Permission to Play


For the last month I’ve been doing something rather uncharacteristic.  I’ve been powering through the Mass Effect trilogy along with as much ancillary literature about the Mass Effect Universe as I can cram into my overstuffed overworked brain.  Why is this significant?  I’ve always played games, here and there, but nothing to completion since… can anyone remember Turok Dinosaur Hunter on Nintendo 64?  Yes, that long ago.

BewareOblivionIsAtHand (master cheat)

Forget it.  I’m not patting myself on the back for finishing the ME trilogy, because I played in easy mode all the way through, even though I did fairly well.  I’m offering a virtual pat on the back to the massive talent over at Bioware for creating something so engaging that I couldn’t stop playing until it was complete.  A month.  I spent a month submerged in a character, Commander Shepard, who looked like me, and made decisions much the way I would have (or believe I would) in tough situations.


Does ME have its faults.  I think so.  Among those faults is the very dramatic premise that the fate of the entire universe hinges on my ability to unite fractured alien nations under one banner to fight a common threat.  The concept is melodramatic at least and utterly ludicrous at worst.  And yet, the story presents a certain urgency, a desire to do right, and a need to see what will happen next that kept me playing like a fiend.  Sometimes I even woke up early just to get in an hour of play before work.  I usually get up early to write.

In came the guilt.

I should have been writing instead. Right?

Oh, but I was.  I wasn’t actually putting words down onto paper, no, but I was writing in my head.  Heh.  I know that sounds lame, but allow me to explain.  Most writers would probably tell you that everything in their lives and the lives of others influences and informs their writing.  Me included.  Gaming, reading, work, exchanges in the grocery store, the news, daydreams, a conversation overheard in line at Starbuck’s.  All of these snippets find their way into our work in some form.

ME is a role playing game, wherein I get to be someone else.  I was someone else for an entire month.  Bioware created the premise but in a sense allowed me to write my own fate (to a degree).  I wrote my own story, so to speak, and I gleaned some terrific ideas for my own tales along the way.

I’m glad that I gave myself permission to play instead.  Now I have to give myself permission to get back to writing.

What guilty pleasures help you focus on your writing?

I Was Only Joking


I’m not a gamer, but I really enjoy video games.  I’m not all that good (mostly due to lack of practice) but when I have the time, which is rarely, I play.

The games that interest me most are those with high action, almost limitless interactivity, an interesting back story, and multiple character decision choices which in turn make it highly replayable.

I fell in love with Assassin’s Creed about three years ago, and while I’ve not been able to finish it (yet), I still go back to it from time to time.  Assassin’s Creed appealed to me for many reasons.  Besides the awesome graphics, the story takes place in the multicultural, multiracial, multi-religious Holy Land in 1191.  The historical aspect of this game totally grabbed the imagination of my son who is a history buff, but it was an immediate winner for my entire family because it featured Muslim characters who were depicted humanely.  Some were bad, some were good, they were human.  Through the main character Altair, you get to explore the ancient cities of Jerusalem, Damascus, and Acre, and you get to do some awesome acrobatics, fighting, and exploring.  The game is just plain fun and interesting.

Monday evening my son reported that Assassin’s Creed III is set to be released in October of this year.  The setting?  The American Revolution in the 1700s.  The new protagonist is Conner Kenway also known as Ratonhnhaké:ton.  He’s half English and half Mohawk.  Cool right?

So I said, in an off hand sort of way, it’d be cool if the next assassin was an African slave or a Native American.  My son laughed.  His reply?  “Yeah right, we’ll get a black person when we get a woman!”

Yesterday as I was napping my eldest daughter came to my bedroom and plopped down on the bed.  “Mom.  Guess what?”  She was holding the latest edition of Game Informer.

I rolled over, bleary eyed and confused.  “What?”

There’s going to be a second ACIII coming out in October called Assassin’s Creed III:Liberation.  The game is designed specifically for the Playstation Vita console.  The protagonist is named Aveline de Grandpré.  She’s African and French.

A woman.  A woman of color.  A woman of color who is an assassin.  Wow.

Ubisoft has done it again.