#ROW80 and Stories in Video Games

For the ROW80ers, well, look, here’s another post. Which is to say that I’m doing well with my blogging goal. ETA: Plus I just did my sponsorly duty, went back to Sunday’s linky, and visited and commented on my assigned peeps (except on one Blogger blog that just wouldn’t let me comment, as Blogger blogs are wont to do). Don’t know when I’ll get around to commenting on the Wednesday blogs. There sure are a lot of people participating this round. It’s exciting!

For those who showed up just for my random Wednesday musings…

Mostly I like casual games. I try to avoid it, but I can spend serious time on things like Bejeweled and Chuzzle. And I’ll have to admit that when I got my hands on Plants vs. Zombies, it totally owned me for at least a weekend.

The Sims franchise is a problem. Of course it all started with Sim City, each successive version allowing more control, more building instead of just trying to, I don’t know, win the game? And then…then…The Sims. Virtual dolls. With dollhouses and furniture and decorations! And a money cheat to make it all possible. Expansion after expansion, new toys to play with. Sims 2, Sims 3… There are things to achieve if you want, but if you just want to make a house with roommates Bingley and Darcy, and another house with roommates Jane and Elizabeth and just play out a neighborhood romance, that works too.

I’m terribly attracted to the games with trailers that promise a story. That seem to promise to put you into a story. Now that the book’s out of my hands for a bit, I’m playing Zelda Twilight Princess. I don’t feel like I’m in the story, but I’m interested in the story and I enjoy playing the game to a certain point. I suppose it’s the point at which it just gets so hard it’s not so much like playing anymore. I don’t so much mind playing a boss battle a number of times until I get it right. Honestly I’m just glad games don’t make you start all over from the beginning like they used to. But I like figuring it out, you know? Lots of things to puzzle out. Then it gets to a point where it seems like I can’t figure out anything.

And then I’m in Zork land. I feel like I standing in the dark, words across the abyss tell me that I’m standing next to a tree. And nothing I do seems to be getting me anywhere. Then I have to go online and find a walkthrough to get me past where I’m stuck. And eventually I’m doing that every scene and then it’s hard to see the point. I’ve lost that feeling of accomplishment I had at figuring it out myself.

Yet I’m still thinking about it and still going back to it because I want to know the rest of the story. And sometimes wishing I could just read the novelized version.

At some point during the winter, I found Surviving High School while browsing DSiWare, immediately wanted it, and knew it was the kind of thing that would suck me in. So I decided that it would have to be a prize for finishing Heroes ‘Til Curfew. Well, I was right about the sucking me in part.

I love this game. It’s basically a choose your own adventure book, set in high school. In the main story you’re the new boy at school whose name and appearance you get to choose. You get to decide if you’re going to go after the cheerleader or the goth girl, and go through a story that has a lot to do with joining the football team and keeping up your GPA enough to get your dad to buy you a new car. After you get through the main story, you unlock shorter episodes that feature other characters at the school.

This game pulled me into the story in a way that no other game has. And I suppose it’s somewhat ironic that it’s so much like reading a choose your own adventure book in a why don’t you turn off the screen for a while and go read a good book or something? way.

Anyway, just wish I could find more like that.

Games, anyone? What do you like?

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “#ROW80 and Stories in Video Games

  1. I’m really into the hidden object/adventure games on bigfishgames.com. My best friend (the one who died recently) and I would get so excited when a really good one would come out. We spent HOURS playing those games when I was visiting her for a week last year. Every time I play those games now, I think of her. You get to play a free hour to see if you like the game first, which is cool. There’s always a story line in the games, so that you’re usually the main character.

    Ok, sorry, I sounded like I was advertising for Big Fish Games. But they’re so fun!

  2. I like the idea of video games. I love how so many are really story based now, and I love watching the G3 show on whatever channel hubby records so I get to see snips and bits of game stories. That’s interesting and often a starting point for new book ideas for me. But actually playing? I really don’t. Because I don’t have hours of time to invest. If I’ve got free time I’m going to be writing or reading. I used to play WoW for a year or so, and I LOVED it. Big fan of the hack and slash, as it is very cathartic. But that’s been ages. It is a great disappointment to hubby that he got me a Wii and I only use it for exercise games. Sue me. When there is suddenly a 36 hour day, maybe I’ll get back into video games, but in the meantime…I’ll just watch over hubby’s shoulder.

  3. Oh, I’m a gamer. I play everything except shooters, because I suck at shooters. I’m trying to think of games that you might like…if you like games with story, you might be interested in the Phoenix Wright series, particularly the first game in the series. Very humorous story, had me in stitches the whole time I was playing.

    Also, if you like computer games with stories (as you play Sims) anything and everything by Bioware. Dragon Age series if you like fantasy. Mass Effect if you like space opera and don’t mind shooters. The first Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR, a Star Wars game) is old and I’m not sure how easy to get nowadays, but has a famously good story.

  4. I have nothing to offer on the video game front, but I am glad you’re back bloggin’ 🙂

  5. Whitney

    We’ve been working on increasingly ridiculous characters on wow- right now we’re leveling a set named Kittenpantz and Rikersbeard. WoW is srs bznz. I also just played Portal 2, and Final Fantasy 13.

  6. Bejeweled is great! I love Tetris. And I got suckered into Farmville a couple of months ago. Basically, I can only play mindless, slow games 🙂
    And now back to my sponsoring rounds – falling behind again!

  7. @LL- I will have to check out Big Fish. Or… maybe not!
    @Kait- I don’t think there’s anything wrong with just exercise games. On some level, I think fitness is a hobby for you. You have the same need to hone skills, make progress, meet challenges, level up, etc, as other people do in other skill-based hobbies and other game genres.
    @Lisey- Thanks so much for the recommendations. Uh oh. That’s quite a list I need to look over. They already recognize me at my friendly neighborhood GameStop. When they start calling me by name when I walk in the door I’m going to seek help.
    @Claudia- Thanks. It’s nice to be back.
    @Whitney- Hey sweetie! The online with, like, strangers…still freaks me out. But you’re reminding me that I’m behind on The Guild. I’m always attracted to Final Fantasy. It’s so pretty!! But I haven’t broken down and tried it yet.
    @Deniz- TETRIS!! I’m not putting that on my DS because when I had it for Gameboy I was totally addicted. To that and Dr. Mario.

  8. I was jealous my older brother got one of those handheld football computer games and I took it for my own. The gaming started young but has tapered off since I gave up EverQuest after the big WoW move. It’s so easy to get sucked in that I’d rather try to spend the time writing.

  9. Great job on the #ROW80 goals. as for video games, I am a total sucker. I get addicted far too easily (I had to ban myself from facebook games as I was getting no writing done and it was eating into my monthly download). I will play anything – at the moment my 4 year old is trying to get me hooked on Angry Birds! Perhaps it is not such a bright idea that I just put an x-box on lay-by for the kids for chrissy!!!

    • I’ve been thinking about XBox a lot lately. Not a good idea. After telling my daughter repeatedly that she wasn’t getting a 3DS for her birthday, I just found out Netflix will stream to it. Now *I* want one! And I just read that the Sims are coming to Facebook. I am so not going there.

  10. I am such a Sims addict. I practiced deprivation to motivate myself to write my first book, and expansion packs to write the second one. I can’t seem to do console systems, though. I think I just started too late in life, and missed out on developing the hand-eye coordination. Although I loved the DS for awhile.
    So good to see you back at ROW80. Congratulations on finishing Heroes!

  11. jamilajamison

    Oh gosh, I am a video game junkie. I’ve cut back quite a bit since I’ve been writing so much, but I am the proud owner of an X-Box 360 and roughly a half dozen games. My favorites are the ones by BioWare (the Dragon Age and Bioware franchise), because they are all plot-driven, and allow players the ability to pursue romances with other characters (erm, this might be the most exciting part). I love immersing myself into a game world, and allowing myself to sort of drift away. Definitely a great way to unwind when I’m too tired to write or read.

  12. Pingback: Zelda, Dragon Age, and the power of choice | Hunting High and Low

  13. Pingback: Jane Austen video game?? | Hunting High and Low

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