots).

My involvement in PC gaming kept increasing through the "Half Life" / "Deus Ex" years. Some personal favorites from that time include "System Shock 2" and "Homeworld". I have never been one to keep up with the latest trend (mainly for financial reasons) but I started amassing quite a collection of PC games often buying second hand or older titles at reduced price. By 2003 I was buying about 50 games per year. Of course I didn't play all these games - I just liked having all the important titles.

I was a quite a latecomer to fantasy role playing games. "Dungeon Siege" was an easy entry point for me but soon after the awesome "Morrowind" converted me. I thoroughly enjoyed "Arx Fatalis", the "Gothic" series and "Star Wars KOTOR".

This year saw quite a change in my game playing / game buying habits. I spent four months playing "World of Warcraft" and nothing else. I bought no new games because WOW consumed all my free time. I stopped playing WOW for the sake of my sanity using some excellent single player games to come down: "Oblivion; "Quake 4"; "King Kong"; "Homeworld" (again); "Far Cry" (again); "Battle for Middle Earth" and "Rome Total War".

I have kind of lost interest in amassing a huge collection of PC games. So far this year I have purchased less than ten games. Partly this is due to burnout. Partly it is due to a sinking feeling that the best years of single player PC gaming are over - the future belongs to consoles and muliplayer online games.

I picked up "Guild Wars" for €15 in Game about 6 weeks ago and according to /age I have spent about 2.5 hours every day playing GW since then. I feel less theatened by Guild Wars than by World of Warcraft. It is much more casual friendly - I don't feel the same pressure to play every day just to keep up with my guild mates. I will probably buy the next installments out of guilt at deriving so much entertainment out of so little cash.

By the way if anyone is looking for a break from Guild Wars I recommend you look at "Mount and Blade" from Taleworlds http://www.taleworlds.com/. This is an unfinished game that you can play for free up to level 6. The story and role playng elements are paper thin but the game has the most exhiliarating combat on horseback I have ever played.

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