Friday, February 26, 2010

Heavy Rain is Tricky: SPOILER ALERT!

Heavy Rain is on the agenda again.  For our daily martial gameplay I came prepared with my yoga strap to stretch while John completed mundane tasks and I waited for my turn with the controller.  Instead the game picked up.  I would play for a few minutes and as soon as I felt the slightest tinge of annoyance a new cinema scene would begin. 

The cinema scenes were short but riveting.  Just long enough to keep me addicted to the game and want to complete a few more monotonous real-life activities to gain another piece of the puzzle. 

Saying I like to read is like saying most people like to breathe.  I usually read about one work of fiction a week and really like mysteries (especially if they have vampires in them).  John and I like to read books together to try and foresee the plot twists.  This game has so many clues and so much happening that so far nothing seems remotely clear.


When one of the main characters sons goes missing (with a serial killer of young boys on the loose) obviously the dad goes to the police.  The police question the dad (which you control) and you have to try and remember what your kid was wearing.  It never occurred to me to pay close attention to his attire while I was trying to figure out how to push a swing by holding multiple buttons in sequence. 

It is a little amusing that I am so eager to get back to a game and get more details when really I have only uncovered as much as I would already know from watching a trailer.  The game is tricky because you think you know what the next task will be but it not predictable at all. 

The music really helps make the game feel like a movie.  A slow and sometimes frustrating movie but as someone who has read 500 pages of a book before it got good I do have some patience.  It is exciting playing a game that might become a new genre.  In a few years if games like Heavy Rain continue perhaps it will be easier to predict what comes next.  For today, this game is tricky because its amazing developers have managed to really think outside the box. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Heavy Rain makes me Sleepy

We played heavy rain for almost two hours last night.  The first few scenes of the game are very slow and monotonous.  It does give you a chance to adjust to the controls.  But since we have been playing Gears switching to a game that is more task oriented is a little annoying.  The awesome music, cool concept and story still have me hooked.  

It helps to have two sets of eyes when playing Heavy Rain.  The game is a murder mystery and so while one person is moving around a partner can direct and keep their eyes open for details that could be important later. 

Two sets of eyes in a lifelike setting can also be confusing.  While John played I instructed him as an in game task to “check the fridge.”  Then I switched to real life mode and suggested he “turn on the dishwasher before he goes to bed.”  John in the game walked over to the dishwasher and remarked that he could not figure it out?  I chuckled and realized that getting John to take out the garbage would be much easier if I could just link it to a video game.

Our original approach to this game was to divvy up the four main characters.  We thought we would switch turns when our player became an option.  We quickly reverted to changing when each person got bored after about 20 minutes.  The opening scene requires you to dress, shave, shower, look around the house and yard and unlike Gears there is not running or speed increase.  In fact some actions, like shaving or setting a table with fine China, must be done uber slowly in order to be completed.

I had hoped after two hours to be further along in this game.  Since the game is so story driven and there are no take-backs John and I are committed to experiencing each aspect together.  After two hours of in game rain and lifelike activities that bore me in real life I went straight to bed and conked out.  I felt a little bad for being so sleepy but John feel asleep on the couch ten minutes later.  I thought John was up again watching ice-skating (yup my man loves him some ice dancing) but this morning he confessed he feel asleep too. 

I knew rain made me sleepy but a game with rain in the background?  Who needs nightquil or ambient sound machines when you can just play a game for a few hours and fall asleep almost instantly?  

Monday, February 22, 2010

Conferences, Locusts and Olypmics Oh My!

Day 64 

The last few days we have been killing locust in Gear of War 2

Day 62 Friday: I tried in vain to shoot locust without my glasses 
Day 63 Saturday: We killed locust and reavers while JoAnne Hudson watched 
Day 64 Sunday : We killed locust and then paused to watch ice skating 

Now we are finally at the point in our mission that surpasses where John stopped playing the game solo.  So now we  are moving into the unknown. 

I also decided to submit a paper proposal to NCA about our 100 day project: 

Coming Apart or Coming Together: 100- days of Video Games  

Recent studies have focused on gamers motives for playing video games.  Computer mediated communication in lieu of face-to-face interaction can change the dynamic of an interpersonal relationships.  This study utilizes auto-ethnography to investigate relational development through play.  Focusing on side-by-side video games a married couple will chronicle their 100-days of play to determine if gaming can provide a means for relational maintenance. 

John says he is okay with being an experiment and thinks that I should be blogging more.  So here is a new blog entry and an excuse for me to keep the internet updated on our progress.  

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gears of War 2 & Lent

Day 60

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and Inara, Nathan and I attended mass to get our foreheads smeared with holy dust (or just soot depending on who you ask.)   Saint Joseph’s parish was draped in purple and it made me feel like it is truly almost spring.  To keep in the day’s spirit of ash and dust John and I began a new game Gears of War 2.  Gears of War is crass, cinematic and beautiful all at the same time: kind of like me. 

It is strange that we found a new game on the first day of lent.  The irony that we are playing a game that takes place in a wasteland during the sacred days that Jesus walked the dessert are not lost on me. 

Usually I dread lent. It is a season about sacrifice and who likes that?  This year I am seeing the season in a new light.  It is the last 40 required days gaming with my husband. If I had not been raised a catholic I may not have thought to put a counter on our endeavor.

I do not think people should disclose what they are “giving up” or doing for God during lent.  But I am excited to report that John is making a Lenten commitment that forsakes his strict “catholic by association” claims. 

This Lenten season is geared to be different than any predecessor.  One vow I am happy to keep is not returning to Gamestop for a few weeks to try yet another game. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

12 Years without Stealth but Still Gaming

Today we played the demo for Heavy Rain.  It is not a co-op game so we switched off the controller between each different characters point of view.  The game looks and feels more like an interactive movie than any game I have ever experienced.  Heavy Rain showcases how far games have come in such as short period of time. 

The controls are strange but in a good way.  After discarding a handful of games we finally looking forward to a new release.

When East Bakersfield still had a mall there was a toy store called K-B-Toy Store.  The year was 1998 and John and I went to said toystore to buy the first PlayStation version of Metal Gear Solid.   I remember it was like forty dollars in change that we counted out in piles on the counter.  Lori (Johns Mom) went to a department store while we counted the change.  I am not sure if she was embarrassed at our coins or annoyed that we were spending all of our monies on a game. 

After the adventure of buying this much anticipated game we got back to Johns and took turns playing.  I died moments after emerging from the water. Then it was John’s turn.  We learned quickly that this revolutionary new stealth game was not my strength.  It was still fun and exciting to read about a game, talk about a game and then get to sit the day it came out and figure it out together.

Heavy Rain has clunky controls but no stealth required. 

Things are different than they were 12 years ago.  There is no East Hills mall. Instead of gaming buddies, John and I are married with kids.  Instead of tirelessly counting pennies we will just pay to deliver the game to our doorstep. It makes me take pause and wonder how different our world will be in 12 more years? 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

High Velocity Bowling

John and I have faced many obstacles in finding a co-op game that suits our martial needs.  We have been bouncing back between games since we beat Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.  Prompted by our professional game advisor Alfred we decided we should look at some sports games. We planned to try out some of the classics like Fifa , NHL or Madden; Before we could get a copy of said classics PS3 free demos took us in a different direction. 

Since the Olympics are right around the corner we started with the Vancouver Winter Olympics.  I have never skied in real-life but if this game is any indication I should stay away from the slopes.  John was upset that figure skating is not even an option on the full game so we decided to move on. 

I have three words for you: High Velocity Bowling. 

Thankfully I faired much better at PS3 bowling then real-life bowling.  We were both completely foreign to the controls for this game and that made it fun to learn together.   It was a welcome change there was no story mode, no major learning curve or enemies to combat.  This was a random fun.  It is like Wii bowling but the controls are different. 

High Velocity Bowling is not a game I would like to play every night but it was a fun change of pace. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pause, Rewind and Play


Most people know that about two weeks ago the H1N1 virus knocked me on my keester. I was on quarantine for 5 days and unable to see my kids, play games with my husband or look at any form of light without a blaring headache.  Obviously our 100-day commitment was on pause when I was on quarantine.  For those naysayers who argue we could have played online, please go back and read about my mind-numbing head pain.


Even though I have neglected my blogging we have been playing games.  In fact we finally beat Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.  Beating our first game in this quest was a curse more than blessing. 

Since its end we have been wavering between new games.  We bought Ghost Busters and Harry Potter: we did not enjoy either.  Both games seemed fun enough but were not made for co-op play.  We settled into old faithful games such as Little Big Planet, Street Fighter and Castle Crashers.  We are still on the prowl for something more substantial and spent an hour at GameStop looking through the shelves with the kiddos in tow.


We have been reading the book series Song for Fire and Ice books together.  We have forsaken all our TV shows to read together (which is no biggie now that Dollhouse has ended).  We lay in bed when the house is quiet and read.  It is notable because the way we interact when we read in juxtaposition to the way we play.  We are still spending time just the two of us but it is more serene and less fun.

Today we bought Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires.  I am blogging and researching while John messes with the controls.  I would be playing but John has not yet “befriended” me.  In this game you have to befriend another character before you can play co-op.  You have to earn a person to fight along side with you; maybe this is the game we have been waiting for since it is about building relationships? Okay, the game is more about hacking and slashing but you have to make at least one friend to play with your wife.


Thanks to Gamestop’s awesome used game return policy if this games stinks we will just revisit the store again tomorrow.